Archive for the ‘Oracle Exadata’ Category
This blog posts refers to the definition of Big Data commonly in use today. I do not include mainframe-based solutions, which some people might argue tackle Big Data challenges.
Both IBM and Oracle are going after the Big Data market. However, they are taking different approaches. I’m going to take a few moments to have a very brief look at what both companies are doing.
First of all, Oracle have introduced an “appliance” for Big Data. IBM have not. I put the word appliance in quotes because I consider this Oracle appliance to be closer in nature to an integrated collection of hardware and software components, rather than a true appliance that is designed for ease of operation. But the more important consideration is whether an appliance even makes sense for Big Data. There is a decent examination of this topic in the following blog post from Curt Monash and the accompanying comment stream: Why you would want an appliance — and when you wouldn’t. But, regardless of your position on this subject, the fact remains that Oracle currently propose an appliance-based approach, while IBM does not.
The other area I will briefly look at is the scope of the respective vendor approaches. In the press release announcing the Oracle Big Data Appliance, Oracle claim that:
Oracle Big Data Appliance is an engineered system optimized for acquiring, organizing, and loading unstructured data into Oracle Database 11g.
IBM takes a very different approach. IBM does not see its Big Data platform as primarily being a feeder for its relational database products. Instead, IBM sees this as being one possible use case. However, the way that customers want to use Big Data technologies extend well beyond that use case. IBM is designing its Big Data platform to cater for a wide variety of solutions, some of which involve relational solutions and some of which do not. For instance, the IBM Big Data platform includes:
- BigInsights for Hadoop-based data processing (regardless of the destination of the data)
- Streams for analyzing data in motion (where you don’t necessarily store the data)
- TimeSeries for smart meter and sensor data management
- and more
In June of last year, during Oracle’s FYQ4 2011 earnings call, Larry Ellison claimed that Oracle expect more than 2,000 Exadata systems to be installed in fiscal year 2012. His exact quote follows. You can read the full transcript on SeekingAlpha at Oracle’s CEO Discusses Q4 2011 Results.
Today, more than 1,000 Exadatas are installed, and we plan on tripling that number this year.
He noted that more than 1,000 systems had been installed at that time. Tripling this number yields more than 3,000. This implies that there would be more than two thousand new systems installed in FY2012.
Last month, during Oracle’s FYQ2 2012 earnings call, Larry Ellison said:
This past Q2, Oracle sold over 200 Exadata and Exalogic engineered systems. In Q3, we plan to sell over 300 Exadata and Exalogic engineered systems. In Q4, we plan to sell over 400 Exadata and Exalogic engineered systems.
Again, the full transcript is available on SeekingAlpha at Oracle’s CEO Discusses Q2 2012 Results. There is no reference to Q1 sales, but Oracle projects that Q2 + Q3 + Q4 sales of both Exadata and Exalogic will be more than 900.
A couple of things stand out here. The first is that these latest projections from Oracle are for both Exadata and Exalogic systems combined, whereas the original projection was for Exadata systems only. The second is that these latest projections from Oracle are significantly down (more than 2,000 has been revised down to whatever business they did in Q1 + more than 900 in Q2, Q3, and Q4 combined). And this significant downward revision in projections has happened in the space of just 6 months.
If you read the Q&A segment from the Q2 earnings call, it is quite interesting. An analyst asks Oracle about the downward revision in projections. There are some semi-coherent responses from Ellison and Hurd, before Hurd claims that instead of 3x growth in engineered systems, they are on track for 2.5x growth. Hmmm, unless they had a monster Q1, that doesn’t quite add up either
Here is a video where Philip Howard, Research Director at Bloor Research, evaluates performance, scalability, administration, and cost considerations for IBM Smart Analytics System and Oracle Exadata [for data warehouse environments]. This video is packed with great practical advice for evaluating these products.
Philip Howard, Research Director at Bloor Research, recently evaluated the performance, scalability, administration, and cost considerations for the leading integrated systems from IBM and Oracle for OnLine Transaction Processing (OLTP) environments. Here is a summary of his conclusions:
And here is a video with his evaluation. It is packed with practical advice regarding storage capacity, processing capacity, and more.
