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Engineered Systems and the Datacentre: Q&A with John Fowler

Engineered Systems and the Datacenter

R&D Helps Oracle Customers
Stay on the Cutting Edge

By John Soat


John Fowler, Oracle Systems EVP, Explains the Value of Deep Engineering and Highly Tuned Systems

Pillar Project iPaper

The cost equation is a constant challenge in the pursuit of innovation with enterprise technology. As companies focus on the bottom line, how can they use IT to drive, not diminish, their business aspirations?

Oracle has developed a line of products that embody a dramatic combination of cost, performance and innovation. Known as Oracle Engineered Systems, they are highly optimised combinations of integrated hardware, software and storage technology that perform enterprise tasks easier, better and at lower cost than current customised enterprise systems.

John Fowler, Oracle executive vice president of systems, explains the value proposition represented by Oracle Engineered Systems and how Oracle is able to maintain and extend that value.


What’s the most common misperception about Oracle Engineered Systems?

Fowler: A lot of people may look at Oracle Engineered Systems and say, that’s simply an integration of discrete components. But it actually goes much further than that. We’ve engineered-in running the database much more efficiently than you can with separate storage and servers by doing the hardware and software design. Our unique position of having a significant number of software applications—plus the knowledge gained through running a large-scale cloud—lets us design products that run better. We can think about it holistically. It’s much bigger than just an integration.

How much work is involved for the customer in implementing an Oracle Engineered System?

Fowler: When a customer purchases an Oracle Exadata Database Machine, for example, we turn it over to them ready to load their data onto the system. They can contract with us to load their data if they want us to, as an optional feature. But we give it to them ready to load. This is significantly different than if you’re purchasing components à la carte, where you get some servers and storage and your first encounter with the system is putting those pieces in racks and starting to cable them up and install software. We provide the customer a ready-to-load system, so it’s much further down the track. There’s very little configuration the customer needs to do.

Are Oracle Engineered Systems intended to replace an organization’s current systems, which can result in considerable cost and upheaval?

Fowler: All the Oracle Engineered Systems that we’ve done so far, more than 10,000 of them, have gone into datacentres that have existing equipment. And they coexist, work with and complement the existing equipment, often in dramatic fashion. Customers, for example, who use existing infrastructure for running their applications and use Oracle Exadata to run their database tier, experience an incredible boost in performance and efficiency. That’s a common deployment scenario.

In a constantly evolving IT environment, how can customers make sure that an Oracle Engineered System that’s cutting edge today will stay that way?

Fowler: Customers should consider the fact that we’re investing in R&D at every level of the system, from how we do the database software or middleware software, down to the hardware connection to storage and so on. Because we control and update all of those pieces, we’re able to take advantage of new technologies to make our engineered systems better. For example, flash storage—we were one of the first companies to really take advantage of flash. And that extends down to being able to invent our own technologies, like we’re doing in the SPARC M7 processor. I think customers understand that we have the scale and capability to do the best in R&D to make the systems better.

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