Industry Leader Q&A with Oracle's Tim Shetler - The Oracle Exadata Database Machine Explained

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The Oracle Exadata Database Machine X2-2 and X2-8 with the Solaris option began shipping just this month. Now in its third generation, the Database Machine combines all the components to create what the company describes as the best platform for running the Oracle Database. Here, Tim Shetler, vice president of Product Management, Oracle, talks about the performance innovations that differentiate Oracle's offering, how customers are using the system today for business advantage, and also — what's ahead.

What is Oracle's mission for Exadata?
Shetler: Our mission around Exadata is to create absolutely the best platform for running the Oracle Database.  Those words are carefully chosen because it is very focused. It is not the best platform for running databases. It is not the best platform for running data warehouses on Oracle. It is: Any application that uses the Oracle Database will run best if it uses the Exadata platform to host the Oracle Database.

It sounds broad, but that is our mission and it is in stark contrast to all the other appliances that have been introduced to run some kind of a database. Virtually all of them are designed to run only one type of application and that is something to do with data warehousing or analytics. 

What are the key advantages of the approach?
Shetler: The notion of building a complete system that comes all in one package, if you will, is echoed back to me every day when I talk to CIOs around here and that is that they don't have to spend their best architects and several months' worth of labor to try and get all the components and all the integration right. In other words, we have done all that work to make sure that the balance is in the whole system; that the right number of compute nodes is balanced with the right number of storage nodes, and that the interconnect has got enough bandwidth to handle everything that is going to be thrown at it; and that the Linux is tuned, and the drivers and all the elements are optimized.

When you get Exadata, it comes in one box. And you basically connect it to the network and plug it in and one of our engineers shows up and finishes the installation with our software and literally within a few days of receipt of Exadata, they can start loading data and attaching applications to it.

That ease of use is really the overriding advantage?
Shetler: That is right — and knowing that it is right from the start. We have essentially one basic architecture on Exadata. We have two different models of the Exadata Database Machine but they all follow the same architecture. And so we have one chip — the x86 chip. We have one set of Flash cards. We don't give a lot of options to customers and therefore they know that our support folks are running the exact same configuration that they have. And it makes it much easier for us to diagnose and fix problems and get fixes out to all the customers.  

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