Business Software

Oracle Offering Scaled-down Version of Database Machine

Citing customer demand, Oracle has unveiled a half-size version of the HP Oracle Database Machine, its competitor to high-end data warehousing products such as that sold by Teradata.

The HP Oracle Database Machine was co-developed by Oracle and Hewlett-Packard and is part of Oracle's Exadata product line, launched to great fanfare at the OpenWorld conference last year.

It initially was available as a rack filled with eight HP DL360 database servers, four Infiniband switches, a storage server grid with 14 servers, and various software products, according to a post made Thursday to Oracle's Data Warehouse Insider blog.

But now, "due to popular demand, addressing smaller entry points with the same extreme performance on the same technology basis, Oracle is now introducing a smaller system," the blog states. The scaled-down version has four HP DL360 database servers, two switches and seven storage servers and "will provide similar scalability and performance characteristics as the full rack."

"We at Oracle, and our customers, are very excited about this new offering, as it provides a slightly lower entry point for an HP Oracle Database Machine, while still delivering extreme performance," the blog adds.

CEO Larry Ellison dubbed the Exadata line the company's most exciting product family "in many, many years," during an earnings conference call this week, and claimed that the system's performance has been trouncing competitors' products.

But while Oracle President Charles Phillips described the Exadata sales pipeline as "the largest [he's] ever seen in terms of a new product," neither he nor Ellison provided any definitive numbers.

While Exadata promises high-end performance, it has a considerable price tag as well. Oracle's official price list states that the half-sized machine's hardware costs US$350,000, compared to $650,000 for the full version.

But analyst Curt Monash has calculated that once software licenses and likely database options are added to the equation, the list price of a fully loaded, full-sized Database Machine is more than $5.5 million.

Despite that price tag, it's hard to draw conclusions about the product's success so far, Monash suggested.

While Exadata "is not winning many competitive deals yet," he said, "whether they are making sales into the Oracle loyalist base is a different matter."

Oracle's decision to release a half-sized version is an acknowledgment that in the data warehousing market today, "there's much more unit demand at lower database sizes," Monash said.

The full database machine has either 20TB or 45TB of storage, depending on the type of drives used, according to Oracle's blog post.

Meanwhile, "most specialized analytic DBMS installations run databases under 10TB in size," Monash said.

"Big enterprise data-warehouse integration projects are in some cases being deferred for economic reasons," he added. "Smaller, more tactical projects with rapid payback are less affected."

Oracle is hardly abandoning the type of enterprise that would need the full Database Machine, according to Monash.

"Their most important customers are the biggest and highest-end ones," he said. "For years, Teradata was the only vendor who routinely clobbered Oracle at the high end of the database market. Now Netezza and others are also threats. Exadata is Oracle's reaction. The last thing Oracle wants to do is sacrifice share at the top of the DBMS market. All other objectives are secondary."

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