First, a clarification for the three letter acronym and engineered system brand name challenged: ODA = Oracle Database Appliance, with the latest version being Oracle Database Appliance X3-2. If you thought the Oracle Database Appliance was the Oracle Exadata Database Machine, well, customers could use ODA and Exadata similarly, but there have always been differences, and the differences have grown even clearer given Oracle’s unveiling of ODA X3-2 about a week ago. A mini-comparison follows:
- Exadata = engineered system configured primarily for enterprise-class data warehousing, but also works well for OLTP and for consolidation purposes. Given the warehouse orientation, Exadata is more data intensive than ODA due to Exadata’s use of dedicated storage servers with data pumped via InfiniBand switches. Exadata was first available in 2008, was first available on Oracle hardware in 2010, and is rack-expandable. As of this writing, Exadata does not support virtualization.
- ODA = engineered system heretofore used primarily for OLTP, targeting more mid-sized organizations and departmental workloads, and also a candidate for warehousing and consolidation projects. ODA originally shipped in October, 2011, and has always only been available on Oracle hardware. ODA uses serially-attached SCSI (“SAS” – not the analytics vendor) for storage, and was previously not rack-expandable. Its role is about to expand, however, as well as its storage expansion options, with ODA X3-2.
ODA X3-2 offers an extensive list of improvements over it predecessor, but the critical ones include:
- Virtualization and Role Expansion: For the first time ODA exposes its ability to virtualize workloads, including middle-tier workloads (i.e., Oracle WebLogic Server), across an individual server, opening the door for virtualized applications, and making ODA a candidate for private cloud applications and ISV appliances. Oracle also now offers the pinning of virtual machines to cores, a fresh approach for Oracle licensing. Oracle VM templates are available for the first time for both database and middle tier and even for Oracle Applications (for instance Oracle E-Business Suite), which will reduce deployment times.
- Better Capacity and Speed Across the Board: 8 additional cores; more than double the memory (now 512GB); 50% more raw storage (now 18TB) and 800GB SSD versus 292GB; roughly doubling of Flash IOPS and IO bandwidth.
- A native storage expansion shelf is now available, which should make storage expansion far easier to digest cost-wise and to implement. In general, Oracle is offering a more disaggregated pricing model in ODA X3-2 enabling customers to take smaller steps, more of a pay-as-you-consume approach, and that includes an option to pay for cores as you need them – 2 is the minimum. Production need not come to a full stop when implementing the storage expansion shelf because ODA will use available backgrounds cycles to play catch-up for rebalancing.
- Mirroring Flexibility: Customers may now override the previous fixed default of triple mirroring with double mirroring, potentially freeing up to another roughly one-third of total storage. For those worried about HA and redundancy, when ODA is combined with Oracle RAC (Real Application Clusters) customers may choose from both Active-Active and Active-Passive server failover approaches.
Why do I suggest that Oracle could have called this version ODA 2X?The I/O bandwidth and FLASH IOPS improvements, plus memory expansion, should roughly double performance in certain use cases.The additional cores, storage and memory in effect cut the cost of ODA X3-2 in half over its predecessor – not the initial cost, but over the lifecycle of the machine, yielding yet another “2X” improvement. Then again, ODA may now be a misnomer entirely – perhaps this version should have been renamed OVA = Oracle Virtualization Appliance.
ESG sees ODA X3-2 in general, and the addition of virtualization in particular, key to Oracle matching IT priorities during 2013. In our recently completed 2013 IT Spending Intentions Survey, in terms of IT priorities, “Increased use of server virtualization” came in 3rd place, “Manage data growth” ranked 4th, and “Data center consolidation” polled 5th. Check, check, and check for ODA X3-2.