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Oracle Exadata 2 Capacity Pricing Revealed

Analyzing Oracle Exadata pricing is always harder than one would first think. But I've finally gotten around to doing an Oracle Exadata 2 pricing spreadsheet. If we believe Oracle's claims of 10X compression, Exadata 2 costs more per terabyte of user data than Netezza TwinFin but less than the Teradata 2550...

Analyzing Oracle Exadata pricing is always harder than one would first think. But I've finally gotten around to doing an Oracle Exadata 2 pricing spreadsheet. The main takeaways are:

  • If we believe Oracle's claims of 10X compression, Exadata 2 costs more per terabyte of user data than Netezza TwinFin -- $22-26K/TB vs. TwinFin's <$20K -- but less than the Teradata 2550.
  • These figures are highly sensitive to assumptions about Oracle's hybrid columnar compression.
  • Similarly, if Netezza or Teradata were to significantly upgrade their own compression, the price comparison would look quite different.
  • Options such as Data Mining or Oracle Spatial add 12% or so each to Exadata's total system price.
Longer version When Oracle introduced Exadata last year it was, well, expensive. Exadata 2 has now been announced, and it is significantly cheaper than Exadata 1 per terabyte of user data, based on:
  • Similar overall pricing
  • Twice the disk capacity
  • Better compression

Compression is the big question mark. Row-based DBMS vendors have traditionally been, if anything, conservative in their compression claims, although Netezza recently went with a not-sandbagged 2.25X compression estimate to get below the $20K/terabyte price point. Columnar software vendors have tended to be more aggressive, with figures of 10X or more casually thrown around, or 40-50X for archival storage. But since columnar vendors sell mainly on a software-only basis, those claims haven't generally shown up in per-terabyte, total-system-cost comparisons, which most commonly focus on data warehouse appliance product lines.* *Kickfire, the one columnar pure-play appliance vendor, has to date been quite conservative in its compression marketing claims.

Oracle, however, recently announced a feature called hybrid columnar compression, and is now making compression claims with the usual columnar grandiosity. Oracle's story is 10X compression, and they're sticking to it, perhaps because 10 is such a nice round number.* We can hope to eventually get a sense from the field of what levels of compression are actually realistic. (It seems that hybrid columnar compression only works with Exadata and not 11g Release 2, at least at this time.) But for now, we don't have much to go on except Oracle's claims. *Greg Rahn of Oracle tweeted me that one customer is getting 12-17X compression on "dimensional model" data. That sounds comparable to Vertica's claim of 20X on "marketing analytics" and 30X on "consumer data" datasets.

Based on 10X compression (vs. Netezza's 2.25X and Teradata's lower figure), Oracle Exadata 2 is somewhat more expensive than Netezza TwinFin, and significantly cheaper than Teradata's 2550. Specifically, Oracle Exadata 2 comes in around $22K/TB of user data for a full rack, and $26K/TB for a quarter rack, which is the Exadata 2 configuration more comparable to a TwinFin rack in user data capacity. This is if you look at the Exadata hardware version that uses 600 GB SAS drives (vs. 1 TB SAS drives for TwinFin and 300 GB SAS drives for Teradata). With 2 TB SATA drives, at the same system pricing, Exadata prices are 70% lower, getting down to $6K/TB for a full rack. You can see how I got these figures on my Oracle Exadata 2 pricing spreadsheet linked above.

Obviously, price/terabyte is just one metric. Throughput is often even more important, but also is a lot harder to quantify simply. Oracle Exadata 2 offers more raw I/O than Netezza TwinFin. Netezza TwinFin, with its FPGA-based pipelining, probably has more processing oomph than Oracle Exadata. Oracle's compression could lead to better use of RAM cache. And so it goes.

Meanwhile, two factors that in my opinion don't matter much to the analysis are:

  • The re-usability of Oracle licenses on other hardware. Most of Exadata's cost is either for hardware, or for server software that's priced on a per-core basis. Neither of those is going to manage much (or any) more data three years from now than it can today.
  • What Oracle claims as pricing metrics. Oracle's comments on Exadata pricing generally sow confusion, which is why I do my own spreadsheets.

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