Irrelevant thoughts of an oracle DBA

21 September 2011

Oracle anounces the Unbreakable DB Appliance

More then 10 years after Oracle’s first appliance attempt with Raw Iron and 3 years after the release of Exadata, Oracle has now announced the Unbreakable DB Applicance.

This “cluster in a box” consists out of a 4 RU chassis, in which 2 server nodes,  96 GB memory per node, 12 TB raw shared disk storage  (24 disks) and 292 GB flash disks has been placed.
The two server nodes have a total of 24 cpu cores, but cores can be disabled.
This allows for sub-capacity licensing of the software (with a minimum of 4 cores).

On the software side, the appliance is running Oracle linux and 11gR2 grid infrastructure and 11gR2 db software. Databases on this appliance can run as single node, RAC or RAC One Node.
Oracle enterprise manager is also part of the software stack.

Claims are made towards one button installation of software and patching.
The appliance has also a “phone home” functionality which automatically creates a service request when a problem is detected.

List price for the hardware is $ 50,000 (regardless of how many cores you activate) and for the software the standard DB licensing applies.
Which means that existing CPU licences can be transferred to this appliance.

Oracle positions this system below the Exadata quarter rack, and it is also worth mentioning that this appliance is not expandable.

So far the product launch information.

Some questions / remarks I have:

  • According to the presentation the hardware price remains the same, regardless of how many cores you activate (namely $ 50,000).
    In my opinion, this means that no one will buy this appliance to just activate 4 cores.
    There are much cheaper solutions when you only need a low number of cores (certainly when you consider that most companies already have a san which can be used for the Oracle databases)
  • There are 24 disks in the appliance, which seems low (certainly compaired to the 24 cpu cores).
    However, keep in mind that this storage is dedicated and probably (I don’t have confirmation on this) capable of asm intelligent data placement and command queuing.
    Normally SAN vendors are using an estimate of 180 IOPS per san disk. Oracle however is using an estimation of 300 IOPS per cell disk for Exadata, and tests done by Glenn Fawcett show that they can actually perform even better (around 400 IOPS).
    http://glennfawcett.wordpress.com/2011/05/10/exadata-drives-exceed-the-laws-of-physics-asm-with-intelligent-placement-improves-iops/
    Using the number of 300 IOPS, this would mean that the 24 disks translate to 40 SAN disks (that may not used by any other application, so in reality to even more san disks), which already looks very different.Now, I’m still unsure how it will perform with write intensive databases (oltp or dwh), certainly when several databases are consolidated on this appliance.As this appliance is not expandable, the number of disks may be a weak point, compaired to the number of cpu cores.
    I’m hoping that someone like Kevin Closson (poke poke) will be able to shed some light on this, as my knowledge in this area is rather limited :-)
  • In the presentation it was mentioned that the flash storage is used for the redo logs, but it is unclear if it could also be used to store datafiles or as cache (as with the Exadata smart flash cache)

As with many things the proof of the pudding is in the eating, so I’m looking forward to some benchmarks and presentations by real world customers.
And if anyone from Oracle is reading this, you may always send me a demo machine so I can do some testing on my own  ;-))

update 20:12, fixed wrong memory specification

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