Oracle’s Timeline, Copious Benchmarks And Internal Deployments Prove Exadata Is The Worlds First (Best?) OLTP Machine – Part 1.5

In Part I of this series about Oracle OLTP/ERP on Exadata versus non-Exadata, I took a moment to point out the inaccuracies of a particular piece of Oracle marketing literature. In a piece aimed at chronicling Oracle Corporation history, the marketing department went way out of line by making the following claim regarding Exadata:

[…] wins benchmarks against key competitors [..]

Please don’t get me wrong, those five words appearing in any random sentence wouldn’t pose any sort of  a problem. However, situated as they are in this particular sentence does create a  problem because the statement is utterly false.  Exadata has not won a single benchmark against any competitor–“key” or otherwise.

Along For The Ride
In Part I of this series I pointed out the fact HP Oracle Exadata Storage Server cells (a.k.a., V1 Exadata) were used in this June 2009 HP BladeSystem 1-TB Scale TPC-H. However, merely involving Exadata hardware can hardly support Oracle’s marketing claim vis a vis winning benchmarks against key competitors.

There is a big difference between being involved in a benchmark and being the technology that contributes to the result.

I made it clear, in Part I, that Exadata storage was used in that 2009 HP TPC-H result but none of the Exadata features contributed to the result. I clarified that assertion by pointing out that the particular benchmark in question was an In-memory Parallel Query result. Since the result establish Oracle database performance achieved through in-memory database processing I didn’t feel compelled to shore up my assertion. I didn’t think anyone would be confused over the fact that in-memory database processing is not improved by storage technology.

I was wrong.

In the comment section of Part I a comment by a blog reader took offense at my audacious claim. Indeed, how could I assert that storage is not a relevant component in achieving good in-memory database processing benchmark results. The reader stated:

You give reference to a TPHC that used Exadata and then say no Exadata features were used. [..] You obviously don’t know what you are talking about

Having seen that I began to suspect there may be other readers confused on the matter so I let the comment through moderation and decided to address the confusion it in this post.

So now it’s time to address the reader’s comment. If Exadata is used in a benchmark, but Exadata Storage Server offload processing is disabled, would one consider that an Exadata benchmark or was Exadata merely along for the ride?

Here is a screenshot of the full disclosure report that shows Exadata storage intelligence (offload processing) features were disabled. For this reason I assert that Exadata has never won a benchmark against “competitors”, neither “key” nor otherwise.

The screenshot:

7 Responses to “Oracle’s Timeline, Copious Benchmarks And Internal Deployments Prove Exadata Is The Worlds First (Best?) OLTP Machine – Part 1.5”

  1. 1 Ofir May 6, 2012 at 9:53 pm

    BTW – as far as I remember, this fact was discussed all over the web at that time. Actually we had this discussion here in 2009:

    Anyway, maybe not all your readers remember that, at that time, Oracle gave the option to buy standalone Exadata cells. This benchmark used those standalone Exadata cells – and not the full “HP Database Machine” of that time.
    The exact setup is 64 HP blade servers for database processing and only six HP Exadata cells, with Exadata software DISABLED… The DB blade farm had 2TB of RAM for 1TB TPC-H benchmark – perfect artificial setup for in-memory parallel processing. Also, remember that the top 1TB spot for tpch at the time was held by some in-memory DB technology.
    Once you realize that, it is a no-brainer…

  2. 2 Noons May 8, 2012 at 4:10 am

    Kevin, don’t waste time with that idiot. It is obvious that a “long term Oracle expert” that can’t identify him/herself is nothing but a planted troll to try and disparage what you said. It doesn’t matter that you prove his/her intervention totally wrong: it’ll never be. This kind doesn’t deserve the attention you’re giving it. My $0.02 worth, anyway: do whatever you want, it’s your blog – not mine! 😉

  3. 4 robin chatterjee May 13, 2012 at 10:51 am

    I like the oracle ACE (rtd) Logo :). Setting aside all the marketing hype do you think there is a case for Exadata in a pure OLTP environment ? I see that Expert oracle Exadata ( a book you reviewed) has a staement that in all oltp cases encountered by the authors they have seen at least some benefit.What is your take on the same.

    • 5 kevinclosson May 13, 2012 at 11:06 am


      I did indeed serve as TR for that book…some contributions from me in there as well…glad people are reading the book.

      I’d do better answering your question if you could cite page numbers for these words of the authors. Did they say “OLTP benefit from Exadata offload processing” ? Or did they just suggest that a nice cluster attached to fast storage is good for read-intensive OLTP (there is no such thing)?

      The only way for someone to say that Exadata offers specific OLTP benefit is to show me benchmark results with and without storage offload processing enabled. I know from my own personal, comprehensive involvement and testing of the product there is no benefit from storage offload processing for OLTP. There can’t be. In fact, Oracle has had to modify the product so Smart Scans don’t get “accidentally” triggered for little tiny table scans (lot of those in E-Business Suite). If a query is hinted /*+ FIRST_ROWS(n) */ and all other factors lead to a Smart Scan, Exadata actually over-rides and returns the first 1MB of data back without offload processing. There is overhead to setting up a Smart Scan and if the payload is a tiny little satellite table (short table full scan) it makes no sense to handle it with a feature that is optimized for processing huge volumes of data. See, there are devilish details 🙂

      I’ll just say this: Take your quarter RAC Exadata (that’s the highest majority of deployments these days), shave off the 3 storage cells, re-attach it to a storage product optimized for random read AND write and you’ve got a good OLTP/ERP configuration.

      • 6 robin chatterjee May 13, 2012 at 8:51 pm

        I think the page number that prompted my comment is page 140 “We have had similar experiences with other OLTP-type workloads as well. We generally don’t see the enormous performance benefits over other systems that we see on data warehouse oriented workloads, but we have seen the platform turn in improved performance numbers on every system we’ve compared to date.” I too have seen from 1.5 to 3.5 times better performance on Exadata compared with non Exadata systems…

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