Oracle’s Tim Shetler Talks About the New Oracle Exadata Database Machine X4

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Marking the fifth generation of Oracle Exadata, which was launched in 2008, the Oracle Exadata Database Machine X4, features enhancements focused on improving performance and quality of service for OLTP, DBaaS (database as a service) and data warehousing.

In a recent interview, Tim Shetler, vice president of product management, Oracle, talked about the impetus behind some of the key changes in this new release.

Performance, capacity, stability are key drivers in Exadata X4

“Now that we are on the fifth generation, we are way past the basic technology, and way past getting a sizable installed base to move to it,” said Shetler. It is now mature enough - stable, reliable and proven – that we are into somewhat esoteric enhancements that you run into when you have an installed base of thousands of systems running. Obviously, we are very careful not to introduce anything into this system that might destabilize it because of that large installed base.”

In addition, said Shetler, “There is no price change with this generation. It is the same price as before. We are just giving customers more capacity and more performance,” said Shetler. The new Oracle Exadata software supports all previous generation Oracle Exadata hardware systems and also supports both Oracle Database 12c and Oracle Database 11g R2.

Performance of OLTP-Related Workloads in Exadata X4

In the new release, performance of OLTP-oriented workloads has been improved by quadrupling the flash memory capacity through a combination of larger physical flash and ultra high-speed flash compression.

“In the last several generations, we started to add flash storage into our storage layer to reduce the latency of IO requests like OLTP kinds of operations,” said Shetler. “When Exadata  first came out it was really targeted at data warehousing. Then, over time we added capabilities to enable better OLTP, better consolidation of multiple databases, and in the last year and a half the consolidation use cases have kind of migrated into more of a private database cloud notion or what we call database as a service - which is a really just a lot of databases consolidated on one Exadata machine with some self service capabilities so that the users can automatically create their own databases without having to go to IT.  The use of those databases gets metered and charged only on what is used. That is kind of the notion we are seeing not only on Exadata but in the industry.”

With the second generation, Oracle started adding flash into the storage hierarchy of Exadata, and then last year when it debuted the X3, it quadrupled the amount to 22TB in a full rack of raw flash capacity, said Shetler.

"Last year, we started to see that entire databases were quite commonly sitting in flash all the time so that very little if any slow IO was actually going down to the disks and the disks were essentially being used to store inactive, colder data,” said Shetler. As a result, he said the phrase was coined that “disk is the new tape” when it comes to Exadata because all of the active data is either in memory or flash.

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Posted January 22, 2014