What is most valuable?
One of the less well appreciated features of engineered systems in general, and Exadata in particular, is the speed with which a customer can get up and running. Having all components, both hardware and software, fully configured, tested, and optimised on delivery is a major customer win.
To fully appreciate this you have to consider the alternative, which is traditionally a best of breed approach, and how long this takes customers, and the effort involved in wiring everything and ensuring full interoperability between both the hardware and software components. Having experienced the issues with this approach many times in the past, the fully converged approach of engineered systems certainly saves a lot of effort.
How has it helped my organization?
In addition to the enhanced speed of operational readiness, the other major, but less well appreciated benefit, is one of standardisation. Many large organisations have a wide and varied oracle database, both in terms of hardware and software. A big advantage I have seen is standardisation onto the one hardware platform and a minimal number of software versions. This has improved operational effectiveness.
What needs improvement?
Several barriers to entry have been overcome with the latest X5 generation, in particular moving to more flexible sizing (elastic configurations) allows customers to choose the exact fit of compute and storage resources they require.
For how long have I used the solution?
I've used this product for nearly 4 years now. I've used all versions of Exadata from V2, all the way up to X5. This covers 5 generations of enhancements.
What was my experience with deployment of the solution?
Issues encountered tend to business process problems or people problems. The issues tend not to be technical.
What do I think about the stability of the solution?
In the earlier days of the V2 generation, and with customers pushing the then limited memory and cpu sizings available, stability was not at the levels encountered today.
With properly sized memory parameters and with the later generations of the Exadata software, stability is excellent.
What do I think about the scalability of the solution?
Have worked on expanding racks with multi-generation racks, the promise of start small and grow over time is delivered fairly effortlessly.
How are customer service and technical support?
Technical support can be patchy, particularly a couple of years back, the number of support personnel with exadata skills was perhaps not at the level it could have been. That being said, I have continually been impressed with the field engineers. I have encountered some who's dedication and commitment to fixing issues went way above what I would have expected.
Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?
Storage growth, and the possibility of utilising HCC to drive this down was a large driver for switching.
How was the initial setup?
The initial setup and deployment of an Exadata rack is straightforward it has been well engineered to be a very quick initial setup.
What other advice do I have?
The best advice is to scope upfront. Do a proper sizing exercise, get some outside assistance if you need it to get the sizing correct. If you are looking at a large deployment, consider piloting first, as you don't want to have a large amount of kit landing and then spend a long time on the migration.