In a move to beef up Oracle's hardware line, CEO Larry Ellison has introduced the concept of the all-in-one data center. Ellison offered his take on the new products at Oracle OpenWorld on Sunday that combine the server, storage and network in a single, highly integrated box.
In his talk to 40,000 conference-goers, Ellison spelled out the advantages of parallel computing and demonstrated the latest and greatest Sparc Solaris computer. He also took the lid off Oracle's new Exalytics Business Intelligence Machine.
"How do we make this thing to go 10 times faster? Parallel everything," Ellison said. "Lots and lots of parallel network connections moving enormous amounts of data in parallel. That's how you make this thing go faster."
Parallel Computing Power
Oracle is positioning Exalytics as the first engineered system featuring in-memory software and hardware and an optimized Business Intelligence platform with advanced visualization. Internal tests comparing Oracle Exalytics with standard BI software and off-the-shelf hardware show relational online analytical processing (ROLAP) reporting and dashboard performance improvements of up to 20 times, and multidimensional OLAP (MOLAP) modeling performance gains of up to 79 times.
"Oracle has been doing a lot of work in parallel computing, which has improved performance, particularly in the T4 Sparc systems that were announced last week," said Charles King, principal analyst at Pund-IT. "With the Exalytics solution, Oracle has a product it can put up against the IBM Smart Analytics System that has been out for two years now."
As King sees it, IBM, as well as other vendors, have demonstrated that improving data throughput and database performance is a viable business model. With Exalytics, Oracle is working to carve out a bigger piece of the market. But King isn't sure Ellison is taking the right approach with his OracleWorld presentation.
Ellison's Engineering Rhetoric
"What's interesting about it is that the rhetoric coming out of Oracle is purely focused on engineering issues. That's kind of common practice in the IT industry, but the market is more complex than that," King said. "Business customers are less amenable to a pure engineering play like the one that Larry Ellison has been talking up for the last 24 hours."
The problem with that approach is this: The IT industry is littered with the bones of companies that had the best engineering but either weren't able to get a foothold in the market or gave it away when they did. King points to Sun, which Oracle acquired last year, as a strong example of the point.
"When a company starts circling the drain in the way that Sun did prior to the Oracle acquisition, it takes a special kind of effort to rouse that sort of badly damaged organization," King said. "Ellison seems to believe that simply by claiming to have the fastest box on the planet that the market will flock to Oracle. That hasn't proven to be the case in the past and I don't suspect it will be the case this time around."