Mission Critical

John Fowler details Oracle’s plan for integrating hardware and software.

November 2010

Before acquiring Sun, Oracle focused on technologies that could deliver the best performance for enterprise applications, even in demanding environments. Now, tight integration between Oracle’s Sun hardware and Oracle software will help customers reap new advantages in performance, reliability, security, management, and quality.

Oracle’s reputation has been built on delivering open software that runs on multiple platforms—and doing the extra engineering and testing to make enterprise software that works well together. This strategy is now extended to hardware: build best-of-breed technologies in servers and storage so customers can take the servers, run virtually any application on them, continually iterate on those technologies to integrate them in any network, and use them in a broad variety of ways, à la carte.

“Oracle is now complete in technology offerings. We’re going to keep them as open technologies and work to make them work together better,” says John Fowler, executive vice president, Oracle Hardware.

Oracle has done the extra engineering and testing so that products, when used in combination with Sun hardware products or other parts of the Oracle software stack, deliver additional benefits. Fowler says one of the first tangible illustrations of this integrated product roadmap is the Oracle Exadata Database Machine, which was coengineered specifically to run Oracle 11g applications for business intelligence data warehouses and online transaction processing (OLTP).

“It’s important to understand that it’s not a bundle,” says Fowler. “We’ve coengineered the hardware and software to actually move database logic from the database software into the Oracle Exadata storage unit itself. This yields tremendous increases in execution profiles such as performance and compression as well as dramatic drops in latencies for OLTP performance.”

Fowler says integrated systems, such as middleware machines, will engineer hardware and software enhancements to give customers superior performance, management, and cost of ownership for specific workloads.

Graham Lovell, senior director of hardware systems product management at Oracle, says such integrated solutions save customers from designing database systems from individual components. This speeds deployment while delivering extreme performance more easily—and at a lower cost. “We’ve lowered the risk and taken the guesswork out of how you put enterprise systems together for maximum benefit,” Lovell says.

Additionally, future development of Sun SPARC Enterprise Servers will take advantage of Oracle’s design expertise to build processors and hardware systems with unique capabilities, scalability, and serviceability. “We’re committing to doubling application-load-level performance every other year,” says Fowler. “You’ll see a natural evolution where batch enterprise applications move to real time, real time becomes much more data-enriched, and everything moves into memory to produce very high-performance, high-capability systems.”

Oracle is also expanding Oracle Solaris development. Investment in Oracle Solaris 10 will continue, and Oracle is working on developing the next version for release sometime in 2011. This next-generation virtualized operating system will offer improved data integrity, performance, security, networking capabilities, and the ability to scale to tens of terabytes of memory and many thousands of threads.

But Fowler believes storage is the most exciting area of system development today, predicting that one of the most expensive areas of the data center will see dramatic change in the next five years as performance and management capabilities improve and costs per gigabyte tumble. Oracle’s strategy is to further develop enterprise-grade storage products, including engineered database machines, disk, tape, flash, software, and management tools.

“Now that we have the full hardware and software portfolio in front of us, we can evolve everything from the semiconductor chip design to the system design together with what happens in the entire software stack to create the best-possible applications-to-disk environment,” says Fowler.