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The Case For Oracle Engineered Storage

Chuck Hollis
SVP, Oracle Converged Infrastructure Systems

You're probably aware that Oracle has been in the storage business for a while: through a combination of acquisitions and organic development. 

However, I'd say that the average storage buyer might not be familiar with Oracle Engineered Storage: what it does, where it fits, and how it's different than any other offering in the marketplace.

At a high level, Oracle Engineered Storage is storage designed and built by Oracle, for Oracle.  If you care about your Oracle databases, you should be interested in Oracle Engineered Storage.

So, if you're with me, let's take a tour together, shall we?

Oracle Databases Are Important

In many IT environments, the Oracle database supports the most critical enterprise applications and workflows.  That’s where the important information usually lives.

Not only business applications, but business analytics, perhaps content and collaboration, and more.

We would argue that the most important part of your IT landscape deserves purpose-built storage, and not something generic.

Oracle Storage Is Co-Engineered With The Oracle Database

At a high level, Oracle Engineered Storage is co-engineered with the Oracle Database.  Both engineering teams work for the same company and the same leader.  The two are designed to work together in ways that other solutions can’t begin to match.

That means when Oracle storage is used with the Oracle database, there’s a long list of differentiators.

As you’ll see, Oracle Engineered Storage is integrated with the Oracle Cloud.  Unlike other vendors, we can provide both on-premises and public cloud services designed to work together.

And since the database, infrastructure and cloud services all come from the same vendor, we can provide a single support experience that others can’t.

Co-Engineering Matters

Simply put, we’re the only storage vendor who can engineer and integrate the entire stack, both on-premises and in the cloud.

Here’s what this means:

- Our arrays are much simpler to install and configure, as they already have knowledge of the Oracle database and what it requires.  There’s no messy setup, and you get it right first time, every time.

- Day to day operations are simpler as well, there’s far less going back and forth between the database team and the storage team.  Less effort, and less chance of a problem.

- There are powerful database features — like Hybrid Columnar Compression, the Oracle Intelligent Storage Protocol and more — that only are available on Oracle infrastructure.  The result is that our storage performs better for less money, and we’re also more space efficient.

- As the industry moves to the cloud, a wide range of Oracle Cloud services are available today for things like backup, archive and tiering.

- And everything — from database to storage to cloud — is visible in one place and supported by a single vendor.

The Other Guys Can't Do This Stuff

The challenge with other storage vendors is that they have to be all things to all people, so it’s hard to specialize.  These same vendors don’t have the opportunity to co-engineer with the Oracle Database team.  To them, storage is storage — there’s nothing unique or different about the Oracle database.  And none of them have an integrated storage cloud.

If your Oracle database matters, using Oracle storage should matter as well.  Those other guys don’t have the performance optimizations, the data protection hooks, the security features and the efficiency engineering that results from co-engineering with the database.

From a management perspective, things are more difficult: the database administrator sees one thing, the storage admin another, and you’ve got to spend time and effort to connect the dots.  Not the case with Oracle Engineered Storage.

Should you ever experience problems between your Oracle database and your storage array, it’s a single, integrated call with Oracle Engineered Storage.

And as we look forward to the cloud, Oracle has attractive, pre-integrated cloud capabilities available today, all supported by the same company  Not so with these other guys.

A Tour Of The Portfolio

Got time for a quick tour through our storage portfolio?

For demanding tier 1 databases, we recommend the Oracle All Flash FS1 Storage System.  It’s faster and less expensive than the other guys, plus it’s designed by Oracle for Oracle.

For consolidating tier 2 workloads, test/dev and backup, we recommend the Oracle ZFS Storage Appliance.  It’s got the performance and unique functionality you won’t find in other NAS products.

For database recovery, we offer the Oracle Zero Data Loss Recovery Appliance, or ZLDRA.  Only ZDLRA can assure the fast, accurate restore of your critical databases.  Everything else is just a backup appliance.

For large, cost-effective archiving, we recommend Oracle StorageTek Tape.  Used with our HFS offering, it’s a great way to tame oceans of archival data.

And, most importantly, we offer a competitive range of storage cloud services: object storage, archival storage, database backup and more.

Each product comes with its own element manager.  Or you can script and integrate with your existing framework.  If you’re already an Oracle customer, you’re familiar with Oracle Enterprise Manager 12c.  The choice is yours.

Let’s spend a moment on each of these.

All-Flash FS1 Array

People like flash storage because it delivers predictable performance regardless of what workload profile you throw at it.  When we’re talking Oracle databases, that’s especially important.

We’ve designed the all-flash FS1 to deliver the highest possible performance and lowest latency you can get from an external array at the lowest cost.  It’s got enough grunt to consolidate multiple demanding databases, and not even break a sweat.

