Exadata for Retail

Database Machine v2.png
A year ago Larry Ellison announced Exadata, Oracle's latest attempt to get into the hardware business. It was followed by the announcement of Exadata v2 (video), which significantly improves upon the first version. I don't think that Oracle wants to expand into hardware per se, but instead is targeting systems. The difference is optimization. When hardware and software are optimized to work together, you can offer customers a solution that not only simplifies implementations, but also offers greater functionality and performance. Enter Exadata.

Strictly speaking, Exadata is the intelligent storage server, not the entire solution. The Database Machine is the combination of multiple Exadata storage servers, database servers, and network switches pre-configured and hooked together in a rack. The Database Machine is the whole system, but its frequently referred to as "Exadata" since that's a more unique brand.

Typically applications "ask" the database a question in the form of a SQL query, like "who are all my customers in Texas?" To answer this question, the database server asks the storage for all the data in a table, then does comparisons to find the matching records. There are two big benefits of using Exadata storage servers. First, they are intelligent so they will do the comparisons and return only matching records. That reduces the load on the database server and the network that connects them. Second, Exadata storage servers use flash technology, which is faster than disks and cheaper than memory.

The Database Machine simplifies implementations because the storage, database servers, and networking are all included and optimized to work together. It uses Oracle Enterprise Linux and the Oracle 11gR2 database with RAC. Its also fully redundant and scalable. No big decisions, no expensive consultants, no arguments over configurations.

Oracle Retail plans to benchmark both our data warehouse and transactional applications on Exadata and measure the performance gains. The retail industry is in desperate need of ways to increase performance while reducing costs, and I expect this "systems" approach will yield awesome results. Stay tuned.

Comments:

Do you think this will open the Oracle Infrastructure certification a little bit more? Because, you know, right now Oracle is strict in which Database version supports for Retail version 12 and 13, and that is 10gR2, for Retail 13.1 it supports 11gR1, and now you are mentioning 11gR2...I hope it happens.
-Ramon Caballero

Posted by Ramon Caballero on November 01, 2009 at 08:57 AM CST #

Ramon, its too costly to test and certify all the possible combinations of database, appserver, and OS so we tend to choose one stack that represents the latest release. We typically are not on the absolute latest because of scheduling, but we're almost always on the next-to-latest version.

When we certify on a particular DB, that doesn't mean other versions won't work. We just didn't take the time to prove it one way or the other. Regardless of the underlying technical platform chosen, we still support the applications -- we just require the ability to duplicate any issue on our reference stack. (We can't fix something we can't duplicate, right?)

Thanks for your comment.

Posted by David on November 02, 2009 at 12:37 AM CST #

Hola David,
Of course, I understand the cost and the timing taken for certifications, I mean since Oracle Applications 9 and Oracle7 and all the way to ORetail 13.1 and Oracle11gR1 and I do not expect all combinations (only the latest and greatest j/k! ); but this article is about an out-of-the-box hardware with everything inside, if this box comes with 11gR2 and it says Oracle Retail is testing, I would expect as an obvious step for Oracle to put a stamp to these new versions.
The other possible option is that ORetail is testing on a current certified combination (11gR1) with this new hardware, but that doesn't seem too logical to me.
I get your last point, but for an implementation perspective we should not recommend versions that are not "fully" supported, as you know sometimes there are issues that are really hard to reproduce and the cost and time to have a certified environment just for that is too much, so we go by recommending what Oracle has tested throughly.
I just tried to get a glimpse to future certifications :) or at least a kind of plan.
We will see when the first Exadata for Retail appears, I am eager to "open" it! :D
Saludos,
-Ramon Caballero

Posted by Ramon Caballero on November 17, 2009 at 11:54 PM CST #

Hi David,

It has been almost 10 months since you have blogged "Oracle Retail plans to benchmark both our data warehouse and transactional applications on Exadata and measure the performance gains.".

Is there any insight on this that you can share with us?

Thanks for your co-operation.

Thank You
With Regards,
Sanam Shakya

Posted by Sanam Shakya on August 29, 2010 at 08:20 AM CDT #

Sanam, we did some specific benchmarks for a customer comparing performance of RMS on Exadata vs a competitor's servers. The performance was excellent and the customer chose Exadata. Unfortunately we were not able to obtain our own Exadata hardware for more long-term testing, so we are limited to scheduling time in the Exadata performance lab. Using the allotted time, we were able to show the MOM suite runs faster on Exadata, but were not able to record official benchmarks in a controlled environment. That testing has been delayed until the end of the year.

Posted by David on August 30, 2010 at 12:35 AM CDT #

Hi David,

Is there any official plan to do benchmarking of Exadata with RDW? I am BI Consultant and I think Data-warehousing need more powerful machine since it need to work on large volume of historical data.

I see different client switch to different data-warehouse appliance due to this. Does oracle has plan to prevent this or Oracle think Benefit / Cost ratio for this is low due to which it is not being taken seriously for now?

Oracle has done a lot of improvement with BI front-end with OBIEE 11g but not able to understand why Oracle have not taken the BI back-end seriously. Any insight on this?

Thank You
With Regards,
Sanam Shakya

Posted by guest on August 31, 2010 at 12:39 AM CDT #

Sanam,

RDW does run on Exadata and will increase performance; I just can't say exact how much better it is until we've completed our benchmarking. Any current customer that is running RDW but suffering from performance issues would be wise to look at Exadata.

Regarding backend investments, Oracle Retail Data Model (ORDM) was released in April as a source-agnostic, ARTS-based retail-enterprise-level data warehouse architecture that is optimized for very large Oracle data warehouses. Unlike RDW which is designed specifically for Oracle Retail Merchandising System customers, ORDM appeals primarily to retailers with heterogeneous and/or non-Oracle application environments. Both continue to work with OBIEE.

We are continuing to invest in Retail BI, but this is not an appropriate forum to discuss current work.

Thanks for your interest!

Posted by David on August 31, 2010 at 02:49 AM CDT #

Hi David,

Thanks for the information David. Is there any way that we can get updated on benchmarking insight of Oracle Exadata + RDW when-ever it happen.

Also I did not find the data-model documentation or any other detail documentation of ORDM in Oracle site. Can you please help me with it?

One more personal questions - What will be future of RDW and ORDM after the release of RA?

Thank You
With Regards,
Sanam Shakya

Posted by Sanam Shakya on August 31, 2010 at 08:19 AM CDT #

Hi David,

Thanks for sharing some of your thought with me. Hopefully we may get updated with benchmarking insight of Oracle Exadata + RDW in the future when it happen. In the mean time I will try to get if there may be any feedback on my question of the future of RDW after the release of RA from some Oracle Retail group / forum in Linkedin and keep you updated with it if there is any.

Thanks once again for sharing your thought.

Thank You
With Regards,
Sanam Shakya

Posted by Sanam Shakya on September 07, 2010 at 05:59 AM CDT #

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David Dorf, Sr Director Technology Strategy for Oracle Retail, shares news and ideas about the retail industry with a focus on innovation and emerging technologies.


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