Oracle Exadata Review

We had tried other storage and hardware options but nothing really got us performance we needed for some of our applications.

What is most valuable?

There are so many it’s hard to just name a few but -

  • Cell off-loading
  • Reliability
  • ExaCheck
  • InfiniBand

How has it helped my organization?

Many diverse applications were migrated to the Exadata platform that had either performance or stability issues. All have had very reliable and performance since.

Their hardware engineers can’t be beat. They are the best people I have ever worked with and parts are installed very quickly and efficiently. They’re very easy to work with, schedule jobs with, and get things done. Also, they are very proactive as well.

What needs improvement?

Most of my suggestions for Exadata itself have been addressed in X5. Oracle keeps improving the reliability and adding more hot swappable parts for the hardware and software.

The only improvements left are not with the product itself but with MOS support, ASR and patching. For MOS software support, there are some very talented people there, but not enough of them. They need more software engineers with in depth training on how to use the ASR system and the jump gate.

When the jump gate is updated or patched, it seems to take a bit to get things working properly again so patching and ASRs can be done. Platinum patching continues to improve but it is not a hands off solution.There is quite a bit of manual effort involved with each patch cycle to co-ordinate the patching. With some of the patching there, is downtime, and most of it is rolling but there are a few cases where you do need have downtime.

For how long have I used the solution?

Since v1, almost six years.

What was my experience with deployment of the solution?

Just the normal software bugs, nothing major. In fact considering the complexity, there are very few bugs at hardware/software level. The ASR system with the jump gate was more problematic than the Exadata setup.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

No, very stable and reliable. On one quarter-rack we have 27 databases running, which astounds me every time I patch and do maintenance.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

We have added more memory and additional storage arrays, and adding more memory is very easy, while adding a storage array takes some time, but it is not as complicated as I expected. We will be expanding our local file system soon not sure how complex this will be. Adding ZFS is fairly straightforward and has become easier since I first did it three years ago.

How are customer service and technical support?

My hardware support is beyond compare. The MOS software support is good but there are just too few experienced people.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

AIX, and we switched partly due to a hardware refresh, and partly due to performance, and the growth of some of the applications.

How was the initial setup?

Documents are very clear, and there were many software and hardware engineers available to provide assistance and guidance along the way. The most difficult piece was the ASR system set up with the jump gate, password vault and set up in OEM. The other difficulty was the network, and some of that was due to my lack of experience in that area.

What was our ROI?

We had one application that went down constantly and since we moved to the Exadata there have been few issues outages and incidents.Huge performance gains as well.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

Really evaluate your needs from a hardware and software end. Buy what you will need for between three and five years down the line, in terms of storage and memory. Buy products either before Oracle’s fiscal year end (May) or Open World. You can bundle all of your Oracle products into one agreement to get the best discounts. Try to get training and some consulting time into the agreement.Some companies leverage the partner or beta programs. I did one such beta test and was glad I did because I made improvements.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We had tried other storage and hardware options but nothing really got us performance we needed for some of our applications. We migrated applications from AIX to Linux VM and Exadata. The most critical or resource intensive applications go to Exadata.

What other advice do I have?

There is a learning curve to this product and it is complex at the hardware, network and software levels. Train all your staff, not just the database administrations as the network and UNIX admns have to get familiar with the components. Exadata classes are available and the DBAs should know RAC and services well.

The starter databases are a template for new databases. Run ExaChks weekly, and set up OEM to monitor Exadata, but spend time to make sure you do it correctly. If you have a large Exadata foot print look at ZFS for backups and evaluate if you have the staff to support it. If not make sure you partner with the correct consultants.

Oracle does provide Platinum patching services but that has to be managed. Read about the product and really evaluate how to use it properly. Talk to other customers and join Exadata groups. Do a proof of concept, so see if there is a sandbox to try out. And probably the best hint is that MOS has an Exadata best practice guide - follow it as best you can. Granted there are some things you have to do for vendor products. But the more you can get out of these the better off you will be for patching, MOS etc.

Which version of this solution are you currently using?

X3 & X4
**Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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1 Comment

author avatarreviewer602496 (Statistics Analyst at a government with 1,001-5,000 employees)
Real User

it is not matter of hardware or storage , it is engineered system which is designed to solve ORACLE RDBMS issues for I/O ,buffering , indexing buy adding Exadata driver software that provides some features (such as smart scan, ) that solved the old performance issues and add flash memory, high I/O through inifiniband switches , so many item HW and SW are working together in harmony to get good performance other than any HW . again it is not HW only as there are other storages have higher rpm than Exadata but with less performance.