Thursday May 23, 2013

“As The World 'Goes Software,' Oracle Has An Upside In Hardware” says ESG Analyst

Last month, Oracle invited industry analysts for an annual deep dive on what’s to come. One of these analysts – ESG’s senior analyst Mark Peters – recently posted an update of how he spent some of his time at the event. We totally recommend you visit his blog and check out the post, but here are a few highlights:

Diverse Crowd
Peters was struck by the fact that he wasn’t seeing a lot of familiar faces in the crowd. He later realized the reason for that was because Oracle doesn’t just have a hardware message – it also speaks to the software side of the equation. 

“The opportunities for Oracle to make significant progress in terms of market share and revenue lie in markets that it does not yet dominate. It’s a crucial point for this growing systems house.”

That’s a crucial point we’re well positioned for. Our complete stack of offerings provide world-record-breaking performance by fusing critical pieces of software and hardware in ways that deliver cost-performance unlike anything the tech industry has seen.

Bullish on Storage
Mark filmed a brief interview with Oracle’s Phil Bullinger, senior vice president of storage. Mark and Phil go into great details on the ZFS Storage business.



Magnetic Personality
Mark also interviewed Jim Cates, vice president of hardware development, regarding what’s coming for tape storage from Oracle – and more.

 

Thursday May 02, 2013

New Storage Podcast Series Highlights 10 Important Purchase Considerations

Whether you are new to storage or a seasoned professional, deciding which storage systems to buy can have a big impact on how your business performs. There are a lot of factors to consider and each one should be weighed in light of the impact it will have on your applications, business processes, risk exposure, management overhead and of course your budget. I have started a series of podcasts to examine the top 10 considerations you should keep in mind when deciding which storage system you should go with as well as the impact those considerations might have for your business. Luckily, we have many great people at Oracle with deep storage experience, so I rounded up three individuals who can really help examine common issues like performance, scalability and high availablity. I will be releasing roughly one episode a week so check back often. You can listen right from the webpage below or just subscribe with your favorite podcatching app.

Podcast: Making The Right Storage Choices - A Ten Part Series

Monday Apr 08, 2013

Power DBaaS with Sun ZFS Storage Appliance

If you have been thinking about setting up a DBaaS (Database as a Service) for your company you won't want to miss this webcast about implementing DBaaS using Oracle Enterprise Manager 12c and Oracle Sun ZFS Storage Appliance. In this webcast you will learn about the features and benefits that the Sun ZFS Storage Appliances provide when used with Enterprise Manager 12c DBaaS Snap Clone and watch a live demo of this exciting new feature. Snap Clone leverages Oracle's own Sun ZFS Storage Appliance system to clone even the largest database in minutes while at the same time providing unmatched performance and efficiency. Users can create their own copies for functional testing and development without consuming large amounts of disk space.

Webcast: Database Provisioning Made Easy - Using Enterprise Manager 12c DBaaS Snap Clone and Sun ZFS Storage Appliance
April 11 - 10:00 a.m. PT

Register Now!

Wednesday Apr 03, 2013

Unleash the Full Power of Oracle's new SPARC T5 and M5 Servers with Sun ZFS Storage Appliance

FDR wasn’t talking to storage architects when he famously said “We have nothing to fear but fear itself,” but with Oracle’s launch of powerful new SPARC servers, he could have been.  Just think, the SPARC T5-8 server packs up to 1,024 threads and 4TB of memory into 8U of rack space – a capability that up until a couple of years ago was reserved for the world’s fastest supercomputers. As a result, storage architects are concerned that their legacy NAS and SAN systems won’t be able to keep up with these new computational powerhouses. Is their fear justified?

The answer is an unequivocal “Yes, “but they can do something about it.

Over the years I’ve seen lots of companies stick with existing storage when they move to new, more powerful servers.  I understand the reasoning – they’re just running the same applications and databases, so they don’t need new storage.  But their users won’t use the applications in the same way  as before even if that was the plan.  For example, business intelligence apps will run faster, so end-users want to analyze larger problems or run more predictive models,  putting unforeseen pressure on the storage systems, which can easily lead to fear. 

