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Beware of the Frankenstack! Do you mix software and hardware vendors?

Meg Hall
Product Marketing Manager

If your technology stack is a ghoulish mish-mash of hardware and software, the performance effects on your business could be frightening. 

In the classic 1931 film Frankenstein, the brilliant young Dr. Henry Frankenstein, accompanied by his hunchbacked assistant Fritz, cries at the moment of “creation” of his monster, “It’s alive!” Dr. Frankenstein had spent countless hours working in his castle-tower laboratory assembling body parts to bring to life the monster. After the monster destroys everybody Dr. Frankenstein loves, he laments, “Remorse extinguished every hope.” 

While we generally do not refer to the data center as a castle-tower laboratory (though some C-suite executives may beg to differ), it’s true that some scary manifestations of technology have been known to emerge from the depths of organizations’ archaic infrastructure. We call it a “Frankenstack.”

Frankenstack - a Frankenstein approach to building your IT infrastructure


The Frankenstack Within

What is a Frankenstack? Much like the monster in the movie, a Frankenstack is the piecing together of DIY hardware and software in your organization’s enterprise systems architecture. Even if you select best of breed middleware, database, operating systems, virtual machines, servers and storage, because they’re not optimized to work together efficiently, this mish-mash of components hampers database performance, threatens security, and can block your path to the cloud.

  • Performance: If your database isn’t running on an integrated technology stack, it’s running in degraded mode. This has costly implications for speed: Database queries take longer than they could be on an engineered system purpose-built for efficiency. Delivery cycles for new applications will take longer as well, especially for larger applications. No business can afford the extra operational effort and lower availability that stem from degraded performance.


  • Security: Every layer in your Frankenstack leaves you exposed to new security threats. You’ll need to patch each layer of the stack separately, and this increases complexity and downtime—another set of risks no business can afford. The average data breach costs a company $3.9 million, and most breaches occur through vulnerabilities for which a patch is already available. And if you hit any snags along the way, you’ll have to juggle multiple vendors to diagnose the fix the problem—which is more time and effort wasted.


  • Path to the cloud: By settling for a Frankenstack, your business bypasses an easy path to the cloud—either a public cloud or in your data center. A roll-your-own (RYO) technology stack often comprises apps running on legacy operating systems, and these applications are often little monsters unto themselves, either heavily customized off-the-shelf applications or custom apps developed to meet particular business needs. This leaves organizations grounded, as many organizations don’t have the time, budget, or skills to rewrite their applications.

Frankenstacks can even disguise themselves as friendly spirits when it comes to multicloud. While deciding to work with a whole host of cloud providers and cloud software may seem like a reasonable way to transform your business, it presents its own challenges. Different data models, management models, and service models only serve to recreate the complexity of a RYO technology stack—a horror show you can’t afford to revisit.

Sid Nag, research director at Gartner, reminds us that organizations need to be cautious about IaaS providers potentially gaining unchecked influence over customers and the market. He says that in response to multicloud adoption trends, “Organizations will increasingly demand a simpler way to move workloads, applications and data across cloud providers’ IaaS offerings without penalties.”

While cloud computing was initially intended to simplify IT through standardization, consolidation, and centralization, today’s enterprises are operating in a more fragmented IT landscape that must integrate both on-premises resources and a variety of private and public cloud environments.

Exadata and Engineered Systems - the best place to run your applications

A Less Scary Model: Oracle Engineered Systems

Luckily, your story doesn’t have to end with a monstrous Frankenstack bringing down the enterprise. Oracle Engineered Systems offer an alternative: an integrated technology stack in which the components are purpose-built to work together—one which is pre-built, pre-tuned, and optimized, so that you don’t have to waste time and resources building the stack yourself and so that you won’t risk building a monster.

One of the most important advantages of an engineered system is the performance improvement. Co-engineered components operate more efficiently and with greater speed, which supports better customer experiences through faster access to websites and applications, and lets employees leverage data faster to perform better in their roles.

An integrated IT stack also minimizes the maintenance requirements from IT staff and maximizes system security. IT can patch the entire stack at once, and if any service or diagnostics become necessary, the IT team works with just one vendor that can pinpoint and address the issue at once. Furthermore, Oracle Engineered Systems have exact cloud equivalents, making a move to the cloud a seamless and simple process.

At the heart of Oracle Engineered Systems is Exadata, which is optimized for running Oracle Database. It achieves higher performance and availability and lower cost by moving database algorithms and intelligence into storage and networking, bypassing the traditional processing layer. Originally designed for use in corporate data centers or deployed as private clouds, it became available in 2015 in the Oracle Cloud as a subscription service. In early 2017, a third Exadata deployment choice became available as Exadata Cloud at Customer, an Exadata Cloud Service technology deployed on-premises (behind the corporate firewall) and managed by Oracle Cloud experts.

Now in its seventh generation, Exadata has added a substantial number of unique database capabilities that just can’t be matched with generic server-storage approaches. In other words, stick a Frankenstack on your Oracle Database and expect some side effects. Chief among them are lower performance, longer delivery cycles for new applications (especially larger ones), more operational effort, and less-than-optimal security and availability. In fact, Exadata’s security patching has been automated by Oracle to reduce complexity.

Exadata’s predictable results have helped customers to lower investment in keeping things running in order to focus on innovating. No tricks—just treats—when it comes to a real future-proof investment.

Allied Bank Banishes IT Complexity and Speeds Up Key Processes

Allied Bank Limited (ABL) is a perfect case in point. One of Pakistan’s leading banks, ABL reduced its critical close-of-business (COB) processing time by as much as 50% with the successful deployment of Oracle Exadata Database Machine. Although the bank has previously optimized its core banking applications at the software level to improve OLTP and COB performance, the system still needed a boost. Exadata was the only solution that allowed the bank to shrink time for critical reporting processes at a reduced infrastructure cost. It also helped the bank improve its data protection capabilities, simplify its IT, and accelerate its expansion plans due to Exadata’s ability to scale.

Your IT Infrastructure Doesn’t Have to Be Frightful

The moral of the story is that digital transformation shouldn’t be stopped by a Frankenstack. Cloud-ready engineered systems mean the barriers and penalties that once existed to moving workloads, applications, and data to the cloud have been eliminated, and the new world order of choice and control to shape your organization’s cloud journey is alive! And unlike how Dr. Frankenstein felt about his creation, we can now say that hope extinguishes any remorse.

Happy Halloween!

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