Oracle Sharpens Exadata Database Machine Pitch at OpenWorld

At Oracle OpenWorld, Oracle CEO Larry Ellison and his team made the case for Exadata Database Machine Version 2, as Netezza and others react to its pitch.

While much of the talk at Oracle OpenWorld focused on applications, Oracle's database business had its share of the spotlight as well.

During his keynote Oct. 14, Oracle CEO Larry Ellison extolled the virtues of Oracle Exadata Database Machine Version 2. Pitched by Oracle as the "foundation for building dynamic storage grids" and the fastest machine for data warehousing and online transaction processing (OLTP), Exadata was the subject of more than a dozen sessions during OpenWorld.

"The database machine is definitely a disruptive technology that addresses key areas such as manageability, performance and scalability for critical apps," said Forrester Research analyst Noel Yuhanna. "Today, installing, configuring and tuning databases can take a lot of time and effort. Companies want simplified solutions where you literally roll in a database server, plug it in and off you go. Why? Because most organizations are dealing with thousands of servers and databases, which makes maintaining uptime, performance and scalability a big challenge."

In his remarks at OpenWorld, Ellison sought to touch on those very issues, and touted the speed of the new device.

"Whether your application load is data warehousing or your application load is online transaction processing, in either case, this machine will run it faster and much more reliably," he told the audience. "Why are we faster? We're faster because we have a grid architecture. We're able to take lots and lots of processors and throw it at the problem.

"We think grid architecture is the future," he continued. "It allows you to start small and grow as you need more capacity."

Oracle's rivals in the market naturally have not been so generous with their praise. When Oracle first announced Exadata Database Machine Version 2, Bernie Spang, IBM's director of data management product strategy, went on the offensive and said Oracle's plans sounded similar to IBM's Smart Analytics System announcement. He also accused Oracle of excluding the costs of Oracle software in its pitch last year for the first version of the database machine.

After Ellison's speech at OpenWorld, Netezza CEO Jim Baum said talk of advanced analytics was noticeably missing.

"Once you get beyond reducing cost, the priorities of today's CIOs all trace back to a revolution around strategic, advanced analytics on massive amounts of data to not only better the business, but also transform it," Baum said in a statement to eWEEK. "Really know each individual customer. Understand what's happening instantly. Adapt. Predict. That's the future-and any vision of that analytics-based future was absent at Larry Ellison's Oracle OpenWorld keynote as Oracle merely tries to remake itself in IBM's image."

Yuhanna said that it may have benefited Oracle to wait awhile until it had "some credible customer implementations" before launching Exadata Version 2, as the product "did not have many beta customers." Still, he was optimistic about the technology's future.

"What's interesting is that Larry Ellison seems to be personally driving the Exadata initiative at Oracle, which you don't quite often see. ... In addition, I see a similar trend of Exadata to RAC," he said. "RAC took almost two to three years before becoming widely adopted, [and] Exadata is likely to follow similar patterns," he said, predicting it will become widely adopted in the next three to four years.