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

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

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

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Tom Pope

Dynabook Portégé X30L-G

Ultimately this laptop has achieved everything I would hope for in a laptop for work, while fitting that into a form factor and weight that is remarkable.

Tom Sellers

MSI P65

This smart laptop was enjoyable to use and great to work on – creating content was super simple.

Lolita Wang

MSI GT76

It really doesn’t get more “gaming laptop” than this.

Jack Jeffries

MSI GS75

As the Maserati or BMW of laptops, it would fit perfectly in the hands of a professional needing firepower under the hood, sophistication and class on the surface, and gaming prowess (sports mode if you will) in between.

Taylor Carr

MSI PS63

The MSI PS63 is an amazing laptop and I would definitely consider buying one in the future.

Christopher Low

Brother RJ-4230B

This small mobile printer is exactly what I need for invoicing and other jobs such as sending fellow tradesman details or step-by-step instructions that I can easily print off from my phone or the Web.

Featured Content

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?