Wednesday, September 24, 2008

HP and Oracle team up on 'data warehouse appliances' that re-architect database-storage landscape

Oracle CEO Larry Ellison today introduced the company's first hardware products, a joint effort with Hewlett-Packard, to re-architect large database and storage configurations and gain whopping data warehouse and business intelligence performance improvements from the largest data sets.

The Exadata Programmable Storage Server appliance and the HP Oracle Database Machine, a black and red refrigerator-size full database, storage and network data center on wheels, made their debt at the Oracle OpenWorld conference in San Francisco. Ellison called the Machine the fastest database in the world.

HP Chairman and CEO Mark Hurd called the HP Oracle Database Machine a "data warehouse appliance." It leverages the architecture improvements in the Exadata Programmable Storage Server, but at the much larger scale and with other optimization benefits. [Disclosure: HP is a sponsor of BriefingsDirect podcasts.]

The hardware-software tag team also means Oracle is shifting its relationships with storage array vendors, including EMC, Netezza, NetApp and Terradata. The disk array market has been hot, but the HP-Oracle appliance may upset the high end of the market, and then bring the price-performance story down market, across more platforms.

I think we can safely say that HP is a preferred Oracle storage partner, and that Oracle wants, along with HP, some of those high-growth storage market profits for their own. There's no reason to not expect a wider portfolio of Exadata appliances and more configurations like the HP Oracle Database Machine to suit a variety of market segments.

"We needed radical new thinking to deliver high performance," said Ellison of the new hardware configurations, comparing the effort to the innovative design for his controversial America's Cup boat. "We need much more performance out of databases than what we get."

This barnburner announcement may also mark a market shift to combined and optimized forklift data warehouses, forcing the other storage suppliers to find database partners. IBM will no doubt have to respond as well.

The reason for the 10x to 72x performance improvements cited by Ellison are do to bringing the "intelligence" closer to the data, that is bringing the Exadata Programmable Storage Server appliance into close proximity to the Oracle database servers, and then connecting them through InfiniBand connections. In essence, this architecture mimics some of the performance value created by cloud computing environments like Google, with its MapReduce technology.

Ellison said that rather than large data sets moving between storage and database servers, which can slow up performance at 1TB and larger databases, the new Exadata-driven configuration moves only the query information across the networks. The current versions of these optimized boxes use Intel dual-core technology, but they will soon also be fired up by six-way Intel multi-core processors.

Talk about speeds and feeds .... But the market driver in these moves is massive data sets that need to be producing near real-time analytics paybacks. We're seeing more and more data, and varyinf kinds of data, brought into data warehouses and being banged on by queries of applications and BI servers from a variety of business users across the enterprise.

HP and Oracle share some 150,000 joint customers worldwide, said HP Executive Vice President, Technology Solutions Group Ann Livermore. That means that these database boxes will have an army of sales and support personnel. HP will support the Machine hardware, Oracle the software. Both will sell it.