Thursday Apr 11, 2013

Big Data Appliance - more flexibility, same rapid time to value

Untitled Document

This week Oracle announced the availability (yes you can right away buy and use these systems) to Big Data Appliance X3-2 Starter Rack and Big Data Appliance X3-2 In-Rack Expansion. You can read the press release here. For those who are interested in the operating specs, best to look at the data sheet on OTN.

So what does this mean? In effect this means that you can now start any big data project with an appliance. Whether you are looking to try your hand on your first project with Hadoop, or whether you are building your enterprise Hadoop solution with a large number of nodes, you can now get the benefits of Oracle Big Data Appliance. By leveraging Big Data Appliance for all your big data needs (being this Hadoop or Oracle NoSQL Database) you always get:

  • Reduced risk by having the best of Oracle and Cloudera engineering available in an easy to consume appliance
  • Faster time to value by not spending weeks or months building and tuning your own Hadoop system
  • No cost creep for the cluster as your system is set up and configured for a known cost

Assume you want to start your first implementation on Hadoop, you can now start with the BDA Starter Rack, 6 servers which you can fully deploy for HDFS and MapReduce capabilities (of course we also support for example HBase). All the services are pre-configured, so you have Highly Available NameNodes, automatic failover and a balanced approach to leveraging the 6 servers as Hadoop nodes.As your project grows (and you need more compute power and space to store data) you simply add nodes in chunks of 6 using the In-Rack Expansion, filling up the rack.

Once full you can either add another Starter Rack or add Full Racks to the system. As you do that, Mammoth - the install, configure and patch utility for BDA - ensures that your service nodes are in the appropriate place. For example, once you have 2 cabinets assigned to a single cluster, Mammoth will move the second NameNode to the second Rack for higher fault tolerance.

This new release of Big Data Appliance (the software parts of it) now also include Cloudera CDH 4.2 and Cloudera Manager 4.5. On top of that, you now create multiple clusters on a single BDA Full Rack using just Mammoth, which means you can now patch and update individual clusters on that Full Rack. As you add nodes to a cluster, Mammoth will allow you to choose where to add nodes, how to grow a set of clusters, etc.

Lastly, but not least, there is more flexibility in how to acquire Big Data Appliance Full Rack, as it is now a part of Oracle's Infrastructure as a Service offering, allowing for a smooth capital outflow for your Big Data Appliance. 

Tuesday Mar 05, 2013

Hadoop Cluster: Build vs. Buy (part II)

About a year ago we did a comparison (with an update here) of Build your Own Hadoop cluster and a Big Data Appliance, where we focused purely on the hardware and software cost. We thought it could use an update, but luckily an analyst firm did one for us and this time it covers both the Hardware/Software costs, but also ventures a lot more into dealing with other costs.

Read all about it in ESG's Getting Real About Big Data, Build vs Buy (Feb 2013) here.

Some highlights from the report:

  • Oracle Big Data Appliance($450k) is 39% less costly than "build your own"($733k) 
  • OBDA reduces time-to-market by 33% vs "build"

But, the report is not just about those numbers, it covers a number of very interesting things like 3 Hadoop Myths, the importance of big data in the near future and the priority customers give to improving their analytics footprint.

Enjoy the read!

Wednesday Feb 20, 2013

Looking for tools to solve your big data problems?

Look no further, Infosys today announced its Infosys BigDataEdge developer platform to drive value from your big data stack. 

By empowering business users to rapidly develop insights from vast amounts of structured and unstructured data, better business decisions can be made in near real-time. With Infosys BigDataEdge, enterprises can reduce the time taken to extract information by up to 40 percent and generate insights up to eight times faster.

Read More.

Wednesday Jan 30, 2013

Parallel R: Quick Ways Model More


I am less and less often mistaken for a pirate when I mention the R language.  While I miss the excuse to wear an eyepatch, I'm glad more people are beginning to explore a statistical language I've been touting for years.  When it comes to plotting or running complex statistics in a single line of code, R is a great tool to have.  That said, there are plenty of pitfalls for the casual or new user: syntax, learning to write vectorized code, or even just knowing which "apply" function you really should choose.

  I want to explore a slightly less-often considered aspect of R development: parallelism.  Out of the box, R can seem very limited to someone used to working on compute clusters or even a multicore server.  However, there are a few tricks we can leverage to get the most out of R on everything from a personal workstation to a Hadoop cluster.

