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A Cost and Performance Breakthrough for CIOs

Demanding Workloads for Demanding CIOs Powered by Oracle Exadata and Oracle Exalogic
David Baum Each year the computer industry delivers incremental improvements in speed, reliability, and capacity, taking business applications to new levels. Then once in a while, a new architecture comes along that changes the whole paradigm. Oracle Exadata and Oracle Exalogic represent just such a breakthrough.

Oracle Exadata is a highly optimized database “machine” that performs transaction processing, data warehousing, content management, and collaboration with unparalleled performance and agility. Oracle Exalogic is a highly optimized middleware machine that provides an elastic, cloud computing environment for real-world applications. Together they provide a complete, enterprise-class computing infrastructure: Oracle Exadata manages the databases, and Oracle Exalogic runs the applications. What makes these offerings revolutionary is that they employ a transparent, scale-out architecture that enables clusters of industry-standard servers to bring extraordinary quality of service to existing business applications.

Oracle calls these unique platforms “engineered systems” because they integrate Oracle’s middleware and database software with servers, storage, and networking in a way that is carefully designed to unlock the full potential of the Oracle software. Oracle Exadata and Oracle Exalogic represent the first general-purpose, enterprise computing platform to leverage software that runs above the operating system to deliver the core values of scalability, availability, and manageability. This architecture enables groups of simple computers to perform extraordinary tasks. Oracle Exadata and Oracle Exalogic configurations are delivered to customers pretested, preconfigured, and ready to run.

According to Merv Adrian, principal at consulting firm IT Market Strategy, it’s not just the preintegrated nature of these platforms that makes them unique, but their software-centric architecture that allows the whole to be so much more than the sum of its parts.

Pre-engineered computing platforms from other vendors typically employ a hardware-centric architecture. To achieve comparable performance to Oracle Exadata and Oracle Exalogic they require high-end, scale-up servers, typically with 64 processors or more, that embed complex, proprietary architectures. By contrast, Oracle Exadata and Oracle Exalogic use industry-standard components tied together with Oracle software in a way that is transparent to applications.

This “software centricity” represents a profound change from an economic standpoint, according to Roland Slee, vice president, software development, Oracle. High-end, mission-critical infrastructure has always been more expensive than less-capable alternatives, and so businesses needed a variety of infrastructures to support their portfolio of applications. In Oracle Exalogic and Oracle Exadata, scalability and availability are by-products of the systems’ scale-out architecture and so are included at no incremental cost. A single, standards-based architecture can provide the highest levels of performance and reliability to any application. Customers can start with modest configurations and expand to the very largest just by adding components into a common architecture that never changes. “[Oracle] Exadata and [Oracle] Exalogic bring genuine economies of scale to enterprise computing,” Slee notes. “Oracle has created a consolidated infrastructure that is less risky, less expensive, and less complex to deploy than any of the traditional alternatives.”

Case in Point
These new economies of scale are transforming the computing landscape within many corporations. Sogeti, a business unit of Capgemini and one of the world’s leading providers of IT consulting services, consolidated multiple transactional databases onto an Oracle Exadata Database Machine in order to improve performance and lower costs. Today the new database platform stores and processes all the data for Sogeti’s Oracle E-Business Suite applications, including financials, human resources, project accounting, and fixed assets. Sogeti is in the process of implementing Oracle Business Intelligence and ultimately plans to have a data warehouse on the Oracle Exadata Database Machine as well.

Aseem Gupta, CIO at Sogeti, sums up the benefits his company has realized from its Oracle Exadata platform:

  • Reduced effort needed to administer and optimize the database and application infrastructure
  • Fewer servers and simpler software licensing practices
  • Quantifiable improvements in query-processing speed
  • Consolidation of multiple databases scattered throughout the organization into one data center rack

“Sure, there is a significant up-front investment in this type of system, but when you consider the productivity improvements for the IT staff alone, [Oracle] Exadata quickly pays for itself,” says Gupta. “I’ve seen companies devote four or five people to query-optimization and application-optimization exercises,” he continues, citing a common chore among database administrators. “If they simply upgraded to [Oracle] Exadata, they wouldn’t have to worry nearly as much about these tuning activities, thanks to the sheer performance. Our staff productivity has improved tremendously with the Oracle Exadata Database Machine, and we are able to service our customers more efficiently than before.”

Data Center Evolution: The Path to Cloud Computing
As a CIO who oversees Sogeti’s internal IT needs as well as many of the IT installation and integration projects for Sogeti’s clients, Gupta has followed the development of Oracle Exadata and Oracle Exalogic closely. He sees these platforms as the culmination of a decade long strategy that began with Oracle Real Application Clusters (RAC), Oracle Automated Storage Management (ASM), Oracle Coherence, and other unique software technologies. He says most data centers still have dedicated silos where each application runs on its own middleware, database, servers, and storage, as shown in the figure. Each silo is sized for peak loads, so there’s inherently a lot of excess capacity built in. Each silo is also different, leading to complexity and high costs to manage.

Today’s organizations—including many of Sogeti’s customers—are moving from these application silos to a virtual environment with shared services, dynamic provisioning, and standardized commodity configurations. Oracle Exalogic and Oracle Exadata provide an ideal foundation for these consolidation efforts and are the basis for many of today’s private clouds. Oracle has done the hard work of assembling all of the components and optimizing the platform for processing data (Oracle Exadata) and executing application logic (Oracle Exalogic).

Oracle’s new database and middleware platforms simplify routine operations and reduce risk with a single support contact, easier system management, and fewer licensing issues. Prebundled hardware, software, and networking components simplify implementation, configuration, and tuning chores. And with one vendor supporting the entire infrastructure, customers enjoy faster problem resolution, proactive maintenance, and easier upgrades.

Executive Viewpoint: Jeff Bell talks about Oracle Exadata

Eliminating Risk with Pre-engineered Systems
Up until now, customers who wanted to build a horizontally scalable infrastructure had to combine their Oracle software with servers, storage, and networking devices purchased from multiple vendors, assembling it all themselves. The process was time consuming and the results highly variable.

“Some customers did a great job of assembling such an infrastructure, but it was a complex engineering task,” admits Slee. “The great virtue of [Oracle] Exadata and [Oracle] Exalogic is that Oracle has taken responsibility for engineering, assembling, and testing all the components and enabling customers to order the finished product as a single unit. For the first time, CIOs can adopt an enterprise-class, cloud computing infrastructure incrementally, at low risk and in a short time,” Slee contends. “These systems are pre-engineered and come from the factory ready for deployment.”

Forward-looking companies such as PHH are deploying Oracle Exadata and Oracle Exalogic in tandem to create a unified environment for database and middleware processing, bringing genuine simplicity, flexibility, and economies of scale to IT. Take a look at the following executive interview to learn more.

1 Enterprise Architecture as Strategy: Creating a Foundation for Business Execution, Harvard Business School Press, 2006.

Executive Viewpoints Q&A

  • Executive Viewpoint: Freeing Up Resources for Innovation

    Oracle Senior Vice President Sonny Singh, provides an executive viewpoint of the challenges and opportunities CIOs face in managing the complexities of today's IT environment.

  • An IT Platform for Consolidation and Growth

    David Baum spoke with Jeff Bell about the benefits of deploying Oracle Exadata and Oracle Exalogic Elastic Cloud. Bell serves as CIO of PHH, a leading provider of outsourced mortgage solutions and fleet management services to corporations and government agencies throughout North America.