To assuage your fear, you need to ensure that your new SPARC T5 servers are complemented by equally powerful storage systems that can keep up with the I/O loads the servers generate and yet be agile enough to change when application requirements dictate. The good news is that Oracle has a storage solution that meets these needs.

Oracle’s Sun ZFS Storage Appliance are specifically engineered to support the new SPARC servers with more compute threads to serve more concurrent I/O requests, more memory and Flash caches to efficiently serve massive numbers of VMs, and more memory bandwidth to move data through the system as it is needed.

And, it doesn’t stop there. 

Many of the SPARC T5 servers that we ship will run Oracle Database, and Oracle’s efforts to engineer hardware and software together extend beyond the database and the server to include the three-way optimization of Oracle software, Oracle servers, and Oracle storage.  

It only makes sense that Oracle would be able to engineer the best storage for Oracle Database and SPARC T5 systems.  There are many reasons why this is so, but three of the ones we highlight in our press release are:

1. Oracle Database benefits from high levels of parallelization in both SPARC T5 server and Sun ZFS Storage Appliances. 

2. Sun ZFS Storage Appliances are the only NAS systems that support Oracle Solaris Cluster and work with SPARC T5 systems to deliver sub-second application failover for mission-critical applications that experience a server or software problem. 

3. Sun ZFS Storage Appliances deliver multi-faceted I/O stack optimization for Oracle Database that that increase performance and simplify the creation and development of both production and test and development environments. 

The bottom line is that you can update your compute infrastructure independently of your storage and risk the consequences, or you can incorporate Sun ZFS Storage Appliances and get the only storage specifically engineered to optimize SPARC T5 environments.

To find out more about the Sun ZFS Storage Appliance and how it supports Oracle Database environments download the Transforming Business with Oracle Optimized Storage for Oracle Database 11g white paper and see how Oracle IT Relies on Sun ZFS Storage Appliance to power the Oracle Cloud.


Tuesday Jan 15, 2013

Oracle IaaS with Capacity on Demand – Engineered Systems Hardware for a Monthly Fee. Possibly the Greatest Thing Since Sliced Bread.

It’s no mystery that Oracle offers the most comprehensive and flexible portfolio of cloud products and services in the industry. From public cloud to private cloud, our strategy is to empower and support customers to make the best decisions with products and services that address their needs throughout their journey to the cloud. Today, we’re excited to announce the addition of Oracle Infrastructure as a Service with Capacity on Demand (Oracle IaaS).

Engineered SystemsWhat is Oracle IaaS you say? It’s Oracle’s newest private cloud offering that enables organizations to deploy Oracle Engineered Systems, including Oracle Exadata Database Machine, Oracle Exalogic Elastic CloudOracle Exalytics In-Memory Machine, Sun ZFS Storage Appliance,and Oracle SPARC SuperCluster, in their own data centers, behind their firewall – all for a monthly fee.

Yes, you heard that right. Now you can have Oracle Engineered Systems hardware deployed on-premise without upfront capital expenditures in a pure OpEx model in which Oracle still owns the hardware. With Oracle IaaS, instead of buying or leasing the hardware, you can now spread the cost over time by paying a simple monthly fee – there’s no financing or complex lease terms involved.

What’s Capacity on Demand? Well for customers who want the power, security, and reliability of an on-premise engineered system, but don’t necessarily need all of that computing capacity all the time, each Oracle IaaS system includes additional CPU capacity that can be enabled at any time to handle peak workloads and disabled when no longer needed. Capacity on Demand helps keep infrastructure costs down because customers only pay for the additional CPU capacity during the months it’s used, while providing extra juice whenever workloads spike or business requirements change.