Better yet, we use AWR reports to precisely characterize what you should expect in terms of improved database performance.  There's no guessing.

We’ve optimized our storage environment for Oracle databases.  One-click templates will automatically configure and provision the system using Oracle database and application best practices.  The result is pallet to power-on to productivity in minutes.  

Unless you like fiddling around with storage arrays?

Let’s talk about space efficiency.  The problem with all other external arrays is that they don’t understand the logical structure of the Oracle database.  As a result, trying to use dedupe or compression results in either poor efficiency, poor performance or both.

Not the case here.

One example is a unique Oracle database feature — Hybrid Columnar Compression.  It exploits the fact that adjacent rows in a column often have similar data.  The results can be amazing; especially useful for queries and decision support.

Another great feature of the FS1 is IO prioritization, which is especially useful when you’re consolidating multiple workloads on a single array.  Important work gets done first — automatically.

The FS1 is also exceptionally secure.  Data can be isolated and doesn’t have to be intermixed.  Drive-level encryption can be augmented by key management — ours or yours.

The other two popular flash vendors out there are EMC with XtremIO, and Pure.

We have no problem going head-to-head with XtremIO on performance, or price/performance.  Their product wasn’t designed for Oracle databases, ours is.  They, like other vendors, have no intrinsic knowledge of the database.  This means, among other things, their dedupe is often ineffective.

Pure’s challenge is that their implementation doesn’t always deliver predictable performance, and that can create problems -- especially if we're talking about a critical database.  And, of course, none of their features are designed to work well with the Oracle Database — like data deduplication.

If you’re moving to flash storage, the Oracle all-flash FS1 deserves your consideration.

ZFS Storage Appliance

But not every workload can justify an all-flash approach.  For these situations, the popular Oracle ZFS Storage Appliance is a very popular alternative to traditional NAS vendors.

The first thing you notice is that it’s got a heavily cached architecture.  That means that vast majority of IOs are served out of either DRAM or flash.  It’s a performance monster which helps when consolidating multiple databases.

It’s very good at snaps and clones, and uses the preferred DBA interfaces to invoke and manage.  It’s also very good at granular encryption when you’ve got a lot of different workloads that all demand their own keys.

A big piece of the secret sauce here is OISP — the Oracle Intelligent Storage Protocol.  First, it can establish a direct pipe between database and storage, and eliminate much of the traditional storage protocol overhead.  Second, the database provides direct hints to the array on how best to optimize and tune database traffic.  Unlike other storage arrays, it actually understands individual pluggable databases which become important as people move to Oracle Database 12c.

It supports the same hybrid columnar compression as the FS1.  And, like the FS1, we use AWR reports to accurately predict expected performance levels when running the Oracle Database.

And, if you’re into storage performance analytics, you won’t find anything anywhere as deep and powerful as the ZFS capabilities, built on the legendary DTRACE from Solaris.  Powerful stuff.

Oh yes, and it’s cloud-ready today.  If you want to tier to the cloud, or use the cloud as a deep backup or archive target, that’s out-of-the-box today using Oracle products and the Oracle Cloud.

ZFS Backup Appliance

The ZFS array is also very popular as a backup target.  Since the configurations are usually different in this use case, we call it the ZFS Backup Appliance — same stuff, slightly different ingredients.

Unlike other backup targets, the ZFS Backup Appliance is a performance monster — at both backup AND restore.  We go head-to-head with DataDomain regularly, and haven’t lost a proof of concept yet.  The differences are stunning, and driven by the array’s architecture.

This huge performance and cost delta is especially apparent when applied to protecting Oracle Databases.  All the compression and OISP secret sauce puts the ZFS Backup Appliance in a league of its own.

And of course, extending to the Oracle Cloud is part of the package.

Zero Data Loss Recovery Appliance

But some environments require more for their Oracle databases.  They need to assure that they can recover quickly and accurately, every time.

For them, we’ve created the Zero Data Loss Recover Appliance.  It is completely unlike any other recovery solution you might be familiar with.  It’s designed and built by Oracle with the express mission of protecting Oracle databases, so it does things no one else can do.

It uses Oracle’s real-time redo transport to deliver sub-second RPOs and do so with virtually no overhead on either the server or storage.  It then uses that data to create any-point-in-time full backups and full recoveries.  In the background, it’s continually validating the state of your Oracle databases, and provides real-time status and alerting regarding recoverability.

From there, colder data can be pushed to a variety of on-premises alternatives, or to the Oracle Cloud.

Here’s our argument: a generic backup/recovery solution can’t do all of this for your Oracle databases, no matter how hard they try.  If recovering your databases are important to you, you really should consider ZDLRA.