 R is Single-Threaded

The R interpreter is -- and likely always will be -- single-threaded.  This means loading data frames is done in a single thread.  So is building your linear model, or generating that pretty surface plot.  Even on my laptop, that's a lot of threads to not use for modeling.  No matter how much my web browser might covet those cycles, I'd like to use them for work.

Rather than a complex multithreaded re-implementation, the R interpreter offers a number of ways to allow users to selectively apply parallelism.  Some of these approaches leverage MPI libraries and mirror that message passing approach.  Others allow a more implicit parallelism via "foreach" or "apply" constructs. We'll just focus on a pair of strategies using the parallelism that's been included in R since it's 2.14.1 version: the parallel library.

 Setting The Stage for Parallel Execution

We're going to need to load a few libraries into our R session before we can execute anything outside of our single-thread.  We'll use the doParallel and foreach because they allow us to focus on what to parallelize rather than how to coordinate our threads.

> data(iris)

Knowing that calculations in R will be single-threaded, we want to use the parallel package to operate on logical subsets of the data simultaneously.  For example, I loaded a set of data about Iris which contains a number of different species.  One way I might want to parallelize is to fit the same each species simultaneously.  For that, I'm going to have to split the data by species:

> species.split <- split(iris, iris$Species)

 This gives us a list we can iterate over -- or parallelize.  From here on out, it's simply a question of deciding what resources we want to leverage: local CPUs or remote hosts.


We're going to use the makeCluster function to bind together a set of computational resources.  But first we need to decide: do we want to use only local CPUs, or is it necessary to open up socket connections to other machines distribute our workload?  In the former case we'll use makeCluster to create what's called a FORK cluster (in that it uses UNIX's fork call to create slaves).  In the latter, we'll create a SOCK cluster by opening up sockets to a list of remote hosts and starting slave processes on them.

Here's a FORK cluster which uses all my cores:

> cl <- makeCluster(detectCores())

And here's a SOCK cluster across three nodes (password-less SSH is required)

> hostlist <- c("", "", "")
cl <- makeCluster(hostlist)

In each case, I call registerDoParallel to bind this cluster to the %dopar% operator.  This is the operator which will let us easily iterate in parallel.

Running in Parallel

Once we've got something to iterate over and a cluster with which to do it, modeling in parallel becomes straightforward.  Suppose I want to fit a model of sepal length as a linear combination of petal characteristics.  In that case, the code is simply:

> species.models <- foreach(i=species.split) %dopar% {
m<-lm(i$Sepal.Length ~ i$Petal.Width*i$Petal.Length);

But I'm not just restricted to fitting linear models on my little cluster.  I can run k-means clustering for several different k simultaneously using basically the same block:

> species.clusters<- foreach(i=2:5) %dopar% {
km <- kmeans(iris, i);

When I'm done with my block, I can just call stopCluster(cl) to ensure my processes terminate and I'm not hogging resources.

Using Hadoop

Finally, there will be situations in which I need to deploy in parallel against much larger datasets -- specifically, datasets stored in HDFS.  Both Hive and Pig will let me run an R script as part of a streaming process.  In Hive, the TRANSFORM operator will send data to an R Script.  In Pig, you can use theSTREAM operator to send a whole bag to an R script.  However, you can't stream from within Pig'sFOREACH blocks, so I occasionally use a UDF which invokes R scripts for me.

Regardless of the method you choose to send HDFS data to an R process, it's important to make sure your R script can consume data streaming from standard input.  I find the most expedient way of doing this via the file function.  A typical script might start:

#! /usr/bin/env Rscript
#Connection to STDIN for reading a data frame
con <- file(description="stdin") <- read.table(con, header=FALSE, sep=",")


We've covered several ways to push R beyond the the bounds of its single-threaded core.  There are forking and socket mechanisms for spreading our work around, not to mention tricks for leveraging the power of Hadoop Streaming.  In each case, however, one thing stands out: we must be smart as modelers and understand what can and should be done in parallel.

