Archive for April 2010
In March 2010, Oracle reduced the price of the Exadata v2 hardware by 15%. The first thing that went through my mind when I read this is that high prices must be hampering Exadata adoption. This was reinforced by articles like Oracle users like Exadata idea but balk at price. But, after digging into the pricing a little more, we discovered that there are some very interesting alterations to the fine print in the Oracle price list that accompanied these changes. Here is the fine print that was in the price list prior to the pricing changes on 16 March 2010 (the highlighting is from us):
And here is the corresponding fine print in the current Oracle Exadata USA Price List:
You will notice that only 1 year of Mon-Fri, 8am-5pm basic “warranty” is included now. Previously, 3 years of 24×7 support was included. Of course, if you want, you can purchase 3 years of 24×7 support for an additional fee. It’s just that Oracle has decided to remove this from the base system and therefore reduce the value provided to clients.
Disk Retention Services are also no longer included in the Exadata price. And I also believe that Linux O/S support is no longer included in the Exadata software support. Finally note that hardware installation is no longer included in the price.
Oracle have indeed reduced the initial acquisition costs for the Exadata hardware, but they have also reduced what they are providing for those costs. Let’s have a look at those costs, highlighting the removed items. Here are the 3-year costs for the different Exadata systems before 16 March 2010:
Note: These Exadata prices do not include the cost of the Oracle Database software that is required. For more information, see A Closer Look at Exadata v2 Costs.
And here are the 3-year costs to purchase the same Exadata configuration. I’ll leave out the bundled hardware installation prices, but be aware that these are additional costs.
Now, let’s compare the two:
Some customers may be happy with a Mon-Fri, 8am-5pm hardware warranty. However, even in this case, those customers will now have to pay for coverage in years 2 and 3. And, of course, they may also need to pay for Disk Retention Services, Linux support, and installation. The worst case scenario (if they purchase the equivalent of the base system from before 16 March 2010) is that these customers end up paying an additional 40% or so more over 3 years. The best case scenario is that these customers will still pay a significant amount more for Exadata over 3 years. And this is after a supposed price reduction
If you are a DB2 user, you probably already know that the International DB2 User Group (IDUG) offers the best DB2 conferences. These user-run conferences offer the largest number and widest range of sessions about DB2. In fact, there are more than 100 sessions about DB2 at the upcoming IDUG conference in Tampa, Florida on 10-14 May, 2010. This year, for the first time, IDUG has added the extremely popular Hands-On Labs that IBM has been offering at the Information on Demand Conferences for a number of years. Also, don’t forget about the FREE IBM certifications that are available to conference attendees. And, of course, there are lots of great opportunities to get to know other DB2 users like yourself. You can register for the conference at the IDUG Web site. There are even tips for justifying conference attendance to your manager.
In case you are interested in the charts they were referring to, I will include a couple of them here.
The first chart compares two systems that achieve comparable performance for the 2-tier SAP benchmarks (well, actually the IBM system provides more then 15% better performance). In this chart, the focus is on the number of CPU cores needed to achieve these results. You can see that the IBM system requires 1/4 the number of CPU cores. This is important because software is typically licensed based upon the number of CPU cores, and therefore the efficiency of the system has a big determination on the price you end up paying.
The second chart compares how many SAP end users are supported per CPU core for IBM and Oracle systems. The per-core efficiency of the system is an important consideration for initial purchase, system maintenance, system upgrades, and system growth.
The first chart is based upon the following 2-tier SAP EHP 4 for SAP ERP 6.0 (Unicode) benchmark results, which are valid as of 4/7/2010:
- DB2 9.7 on IBM Power System 780, 8p / 64–c / 256–t, POWER7, 3.8 GHz, 1024 GB memory, 37,000 SD users, dialog resp.: 0.98s, line items/hour: 4,043,670, Dialog steps/hour: 12,131,000, SAPS: 202,180, DB time (dialog/ update):0.013s / 0.031s, CPU utilization: 99%, OS: AIX 6.1, cert# 2010013. For more details, see http://www.sap.com/benchmark.
- Oracle 10g on SUN M9000, 64p / 256-c / 512–t, 1156 GB memory, 32,000 SD users, SPARC64 VII, 2.88 GHz, Solaris 10, cert# 2009046. For more details, see http://www.sap.com/benchmark.
