Experts: Avoid big mistakes with Oracle's Exadata

Presenters at the recent Collaborate user conference gave their tips

Although Exadata is Oracle's most popular and mature "engineered system," some customers implementing the database machine are making mistakes that prevent them from getting the most performance out of the expensive product, according to a veteran of many Exadata projects.

Many people have seen Oracle's advertisements that sing Exadata's praises and cite astounding-sounding performance improvements over running the same workload on traditional hardware, said Andy Colvin, practice director with Oracle consulting firm Enkitec, during a presentation at the Collaborate conference in Las Vegas last week.

A lot of databases are hindered because they're running on servers with older hardware and fibre channel interconnects, as well as a shared SAN (storage area network). Exadata targets these problems with features such as dedicated storage and Infiniband interconnects.

"You get away from everybody else," Colvin said. "You get to be the kid with your own sandbox, so you're not sharing storage with the rest of the organization."

Maybe as a result of this, some customers "think of [Exadata] as throwing hardware at a problem, and it's really not," Colvin said. Simply moving workloads over to Exadata will typically result in a three-times performance improvement, he added.

But the "smart scan" technology afforded by Exadata's specialized storage software "is where the magic really happens," Colvin said.

A few key moves are highly important. For one, Exadata can benefit from a smaller SGA (system global area), Oracle's name for the shared RAM space used by a database instance. "If you start small it will recognize you have a small buffer cache," he said. "It's going to utilize all that power you have down at the storage tier."

However, this advice mostly applies to data warehouses deployed on Exadata, according to Colvin. OLTP (online transaction processing) queries typically need larger SGAs, he said.

But in general, new Exadata customers should realize they "aren't special," and avoid making too many arbitrary tweaks, Colvin said. "You've got a nice fancy system Oracle has configured and tested."

Meanwhile, it might even be a big mistake to buy Exadata at all, as it could be overkill, according to another presenter at Collaborate.

Automotive parts manufacturer Gentex is running its substantial ERP (enterprise resource planning) system with a combination of commodity servers and storage, said Cliff Burgess, director of IT at the company.

It went with the combination after getting the hard sell from Oracle on an Exadata upgrade. The solution Gentex ultimately came up with ended up involving far less additional hardware than Oracle's representatives claimed it would, according to Burgess.

Oracle customers who need more performance would be well served to determine whether simply some faster chips, additional RAM and solid-state cards would solve their problems, versus buying an Exadata, he added.

That advice comes as Oracle's sales organization is placing heavy emphasis on Exadata and other engineered systems, versus commodity boxes. Oracle recently passed the 10,000 mark for sales of engineered systems, CEO Larry Ellison said during the company's third-quarter earnings call last month.

For Oracle, engineered systems represent a much more lucrative opportunity than the hardware alone, given they get loaded with plenty of high-margin software licenses that subsequently generate annual maintenance revenue streams.

All things to consider when the Oracle Exadata salesman comes calling, according to Burgess.

"Don't let Oracle come in and sell you the shiny box," he said. "As a customer, I don't want what's best for Oracle, I want what's best for me."

Chris Kanaracus covers enterprise software and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Chris' email address is Chris_Kanaracus@idg.com

Join the newsletter!

Or
Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags cloud computingenterprise resource planninginternetOraclesoftwareapplicationsSAPInternet-based applications and services

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Chris Kanaracus

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Essentials

James Cook University - Master of Data Science Online Course

Learn more >

Mobile

Victorinox Werks Professional Executive 17 Laptop Case

Learn more >

Exec

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?