[Read More]

Monday Jan 28, 2013

First Oracle BIWA Data Scientists Certified

For those who attended the BIWA Summit a few weeks ago, you would have seen the data scientist certification. BIWA just listed the first batch of data scientists it certified:

Instructor Level Certificate  - Brendan Tierney

Oracle Data Scientist Certificate 
Don Ferguson, CherryRoad Technologies
Jorge Anicama, IBM (GBS)
Tim Vlamis, Vlamis Software Solutions
Vijayalakshmi Muthukrishnan, Motorola
Sicheng Liu, Deloitte Consulting
Avik Bhattacharya, Printpack Inc.
Ari Kaplan, Ariball
Paul Mitchell, Oracle

Associate Level 
Suresh Anand, Sashatech LLC

Participation Certificate 
Ahmed Kopap
Ekine Akuiyibo
Khader Mohiuddin

More on the program, see here:

Friday Jan 25, 2013

Announcing: OTN Big Data Developer Day

Announcing the first Big Data Developer Day. A full day with two tracks and hands-on on all things Big Data at Oracle!!

An influx of new data types combined with new approaches for analyzing data are creating untapped growth opportunities that have the potential to transform your business. Oracle is the first vendor to provide a complete and integrated set of enterprise-ready products to address the full spectrum of big data business requirements. Jumpstart your understanding of big data in the enterprise by attending this complementary one-day hands-on workshop. You will learn from technical experts how to:

  • Write MapReduce on Oracle’s Big Data Platform
  • Manage a Big Data environment
  • Access Oracle NoSQL Database
  • Manage Oracle NoSQL DB Cluster
  • Use data from a Hadoop Cluster with Oracle
  • Develop analytics on big data

Register today to learn these skills which you can immediately put to use within your organization.

For more information and to sign up (space is limited!) click the link here.

So if you are in the bay area, do come and learn the coolest new technologies.

Monday Jan 21, 2013

A short Big Data and Engineered Systems Customer Video

Apart from the 2012 Government Big Data Award hear from Thomson Reuters in this video:

Friday Jan 18, 2013

Big Data Appliance X3-2 Updates

Untitled Document

Hello world. Waaw, time went by too fast. Happy new year, and here is the long past due update on the new Big Data Appliance and the software updates.

Big Data Appliance X3-2

Both the software as well as the hardware of the Big Data Appliance got a refresher.

Hardware Update

A good place to start is to quickly review the hardware differences (no price changes!). On a per node basis the following is a comparison between old and new (X3-2) hardware:

Big Data Appliance v1

Big Data Appliance X3-2


2 x 6-Core Intel® Xeon® 5675 (3.06 GHz)
2 x 8-Core Intel® Xeon® E5-2660 (2.2 GHz)
64GB expandable to 512GB

12 x 3TB High Capacity SAS

12 x 3TB High Capacity SAS
1 KVM Switch
N/A (removed)

For all the details on the environmentals and other useful information, review the data sheet for Big Data Appliance X3-2. For those wondering what we did with the 2RU we now have left from the KVM, that is open space, at the top of the rack.

The higher core count gives a BDA X3-2 more parallel compute power while saving some 30% in energy and heat.

Software Update

As we did with Hardware, a good place to start is a quick overview of the software changes in below table:

Big Data Appliance v1.1.x Software Stack Big Data Appliance V2.0.1 Software Stack
Oracle Linux 5.6
Oracle Linux 5.8 with UEK
Cloudera CDH
CDH 3u4
CDH 4.1.x
Cloudera Manager
CM 3
CM 4.1
Oracle Enterprise Manager
Big Data Appliance Plug-In for Enterprise Manager
Open Source R
Oracle R Distribution 2.x
Big Data Connectors *
Big Data Connectors 1.1.x
Big Data Connectors 2.0.x
Oracle NoSQL Database CE **
NoSQL DB 1.x
NoSQL DB 2.x

* Oracle Big Data Connectors is a separately licensed product which can be pre-installed and pre-configured on BDA
** Oracle NoSQL DB 2.x will be pre-installed in a future update to Mammoth but can be applied manually today

Apart from the versions updates, bug fixes and a great number of performance improvements across the entire system, the biggest updates are the inclusion of CDH 4.1.2 and the default set up of highly available name nodes for Hadoop, the Enterprise Manager management of the BDA, the uptake of the Oracle R Distribution and the updates to Oracle NoSQL Database. In a nutshell these updates deliver the following improvements:

Cloudera CDH 4.1.x

The latest version of CDH and CM deliver:

  • Higher overall performance
  • Highly available name nodes with the BDA using failover quorum processes instead of an external HA filer solution
  • Vastly expanded management capabilities via CM 4

On top of this, BDA now has both Zookeeper and Oozie configured out of the box.