It is difficult to get direct performance comparisons between Oracle Exadata and competing products. Last month, The Register published what may be such a comparison in its IBM: Our appliance servers smoke Ellison’s ‘phony baloney’ article. They include an image that compares the performance and price of the IBM Smart Analytics System with a leading competitor. The IBM Smart Analytics System is, of course, an integrated hardware/software system for data warehousing and analytics that is based on DB2. The article covers an IBM Investor Day presentation that was delivered by Steve Mills of IBM, and includes the following explanatory passage:
“We benchmark all the time,” Mills said, and he pulled out some real tests to support his point. “We have a favorite competitor who likes the color red. We like the color blue. This is real workload benchmarking, not some phony baloney made-up thing that goes in an ad. We deliver a system that is fast for what customers run.”
Here is the chart that is included in the article. The Register assert that the competitor in red is Oracle Exadata.
Lately, I’ve been hearing a lot about Oracle Exadata performance. It certainly performs quite well. Although it is not necessarily faster than an IBM system. For instance, I know of a recent customer bake-off where an IBM Power 780 system was 2.4 times faster than a half-rack Exadata system. And when you combined the performance difference with IBM’s price advantage, it made the decision a no-brainer for the customer. Naturally, each customer bake-off has so many variables, as to make it useful only for that customer. The key thing to remember is that you need to keep your vendors honest by performing these competitive bake-offs, and not simply comparing a new system’s performance to an old system.
But anyway, the real reason for this blog post is to remind you that product maturity is important and to remind you of the 15 years of product maturity that have gone into the IBM Smart Analytics System. A level of product maturity that is not yet present in Oracle Exadata. Oracle are relative newcomers when it comes to developing integrated hardware/software systems, or engineered systems as they like to call them. And this shows when it comes to the challenges currently facing Exadata users. In the following presentation, I have assembled some references to independent experiences with Oracle Exadata. In each case, I include information about the source of the information, whether it is a Web page or a session at an Oracle event.
Admittedly, every product has bugs and issues. My intention here is simply to highlight that Oracle Exadata may not necessarily be the “IT nirvana” that Larry Ellison may portray it to be. While we have heard Oracle touting the ease of managament of Oracle Exadata, the reality is that this is a very complex system with many of the issues you might expect with a complex system that is so early in its maturity. And, of course, remember that as your system grows, the system will only be as reliable as the underlying software (ie. Oracle RAC).
Curt Monash recently claimed that the only realistic metric for pricing data warehouse appliances is price-per-terabyte. Neither IBM (at the moment anyway; Netezza acquisition pending) or Oracle currently price-per-terabyte. However, I’d like to share some interesting capacity/pricing information for IBM and Oracle’s current data warehouse appliance-like products.
Below, you can see capacity/pricing information for three comparable configurations. I was struggling with labels for these three configurations. I’ve settled on big, bigger, and even bigger.
I think you’ll agree that the relative costs provide some food for thought. Probably the biggest factor in the gulf between the IBM and Oracle prices is the software license and maintenance costs—IBM InfoSphere Warehouse (which is powered by DB2) includes many of the software add-ons that must be purchased separately for the Oracle configurations.
I have highlighted the row indicating the uncompressed storage capacity for “user space” and the row indicating the list price. Of course, the list price does not reflect the considerable discounting that is typically offered by vendors like IBM and Oracle.
|IBM Smart Analytics System 2050||Oracle Exadata X2-2|
|Configuration Size||Medium||1/4 Rack|
|Total Available Protected Storage||12TB (RAID5)||10.5TB (RAID1)|
|Total “User Space”*||6.6TB Uncompressed||6TB Uncompressed|
|List Price (1st YR)||$164,394**||$2,318,976***|
|System Installation||Included||ADDITIONAL COST|
|Ongoing storage software costs||None||$79,200 / year|
|IBM Smart Analytics System 5600||Oracle Exadata X2-2|
|Configuration Size||Small (4 data modules)||1/2 Rack|
|Total Available Protected Storage||35.2TB (RAID6)||24TB (RAID1)|
|Total “User Space”*||20TB Uncompressed||14TB Uncompressed|
|List Price (1st YR)||$2.7M**||$4.7M***|
|System Installation||Included||ADDITIONAL COST|
|OLAP, Data Mining, Text Mining||Included||ADDITIONAL COST|
|Ongoing storage software costs||None||$184,800 / year|
|PCIe Solid State Flash Memory||3.2TB****||2.6TB|
Even Bigger Configuration
|IBM Smart Analytics System 7700||Oracle Exadata X2-2|
|Configuration Size||Medium (3 data modules)||Full Rack|
|Total Available Protected Storage||62.5TB (RAID6)||50TB (RAID1)|
|Total “User Space”*||34.4TB Uncompressed||28TB Uncompressed|
|List Price (1st YR)||$4.7M**||$9.3M***|
|System Installation||Included||ADDITIONAL COST|
|OLAP, Data Mining, Text Mining||Included||ADDITIONAL COST|
|Ongoing storage software costs||None||$370,000 / year|
|PCIe Solid State Flash Memory||3.2TB****||5.3TB|
|Additional PCIe Solid State Devices||Optional||NOT AVAILABLE|
* Total “User Space” assumes 45% overhead for logs, temporary space, indexes, and so on.
