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Oracle Exadata Virtual Deployments Review

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At Oracle OpenWorld 2008, Oracle announced its entry into the Engineered Systems market with the HP Oracle Database Machine. The HP Oracle Database Machine was a combined HP compute, network, storage stack with Oracle Linux running Oracle’s 11g Database. Oracle marketed the HP Oracle Database Machine as:
“Delivering 10x Faster Performance Than Current Oracle Data Warehouses

Oracle Transforms Data Warehouse Deployments with Oracle® Exadata Storage Servers, the First-Ever Smart Storage Designed for Oracle Data Warehouses”
 
The innovation that delivered 10x Faster Performance for Oracle Data Warehouses was the Exadata Storage Servers, described as “the First-Ever Smart Storage Designed for Oracle Data Warehouses”.
 
One year later at At Oracle OpenWorld 2009, Oracle announced its intention to acquire Sun Microsystems, and introduced the Sun Oracle Database Machine (V2) remarketed as The First Database Machine for OLTP. The Sun acquisition ended the HP Oracle Database Machine, and ushered in the Oracle/Sun Engineered Systems erra.
 
As of this writing Exadata X6 is the latest release, and the seventh-generation Exadata system. Today Exadata is marketed as the highest-performance and most-available platform for the Oracle Database. Exadata consists a Sun Rack Units populated with Sun Database Servers, Sun Exadata Storage Servers, as well as Sun InfiniBand and Ethernet networking components, that run Oracle Linux physical or virtual deployments with Oracle Database workloads. The number of components in each Exadata system varies based on the hardware configuration; X6-2 in an 1/8, 1/4, 1/2 and full rack configurations, and the X6-8 in a 1/2 and full rack configurations.
 
From 2013 through 2015 the number of Intel processor cores doubled, which increased the cost to license Oracle Database software on Exadata by 50%. To address the 50% cost increases Oracle introduced Capacity On Demand and Trusted Partitions.
 
Capacity-on-demand (CoD) allows Exadata Database Server’s to be installed with a subset of its processor cores turned off so that the database software license costs could be reduced.
 
The next list shows the Capacity-On-Demand details for Exadata X6 systems:
  • For Exadata X6-2 systems a minimum of 14 processor cores must be enabled per compute node.
  • For Exadata X6-2 Eighth Rack the minimum is 8 processor cores per compute node.
  • For Exadata X6-8 a minimum of 56 processor cores must be enabled per compute node.
The Exadata X5 release was the first release to introduce virtual deployments using Oracle VM for x86. Virtual deployments brought Trusted Partitions. Trusted Partitions allow Oracle software to be licensed at the virtual machine level instead of the physical processor core level. Capacity-On-Demand with Trusted Partitions allow customers to right-size their Oracle software licensing with any Exadata configuration.
 
Note: Trusted partitions require that each virtual machine using a trusted partition to be managed by Oracle Enterprise Manager.
 
Exadata utilizes only the Oracle VM for x86 server component (the hypervisor), not Oracle VM Manager. Oracle VM for x86 consists of a server component, and a management component. The server component is based on the open source Xen.org hypervisor, named Oracle VM server. The Xen hypervisor is a type 1 hypervisor that installs directly on hardware. Oracle makes subtle changes to the original Xen.org code that create a unique Xen distribution, which Oracle maintains and redistributes as Oracle VM server.
 
With Exadata Oracle VM for x86 servers and virtual machines are setup and managed from the command line, and monitored from Enterprise Manager. In Enterprise Manager Exadata Oracle VM for x86 servers and virtual machines are monitored using the Virtualization Infrastructure (VI) plug-in, along with the Direct Monitoring of Xen Based Systems plug-in. To be able to monitor Exadata Oracle VM for x86 servers and virtual machines the Virtualization Infrastructure (VI) plug-in must be deployed, along with an Enterprise Manager agent on a physical or virtual machine setup with the Direct Monitoring of Xen Based Systems plug-in.
 
Oracle VM servers, and virtual machines are setup, and maintained from the command line using a handful of utilities such as the Oracle Exadata Deployment Assistant (OEDA), exachk, patchmgr, dbnodeupdate, as well as Xen native commands.
 

Key Features and Specifications

Exadata does not have the virtualization feature matrix one might expect from a contemporary converged infrastructure offering. In fact, Exadata virtual deployments do not share the basic features from the Oracle VM for x86 software distribution. For example, Exadata Oracle VM servers, and virtual machines are setup and maintained from the command line.
 
