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Exadata System Software 21.2

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Exadata System Software Release is now generally available.

This release follows Exadata System Software Release 20.1 and brings further innovations to performance and manageability of the Exadata fleet, making the platform even more predictable in high performance settings, and even more scalable for consolidation environments. Making everything easier with Exadata!

The past year has been an unprecedented time for all, affecting our customers globally, who are expected to do more remotely. With the Exadata 21.2 release, we have focused on manageability and performance, both of which drive towards managing increased workloads with the same or fewer resources. 

Our unique Exadata software allows us to ensure your investment continues performing at the peak of productivity. As mentioned when we released Exadata Software 20.1, "We continue our tradition of protecting your investment in Exadata, with all new software features compatible across RoCE and InfiniBand systems, and all supported Exadata hardware generations”.

Exadata Product Management is happy to state this tradition has not changed with the Exadata Software 21.2 release.

In this post, we outline some of the enhancements in Exadata Software 21.2, for more information you can visit the Exadata System Overview Guide.

Persistent Storage Index

Most people familiar with Exadata realize the importance of Storage Indexes in avoiding unnecessary I/O from/to the Storage Servers. To recap, Storage Indexes are automatically created to track and maintain min/max values. These indexes are held in ephemeral memory of each Storage Server and are used by data warehouse and analytic workloads to eliminate and avoid IO. New in Exadata 21.2 - Storage Indexes will be persisted on the local disk to avoid rebuilding the storage index after planned maintenance or unplanned downtime. Eliminating the cycles to rebuild Storage Indexes, after server restarts, ensures application performance remains consistent.


Persistent Columnar Cache

Columnar cache is a portion of Exadata Smart Flash Cache that contains data in columnar format. As part of query performance tuning, data in Exadata Smart Flash Cache is automatically converted and stored in columnar format in this cache. New in Exadata 21.2 - If a storage server running in Write-Back mode is shutdown (either gracefully, via upgrades, or due to other failures), the columnar cache will persist, enabling more consistent query performance immediately after a Storage Server restart.


I/O Resource Management Cluster Plan

I/O Resource Management (IORM) is a powerful tool that enables user-defined policies to be assigned to workloads and databases to share Oracle Exadata Storage Servers resources reducing the incidence of "noisy neighbor" impacts to critical databases. New in Exadata 21.2 - Database Machine Administrators are now able to allocate storage resources based on cluster boundaries, rather than individual database or consumer groups. This allows for more flexible and holistic resource allocation. By defining the plan at the cluster level, any database (existing or new) in a cluster inherits the I/O plan of that cluster. Ensuring new databases created without a specific plan do not overrun existing database workloads.


Smart Scan Metadata Sharing

A foundational feature of Exadata Storage Software for analytic workloads is the Smart Scan operation. When Oracle Databases send queries to the Exadata Storage tier, associated metadata is also sent. Query metadata contains information such as projected columns, predicates, session information, bloom filters, and other information. This information is key to driving the query offload to the storage server. New in Exadata 21.2 - Rather than each Parallel Query packaging the metadata for each execution, common query metadata is shared across Smart Scan sessions belonging to the same parallel query. This reduces individual parallel query processing on the storage server thereby increasing the overall system throughput. Best seen in the more sophisticated operations with large amounts of metadata such as data mining, JSON/XML type tables and joins with bloom filters.


Additional Management Features

Other additional features of Exadata Software 21.2 include:

  • Increased Management for Exadata Networking Infrastructure - New capabilities to monitor and update Cisco switches using Oracle Auto Service Request (ASR) and Patch Manager Utility (patchmgr). This capability covers the latest Cisco Management Switch and the RoCE Network Fabric switches.
  • Streamlined Rebalancing Operations - Preserving redundancy levels is critical in highly regulated database environments. New options in CELLCLI command allow Exadata to automatically rebalance data before removing ASM disks.
  • Faster Upgrades - In this world of zero downtime, every minute counts. Exadata Software 21.2 accelerates software updates and reduces the time for updating each server by 5-minutes by pre-staging ILOM updates. On a full rack Exadata that translates to an overall reduction in rolling-upgrade down by almost 2 hours.
  • Automatic and Faster Recovery from component failures- Additional recovery automation in High Capacity and Extended Storage Servers, and faster failure restoration of Flash Cache, work toward increasing the resilience and predictability of Storage Server performance.
  • Enhanced Database Server Alerting - The DBMCLI LIST ALERTHISTORY command now shows incidents relating to Oracle Grid Infrastructure and Oracle Database software, allowing administrators to see across components during analysis of incidents.


More Information

More information on Exadata System Software Release 21.2 can be found in the New Features for Oracle Exadata System Software Release 21.x section in the Oracle Exadata System Overview Guide.



Exadata System Software Release 21.2 is the best upgrade target for customers who want to move to Oracle Linux 7. 

New Exadata systems will ship with Exadata System Software 21.2 in the coming weeks. Customers upgrading from previous software releases can refer to My Oracle Support Note 888828.1 which provides the minimum set of Grid Infrastructure and Database Software versions and patches needed to update to Exadata System Software Release 21.2. (Or just talk to Oracle Platinum Services to take care of it for you!)

A big thanks to our Exadata Development team who continue to provide these new features to enhance the Exadata platform.

We are always interested in your feedback. You are welcome to engage with us via comments here.

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