Oracle Enterprise Manager

The new Big Data Appliance Plug-In for Enterprise Manager delivers the first end-to-end management of the Hadoop cluster from hardware metrics to software and Hadoop metrics. To achieve the end-to-end management of the system Enterprise Manager delivers all the system metrics users are used to from the Exadata Plug-In for Enterprise Manager. Enterprise Manager enables a seamless transition between the Hardware and high level software monitoring and the expanded Hadoop monitoring and diagnostics from Cloudera Manager. This combination of functionality makes operations for a BDA simpler and allows operations staff to seamlessly switch between their Exadata, Big Data Appliance and other Oracle Engineered systems.

Oracle R Distribution

The big difference between Oracle R Distribution and the Opensource R distribution is that Oracle R Distribution is enabled to dynamically load the math kernel libraries on the CPUs from both Intel and AMD. This increases performance of basic calculations, which in turn increases the performance of the overall R calculations because more math is off-loaded into the CPUs.

Oracle NoSQL Database 2.x

A great number of great new features are added into NoSQL DB 2.x. Most of these are in both the Community Edition as well in the Enterprise Edition. Charles Lamb has a nice concise post describing what is new here.

Big Data Connectors

To close out, Big Data Connectors got a refresher focused on performance, so download the new products here and give them a go via this download page. More information on news, read the data sheet here.

Tuesday Nov 20, 2012

Winner of the 2012 Government Big Data Solutions Award

Hot off the press:

The winner of the 2012 Government Big Data Solutions Aware is the National Cancer Institute!! Read all the details on

A short excerpt to wet your appetite: "... This solution, based on the Oracle Big Data Appliance with the Cloudera Distribution of Apache Hadoop (CDH), leverages capabilities available from the Big Data community today in pioneering ways that can serve a broad range of researchers. The promising approach of this solution is repeatable across many other Big Data challenges for bioinfomatics, making this approach worthy of its selection as the 2012 Government Big Data Solution Award."

Read the entire post.

Congrats to the entire team!!

Friday Oct 12, 2012

Read how a customer uses Oracle NoSQL Database

For those who have had the pleasure to be in SF for Oracle Openworld, you might have seen or heard about this story already. If you did not, here is a great story on how to use Oracle NoSQL Database.

Apart from all the cool technology, I'm just excited that this is a company founded by a football international and dealing with sports data, games and other cool things. Like an all things cool combo in one place.

Thursday Sep 27, 2012

Two interesting big data sessions around Openworld

For those who want to talk (not listen) about big data, here are 2 very cool sessions:

BOF9877 - A birds of a feather session around all things big data. It is on Monday, Oct 1, 6:15 PM - 7:00 PM - Marriott Marquis - Golden Gate. While all guests on the panel are special, we will have very special guest on the panel. He is a proud owner of a Big Data Appliance (see here).

Then there is a Big Data SIG meeting (the invite from Gwen):

I'd like to invite everyone to our OOW12 meet up. We'll meet on Tuesday, October 2nd, 8:45 to 9:45 at Moscone West Level 3, Overlook 3. We will network, socialize and discuss plans for the group. Which topics interest us for webinars? Which conferences do we want to meet in? What other activities we are interested in? We can also discuss big data topics, show off our great work, and seek advice on the challenges. Other than figuring out what we are collectively interested in, the discussion will be pretty open.

Here is the official invite.

See you at Openworld!!

Wednesday Sep 26, 2012

See a Big Data Appliance in the wild

It is a news day today, check out the pictures of the BDA getting wheeled into Enkitec...

Kerry's Blog Post

Always fun to see  happy faces when the new to arrives. Looking forward to more Enkitec news in the coming weeks (starting at Openworld of course).

Big data: An evening in the life of an actual buyer

Here I am, and this is an actual story of one of my evenings, trying to spend money with a company and ultimately failing. I just gave up and bought a service from another vendor, not the incumbent. Here is that story and how I think big data could actually fix this (and potentially prevent some of this from happening). In the end this story should illustrate how big data can benefit me (get me what I want without causing grief) and the company I am trying to buy something from.

Note: Lots of details left out, I have no intention of being the annoyed blogger moaning about a specific company.

What did I want to get?

We watch TV, we have internet and we do have a land line. The land line is from a different vendor then the TV and the internet. I have decided that this makes no sense and I was going to get a bundle (no need to infer who this is, I just picked the generic bundle word as this is what I want to get) of all three services as this seems to save me money. I also want to not talk to people, I just want to click on a website when I feel like it and get it all sorted. I do think that is reality. I want to just do my shopping at 9.30pm while watching silly reruns on TV.

