Oracle Exalogic Review
The product is best used to create private clouds for middleware based on the Oracle stack and on Oracle Enterprise applications that use the WebLogic platform.


Valuable Features

The product is best used to create private clouds for middleware based on the Oracle stack and on Oracle Enterprise applications that use the WebLogic platform.This is simply the best-performing platform for this particular use case. However, the product is not appropriate for other technology stacks. Even though it might in some cases be able to run them, the results will not be as optimal. For example, Oracle E-Business Suite version 12.13 is not based on WebLogic, but on OC4J; hence, the advantages of running it on Exalogic are not as significant as the benefits with E-Business Suite 12.2, which is WebLogic based.

Also, virtual machines in Exalogic need to be based on special templates that allow VM access to the native InfiniBand protocol, something which is not available in all the other virtualization solutions that use InfiniBand as a backbone but do not expose it to the VMs.

Improvements to My Organization

As mentioned, we do not internally use this product, but we have implemented it for our clients. When combined with other engineered systems such as Exadata, we have seen from 20% to 60% better performance overall with certain operations showing much, much improved execution times.

Room for Improvement

Currently the management functions of Exalogic are not as smooth as one would desire. Basically, it is designed with one objective in mind and that is performance. Because of this, the user interface might not be as user friendly as one would expect.

Also, one of the shortcomings of the current product is that it does not allow the internal ZFS to be expanded with multiple storage trays. This would be a very useful capability and it would also enable active-active failover at the storage layer.

Use of Solution

We have implemented this solution for several of our customers starting from 2013. We have used multiple versions of this product in both bare metal and virtualized setups.

Deployment Issues

On the whole, once we understood how things worked, we were able to use the product well; initial versions of the software had problems with dynamic scaling of resources. It was difficult to adjust the memory and CPU resources of the virtual machines; however, this has been addressed in the current software releases.

Customer Service and Technical Support

The customer service and technical support we have received has been very good. We have had a chance to interact with the Oracle Exalogic A-team on occasion and they have been very generous of their time.

Initial Setup

The initial setup is a little complex as there are a lot of moving parts that have to be filled in a spreadsheet at the outset; because there can be many different virtual IP addresses that must not clash with any others in the DC, even if the sub nets will never be routed out of the Exalogic rack (because if you create an IP over IB subnet, then any external system in the same subnet will automatically become unreachable). It takes a lot of preplanning to get things just right.

Implementation Team

As we are ourselves qualified for implementation, it was a combination of the vendor team (Oracle) and our in-house team that did the installations. My advice to anyone who is implementing it for the first time would be to seriously think about engaging an SI, as there are a lot of gotchas that the default Oracle OCS team is not going to be walking you through during the actual five days or so of installation.

ROI

At the clients where the systems have been installed, the system pays for itself within two years and by utilizing COD and Oracle VM-based licensing, they were able to restrict software license costs to make this a very compelling proposition.

Other Solutions Considered

We evaluated multiple solutions for different clients. However, as mentioned, this is the one that provides the best possible performance.

Other Advice

As mentioned, this is the best platform for WebLogic. I strongly recommend coupling this with Exadata, as there are multiplied benefits with this approach. The solution is not for everyone, though smaller companies can go for an IaaS op-ex model now, but the real target audience is organizations who want the best possible performance from the Oracle stack.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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