The second chart is based upon the following 2-tier SAP EHP 4 for SAP ERP 6.0 (Unicode) benchmark results, which are valid as of 4/7/2010:
- IBM SAP 2-Tier SD result of 15,600 SD (Sales & Distribution) users (Average dialog response time: 0.98 second), running DB2 9.7 on AIX 6.1 and SAP enhancement package 4 for SAP ERP 6.0 on the IBM Power System 750 with 4 POWER7 3.55 GHz processor chips (32 cores, 128 threads) and 256 GB main memory, certification Number: 2010004. For more details, see http://www.sap.com/benchmark.
- Sun Microsystems SAP 2-Tier SD result of 4,720 SD (Sales & Distribution) users (Average dialog response time: 0.97 second), running Oracle 10g on Solaris 10 and SAP enhancement package 4 for SAP ERP 6.0 (Unicode) on the SPARC Enterprise T5440 with 4 UltraSPARC T2 Plus 1.6 GHz processor chips (32 cores, 256 threads) and 256 GB main memory, certification Number: 2009026. For more details, see http://www.sap.com/benchmark.
Today, at an event in California, IBM is disclosing details about a new integrated system for transactional workloads called the IBM pureScale Application System. This new integrated system will comprise of DB2 pureScale and WebSphere Application Server on IBM Power 770 servers that run the AIX operating system. When you receive the system, the components are already integrated, already configured, and already tuned for handling transactional workloads.
IBM pureScale Application System is the latest in IBM’s line of workload-optimized systems. IBM’s strategy is to provide integrated systems that are optimized for particular workloads. For instance, the IBM Smart Analytics System that was announced last year is optimized for analytical workloads. Whereas IBM pureScale Application System is optimized for transactional workloads. This optimization extends from hardware configuration through software configuration and storage configuration. By the way, today, IBM also announced new models of the IBM Smart Analytics System for System x (x86) and System z (mainframe).
We are all well aware of the benefits of such integrated systems. These typically include lower initial purchase costs and single-number support. Because the systems are pre-integrated, they take less time and effort to deploy, which means that you enjoy faster time-to-value. I could go on-and-on, but I’m sure you know all of this already.
So, what’s so special about IBM pureScale Application System? Of course, the individual components of this system all have their own merits. From the raw performance, server utilization, and resiliency of the IBM Power 770, to the leading performance, cluster scale-out efficiency, and continuous availability of DB2 pureScale, to the performance, transaction integrity, and flexibility of WebSphere Application Server. These are all very compelling aspects to the system. However, in my opinion, the real value of this system lies in:
- Workload Optimization
Unlike Oracle Exadata, which is designed to handle both transactional and analytical workloads within the same environment, IBM pureScale Application System is optimized for transactional workloads only. Transactional and analytical workloads are fundamentally different in nature. Catering for both types of workload within the same system means that you cannot truly optimize for either of those workloads, which in turn means that you will have a less efficient and more costly IT environment. Database software is very expensive to purchase and maintain. In my opinion, to prudently and efficiently run your IT environment, you cannot afford to run less efficient systems. You need systems that are optimized for the work being performed.
- Flexible Configuration
The base system for the IBM pureScale Application System consists of two IBM Power 770 servers, each of which has 4 CPU cores and 32GB of RAM. There are two IBM Power 770 servers for redundancy reasons. They are connected by an Infiniband network. Initially the system is configured with four logical partitions that are dedicated to DB2 pureScale. You can optionally add partitions for WebSphere Application Server. The system then installs the software on these partitions, and optimizes the settings for the chosen configuration.
You can scale within by adding CPU cores to each IBM Power 770 enclosure. You can scale up by adding additional enclosures for each IBM Power 770 server. And you can scale out by adding additional IBM Power 770 servers. Adding WebSphere Application Server instances and DB2 pureScale cluster nodes is flexible and easy.
This flexibility to grow as your needs dictate is in stark contrast to the rigid configurations for the Oracle Exadata system.
- Flexible Licensing
One aspect of the IBM pureScale Application System that excites many clients is the flexible licensing. DB2 pureScale has daily pricing. When you combine daily pricing with true application transparency, where you can easily add and remove cluster nodes in minutes and without application changes, it means that clients do not need to over-provision for the worst case scenario. Instead, they can add or remove capacity as needed, and only pay for the additional capacity for the days on which they use it. This can dramatically reduce software license and maintenance costs for retailers who have huge spikes in activity during holiday periods, for organizations with similar “busy periods”, for business who want to run special promotions, and so on.
IBM has not yet announced the availability date for this new system. However, it is expected to be available for purchase in June of this year.