Tape Archiving and HFS

Tape was never dead, and it's become increasingly popular for long-term archiving of uber-large datastores.  Nothing can beat it from a price perspective for this use case — even the cloud!

We use our tape products in conjunction with our hierarchical storage management product and the Oracle Cloud to provide customers extremely cost-effective archival solutions that are also very easy to support and manage.

And no one can do it the way we can — we have all the ingredients, all from one source.

Storage In The Oracle Cloud

We’ve talked about storage services in the Oracle Cloud as extensions to the solutions we sell today, perhaps it’s worth a minute to talk about them collectively.

The Oracle Cloud is an extremely comprehensive offer: SaaS, PaaS and IaaS.  There’s a subset of the Oracle Cloud expressly focused on storage services.

If you’re looking for running compute and storage together in our cloud, there’s one set of storage services.  If you’re looking to extend your on-premises environment with storage cloud services, here’s what we’re offering today.

First, there’s an object storage service based on Swift.  Very durable, very resilient and very cost-effective.  Next, we’ve created an archive tier behind object storage that’s the cheapest cloud storage service in the market today — considerably less expensive than Amazon, Google or anyone else.

A lot cheaper.

We’ve just introduced a on-premises NAS gateway in front of these services to make them a lot easier to consume and manage.

We also have a database backup service that makes sense for either non-critical databases, or as an additional backup tier behind critical ones.

The other guys will have to use piece parts and multiple vendors to do what we can do today as a single vendor.  Single vendor, single support — it’s an attractive option for busy IT people.

What's Consistent

So let’s step back a minute, and talk about what’s consistent across the portfolio.

First, there’s unified management.  Oracle Enterprise Manager 12c can be used to manage all of our storage products, and do so in a way that’s convenient for your database administrators — integrating other parts of the portfolio: servers, the database itself, applications and so on. 

And that’s true whether your resources are on-premises, in the Oracle Cloud, or a bit of both.  No one else can make that claim.

We also think we have a leg up on database-centric security.  We take the security model defined in the database, and enforce it in storage — both on-premises and in the cloud.

We think we have a big advantage in providing consistent and integrated support from application to database to storage to cloud.  Again, something only we can do.

And, as you learn more about the Oracle Cloud, you’ll start to realize it can deliver a huge advantage as it’s designed and delivered by the same team that builds our on-premises products: same, same, same.

Customer Successes

We’re understandably quite proud of what we’ve been able to help our customers achieve using our products and technology.

Here’s a bank that modernized their core banking infrastructure using our FS1 all-flash array. 

Security was a big thing for them, as was managing performance and space efficiency. 

We were able to deliver all three, working hand-in-hand with their Oracle databases.  In addition to delivering beyond expectations, we were able to take ownership for the entire implementation -- from database to storage.

Here’s another financial institution that needed a great consolidation solution for their non-production databases. 

They are now able to refresh their databases far faster, as well as implement Oracle’s data masking function for improved security. 

And the system was really, really fast.

Next, a university that need to guarantee that they could recover their critical Oracle databases, especially during peak times like enrollment season.

We were able to show them a superior solution that was also more cost-effective than anything else they could find. 

Better-faster-cheaper — yes, you CAN get all three.

Finally, here's a religious organization that needed cost-effective archiving for church records. 

We’re talking a lot of data that wants to be kept forever. 

You can see how we combined both on-premises tape and a pathway to the Oracle Cloud to give them flexibility, cost-effectiveness and future-proofing.

Analysts Are Paying Attention

The industry is starting to take notice of the inherent power of Oracle Engineered Storage working with the Oracle Database.

Think about it — for many shops, their Oracle databases represent their most critical applications and workloads.  It shouldn’t be a surprise that many customers look at their Oracle landscape much differently than generic workloads, and demand something better — something optimized for Oracle.

Not all workloads are created equal.

Our storage products work better with the Oracle database than anyone elses: more functionality and more performance.  Our products are far easier and simpler to use with the Oracle database than anyone else’s.

While everyone else is trying to figure out what do with the cloud, the Oracle Cloud is here today, and we’ve got plenty of customers who’ve integrated cloud storage services with on-premises capability.

And as all the traditional players are under pressure, we’re confident about our ability to protect our customers’ investments over the long haul.  Oracle is here to stay, we’re not going anywhere.

The Oracle Advantage

We can co-engineer database and storage to work together in ways that others can't.  We can provide integrated cloud storage services, and manage them as a consistent whole.  And we can support database, storage and cloud with a single call.

If Oracle databases matter to you, you could say that we have an unfair advantage.

But that unfair advantage could be yours.



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