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Database Workload - Is There Anything Exadata Can't Do?

Guest Author

Today's guest post is by Martin Bach, Oracle Ace Director focusing on Oracle Engineered Systems and Oracle 12c at Accenture Enkitec Group.

One of my favorite things to talk about is Oracle Exadata.  During my tenure at Accenture Enkitec Group (AEG), I have gotten to work on some of the most interesting Exadata projects and implementations.  As part of the Oak Table network and as an Oracle ACE Director, I also interact with some of the greatest Oracle minds in the industry. I really do think I have found my dream occupation.  

Speaking of great Oracle minds, I recently got the opportunity to talk with Tim Mooney, Product Marketing Director at Oracle.  He asked me about my experiences and best practices when implementing Oracle Exadata.  Here's a recap of our conversation.

Q, Mooney, Oracle—This is certainly a treat to talk with you.  Your Oracle expertise precedes you since you've written a couple of books about Oracle Database, and you often speak at Oracle User Group meetings.  You are a co-author one of my favorite technology books, Expert Oracle Exadata, 2nd edition ; What was that experience like and where can people find the book?
Bach, AEG—It was a really great experience.  I feel very fortunate that AEG allows me to research new technologies and work on exciting projects like the latest edition of the book.  The book is available at apress.com and amazon.com.  I really like to speak at Oracle community event to share my experiences and research.  I'm based in Germany, but I'd be very happy to speak at Oracle User Group events all around the world.

Q, Mooney, Oracle—From your perspective, what is Exadata's sweet spot?
Bach, AEG—I have been working with Exadata since v2.  In my experience, Exadata's focus and benefits have come in stages.  The first stage appeared to be geared toward decision support systems—customers with big data warehouses that needed scalability to off-load queries and unique compression capabilities.  The second stage, and what appears to be a major industry trend at the moment, is toward consolidation.  Exadata can deal with a wide variety of workloads, including mixed workloads, which is unique for Exadata.  I'm not aware of anything similar on the market.  I have seen quite a few systems recently where people are using tools to find complimentary workloads and consolidating them on Exadata.

Q, Mooney, Oracle—When you are working with clients, how do you implement Oracle Exadata?
Bach, AEG—At AEG, we follow three phases when we are dealing with a database consolidation project.  We call the first phase the discovery phase.  We figure out which databases are in the scope of the project.  Then we use a tool we call "eSP" that tells us the performance characteristics and records the demand for the different databases.  Then we plan the migration and figure out which Oracle Exadata configuration will work best for the databases in the project.  Our migration strategies depend on the size of the databases and the availability of the databases, since some can't be down at all and some can be down for short periods of time.  Once we know we've got the plan in place and we know it's repeatable, we do the actual migration to the Exadata platform.

Q, Mooney, Oracle—What makes Oracle Exadata really good for consolidations?
Bach, AEG—With Exadata, the OS image is already pre-defined and validated by Oracle.  You don't need to worry about the InfiniBand compatibility, interactions with storage servers, or connections between database servers.  Sure, you could build the consolidation platform yourself, but it would be very time-consuming because there would be lots of components to validate.

Q, Mooney, Oracle—Are there any software features that you wouldn't be able to implement if you didn't deploy on Oracle Exadata?
Bach, AEG—Without a doubt, you wouldn't be able to offload data to storage servers, and you wouldn't be able to perform related tasks such as back-up/recovery and fast file creation.  On a daily basis, I am blown away by the pace at which Exadata can process very large amounts of data, especially where flash cache becomes an automatic part of the process to scan large amounts of data.  I also really like Exadata's smart flash log that helps to even out I/O latencies.  The hybrid columnar compression is a great feature if it's used correctly to reduce the storage footprint of an application. I am also a big fan of I/O resource management.  I have tested it extensively; especially with multi-tenant situations where you can define resource plans to make sure each of your consolidated workloads get the resources they need.

Q, Mooney, Oracle—What are your thoughts about Oracle Exadata and in-memory workloads?
Bach, AEG—It's an interesting concept.  I've done some research and learned that Exadata and in-memory workloads work really well together. If you can populate the in-memory area to contain just active data sets for scheduled or ad hoc reports, in-memory workloads make perfect sense.  You can also use Exadata smart scans for data segments that aren't populated in in-memory column stores.  These two processes complement each other and give you much more flexibility.

Q, Mooney, Oracle—Most people think of performance with Oracle Exadata.  However, what you're describing sounds like Exadata provides lots of versatility and allows you to gain efficiencies as well as time and money savings with consolidations. Do you agree?
Bach, AEG—Yes, of course.  You can see the benefits when you don't have to maintain as many platforms.  If you've got several different Oracle Databases running on many different operating systems, it's expensive to maintain.  On the other hand, Exadata focuses on a single platform, and it's certified against a number of databases.  The My Oracle support notes explain what databases you can deploy on what versions so you don't have to figure that out for yourself.  There hasn't been a fundamental change since the product hit the market.  Once you know the system, you understand how it works and how the components interact, that knowledge doesn't become obsolete.

If you have additional questions or would like to talk about other aspects of Oracle Exadata, Oracle Database, or Oracle Engineered Systems, feel free to get in touch with me on LinkedIn, via Twitter @MartinDBA, or at Xing.

Also, hear more from Martin Bach and our partner experts on the Oracle Exadata podcast channel, now live.

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