** IBM prices include the appropriate edition of InfoSphere Warehouse. They also include 1 year of maintenance and support for all hardware and software.
*** Oracle prices includes Oracle Database, RAC, Partitioning, Advanced Compression, Tuning, Diagnostics, and Provisioning packs. They also include 1 year of maintenance and support for all hardware and software. Oracle prices are of 18 October 2010 on http://www.oracle.com/us/corporate/pricing/exadata-pricelist-070598.pdf and http://www.oracle.com/us/corporate/pricing/technology-price-list-070617.pdf.
**** PCIe Solid State Flash size excludes flash storage located in failover module.
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
Oracle list the following costs for a full-rack Exadata system:
- $1,150,000 for the hardware
- $1,680,000 for the storage server software
However, there was an asterisk next to the storage server software price. In small print, it says that you must “Use your existing database licenses“. That of course assumes that you have available licenses of Oracle Database and all required add-on features. Of course, I probably don’t need to mention Oracle’s reputation for auditing customer environments and later discovering very large compliance issues. Business Week covered this very topic last week in a very interesting article titled Oracle Has Customers Over a Barrel. Here is a short excerpt from that article:
One sore point with customers is the company’s audits. Most software companies audit their customers occasionally, checking through their offices and tech systems to make sure they’re paying for all the software they use. But Oracle has a reputation for being unusually aggressive, says Jane Disbrow, an analyst at Gartner Research (IT). She says Oracle’s policies can be confusing, and contracts with customers often don’t clearly spell out their rights. As a result, some get presented with bills ranging from $200,000 to $4 million after they get audited. “It’s easy to be out of compliance with Oracle licensing. They do nothing to help people stay in compliance,” says Disbrow. “Then they audit you and hand you a big bill.”
I thought it would be interesting to to to figure out what a full-rack Exadata system would cost when you include all the required and recommended software. And, of course, when you include the first year of maintenance. Note that I am making some educated guesses here. For instance, it appears that Oracle require you to buy Advanced Compression because the compression now occurs in the storage. In time, I’m sure that details like this will be flushed out. In the mean time, here’s my current best guess at the math:
$1,150,000 for the hardware
+ $1,680,000 for the software on the storage servers
+ $369,600 for Support & Maintenance on the Exadata storage software (calculated at 22%)
+ $1,520,000 for Oracle Enterprise Edition ($47.5k * 8 servers * 8 cores * 0.5 Intel core factor)
+ $736,000 for Oracle RAC ($23k * 8 servers * 8 cores * 0.5 Intel core factor)
+ $368,000 for Oracle Partitioning Option ($11.5k * 8 servers * 8 cores * 0.5 Intel core factor)
+ $368,000 for Oracle Advanced Compression ($11.5k * 8 servers * 8 cores * 0.5 Intel core factor)
+ $160,000 Enterprise Manager Diagnostic Pack (recommended)
+ $160,000 Enterprise Manager Tuning Pack (recommended)
+ $728,640 for Support & Maintenance on the above non-storage database software (calculated at 22%)
That all comes out to a whopping $7,240,240 for license and first year support/maintenance, which is a little more startling that the $2.7M indicated in the Oracle materials. Of course, this is the list price, and does not reflect any discounts you may be able to negotiate. A couple of additional things to consider:
- The list price for the annual support costs of the above software components is $1,098,240.
- Don’t forget that these costs do not include installation, which is a custom quote.
If you are interested in IBM’s take on yesterday’s Exadata v2 announcement, check out the article published by eWeek titled Oracle, Sun Show Off Super-Fast, Flash-Based OLTP Server. In this article, Bernie Spang offers IBM’s views on the announcement. Highlights include:
- Pointing out that Oracle neglected to include the cost of the software when indicating system price
- Pointing out that this is an x86-based system and not a SPARC system, and discussing the implications
- And highlighting IBM’s momentum in winning over both Sun customers and Oracle Database customers.
I’ll provide some additional personal analysis on this announcement soon…