Global CIO: Larry Ellison's IBM-Slayer Is Oracle Exadata Machine - InformationWeek
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Bob Evans
Bob Evans

Global CIO: Larry Ellison's IBM-Slayer Is Oracle Exadata Machine

Ellison says his billion-dollar baby, Exadata, is racking up huge customer wins at major IBM accounts due to superior speed and reliability.

Saying his blockbuster Exadata OLTP machine won 30 different head-to-head deals against IBM in the last quarter, Oracle CEO Larry Ellison devoted all of his comments in yesterday's earnings call to Exadata's exploits, including its unprecedented penetration into three of what Ellison called "IBM's largest and bluest accounts."

How focused on Exadata and IBM was Ellison?

He was so intent on discussing Exadata and its superiority over IBM systems in speed, reliability, and market momentum that Ellison didn't even mention his other archrival, SAP, in either his prepared remarks or commentary during the Q&A session.

But he had plenty to say about IBM, and about how Exadata's billion-dollar run rate has been generated in large part at IBM's expense.

This is of great importance to CIOs because Larry Ellison has triggered a huge move among IT hardware and software companies to develop integrated and optimized systems, a la Exadata, that promise to deliver superior performance, reliability, and manageability. He's pushed the discussion away from hardware and software and toward higher-value systems.

Just this week, Hewlett-Packard and SAS joined forces to offer integrated appliances targeted at financial risk assessment, retail pricing, and product-mix optimization. And last month at Sapphire, SAP announced plans for its own set of optimized machines in separate partnerships with IBM and HP.

From Ellison's perspective, the Exadata experiment has been a huge success.

"When we introduced the Exadata Database Machine, it really was focused on data warehousing and our primary competitors were companies like Teradata and Netezza," he said during his prepared remarks in yesterday's earnings call. "When we released Version 2 of our Exadata Database Machine in partnership with Sun--and then we bought Sun--we really focused not simply on data warehousing performance but also on online transaction processing.

"And our current version of the Sun Exadata Database Machine substantially outperforms IBM's fastest computer in both data warehousing and transaction processing. As a result, in our previous quarter, Q4, some of IBM's largest customers began buying Exadata machines rather than big IBM servers.

"And the 2011 Exadata pipeline continues to grow and is now approaching $1 billion, making Exadata the fastest-growing new product in Oracle history," Ellison said.

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"Again, I said the competition has really shifted from companies like Teradata and Netezza to big IBM machines, and the Q4 results bore that out. We beat IBM 30 times in Q4; we beat Teradata 9 times in Q4; and we beat Netezza 7 times in Q4, and we've sold the Exadata machine into some of IBM's largest and bluest accounts, including Bank of America; Carrefour, the largest retailer in the world behind Wal-Mart; and Thompson-Reuters."

That shift in focus for Exadata from data warehousing to OLTP has pushed the system into the realm of truly mission-critical applications, and Ellison during the Q&A session said Exadata's fault-tolerant architecture has become a huge selling point:

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