The following two tables show the Oracle, Non-Oracle, and virtualization feature matrices.

Oracle and Non-Oracle Support Matrix

The next tables shows Exadata’s Oracle and Non-Oracle workload, hardware and operating system support matrix.
Product
*Oracle
Database
Oracle
Middleware &
Applications
Oracle
Business Intelligence
Non-Oracle
Workloads
Oracle/Sun Hardware
Non- Oracle/Sun Hardware
Support
*Oracle Linux
[b]Non-Oracle
Operating System
Support
Oracle VM for x86 Software
 
 
 
 
 
* Oracle Database Software (available separately):
For database servers: Oracle Database 11g Release 2 Enterprise Edition and Oracle Database 12c Enterprise Edition. Oracle Database Options such as
Oracle Real Application Clusters, Oracle Partitioning, Oracle Multitenant, Oracle Active Data Guard
* Oracle Software (included):
For database servers: Oracle Linux 6 Update 7 with the Unbreakable Enterprise Kernel 2. Zero-loss Zero-copy Datagram Protocol (ZDP) InfiniBand protocol
used to communicate between the Exadata Storage Servers and the Oracle Database which is based on the Reliable Datagram Sockets (RDS) OpenFabrics
Enterprise Distribution (OFED)

Exadata Virtual Deployment Feature Matrix.

Oracle Software Product Certification and Support
Oracle Product Certification and Support
Oracle Software License Management
Hard Partitions
 
Soft Partitions
Trusted Partitions
Capacity-On-Demand
Key Features
Supported Guest Operating Systems
Oracle Linux
Centralized Management
 
Application Management
Available with Enterprise Manager
Monitoring, Alerts and Notifications
Available with Enterprise Manager
RBAC / AD-Integration
Available with Enterprise Manager
Cross-Vendor Management
 
Browser Based Management
Available with Enterprise Manager
Self Service Portal
Available with Enterprise Manager
Chargeback
Available with Enterprise Manager
Hypervisors Patching
Virtual Machine Patching
 
Live VM Migration
 
Automated Live Migration
 
Power Management
 
Integrated HA (Restart VM)
 
VM Fault Tolerance
 
Storage Migration
 
Live VM Snapshots
 
Backup Integration API
Available with the Enterprise Manager CLI
Integrated Backup
Available with additional Oracle software and hardware
VM Templates
Replication and Site Failover
Available with Oracle Site Guard with Oracle Enterprise Manager
Virtual disk thin provisioning
 
Memory Dedupe
 
Memory Oversubscribe
 
CPU Oversubscribe
I/O Pass-Through (SR-IOV)
Centralized Backup
 
Disaster Recovery
Available with Oracle Site Guard with Oracle Enterprise Manager
Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI)
 
Software Defined Storage (SDS)
 
Software Defined Network (SDN)
 
Logical Volume Manager
Virtual Switches
 
V2V
 
P2V
 
Database Server Capabilities
X6-2 Max CPUs - Host
2x 22-core (44 Cores)
X6-8 Max CPUs - Host
8x 18-core  (144 Cores)
Max vCPUs - Host
Not published
X6-2 Max Memory - Host
256 expandable up to 786 GB
X6-8 Max Memory - Host
2 TB expandable up to 6 TB
SAN Multipath
 
EMC PowerPath
 
Raw Device Mapping
Boot From SAN
 
Boot from USB
 
Virtual Disk Format
Raw Image Files (*.img files)
NIC Teaming
VLANs
PLANs
 
Private Networks (Xen Bridges)
Jumbo Frames
 
Virtual Machine Capabilities
Max vCPUs
128
Max Memory
2 TB
Max vDisk Size
 
Serial Ports
 
USB Support
 
Hot Add/Plug
 
Graphic Acceleration
 
Dynamic / Over-Commit
 
Memory Page Sharing
 
Large Pages
OVF Support
 
Scripting API
 
 

Acquisition and Maintenance Costs

Exadata is available in two variations: The X6-2 based on two-socket database servers and the X6-8 based on eight-socket database servers. The networking, storage servers and software are the same in both X6-2, and X6-8.
 
Note: Exadata is sold by the technology and hardware sales teams.
 