Wait, there’s more. Oracle Infrastructure as a Service includes industry-leading services that maximize performance, reliability and security. With the monthly fee, customers also receive Oracle Premier Support for Systems, Oracle Platinum Services, and the new Oracle PlatinumPlus Services which provide quarterly proactive analysis and advisory services to ensure that customers’ systems are configured optimally – all at no extra cost.

Don't just take my word for it. Learn more about Oracle IaaS with Capacity on Demand at http://oracle.com/goto/iaas. Also, join Mark Hurd and Juan Loaiza on January 22nd for the LIVE webcast Introducing Oracle Infrastructure as a Service.

Thursday Nov 15, 2012

The SPARC SuperCluster

Oracle has been providing a lead in the Engineered Systems business for quite a while now, in accordance with the motto "Hardware and Software Engineered to Work Together." Indeed it is hard to find a better definition of these systems. 

Allow me to summarize the idea. It is: 

  • Build a compute platform optimized to run your technologies
  • Develop application aware, intelligently caching storage components
  • Take an impressively fast network technology interconnecting it with the compute nodes
  • Tune the application to scale with the nodes to yet unseen performance
  • Reduce the amount of data moving via compression
  • Provide this all in a pre-integrated single product with a single-pane management interface

All these ideas have been around in IT for quite some time now. The real Oracle advantage is adding the last one to put these all together. Oracle has built quite a portfolio of Engineered Systems, to run its technologies - and run those like they never ran before. In this post I'll focus on one of them that serves as a consolidation demigod, a general purpose engineered system. 

As you probably have guessed, I am talking about the SPARC SuperCluster. It has many great features inherited from its predecessors, and it adds several new ones. Allow me to pick out and elaborate about some of the most interesting ones from a technological point of view. 

The SPARC SuperCluster

I. It is the SPARC SuperCluster T4-4. That is, as compute nodes, it includes SPARC T4-4 servers that we learned to appreciate and respect for their features:

  • The SPARC T4 CPUs:
    • Each CPU has 8 cores, each core runs 8 threads. The SPARC T4-4 servers have 4 sockets. That is, a single compute node can in parallel, simultaneouslyexecute 256 threads. Now, a full-rack SPARC SuperCluster has 4 of these servers on board. Remember the keyword demigod. 
    • While retaining the forerunner SPARC T3's exceptional throughput, the SPARC T4 CPUs raise the bar with single performance too - a humble 5x better one than their ancestors. 
      • actually, the SPARC T4 CPU cores run in both single-threaded and multi-threaded mode, and switch between these two on-the-fly, fulfilling not only single-threaded OR multi-threaded applications' needs, but even mixed requirements (like in database workloads!).
    • Data security, anyone? Every SPARC T4 CPU core has a built-in encryption engine, that is, encryption algorithms cast into silicon
    • A PCI controller right on the chip for customers who need I/O performance. 
  • Built-in, no-cost Virtualization: 
    • Oracle VM for SPARC (the former LDoms or Logical Domains) is not a server-emulation virtualization technology but rather a serverpartitioning one, the hypervisor runs in the server firmware, and all the VMs' HW resources (I/O, CPU, memory) are accessed natively, without performance overhead. 
    • This enables customers to run a number of Solaris 10 and Solaris 11 VMs separated, independent of each other within a physical server

II. For Database performance, it includes Exadata Storage Cells - one of the main reasons why the Exadata Database Machine performs at diabolic speed. What makes them important?

