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Global CIO: Oracle Reveals Strategy And Customers For White-Hot Exadata

Transcending data warehousing and OLTP, Oracle's Exadata is triggering an industrywide redefinition of the core IT systems that fire the global economy.

Oracle's 22-month-old Exadata Database Machine has leapfrogged the data-warehousing market and become a major player in high-end OLTP environments, and is now being positioned as a core database-consolidation platform due to its unprecedented capacity and throughput.

After rejuvenating its data-warehousing business and giving the company a foothold in the high-end OLTP systems market, Oracle's white-hot Exadata Database Machine is now also being positioned as a core database-consolidation platform that can handle all of the above for CIOs while delivering faster, cheaper, and better results.

In Oracle's first detailed public discussion of its Exadata strategy and market dynamics, senior vice president of database and server technologies Andrew Mendelsohn identified 15 global customers using the product and said Exadata Version 2 is rapidly becoming the foundation technology for banks and other large enterprises looking to build what he called "virtual private clouds."

Mendelsohn said that Exadata's unique combinations of optimized software and networking along with mostly commodity hardware allow it to handle a range of high-end tasks that competitors' systems can't match, making Exadata a more-attractive alternative for CIOs looking to harness greater performance at lower cost while also simplifying their maddeningly complex environments.

The system's blend of flash memory chips with hard-drive memory, he said, allows it to address not only the sequential I/O scanning requirements for data warehousing but also the random I/O needs for OLTP, which creates a vast difference between the value offered by Exadata V2 and that offered by single-function data-warehousing appliances from Teradata, Netezza, and more recently the EMC-Greenplum pairing.

Above all, Mendelsohn said, Exadata has accelerated the sale of Oracle's core 11g database technology because in addition to it being a highly optimized delivery platform for 11g, it has also allowed Oracle salespeople to initiate conversations with CIOs who know they need to upgrade their databases but are reluctant to spend the millions of dollars required in return for only incremental gain.

Along the way, Exadata's become what Oracle CEO Larry Ellison has called the company's most successful product introduction ever, and is approaching a $1 billion annual run rate. Ellison recently said Exadata was winning deals from some of IBM's "largest and bluest accounts," naming Bank of America, Procter&Gamble, and European retailer Carrefour and Thomson-Reuters as examples.

Yesterday, noting that Exadata has wracked up "many, many" customer wins on the way to that billion-dollar run rate, Mendelsohn added the following reference accounts for Exadata: China Mobile, which he called the world's largest mobile-phone service provider; Commonwealth Bank of Australia; BNP Paribas; Amtrak; Softbank; MTel; Garanti; Knowledgebase; True; Allegro; and Hiscom.

(For more analysis on Exadata and Oracle, please check out our "Recommended Reading" list at the end of this column.)

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That's a long way from Exadata's less-ambitious beginnings less than two years ago when Version 1 was released as a highly tuned and integrated data-warehousing platform that Oracle originally developed because of the inability of EMC and other storage vendors to deliver data warehousing hardware that could scale for large enterprises without encountering the sequential I/O limitations mentioned above. And here's how Mendelsohn described the journey during an interview in his office Monday at Oracle headquarters:

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