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Ellison Details 'Next-Gen' Oracle Tech Support

At OracleWorld, Oracle CEO Larry Ellison discussed Web-based technical support and introduced a surprise guest: Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Oracle CEO Larry Ellison, in his keynote at OracleWorld Wednesday, said Oracle is planning more comprehensive, personalized, and proactive technical support for its customers through an improved, future version of Oracle Enterprise Manager.

Customers buy and run Enterprise Manager to establish a central supervisor of their Oracle database systems and applications. Oracle will use information captured by Enterprise Manager to keep a snapshot of a customer's configurations on file in a central My Oracle Support database. My Oracle Support is Oracle's recently announced approach to "next generation" technical support.

A Web portal behind My Oracle Support will give customers the latest information on bugs and security patches, share knowledge on problems experienced by customers with similar configurations, and provide patch alerts and information on known fixes. It will give customers a discussion forum, community groups, and other collaborative support mechanisms.

"We're going to do proactive protection against bugs in our software or in other parties' software," Ellison said. "We're going to start collecting your configurations. We'll upload them from Enterprise Manager (into an Oracle support database), a database of all known problems," he said.

A Web portal will serve as customer reference point for My Oracle Support, the recently launched approach to upgraded support, and will allow customers to air their problems and consider advice and fixes from fellow customers as well as the Oracle technical support team, Ellison continued.

In the past, a customer who had discovered a glitch in Oracle software could obtain a patch from Oracle to fix the problem. But that would leave other customers in Oracle's 345,000-strong customer base in the dark. "If a customer has a real problem and we find a bug, we want to fix it, not just for you but for everyone with a similar configuration," Ellison said.

Customers with similar configurations would be notified, "'We recommend you fix this bug.' This is a collaborative system. You will be able to see what other customers say about the patch," he added.

The process would entail Oracle data mining its Global Configuration Database, matching up problems and complaints with specific software combinations, then applying fixes.

Ellison also emphasized its database machine, Exadata 2, built with Sun Microsystems servers based on Intel chips. Ellison has been predicting a great future for the combination of Sun hardware and Oracle database software.

The Exadata 2 relies on 400 GB of dynamic random access memory and 5 TB of flash memory, along with 40 Gb per second Infiniband data paths inside the machine. Oracle said it was twice as fast as database machines from Teradata or Netezza. The flash memory is treated as an extension of main memory, not as a substitute disk drive, he noted.

The use of flash memory speeds up random I/Os, allowing 1 million per second, he said. Database machines that rely on disk drives are stuck with I/Os lower than "100,000 per second, based on a huge EMC disk array," Ellison explained.

The Exadata 2 is built in modular fashion and additional modules may be added to the initial one with linear scaling. A two-unit Exadata, for example, would be capable of 2 million I/Os a second, he said. Low end versions of the machine start at $110,000, with the 1 million I/O machine priced at $1.15 million.

A slower IBM database machine would cost $10 million, Ellison claimed. "Oracle costs one-quarter as much and it has built-in fault tolerance, unlike IBM… There are no single points of failure," he said.

Ellison interrupted his talk to introduce a surprise guest, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. He welcomed the 37,000 attendees to California and urged them to stay longer, traveling up and down the coast and "spending lots of money. We need the revenue."

Schwarzenegger told the crowd that technology is a key sector of the California economy. "High tech, biotech, green tech, nanotech, all the techs, I just love 'em," he quipped on a sector that has shown strength in an otherwise down economy.

The Governor said he will always be grateful to the technology behind the special effects in the movies Predator and Terminator. Special effects made him a superstar in film, Schwarzenegger said.

And he offered a boost to the stalled acquisition of Sun by Oracle. "I'd like to acknowledge two tech giants in Oracle and Sun… Congratulations to Larry and Scott on the great, great job they're doing for California," he said. As he exited, he gave a wave and as an afterthought threw out his trademark line from his days as an actor, "I'll be back."


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