  • They provide DB backend storage for your Oracle Databases to run on the SPARC SuperCluster, that is what they are built and tuned for DB performance. 
  • These storage cells are SQL-aware
    • That is, if a SPARC T4 database compute node executes a query, it doesn't simply request tons of raw datablocks from the storage, filters the received data, and throws away most of it where the statement doesn't apply, but provides the SQL query to the storage node too. The storage cell software speaks SQL, that is, it is able to prefilter and through that transfer only the relevant data. With this, the traffic between database nodes and storage cells is reduced immensely. Less I/O is a good thing - as they say, all the CPUs of the world do one thing just as fast as any other - and that is waiting for I/O. 
    • They don't only pre-filter, but also provide data preprocessing features - e.g. if a DB-node requests an aggregate of data, they can calculate it, and handover only the results, not the whole set. Again, less data to transfer. 
  • They support the magical HCC, (Hybrid Columnar Compression). That is, data can be stored in a precompressed form on the storage. Less data to transfer. 
  • Of course one can't simply rely on disks for performance, there is Flash Storage included there for caching. 

III. The low latency, high-speed backbone network: InfiniBand, that interconnects all the members with:

  • Real High Speed: 40 Gbit/s. Full Duplex, of course. Oh, and a really low latency. 
  • RDMA. Remote Direct Memory Access. This technology allows the DB nodes to do exactly that. Remotely, directly placing SQL commands into the Memory of the storage cells. Dodging all the network-stack bottlenecks, avoiding overhead, placing requests directly into the process queue. 
  • You can also run IP over InfiniBand if you please - that's the way the compute nodes can communicate with each other. 

IV. Including a general-purpose storage too: the ZFSSA, which is a unified storage, providing NAS and SAN access too, with the following features: 

  • NFS over RDMA over InfiniBand. Nothing is faster network-filesystem-wise. 
  • All the ZFS features onboard, hybrid storage pools, compression, deduplication, snapshot, replication, NFS and CIFS shares
  • Storageheads in a HA-Cluster configuration providing availability of the data 
  • DTrace Live Analytics in a web-based Administration UI
  • Being a general purpose application data storage for your non-database applications running on the SPARC SuperCluster over whichever protocol they prefer, easily replicating, snapshotting, cloning data for them. 

There's a lot of great technology included in Oracle's SPARC SuperCluster, we have talked its interior through. As for external scalability: you can start with a half- of full- rack SPARC SuperCluster, and scale out to several racks - that is, stacking not separate full-rack SPARC SuperClusters, but extending always one large instance of the size of several full-racks. Yes, over InfiniBand network. Add racks as you grow. 

What technologies shall run on it? SPARC SuperCluster is a general purpose scaleout consolidation/cloud environment. You can run Oracle Databases with RAC scaling, or Oracle Weblogic (end enjoy the SPARC T4's advantages to run Java). Remember, Oracle technologies have been integrated with the Oracle Engineered Systems - this is the Oracle on Oracle advantage. But you can run other software environments such as SAP if you please too. Run any application that runs on Oracle Solaris 10 or Solaris 11. Separate them in Virtual Machines, or even Oracle Solaris Zones, monitor and manage those from a central UI.

Here the key takeaways once again:

The SPARC SuperCluster:

  • Is a pre-integrated Engineered System
  • Contains SPARC T4-4 servers with built-in virtualization, cryptography, dynamic threading
  • Contains the Exadata storage cells that intelligently offload the burden of the DB-nodes 
  • Contains a highly available ZFS Storage Appliance, that provides SAN/NAS storage in a unified way
  • Combines all these elements over a high-speed, low-latency backbone network implemented with InfiniBand
  • Can grow from a single half-rack to several full-rack size
  • Supports the consolidation of hundreds of applications

To summarize: All these technologies are great by themselves, but the real value is like in every other Oracle Engineered System: Integration. All these technologies are tuned to perform together. Together they are way more than the sum of all - and a careful and actually very time consuming integration process is necessary to orchestrate all these for performance. The SPARC SuperCluster's goal is to enable infrastructure operations and offer a pre-integrated solution that can be architected and delivered in hours instead of months of evaluations and tests. The tedious and most importantly time and resource consuming part of the work - testing and evaluating - has been done. 

Now go, provide services.  

-- charlie  

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Oracle engineers hardware and software to work together in the cloud and in your data center. For more information about Oracle (NASDAQ:ORCL), visit www.oracle.com.

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