Oracle OpenWorld 2016 – Engineered Systems – Announcing MiniCluster S7-2, Exadata SL and ODA X6-2-HA

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imageIn addition to offering infrastructure services from the cloud, Oracle continues to extend its line of engineered systems. The high end consists of SuperCluster and Exadata, ExaLogic and Exalytics and allow enterprises that want to continue exploiting their corporate data centers and running large workloads on premises and running private cloud environments.

At the smaller end of hardware lines – smaller even than the 1/8 rack options of Exadata and Exalogic – are the ODA (Oracle Database Appliance), Private Cloud Appliance and now a new machine called the MiniCluster.

In addition to the Exadata X6 adopting the latest generation of Intel Xeon processors and introducing more and faster NVMe flash memory, Oracle launched an even more powerful machine: the Exadata SL.

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The SL is short for SPARC and Linux respectively.

This machine is based on the SPARC T7 chip, sporting Software and Silicon for always-on security and on-chip data accelerators (“SQL in silicon”).

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The Exadata SL has all the benefits from traditional Exadata – SmartScan Storage Cells, Infiniband wiring and Smart Flash Cache – and adds the SPARC software in silicon performance. Oracle claims that Exadata SL has 1.9 times the performance of the fastest Exadata configuration at the same cost. The big break through is that Exadata SL runs Linux on SPARC – allowing existing workloads to be easily be transferred. Previously, Solaris has always been the operating system for the SPARC architecture – SPARC opening up to Linux is something of a revolution.

imageFor Exalogic, a new X6 generation will be made available in 2017. Whether there will be a SPARC based Exalogic SL was not revealed.

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A new machine was launched by Oracle at low end of the hardware spectrum: the MiniCluster S7-2. It is based on Oracle’s SPARC S7 processor – a slimmed down version of the S7 and T7 -, which delivers higher baseline per-core performance than Intel’s x86 processors and features Silicon Secured Memory, Data Analytics Accelerators (DAX), Cryptographic Acceleration, and In-Line Memory Decompression for higher levels of security and analytics performance. Oracle Database RAC and WebLogic Server Cluster can run very well on this machine. The MiniCluster machine has two compute nodes with 16 cores and 512 GB DRAM each. It also has 17,6TB raw Flash memory for Oracle Database as well 48TB raw storage. Unlike the Exadata SL – the MiniCluster does not run Linux [yet]; it comes with Solaris and uses Solaris Zones as partitioning [aka container]mechanism. The pricing has not been made public although one slide suggested a list price of $129K.

imageThe Oracle Database Appliance (ODA) meanwhile has seen a set of new models – of various shapes and sizes. Raw performance based on the latest generation Intel chips (the Xeon X6), extensive DRAM memory and all flash storage (NVMe) is the key theme of the ODA X6-2 family. The ODA starts at $18K list price for X6-2S.

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The latest and greatest ODA is the all flash ODA X6-2-HA, list price $72K. This appliance is optimized for a highly performant and highly available Oracle Database. It has two servers with 20 cores and 256 GB (up to 768 GB) memory each. The two servers are connected together via a redundant InfiniBand or optional 10GbE interconnect for cluster communication and share direct-attached high performance solid-state SAS storage. It has less storage capacity than its X5 predecessor – but the storage it does have is all flash with gives much higher performance (high IOPS). Storage starts with a ten-pack SDD of in total 12 TB raw SDD plus 800 GB SDD for database redo log files and 960 GB SDD per server storage for operating system and database software, and can be expanded to 24 or 48 TB raw SDD. Customers have the choice of running single-instance databases as well as clustered databases utilizing Oracle Real Application Clusters (Oracle RAC) or Oracle RAC One Node for “active-active” or “active-passive” database server failover.

The Appliance Manager feature greatly simplifies the deployment process and ensures that the database configuration adheres to Oracle’s best practices. It also drastically simplifies maintenance by patching the entire appliance, including all firmware and software, in one operation, using an Oracle -tested patch bundle engineered specifically for the appliance. Its built-in diagnostics also monitor the system and detect component failures, configuration issues, and deviations from best practices. Should it be necessary to contact Oracle Support, the Appliance Manager collects all relevant log files and environmental data into a single compressed file.

Using Oracle Virtual Machine (OVM), the ODA is virtualized with hard partitioning and as a consequence with capacity-on-demand licensing of Oracle Database software. Various workloads can be run on the ODA in addition to the database, using the cores not assigned to the Oracle Database. Oracle Fusion Middleware is a good example of software to run on the ODA next to the database.

The Private Cloud Appliance (fka Virtual Compute Appliance) is an engineered system from Oracle designed for general purpose compute needs – not specially Oracle Database or Fusion Middleware workloads.

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It supports Oracle and non-Oracle workloads from a mix of operating systems – Linux, Oracle Solaris and Microsoft Windows. It is positioned as a machine to run a substantial number of Virtual Machines, that can easily be managed. It is a turnkey, pre-built system which includes compute, management software , internal storage, networking and virtualization. PCA includes licenses for Oracle VM. Earlier in 2016, an X6-2 based compute node was released for PCA, starting at 44 cores and 256 GB RAM.

Download the AMIS OOW16 Highlights for an overview of announcements at OOW16.

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About Author

Lucas Jellema, active in IT (and with Oracle) since 1994. Oracle ACE Director and Oracle Developer Champion. Solution architect and developer on diverse areas including SQL, JavaScript, Docker, Machine Learning, Java, SOA and microservices, events in various shapes and forms and many other things. Author of the Oracle Press books: Oracle SOA Suite 11g Handbook and Oracle SOA Suite 12c Handbook. Frequent presenter on community events and conferences such as JavaOne, Oracle Code and Oracle OpenWorld.

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