Top Ten Storage Takeaways from Oracle OpenWorld 2012

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Oracle OpenWorld 2012 took place last week. As usual, there was plenty of talk around storage. After all, when you focus on enterprise applications, databases and cloud computing, you need an awful lot of storage to support your operations. Oracle, of course, took this a stage further when it bought Sun Microsystems a couple of years ago.

Here are some of the top storage takeaways from the show.

1) Oracle Goes Cloud Crazy

Oracle hasn’t just gone cloud, it has gone cumulonimbus (those are the huge clouds that extend vertically and dominate the sky).

From no cloud offerings two years ago, the company now has more Software as a Service (SaaS) applications than any other vendor, according to Oracle CEO Larry Ellison.

And Oracle is seeking to extend the cloud concept by offering everything on one cloud. Instead of just applications, it provides the complete package – applications, compute power and the supporting infrastructure.

“We also provide things like compute power and storage services in the cloud,” said Ellison. “That enables you to buy your storage as a service.”

Its portfolio of Platform Services, Application Services, and Social Services are available on a subscription basis. And it believes it has moved beyond a hardware or software struggle with the likes of IBM and HP to where the primary competitor is now’s cloud services.

2) Private or Public Cloud

Oracle’s cloud offering is available as a vast public cloud. But they also have the options of the exact same cloud services being available as a private cloud.

“We will place the same infrastructure as we use in the Oracle cloud behind your firewall for those with security or regulatory sensitivities,” said Mark Hurd, President of Oracle.

Oracle owns and manages the infrastructure using its Exalogic, Exadata and SuperCluster engineered systems to provide virtualized compute and storage services. That infrastructure is then installed in your data center but is operated by Oracle.

3) New Cloud Services

A couple of years back, Ellison was one of the cloud’s biggest naysayers. Since shifting course, the Oracle Cloud now boasts more than 10,000 customers and more than 25 million users.

Thomas Kurian, executive vice president, Oracle Product Development, unveiled new Oracle Cloud Services such as: Oracle Planning and Budgeting Cloud Service to streamline financial planning, budgeting and forecasting processes (this is Oracle Hyperion Planning in the cloud); and Oracle Storage Cloud Service to manage digital content in the cloud. This service is integrated with other Oracle Cloud services that require online storage.

4) Better Boxes

Oracle went into engineered systems a couple of years back with the introduction of its first Exadata box. It is now up to version 3.0 in Exadata and Exalogic. The latest versions promise more processor cores, more memory, more flash, better performance and greater levels of consolidation, all at the same price as the previous generation.

The company hopes to tempt users to do away with cobbling together their own data centers by providing abundant processing power, storage and networking in one machine.

“The Exadata X3 database in-memory machine offers 26 TB of RAM and flash memory,” said Ellison.

According to Hurd, Exadata X3 was 20 times faster on report generation and some other workloads than Exadata X2.

5) No More Disk Drives

With Exadata and Exalogic, active data is stored in memory.

“Disk drives are becoming passé,” said Ellison. “With this system, you will virtually never use your disk drives.”

That said, X3 includes 500 TB of disk for cold data.

6) Not SSD

Another sharp distinction is made between solid state storage (SSD) and PCI-based flash. Oracle favors the latter in X3. That puts the flash right beside the processor as opposed to being replacements that are pushed into disk drive slots. “You can do a simple upgrade to Exadata X2 software and you can immediately boost your IOPS, sometimes by as much as 20 times,” said Ellison.

7) Compression

Hurd and Ellison both made a big deal out of Oracle’s latest compression algorithms. Hurd said that with most of his customers growing data at around 40% per year, they are spending $8,000 to $10,000 per TB to store that mushrooming data pool. That amounts to 20% of the external IT budget on storage.

“When you have many PB to store, that gets way too expensive,” said Hurd. “Using our compression, we can shrink the capacity by ten times.”

8) EMC and Oracle are Pals

Joe Tucci, EMC’s CEO and Chairman, delivered a message during the show that EMC and Oracle were major partners, operating at the “intersection of cloud and big data.”

Both companies highlighted how EMC disk and flash expertise are harnessed as part of the Oracle cloud. In his keynote, Ellison highlighted the EMC VMax 40K, which he said was three times better (52 GB/s) than comparable IBM or Hitachi storage.

9) EMC and Oracle are Competitors

While giving EMC a place on the stage and showing how it is better than its rivals, Ellison then announced that Exadata X3 can provide 100 GB/s, about double EMC’biggest configuration of VMax – and X3 can then scale up from there considerably.

“It costs less to buy X3 than EMC 40K,” said Ellison. “One rack is way cheaper than a maxed out 40K and you get all the database benefits too.”

10) Database Backup

Ellison made a pitch for simplified backup of databases. The idea is to use the latest Oracle Pluggable Database architecture available from Oracle 12c to be able to plug many databases into one overarching system to simplify backup management.

“You can manage many databases as one and yet have point in time recovery for each individual database,” he said. “This is multi-tenancy at the database level, not the application level. It enables you to backup thousands of databases at one time as they are plugged into the overall database container. This requires one sixth as much hardware and is much more scalable.”

Drew Robb
Drew Robb
Drew Robb is a contributing writer for Datamation, Enterprise Storage Forum, eSecurity Planet, Channel Insider, and eWeek. He has been reporting on all areas of IT for more than 25 years. He has a degree from the University of Strathclyde UK (USUK), and lives in the Tampa Bay area of Florida.

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