Oracle's Exadata Redux and Fusion Apps Plug - InformationWeek

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10/15/2009
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Doug Henschen
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Oracle's Exadata Redux and Fusion Apps Plug

This week at its Open World event, Oracle put a bit more flesh on the bones of last month's Sun Oracle Exadata 2 announcement. It also offered a peek at Oracle Fusion Applications, touting its inseparable embedded BI and collaboration capabilities. It was an impressive and tantalizing event, but it was a still a bit long on speeds, feeds and promises.

This week at the Open World event in San Fransisco, Oracle put a bit more flesh on the bones of last month's Sun Oracle Exadata 2 announcement. It also offered a peek at Oracle Fusion Applications, touting its inseparable embedded BI and collaboration capabilities. It was an impressive and tantalizing event (complete with a surprise visit from CAHL e FOUR knee uhhh Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger), but it was a still a bit long on speeds, feeds and promises.

To back up the cryptic Exadata 2 claims issued last month, Oracle offered a wave of press releases and presentations. First up, Oracle and Sun aired the results of a TPC-C benchmark showing Exadata 2 to have achieved the fastest scores yet on that lab-based test. Next, details were shared on the Sun Storage F5100 Flash Array, the turbo charger inside Exadata 2. A long list of Exadata customers was shared, several of whom reportedly presented during the event. Finally, Oracle CEO Larry Ellison took the stage late yesterday to reiterate Exadata 2 top-speed and low-cost claims (he also introduced next-generation tech support, as explained here). Then he threw down the gauntlet to IBM, saying, "if you can find an application running on an IBM computer that we can't run at least twice as fast on a Sun/Oracle machine, we'll give you $10 million.On the cost front, Ellison cited comparatively humble-sounding prices during last night's presentation: $110,000 for a test environment, $350,000 for a quarter rack and on up to $1.1 million for a full rack, as also shown on this page. But that's just for the hardware. You'll also have to add the software, which, as Curt Monash explores here, brings those costs up to $606,000, $1.5 million and $6.2 million, according to his analysis.

And as for all those speeds and feeds, Exadata 2's bifurcated data-architecture/RAC-architecture design and its use of flash memory can obscure data warehousing performance. "If you read Oracle's literature, they see the biggest benefit of the flash memory being in OLTP performance, not in data warehousing," points out Randy Lea, vice president of product and services marketing at Oracle rival Teradata. "Plus, it doesn't really help to speed up Exadata storage tier because the RAC [database] environment can't handle it. Cache hits can speed up some of that processing, but you still have to go the RAC infrastructure to handle concurrency and all the other database work."

In short, Oracle customers who want to stick with Oracle can now be assured that their favored vendor will take them into the scalability and performance big leagues -- and perhaps even to the very top. But for those starting afresh and who are open to options, I'd follow the advice of wise heads who have been around data warehousing for years: Forget about TPC tests and wait for production references that relate to your data volumes, query complexity and concurrent-user needs.

Fusion Applications in 2010

Ellison also offered insight into the massive Oracle Fusion Applications Version 1 development project still underway, declaring it's "code complete and entering testing." It's an industry first as "the only suite built 100 percent on standards-based middleware," he said. Not only is it all Java in terms of development, it's built on a services-oriented architecture for flexible, component-based modular application assembly. "You can rearrange, plug or unplug components as you see fit," he said. "You assemble task flows in the order that you want them and that makes sense for your company."

Business intelligence is embedded, exception-based and inseparable from all components of the system, Ellison added. "The user interface is BI driven and you can't use the system without using BI… The system tells you what you need to know, what you need to do, how you need to do it and who you need to contact in order to get it done."

Steve Miranda, the Oracle executive in charge of Fusion App development, offered a demo in which presence awareness -- the ability to spot and communicate with people relevant to a task -- figured prominently. The demo dipped into app components for CRM, manufacturing, inventory, order orchestration, fulfillment, supply chain management, project management and HR. It was a cool and fairly comprehensive demo, and Ellison ended by saying the system Oracle has long been promising will debut "next year."

That's an improved forecast from the "2010 or 2011" dates Thomas Kurian talked about back in January, but JD Edwards, PeopleSoft and Oracle apps customers have been waiting a while for Fusion. Let's hope it's not a December 2010 announcement with shipments starting some time thereafter.This week at its Open World event, Oracle put a bit more flesh on the bones of last month's Sun Oracle Exadata 2 announcement. It also offered a peek at Oracle Fusion Applications, touting its inseparable embedded BI and collaboration capabilities. It was an impressive and tantalizing event, but it was a still a bit long on speeds, feeds and promises.

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