Ellison Touts Pure Oracle Red Hardware, Software Stack at OpenWorld

By Eric Lundquist  |  Posted 2013-09-23

Ellison Touts Pure Oracle Red Hardware, Software Stack at OpenWorld

Buoyed by wins in the America’s Cup, Oracle CEO Larry Ellison opened this year’s Oracle OpenWorld conference by outlining an enterprise technology world full of possibilities—if you just do it Larry’s way—totally.

In an era of open compute, software-defined networks and Web giants such as Google, Facebook and Amazon wielding warehouse arrays of commodity hardware, cheap disks and (mostly) open-source software, Ellison’s company adheres to the concept of Oracle red-colored hardware running software stacks designed and tuned for the enterprise.

Users can either buy into the plan or consider cobbling together their own stacks. There really isn’t much room between the two approaches.

The big benefit of the “engineered systems” advocated by Ellison and his lieutenants is the hard integration work is done for you. The big downside of the one-big-red-stack approach is few companies, even those of Oracle's size, have the capability to advance all the technologies including processors, memory, database, application, cloud and mobile capabilities in concert. Customers have to consider the vendor tie-in that comes along with buying into the stack.

Ellison, wearing his signature open necked sweater and stage-side manner that alternates between jokes and the manner of a moderately exasperated school teacher, was in full sales mode at his keynote address. He steered clear of banging on competitors SAP and IBM and focused on offering up big percentage number for increased query speeds able to handle billions of requests with sub-second performance.

If you are an Oracle customer, it is worth looking at those products. The driving force behind the announcements is the company’s plan to offer up an integrated (engineered) hardware/software stack.

“We design the hardware and software to work together,” Ellison said. That integrated design allows for faster deployment, costs less and saves energy, he said. This is an interesting position for a company that originated a database software business that let other companies sell the hardware.

Meanwhile, the company appears determined to build the hardware aspects of its engineered business despite continuing questions about the wisdom of continuing the huge investment required to support the SPARC processor business acquired as part of the Sun acquisition. At a press conference, Mark Hurd, president, said the engineered business falls into both the software and hardware buckets. But besides saying the business grew 60 percent, he declined to provide a breakdown of the revenue numbers.

Products and services highlighted by Ellison included:

1. The Oracle 12C version of the company’s premier database, which was introduced last June. At that event, Oracle touted a pluggable feature which allows for multiple discrete databases to sit within one single container. This alleviated a lot of concerns about cloud deployments because discrete databases can be individually secured and managed.

Ellison Touch Pure Oracle Red Hardware, Software Stack at OpenWorld

2. The move to solid state memory, whether as flash-based storage or in-memory applications, continues. Oracle announced an in-memory function which Ellison said was as easy as flicking a switch. The addition of the in-memory product, which Oracle promised to deliver next year, but without mentioning prices, also included a new function which simultaneously stores data in row and column format. The row capability is for fast transactional performance while the column function is for analytics. This function will make it possible to eliminate analytics indexes which slow performance. The in-memory function is a competitor to SAP’s HANA and IBM in-memory competitors. “Your results are instantaneous,” Ellison said.

3. Oracle also introduced a database backup appliance, but it will not be available until next year. The appliance is designed to provide backup of entire Oracle databases and challenges the file based backup appliance vendors. Backup is a traditionally difficult task because backing up files does not mean the underlying database structure will be able to recover from a disaster.

Oracle introduced its M6-32 Big Data machine. The M6 CPU has 12 cores (twice as many as the M5), 96 threads for parallel processing and up to 32TB of memory. The silicon-based switching network allows throughput at 3T bps. Ellison said the box will be available for about $3 million, which he said is less than half of an equivalent IBM offering.

Hadoop and cloud computing is not excluded from the Oracle universe. In general, the idea is for Oracle to live in harmony with big data, which are largely Hadoop-based offerings. The concept is that the Hadoop data would be sucked into the Oracle environment that would perform the typical and speedy SQL querying.

The big message from Oracle is integration through a complete top-to-bottom stack and speed of installation as Oracle does the integration work for you. You just have to buy into the Oracle program to reach Ellison’s red nirvana.

Eric Lundquist is a technology analyst at Ziff Brothers Investments, a private investment firm. Lundquist, who was editor-in-chief at eWEEK (previously PC WEEK) from 1996-2008 authored this article for eWEEK to share his thoughts on technology, products and services. No investment advice is offered in this article. All duties are disclaimed. Lundquist works separately for a private investment firm which may at any time invest in companies whose products are discussed in this article and no disclosure of securities transactions will be made.

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