EF = Extreme Flash; HC = High Capacity
Configuration
Nodes/Storage Cells
List Price
Oracle Premier Support for Systems
(Annual)
Premier
Support for
Operating
Systems
(Annual)
X6-2 ⅛ Rack
Base Configuration
(EF & HC)
2/3
$220,000
$26,400
$17,600
X6-2 ¼ Rack
Base Configuration
(EF & HC)
2/3
$330,000
$39,600
$26,400
X6-2 Half Rack
Standard Configuration
(EF & HC)
4/7
$602,000
$72,240
$48,160
X6-8 Half Rack
Base Configuration (EF & HC)
2/3
$850,000
$102,000
$68,000
X6-2 Full Rack
Standard Configuration
(EF & HC)
8/14
$1,098,000
$131,760
$87,840
X6-8 Full Rack
Standard Configuration
(EF & HC)
2/14
$1,378,000
$165,360
$110,240
 
Notes:
  • Oracle Premier Support for Systems covers the servers and storage.
  • Premier Support for Operating Systems covers Oracle Linux and Solaris.
  • Hardware installation and software configuration services are not included.
  • Oracle Engineered System Advisory Service start at $47,500.00.
 
To use an Exadata systems, customers will need to purchase the following additional Oracle licenses:
  • Exadata storage server licenses
  • Oracle Database licenses
  • Oracle Premier Support

The Competition

Exadata has no Non-Oracle competitors. Exadata competition comes from within Oracle, via Oracle VM for x86 and SPARC/Solaris, the Oracle Private Cloud Appliance, and the Oracle Database Appliance.
 

Oracle VM for x86

Oracle VM for x86 has the broadest Oracle software support, the most comprehensive features, and is the only solution with 3rd party (Cisco, HP, Dell, EMC, NetApp, etc..) hardware, storage, and operating system support. With Oracle VM for x86 you can build your own high performance virtualization solution that supports not only Oracle database workloads, but also middleware, application, and business intelligence using the same compute, network and storage as your VMware systems. Oracle software on Oracle VM for x86 can be licensed at the virtual machine level as well as the physical processor level.
 
Oracle marketing, and sales do not position Oracle VM for x86 against Exadata, but nevertheless it's a low cost high performance competitor that supports not only the Oracle database, but also middleware, application, and business intelligence with hard partition based licensing.
 
Exadata introduces a unique x86 Oracle/Sun compute, network, storage, virtualization, operating system, and management stack stack into the data center. Exadata requires unique technical skills, and integration into existing IT Policies, Standards, and Procedures. Conversely Oracle VM for x86 software provides standardization across the Oracle applications stack using existing hardware and infrastructure.
 

Oracle VM for SPARC/Solaris

The number 1 workload on Solaris is the Oracle database, and Oracle is aggressively trying to maintain, and grow its Oracle/Solaris install base. Oracle customers on Solaris tend to stay on Solaris. Solaris and Oracle VM for SPARC have broad Oracle software support with hard partition based licensing, and are a cost effective high performance alternative to Exalogic.
 
Exadata introduces a unique x86 Oracle/Sun compute, network, storage, virtualization, operating system, and management stack into the data center. Exadata requires unique technical skills, and integration into existing IT Policies, Standards, and Procedures. Conversely if you're a Solaris shop you already have a high performance compute, network, storage, virtualization, and operating system stack that supports not only the Oracle database, but also middleware, applications, and business intelligence with hard partition based licensing.
 

Oracle Private Cloud Appliance

The Oracle Private Cloud Appliance (PCA) is Oracle' only Converged Infrastructure solution that is engineered and marketed for general purpose virtualization. The Oracle Private Cloud Appliance has broad Oracle software support, 3rd party operating system support, and trusted partitions that allow customers to license Oracle software via a virtual machine’s virtual CPUs regardless of the number of physical CPUs on the compute nodes or cluster.
 
Oracle marketing, and sales do not position the Oracle Private Cloud Appliance against Exadata, but nevertheless it's a low cost high performance Exadata competitor with broad Oracle software support and Trusted Partitions.
 

The Oracle Database Appliance

As its name suggests, the Oracle Database Appliance was originally engineered for Oracle Database workloads, but now also supports Oracle middleware, and applications with Trusted Partitions.

As an entry level solution, the Oracle Database Appliance is a cost effective alternative that competes with Exadata ⅛, and ¼ racks.

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