Exadata: It’s The World’s Fastest Database Machine And The Best For Oracle Database – Part I. Do As I Say, Not As I Do!

Two days ago Oracle published a video about the world’s “fastest database machine.” This, of course, refers to Exadata. Although the video has been online for two days its view rate is very low (less than 1,000). So, I thought I’d refer to it and give it a boost.

This is actually an interesting video. The folks in the video—namely Juan, Kodi, Amit and Ron—are some of the class acts in the Exadata organization within Oracle Server Technologies. I have respect for these folks and I’ve known some of them for many, many years and the remainder at least dating back to the commencement of my tenure in Juan Loaiza’s organization back in 2007. They mean well and I mean it when I say they are a collective class act. Having respect for these gentlemen doesn’t mean I have to agree with everything they say. To that end I aim to respectfully offer some differing views on some of what has been said in the video.

I’d like to first offer my commentary regarding the messaging in the video after which I’ll provide a link.

  • The World’s Fastest Database Machine. The first point I’ll make is about the title of the video. Exadata is very good at a lot of things–obviously. Readers of this blog know my position on the matter quite well. That aside, I have a problem with the notion of referring to Exadata as “the world’s fastest database machine” without any data to back up the claim. That was a point of contention I had when I was still with Oracle. Exadata is not the established fastest machine in any database category as per the standard in the matter—which at this time is Transaction Processing Council (TPC) workloads. For that matter even the lower-level Storage Performance Council workloads would be a starting point for validation of these claims (particularly the unstructured data claims made by Exadata marketing) but to-date there are no audited industry-standard benchmark results with Exadata. Please don’t get me wrong. I’m not harping on the lack of published benchmarks for the many reasons I point out here.  With that memory in mind, I’m led to the next point of contention with the video.
  • Ideal System For Running The Oracle Database. Juan points out that one of the goals in Exadata development was to create the ideal system for running the Oracle database. I think that is a good design center, but I stand fast in my position that the ideal system for Oracle database depends on the workload. There is no one-size fits all. The one-size fits all positioning is pervasive though. Another member of Juan’s team, Tim Shetler, garners the same level of esteem I have for those I’ve previously mentioned but I don’t always have to agree with him either. In this article in Database Trends and Applications, Tim puts it this way (emphasis added by me):

Our mission around Exadata is to create absolutely the best platform for running the Oracle Database.  Those words are carefully chosen because it is very focused. It is not the best platform for running databases. It is not the best platform for running data warehouses on Oracle. It is: Any application that uses the Oracle Database will run best if it uses the Exadata platform to host the Oracle Database.

Do As I Say, Not As I Do
The  problem I have with this idea that Exadata is the best platform for Oracle database full-stop is in spite of being “the best platform for running databases”, and best for “any application”,  Oracle IT doesn’t even use Exadata for ERP. We know from reading Oracle Corporation’s Mission Critical Systems Update (Google Docs View) that years after the production release of Exadata, Oracle IT migrated from older SPARC gear to an M9000. This is Oracle’s central ERP system. Nothing is more critical than that. This may sound like FUD, but the migration started last September (2010)—years after Oracle approached customers to adopt Exadata technology—and the configuration is still being expanded. I quote :

The additional M9000 SPARC system installation began at midnight March 3rd, 2011, and was completed, in full, at 11:31am the next day, March 4th, 2011. There was no down time of the live GSI database/ERP systems during installation by the Oracle PDIT staff.

                                                            — Chris Armes, Sr. Director, Oracle Systems

I’ll watch the view count on that YouTube video while I consider Part II in this series.

I was just joking about giving the video viewership a boost.

Here is the link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZHlFDgci9Fc

10 Responses to “Exadata: It’s The World’s Fastest Database Machine And The Best For Oracle Database – Part I. Do As I Say, Not As I Do!”


  1. 1 Amir August 5, 2011 at 10:03 am

    Hi Kevin,
    Thank you pointing to the link to Oracle’s GSI ERP implementation. It raises a very valid question that while Oracle’s sales people are out there trying to sell Exadata to its large enterprise ERP custmers, why did Oracle decide to go a different route and implemented it on M9000 servers instead. Was it due to one or more of the following reasons:
    – Oracle does not consider Exadata as a suitable platform for an OLTP to a hybrid type workload which is what a large implementation of ERP typically is.
    – It was easier to port their ERP application to a like platform (from Solaris to Solaris) as opposed to a cross-paltform migration (from Solaris to Linux, I am assuming that Exadata is not yet available on SPARC?).

    • 2 kevinclosson August 5, 2011 at 3:05 pm

      Hello Amir,

      Exadata storage is Linux only. Connectivity to Exadata Storage is only Linux or Solaris Express (x64).

      I cannot speak as to the reasons they don’t use Exadata in critical systems. Doing so would only sound like FUD.


  1. 1 Exadata: It’s The World’s Fastest Database Machine And The Best For Oracle Database – Part I. Do As I Say, Not As I Do! « Ukrainian Oracle User Group Trackback on August 7, 2011 at 6:59 am
  2. 2 Oracle’s Timeline, Copious Benchmarks And Internal Deployments Prove Exadata Is The Worlds First (Best?) OLTP Machine « Kevin Closson's Blog: Platforms, Databases and Storage Trackback on May 2, 2012 at 11:33 am
  3. 3 Exadata X3 – Sound The Trumpets « flashdba Trackback on September 21, 2012 at 9:55 am
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