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Light-Speed Performance

LGR Telecommunications handles massive data loads with Oracle Exadata.

by David A. Kelly, February 2009

LGR Telecommunications is a company that knows something about the performance of large data warehouses. Its solutions help telephone companies digest and analyze billions—yes, billions—of call records each day. But even they were a bit surprised when they benchmarked the new Oracle Exadata storage system.

“When it comes to speed, Oracle Exadata technology has changed the game completely,” says Grant Salmon, CEO of Atlanta, Georgia-based LGR Telecommunications, who appeared in a taped segment during Oracle CEO Larry Ellison’s announcement at Oracle OpenWorld. “And it’s not like we had an old, cluttered-up system before. We build some of the world’s largest data warehouses on leading hardware and storage facilities, yet queries that used to take half an hour are now taking less than a minute with this new Oracle Exadata technology.”

LGR chief architect Hannes van Rooyen can attest to Oracle Exadata’s speed as well. “From an architecture perspective, Oracle Exadata provides us with major performance improvements. And that’s impressive, considering that we were already building some of the world’s largest and fastest data warehouses on the world’s leading hardware and storage products such as those from HP, Sun, IBM, and EMC.”

LGR has been involved in the Oracle Exadata beta program for more than a year and has had a system actively working since April 2008, doing all types of testing and measurements.

“Some of the performance metrics that we’ve observed are just incredible. We had a system that was loading 3 billion records per day, and building indexes on the Oracle Exadata system took less than 30 seconds compared to 30 minutes in our traditional high-performance environment,” says van Rooyen. “It’s almost unbelievable. Oracle is selling [Oracle Exadata] as extreme performance, and it truly is.”

Although not every company needs this type of true extreme performance from its database system, almost all companies are facing the need to process, analyze, and understand rapidly increasing volumes of data in more and more detailed ways. It’s more important than ever for organizations to understand the behavior of customers and effectively process all the data they already have, especially at the individual customer level. Most companies still tend to look at summarized information or store-level data because they just don’t have the ability to analyze data down to discrete customer records.

“Oracle Exadata technology is going to open up whole new business opportunities for companies in industries like retail and telecommunications,” says Andrew Mendelsohn, senior vice president for Oracle Server Technologies. “It’s going to enable them to understand the behaviors of individual customers down to the transaction level and create more-effective direct marketing for them.”

Created in conjunction with HP, the HP Oracle Exadata Storage Server is a combination of storage devices, database-tuned intelligent processing, and an internal high-performance network for enormous data throughput. Its massively parallel architecture allows it to dramatically speed up Oracle data warehouses by using internal intelligence to do query processing closer to the data.

“You can put together your own hardware, but it’s difficult to approach the type of tuning that Oracle and HP have done and achieve the capabilities that they’ve built in,” says Paul Hartley, general manager for LGR. “We think there’s a massive difference between purchasing an off-the-shelf solution like Oracle Exadata and building it yourself. You can easily remove six months of the implementation cycle simply by taking that architecture decision off the table. And with that, you can probably eliminate 10 people’s salaries for six months—that’s a lot of cash right there. In addition, we estimate there’s up to a 70 percent reduction in terms of cost of ownership compared to custom solutions, just in terms of the personnel savings.”

 

Building Block for Unlimited Performance

“I think what’s exciting about the Oracle Exadata solution is not just what it is but also the incentive it creates in the industry to innovate and respond,” says Carl Olofson, research vice president of information management and data integration software at IDC, in Framingham, Massachusetts.

 

The innovative Oracle Exadata solution is designed as a building-block component that includes both storage and intelligent processing power—a unique combination that dramatically affects performance.

“The Oracle Exadata Storage Server is significant because it’s a storage server put together specifically as a vehicle for optimizing storage access for Oracle databases,” says Olofson. The unique thing about this solution is that Oracle software actually manages the query processing.

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