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The Incredible Shrinking Exadata

Guest Author

Today's guest blog is written by Phil Conley, Director for Exadata Business Development and Partners at Oracle.

With Exadata X-6 (the 7th generation of Oracle’s Exadata) continuing to prove that the Oracle database runs best on the Exadata Database Machine, most people have focused on how Exadata continues to solve the world’s largest and most complex database problems and how customers continue to expand their existing farms of Exadata systems.  In fact we have numerous customers who have tens of Exadatas and several who are approaching over one hundred Systems. If, as some have done, you can connect 18 Exadatas together through Infiniband which with the X-6’s 352 CPUs in a full rack would create a system with over 7,000 CPUs tied together, all acting as one unified, highly scalable system.

And while Exadata’s ability to expand to ever larger sizes garners the lion’s share of customer awareness, it is the other end of the size spectrum to which I would like to call attention.  Exadata continues to get more and more powerful, allowing customers to solve critical database problems on ever shrinking systems.  Oracle has made an 1/8th rack Exadata available for some time, and when coupled with our Flexible Configuration Capability (start small and grow as you need) and our Capacity on Demand Licensing process (License SW only for the cores you use) it is now possible to get an Exadata, which is the entire system needed to run the Oracle database, including Compute Servers, Storage Servers and networks, for a fraction of what it would have cost just a few years ago.
For Example, an X-6 1/8th rack performs that same number of IOPS as an X-4 ¼ Rack but for 66% of the cost for Hardware.  In the chart below you can see the relentless march that Exadata has made, keeping prices the same but increasing capability many times over.

exadata pricing over the years

In all fairness, these changes are due mostly to the relentless march forward that technology has made in the last 6 years, but it is the second half of what makes Exadata an Exadata that makes this process so exciting to smaller customers.
Exadata is a marriage of hardware and software, with most of the magic coming from the software side.  Much has been made of Exadata’s Secret Sauce, which is a series of software enhancements including Database Query offload to Storage, Hybrid Columnar Compression, in-memory Database and task specific optimized quality of service along with literally hundreds of other software enhancements. (See Juan Loaiza’s excellent presentation from Oracle Open World on what makes an Exadata an Exadata)  

The effect of these software enhancements is that the Oracle Database runs significantly more efficiently on Exadata than on another system even if that system is made of exactly the same parts (CPUs, Storage, Network) as Exadata.  For example, the chart below shows that you can run up to 4 times as many Databases on an Exadata as you could on a similarly configured non-Exadata system.  This means that you could run at least 4 times as many databases on one system, cutting your hardware costs or you could use 75% fewer cores to achieve the same results thereby significantly reducing your database licensing costs.  In either case, you are spending far less and achieving significantly faster results when you run the Oracle Database on Exadata.

The Final Frontier

Exadata has always been a Capital Expense but now Oracle is offering choice on how you acquire your Exadata.  With the advent of the Exadata Cloud Service and the upcoming Exadata Cloud Machine, you now have the choice of putting your Exadata wherever you want it and paying for it however you want to.  You can have an Exadata on Premise in your Data Center (and since an 1/8th rack Exadata is so compact, your Data Center could be a Closet) or you can access your Exadata on the Oracle Public Cloud, or you can have your Exadata run in the Oracle Public Cloud but have that Public Cloud extend into your Data Center, run by us, but controlled by you.  To compliment these choices, you can chose to buy an Exadata as a Capital Expense (CAPEX) or you can subscribe to Exadata Cloud Services or the Exadata Cloud Machine as an operational Expense (OPEX).  In either case, you get exactly the same system with exactly the same capabilities.

To sum up, Exadata is getting smaller, it is getting less expensive, it is getting more efficient and more powerful, you are getting more choices about what size you want and need, where to put it and how to pay for it.  A small Exadata can now be available to any size company that wants to get the most out of its Oracle database, which, after all, runs the vast majority of the world’s critical databases.  So if you are small company expecting to become a big company or if you are a big company that needs more capability or better use of the capability that you already have, you need to look at the only product on the market built from the ground up to run the world’s best database and then you won’t be kicking yourself and saying “Doh! I could have had an Exadata”

What's Next? 

Like we saw at this year's Oracle OpenWorld, the Exadata is only getting better and more relevant for a variety of workloads. Larry announced a number of new Oracle innovative technologies including the Exadata Express Cloud Service, the Exadata Cloud Machine, and the Exadata SL (the power of SPARC and Linux combined). These new consumption models mean that you can literally have Exadata your way. 

A 30 year IT veteran, Phil has worked for many of the finest companies in the Industry, including IBM, Siebel, Hitachi Data Systems, Digital Equipment Corporation and Hyperion.  Phil rejoined Oracle four years ago to focus on improving the Oracle partner community's understanding of Oracle's Hardware and Software strategy and more recently Oracle's Cloud Strategy, which he thinks is unique in the industry.  

Having worked for several companies who have tried to build an entire stack's worth of solutions, Phil continues to be surprised and impressed by the on-prem, off-prem, have it your way integrated hardware/software Cloud strategy that Oracle has unveiled and is now delivering.


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