Exadata: An Updated Perspective For 2020

Jon Lingard Jan 13, 2020 7:43:19 PM

As 2020 kicks off in full swing with a celebration of 10 years of Exadata today, I thought it would be timely to provide an updated perspective on Exadata, it’s business value for new and existing customers and summarise the recent changes the latest version upgrade brings in the X8M.

Exadata Background

It might be strange to some to see more blogs written about Exadata in the age of Cloud. Especially as Oracle are showing rapid growth in their “high-margin Fusion and NetSuite cloud applications business” as declared on their Q4 earnings call[1] in 2019. On this same call Oracle repeated a previous statement from Safra Catz, Chief Executive Officer, that Oracle were to continue to “…downsize our legacy hardware business” and move away from commodity hardware.

This statement might cause concern that investment and focus on Oracle’s Exadata platform was going to be impacted by this. It isn’t. Exadata is more than just hardware. In fact, It is the very cornerstone of what Oracle are trying to build in Cloud and provide a unique multi-modal[2] infrastructure platform for Translytical[3] database workloads. Make no mistake, whilst Exadata might be celebrating it’s 10th anniversary in 2020, Exadata is far from legacy!

Furthermore, Exadata has evolved over the last couple of years to being a platform for Database workloads that can be consumed anywhere and using multiple commercial models. Gone are the days when one would buy a fixed size Exadata and simply ship it to a chosen Datacentre. Now you can choose how you consume Exadata’s in a Hybrid Cloud model,100% Cloud native, or both. You can choose to consume a “slice” of Exadata using Oracle’s Autonomous Cloud services (yes, ATP and ADW are built on Exadata’s!) or you could go down the “Cloud at Customer” route where an appliance is still shipped to your DC but you pay for consumption using a Cloud model. Why? To give customers confidence that database workloads will run and operate in the same way on–premise and in the Cloud on identical platforms, without any risk of hardware incompatibility issues. No other hardware vendor has this ability.

Exadata Uses

Exadata continues to run more and more of the worlds systems, many of which we as consumers have indirect interaction with on a daily basis…

  • Banking – from logging on to check your balance to processing car insurance renewals
  • Transport – be it plane, train or automobile Exadata is used to support vital transport services
  • Retail – Supermarket stocks, logistics and even reward point systems
  • Public Services – from Healthcare to HMRC and beyond
  • Entertainment – TV, gaming, sports, streaming, betting etc
  • Utilities – Water, gas and electricity services run on Exadata

The list goes on and for many more years to come, Oracle is going to continue investing in Exadata to ensure even greater adoption from Enterprises, SME’s, Start-ups and Scale-ups alike.

At Oracle Open World 2019, San Francisco, Oracle announced the Exadata X8M which continues to enhance the core pillars and differentiators that Exadata has become renowned for:

  1. Extreme Performance – The X8M introduces Intel® Optane™ DC Persistent Memory[4] in DIMM form factor (not SSD) in combination with Remote Direct Memory Access (RDMA) technology to achieve 2.5x higher IOPS.
  2. Low Latency Networking – Gone is Infiniband and in comes 100Gb/Sec RoCE internal network (up from 40Gb/Sec). Ethernet has finally caught up and surpassed Infiniband, but don’t worry, Oracle will still continue to support and forward develop their Exadata lines with both an Infiniband Exadata variant and RoCE variant. Latency over the internal network fabric is 19 microseconds, which is a 10X improvement over the X8 Infiniband model.
  3. High Ratio Consolidation – With greater performance comes the ability to consolidate more Database workloads and reduce the datacentre footprint. This is going to be especially useful if you are planning a Datacentre Exit (read our DExit blog) in 2020 and beyond! Pivoting to KVM also delivers 2x more guest VM memory, 50% more guest VMs per Server and faster network latency.

To support the above, Ashish Ray does a great job of summarising these developments in another blog here, which I encourage you to read for more details.

ESG have also published a Whitepaper on the X8M, which is another good read if you’re looking for deeper detail. Download PDF.

If you’ve given the links above a read, you’ll also notice that Oracle have introduced support for Oracle Linux KVM as opposed to OVM as the Hypervisor layer. This introduction has been possible due to switching to RoCE from Infiniband and seems to indicate that Oracle’s forward development of a Hypervisor layer is going to be concentrated on KVM rather than OVM. You can find more detail about KVM here. Again, OVM isn’t going anywhere just yet and like Infiniband you can still use OVM on the X8 and future models not designated with the “M” model number as first introduced with this new X8M.

ESG summarised these innovations and enhancements perfectly in the whitepaper referenced earlier…“There’s a carefully curated abundance of brute force, sophistication, and intelligence in the X8M”…which should give new and existing customers great confidence in the forward development of Exadata that Database workloads should be seriously considered for deployment on this time-proven platform.

  1. https://markets.businessinsider.com/news/stocks/oracle-q4-results-beat-street-1028293221
  2. https://www.oracle.com/a/tech/docs/multimodel19c-wp.pdf
  3. https://www.oracle.com/corporate/pressrelease/oracle-forrester-translytical-data-platforms-102419.html
  4. https://www.intel.com/content/www/us/en/architecture-and-technology/intel-optane-technology.html



Author: Jon Lingard

Job Title: Practice Director

Bio: Jon is a member of the Oracle sales team and works with customers from start-ups, SMEs to large corporations to gain maximum value from their investment in Oracle technology. Jon works with the technical and development teams to shape solutions based on customer demands and develops long lasting customer relationships based on his open and trustworthy approach.