Problem 1 - Bad links

So, I'm an existing customer of the company I want to buy my bundle from. I go to the website, I click on offers. Turns out they are offers for new customers. After grumbling about how good they are, I click on offers for existing customers. Bummer, it goes to offers for new customers, so I click again on the link for offers for existing customers. No cigar... it just does not work.

Big data solutions:

1) Do not show an existing customer the offers for new customers unless they are the same => This is only partially doable without login, but if a customer logs in the application should always know that this is an existing customer. But in general, imagine I do this from my home going through the internet service of this vendor to their domain... an instant filter should move me into the "existing customer route".

2) Flag dead or incorrect links => I've clicked the link for "existing customer offers" at least 3 times in under 5 seconds... Identifying patterns like this is easy in Hadoop and can very quickly make a list of potentially incorrect links. No need for realtime fixing, just the fact that this link can be pro-actively fixed across my entire web domain is a good thing. Preventative maintenance!

Problem 2 - Purchase cannot be completed

Apart from the fact that the browsing pattern to actually get to what I want is poorly designed, my purchase never gets past a specific point. In other words, I put something into my shopping cart and when I want to move on the application either crashes (with me going to an error page) or hangs or goes into something like chat. So I try again, and again and again. I think I tried this entire path (while being logged in!!) at least 10 times over the course of 20 minutes. I also clicked on the feedback button and, frustrated as I was, tried to explain this did not work...

Big Data Solutions:

1) This web site does shopping cart analysis. I got an email next day stating I have things in my shopping cart, just click here to complete my purchase. After the above experience, this just added insult to my pain...

2) What should have happened, is a Hadoop job going over all logged in customers that are on the buy flow. It should flag anyone who is trying (multiple attempts from the same user to do the same thing), analyze the shopping card, the clicks to identify what the customers wants, his feedback provided (note: always own your own website feedback, never just farm this out!!) and in a short turn around time (30 minutes to 2 hours or so) email me with a link to complete my purchase. Not with a link to my shopping cart 12 hours later, but a link to actually achieve what I wanted...

Why should this company go through the big data effort?

I do believe this is relatively easy to do using our Oracle Event Processing and Big Data Appliance solutions combined. It is almost so simple (to my mind) that it makes no sense that this is not in place? But, now I am ranting... Why is this interesting? It is because of $$$$.

After trying really hard, I mean I did this all in the evening, and again in the morning before going to work. I kept on failing, But I really wanted this to work... so an email that said, sorry, we noticed you tried to get a bundle (the log knows what I wanted, where I failed, so easy to generate), here is the link to click and complete your purchase. And here is 2 movies on us as an apology would have kept me as a customer, and got the additional $$$$ per month for the next couple of years. It would also lead to upsell on my phone package etc.

Instead, I went to a completely different company, bought service from them. Lost money for company A, negative sentiment for company A and me telling this story at the water cooler so I'm influencing more people to think negatively about company A. All in all, a loss of easy money, a ding in sentiment and image where a relatively simple solution exists and can be in place on the software I describe routinely in this blog...

For those who are coming to Openworld and maybe see value in solving the above, or are thinking of how to solve this, come visit us in Moscone North - Oracle Red Lounge or in the Engineered Systems Showcase.

Wednesday Sep 12, 2012

Big Data Sessions at Openworld 2012

If you are coming to San Francisco, and you are interested in all the aspects to big data, this Focus On Big Data is a must have document. 

Some (other) highlights:

  • A performance demo of a full rack Big Data Appliance in the engineered systems showcase
  • A set of handson labs on how to go from a NoSQL DB to an effective analytics play on big data
  • Much, much more

See you all in a few weeks in SF!

Wednesday Sep 05, 2012

E-Book on big data (featuring Analysts, Customers and more)

As we are gearing up for Openworld, here is a nice E-book on big data to start paging through. It contains Gartner's take on big data, customer and partner interviews and a lot more good info. Enjoy the read so you come prepared for Openworld!!

Read the E-Book here.

For those coming to Oracle Openworld (or the Americas Cup races around the same time), you can find big data sessions via this URL.



The data warehouse insider is written by the Oracle product management team and sheds lights on all thing data warehousing and big data.


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