Oracle Unveils SuperCluster T5-8 for Database Consolidation, Cloud

By Jeffrey Burt  |  Posted 2013-06-28

Oracle Unveils SuperCluster T5-8 for Database Consolidation, Cloud

Oracle officials are rolling out their new SuperCluster T5-8, the latest in the company's engineered systems that is designed to help businesses consolidate applications and databases and deploy private clouds.

The SuperCluster T5-8's features include Oracle server, storage and software and is powered by the company's latest SPARC processor, the 16-core SPARC T5, which was introduced in March. The result of the tightly integrated solution is a system that is as much as 10 times faster running Oracle databases and applications than on other systems, and 2.5 times better performance than the previous SuperCluster generation.

It's also the latest addition to an engineered systems portfolio that Oracle officials say will be the driver for making the company's hardware business profitable.

When Oracle bought Sun Microsystems in 2010, company officials had visions of tightly integrating their software with their systems to give customers solutions highly optimized for the workloads. The latest SuperCluster builds on that idea, with compute, storage, networking and software in a highly integrated and optimized package.

The foundation is the SPARC T5-8 server—also announced in March—an eight-socket system that Oracle officials have called the world's fastest single system. The SuperCluster T5-8 includes two of the SPARC T5-8 servers, Oracle's Exadata database system, its Exalogic Elastic Cloud system, Sun ZFS Storage Appliance, Oracle Solaris 11, Oracle Enterprise Manager Ops Center 12c and Oracle VM Server for SPARC provisioning software.

The SuperCluster holds up to 256 compute nodes, offers 4TB of memory and integrates more than 16TB of high-performance flash memory.

"Oracle SuperCluster T5-8 runs Oracle Database and Oracle WebLogic up to 10 times faster than systems pieced together by costly integration projects," John Fowler, executive vice president for Oracle's Systems business, said in a statement. "The benefits of this virtualized system extend to any application that uses Oracle Database and Oracle WebLogic today, without changes, making this the world's best enterprise mission-critical consolidation platform. Oracle SuperCluster T5-8 can be applied with equal ease to problems of tremendous scale, or to transformative consolidation with impressive economics."

When compared with other systems that have to be integrated together, the SuperCluster T5-8 offers five times lower total cost of ownership when running Oracle Database and enterprise applications together on a single system, five times faster time to value and 32 times faster deployment of database cloud services, according to Oracle.


Oracle Unveils SuperCluster T5-8 for Database Consolidation, Cloud

When talking about their SPARC hardware portfolio, Oracle officials have consistently compared it to IBM's Power offerings. For the latest SuperCluster, they said it offers 10 times better price performance than a Power7+-based system.

The new SuperCluster comes at a busy time for Oracle, which on June 20 reported disappointing quarterly financial numbers. Since that time, the software giant grabbed headlines with its new partnerships with Microsoft and around cloud computing.

However, during June 20 conference call with analysts and journalists to discuss the quarterly and full-year financial numbers, company officials said they are confident that their hardware business is on the verge of a turnaround. According to President and CFO Safra Catz, hardware system sales of $849 million for the quarter were better than expected and the engineered systems continue to perform well.

For the fiscal year, hardware and hardware support revenues fell 14 percent, but CEO Larry Ellison noted that for engineered systems, sales were up about 50 percent. Ellison also noted that engineered systems now accounted for more than a third of Oracle's overall hardware revenue. The combination of the engineered systems with the release of the SPARC T5 and M5 processors in March could lead Oracle to see growth in the hardware system business in the current fiscal year, he said.

"Our only assumption for growth is … our engineered systems business, which has consistently grown and grew very rapidly this quarter," President Mark Hurd said during the earnings conference call. "We will continue to grow, and that alone will drive the overall hardware business into growth. If we recovered with our new SPARC line, if that recovers and also shows just a little bit of growth, the growth in hardware will be spectacular."

What also will help Oracle's hardware systems growth will be getting out of low-earning businesses, Hurd said. The company already has exited some of Sun's other businesses, such as commodity x86 servers, and has stopped reselling third-party storage systems from the likes of Hitachi and LSI Logic. The businesses that are left, including engineered systems and the SPARC server business, will help drive growth in the future, he said.

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