By John Soat
[The Oracle Database Cloud Exadata Service] is bringing full-featured, industrial-strength database and platform to the cloud for the first time.
—Juan Loaiza, Oracle Senior Vice President of Systems Technologies
Cloud computing is known for many things: cost effectiveness, flexibility, scalability. But extreme performance has not been one of those things. Until now.
Oracle is upping the ante in online database services by making available in the cloud its highest-performing database engineered system. Called the Oracle Database Cloud Exadata Service, it brings a level of performance previously unavailable to cloud customers, who have had to settle for databases with limited functionality running on generic cloud infrastructures.
With its ability to support the most demanding online transaction processing (OLTP) and online analytical (OLAP, data warehousing) applications, and bolstered by the elasticity of the Oracle Cloud, the Oracle Database Cloud Exadata Service will offer price/performance advantages that should appeal to large and midsize organizations alike.
“It is bringing full-featured, industrial-strength database and platform to the cloud for the first time,” says Juan Loaiza, Oracle senior vice president of systems technologies.
Get the power and flexibility of the Oracle Database in the cloud.
The Oracle Exadata Database Machine is part of Oracle’s engineered systems family, which includes customized combinations of hardware, software, and storage that are highly tuned for maximum performance. Other products in the group include the Oracle Database Appliance, the Oracle Exalogic Elastic Cloud, and the Zero Data Loss Recovery Appliance.
Oracle Exadata, introduced in 2008, benefits from the engineering expertise Oracle gained from its 2010 acquisition of Sun Microsystems. Exadata’s hardware and software capabilities have undergone considerable customization and optimization since that time.
“There’s a lot of very special software that’s gone into Oracle Exadata that doesn’t exist on any other platform,” Loiaza says. Those software capabilities include pushing compute into storage, special algorithms to deal with flash for the database, and special compression techniques. “We have the ability to offload computation directly to the storage unit, which makes the flash much more effective,” he says.
In terms of cutting-edge hardware, Oracle Exadata employs high-performance scale-out database servers and scale-out intelligent storage servers, connected by an ultrafast, low-latency InfiniBand network. Along with high-capacity disks, Oracle Exadata includes state-of-the-art PCI flash storage, which delivers the highest throughput and the best response times. For its database, Oracle Exadata uses the latest generation of the Oracle flagship system, Oracle Database 12c Enterprise Edition, and incorporates its most cutting-edge database features:
Some of these capabilities are not unique to Oracle, but the company has worked hard to put its stamp on their functionality, especially with regard to Oracle Exadata. For example, Oracle Exadata features a capability called “in-memory fault tolerance,” which basically mirrors in-memory data across nodes of the system so that if a node crashes, the system will keep running without interruption, with data still in memory. “There’s an industry trend toward in-memory and flash, but we do it in a way that’s much better-optimized for the Oracle database,” Loaiza says.
The Oracle Exadata Database Machine was engineered with a cloud architecture from day one.
Oracle Exadata was architected for the cloud since its inception. That’s because the system is engineered and sold in building-block increments of hardware servers and storage servers. Customers can add and expand servers as their demands for performance and capacity increase.
“It’s scale-out compute, scale-out storage, with a superfast network, so it had a cloud architecture from day one,” Loaiza says. “We’ve deployed it as a kind of on-site cloud for customers, and now we’re deploying it in the public cloud.”
Oracle Exadata’s multitenant database architecture lends itself to one of the cloud’s most strategic benefits: consolidation. A customer can condense multiple databases onto one instance of the Oracle Database Cloud Exadata Service and still receive all the performance advantages proffered by the system.
At the same time, Oracle Exadata addresses a potential problem endemic to cloud computing: unpredictable system performance. In a generic cloud environment, with many hundreds or thousands of users accessing the same finite capacity, customers have to worry whether sufficient compute resources will be available to them at all times—especially during critical times. Not so with Oracle Database Cloud Exadata Service.
“With Oracle Database Cloud Exadata Service, we’ve implemented very hard isolation between tenants, so there’s no interference from anyone else running on the cloud,” Loaiza says. “You’re not sharing a bunch of infrastructure where, if some other tenant is getting really active, your quarter-end financial close is going to suffer. You have very dedicated resources that can be elastically expanded if the need arises.”
Of course, the Oracle Database Cloud—Exadata Service provides the typical strategic advantages of cloud computing: OpEx over CapEx, easy and fast implementation, on-demand scalability. But it also offers a unique benefit not to be underestimated: Oracle experts who deploy and manage high-performance Oracle infrastructure. “It’s just easier and simpler,” Loaiza says.
It’s important to understand that at the core of the Oracle Database Cloud Exadata Service is the Oracle Database, which means it fits squarely within the line of Oracle Database Cloud offerings that extend from a single instance of an Oracle database to a fully featured Oracle Database 12c—and now Oracle Database Cloud Exadata Service at the high end. That standardization also translates to significant advantages for Oracle customers in terms of application and database migration to Oracle Database Cloud Exadata Service.
Number of microprocessor cores enabled42TB
Amount of storage1 Million
Number of I/O operations per second
“It’s very low cost to migrate because it’s exactly the same Oracle Database that runs on-premises at millions of mission-critical deployments around the world,” Loaiza says.
Customers can employ Oracle Database Cloud Exadata Service not only for mission-critical production databases, but also for relatively simple dev/test duties. They can even just try it out before buying an on-premises system.
While Oracle Exadata powers the transactions of four out of the five largest banks, telecom providers, and retailers worldwide, its use is not limited to very large companies, Loaiza says.
For one thing, Oracle Exadata isn’t a special-purpose system, optimized for only OLTP or data warehousing. Instead, customers can use it for a variety of demanding database functions. “You can run any scale of business, any level of criticality,” Loiaza says. Also, Oracle Exadata is put together incrementally. “Oracle Exadata can start as a relatively small system,” he notes.
Just as with Oracle Exadata, customers of the Oracle Database Cloud Exadata Service can start relatively small then expand. They can start with a quarter rack of the system, with 28 microprocessor cores enabled and 42 terabytes of storage, capable of 1 million input/output operations per second (IOPs), then work their way up to potentially hundreds of cores and hundreds of terabytes of storage, capable of multiple millions of IOPs.
Oracle has engineered Oracle Exadata to support all the rich database functionality it has built over the decades, with extreme performance and availability. That’s what the Oracle Database Cloud Exadata Service brings to the competitive cloud market—that, and Oracle’s hard-won experience and expertise. “It’s the whole enchilada,” Loaiza says. “When a customer gets our Oracle Database Cloud Exadata Service, they’ll be getting 37 years of Oracle technology—everything we’ve built.”