OpenWorld 2011: Oracle looks to Apple for strategy

Jobs' hardware, software and services play is casting its 'magic' on Oracle chief Larry Ellison

Big numbers, big claims, big data and big ambitions dominated this year’s keynote speech from Oracle chief Larry Ellison on the first day of a massive OpenWorld 2011.

Slideshow: See Oracle OpenWorld day one

The ‘big’ play hinges on Oracle’s updated big iron appliances: the Exalogic database machine, Exadata middleware machine, a new SPARC SuperCluster machine running Solaris 10 or 11, and its Exalytics in-memory analytics machine.

The machines, which are underpinned by a parallel architecture designed to increase speed, scale and fault tolerance, go some way to explaining the strategy behind buying Sun.

“The whole notion is that if you design the hardware and the software in concert you can do a better job than if one company designs the operating system, another company comes in with the VM (virtual machine), another comes in with a database…” Ellison explained.

The appliances also take a leaf out of Apple’s book, strangely enough.

“Apple, for example is doing a pretty good job designing hardware and software and online services together. So we said, ‘that works for consumers’…” he said.

The payoff for enterprises through applying Apple’s approach, Ellison claimed, was better performance, lower cost, greater ease of use, improved reliability and security. The payoff for Oracle was that it could now take on IBM at the top end.

“The goal, specifically for Exadata and Exalogic… should be the fastest computer for business that has ever been built. That means we have to beat the IBM P795,” he said. “Not only do we want the fastest performance we also wanted to deliver the lowest and best cost performance.

“Another derivative of parallelism is that if you need more capacity you just plug another database server, a storage server and more networking. If one of them fails you don’t care; the system keeps running as there is no single point of failure as everything exists in duplicate, triplicate, quadruplicate… there’s 10 or 12 of them."

Ellison said “another piece of magic” from this approach was an increase in data compression rates: on average 10 times. Combined with Exadata’s claimed 10 times faster data movement speeds, this amounted to a 100 times faster overall data movement rate.

“Those tens multiply,” he said. “We move one tenth of data ten times faster. That means we are moving, from a logical data standpoint, off of storage and on to database processors 100 times faster. Our network is 10 times faster in parallel and data is compressed by a factor of 10.”

Ellison said Australian customers using the new Oracle-Sun kit included Australian Financial Group which had experienced Siebel latency reductions of eight times, load speed increases of four times and commission payments system speed increases of 4.5 times.

The Commonwealth Bank had gained a 150 per cent return on investment (ROI) and a halving of its database operating costs. Some 300 applications had also been consolidated onto the Exadata platform.

Suncorp had also replaced IBM P-series machines for Exalogic to run Oracle’s FlexCube banking automation software and E-Business ERP applications.

Ellison also threw the gauntlet down to IBM, arguing that the Sun SPARC microprocessor now ran Java faster than IBM’s equivalent.

“We’re faster for Java, you (IBM) are faster for integer arithmetic,” he said. “If you think businesses do a lot of integer arithmetic, cool. We think they access a lot of data and run a lot of Java.

“For the first time ever Sun SPARC microprocessor runs Java faster than IBM Power (series) and we will not stop there. In a year T5 (server) comes out and it will be twice as fast again.

“We want to take on IBM at their strongest suit – which is their microprocessor. We can now beat them in Java and we will try to beat them at integer arithmetic until they have nothing left.”

The opening keynote also featured Oracle’s CIOs of the Year awards which saw the APAC award go to NBN Co CIO Clare Rawlins. Ellison himself modestly accepted a championship ring as a gift from local baseball heroes, the San Francisco Giants.

Tim Lohman traveled to OpenWorld 2011 as a guest of Oracle.

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