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HP-Oracle Warehouse Marks Another Win for Appliances

HP BladeSystem bundle targets 1-4 terabyte market sweet spot. HP claims speed and energy efficiency advantages over Dell's alternative.
If it looks like an appliance and acts like an appliance, it's an appliance. That's what you have to call the HP BladeSystem for Oracle Optimized Warehouse announced yesterday. HP's new offering is the latest and first HP-based offering in the database vendor's Optimized Warehouse initiative. Billed as a "pre-configured, appliance-like solution," the 1- to 4-terabyte system is aimed at the heart of the data warehouse market, which is looking more and more like it will be overrun by appliances.

"This is targeted at the centerpoint of the data warehouse market," says Rich Ghiossi, director of BI portfolio marketing at HP. "If you look at the data in terms of just the number of data warehouses out there, that vast majority are in the 1- to 4-terabyte range. We think these are the customers who most want a product that can get up and running very quickly."

With more than 230,000 customers and the lion's share of the database market, Oracle still has plenty of customers who individually choose and assemble the components of a data warehouse, but to make things easier, several years ago Oracle came up with some 50 reference configurations — recommended combinations of its software with popular server, storage and networking options. But customers still had to separately purchase and put the recommended components together. Launched in response to the growing popularity of data warehouse appliances, Oracle's Optimized Warehouse initiative has thus far yielded pre-configured, one-stop-shop products from Dell (with EMC storage), Sun and IBM (though good like finding brochures and promotional materials on the latter).

"Until today, a solution form HP and Oracle came in pieces, but given that we're coming out with a product that's packaged, customers can now be up and running in hours instead of weeks," says Ghiossi .

Combining an HP BladeSystem server and HP Storage Blades in a single 1-TB rack, the new device is said to deliver 2.5X faster performance and 65-percent lower energy consumption than Dell's Oracle Optimized Warehouse. In capping the scalability at 4 TB, HP is avoiding overlaps with its own Neoview appliance, which typically starts in the double-digit terabyte range. In contrast to the HP-Oracle offering, Ghiossi says Neoview is "aimed at the enterprise data warehouse level, and specifically at operational business intelligence."

HP's competitors will no doubt tout their higher scalability in appealing to would-be Oracle Optimized Warehouse customers. For example, the Oracle Optimized Warehouse for Sun line already extends up to 10 terabytes.

So are the days of do-it-yourself data warehouse construction winding down? Perhaps that's going a bit too far, but Oracle acknowledges that market demands have changed. "The reason we came up with an offering in this range with HP is that there are a lot of medium-sized businesses that previously wouldn’t have been getting into data warehousing, so [an appliance] has obvious appeal," says William Hardie, vice president of database product marketing. "The point of the Optimized Warehouses and of larger reference configurations is striking the right balance of disk capacity, data transfer rates and overall system performance."

Prices for the new HP BladeSystem for Oracle Optimized Warehouse were not disclosed. The bundle will start shipping in July and will be sold through distributor Avnet Technology Solutions. The target of the offering closely matches Teradata's recently announced Teradata 550 SMP, which scales up to 6 terabytes at a cost of $67,000 per terabyte. IBM's C4000 InfoSphere Balanced Warehouse, which runs on the DB2 database, scales up to 5 terabytes.