Exalytics and the cloud / OpenWorld kickoff

At yesterday’s Oracle OpenWorld keynote address, Larry Ellison spent a lot of time reviewing the impressive achievements of both the Exadata database machine and the Exalogic middle-tier application machine — extolling the purpose-built nature of both systems around what he termed to be the foundations of business data processing value. In particular, the parallel nature of scanning and handling large amounts of structured data on Exadata, the ability of Exalogic to run reams of Java, and perhaps most important of all, the fact that Oracle has made a significant bet on Infiniband to rapidly move data around within and between the systems.

Referring to Ethernet as being “from the 60′s”, it’s clear that Oracle thinks it’s time to move past it for handling large data transfers.

It was interesting to see Larry try to have it both ways in the keynote — asking what the purpose is of IBM’s “fastest integer” processor, “that’s great, but it’s the fastest for what?” — and then proceed to talk about the SPARC SuperCluster as a general purpose machine.

In any event, the star of the keynote was the 3U rack-mountable Exalytics “Analytic” machine — a high-memory, high-compute “node” that provides OBIEE / Essbase / OLAP folks with their very own engineered system. By cramming memory (1TB) and cpu (40 cores) along with the in-memory TimesTen database technology into the box, Larry described a system that allows for analysis “at the speed of thought”. If you’re already an OBIEE user, this system should provide you with plenty of excitement.

Less clear is how all of these engineered systems (including the yet-to-be-described Big Data Appliance / Hadoop machine on display at OpenWorld) will be put together by integrators and customers to provide an analytic / high-transaction data processing cloud. It’s as if Oracle is slowing replacing each item on its software price list with a hardware “systems” item — it will be interesting to see how these systems get put together into solution portfolios. For example, does it make sense to buy an Exadata half-rack and fill the remaining space in the rack with Exalytic machines? Would such a configuration be supported? Encouraged?

Back to the purpose-built machines — how does this play against the cloud trend of ubiquitous, generic nodes and software tailored to that environment?

I actually think we’ll know a lot more about this interplay (and how Oracle intends to adapt to or shape the discussion) as OpenWorld proceeds — especially around customer expectations for keynotes around big data and the cloud.

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