Oracle Expands BI Focus With Exalytics Appliance

Larry Ellison used his keynote speech at Oracle OpenWorld to tout Oracle’s forthcoming Exalytics appliance

Oracle is seeking to extend its business intelligence capabilities at the Oracle OpenWorld 2011 conference.

Oracle is claiming to have completed a fast, DRAM (dynamic memory) and NAND flash-based, big-data-type analytics server that runs its own software or that of Apache Hadoop or EMC Greenplum.

Dubbed the Exalytics appliance, it is expected to arrive sometime in early 2012. According to Oracle’s CEO and co-founder Larry Ellison, Exalytics moves “at the speed of thought.”

BI Appliance

Exalytics is comprised of a Sun Fire X4470 M2 server, which is a four-socket, 3U-size box running Intel’s multicore (in this case, 10 CPUs) Westmere-EX Xeon E7 processor. As such, it features 40 processors. Each box can store an impressive amount of 5TB to 10TB of deduplicated, compressed data in memory.

The secret sauce, however, begins with the solid-state innards: a full 1TB of DDR3 main memory and six flash disk drives packed onto the chassis. It features 40Gbps Infiniband connectivity with optional 10GbE ports.

Oracle’s parallelised TimesTen relational online transaction processing (OLTP) and Essbase parallel online analytical processing (OLAP) databases are what processes the Big Data workloads.

“This really is what we consider ‘instantaneous in-memory response,'” Ellison said. “You cannot get any faster than this. The Essbase analytics are tuned specifically for in-memory processing. These things work basically at the speed of thought.”

You have to hand it to Ellison for coming up with a catchphrase virtually every year at this conference, which has about 45,000 attendees this year. Or at least we should credit his speech writer.

How Fast?

Exalytics can scan an in-memory database at speeds of up to 200GB/sec. “To deliver data analytics at the speed of thought – faster than you can type – you have to change the interface because it moves so fast,” Ellison told some 3,000 attendees on Sunday night. “Before you finish asking a question, it can guess and give you the answer. Think of much more work you can get done because you can ask so many more questions.”

Exalytics also parallelises analytics algorithms so that they run optimally across up to all 40 CPUs as needed, Ellison said.

Naturally, the Exalytics connects natively with the previous Oracle servers and storage arrays based on Sun Microsystems-created IT: the Exadata OLTP/data warehouse appliance (through an Infiniband link), the Exalogic database server (10GbE), all of its Sun and StorageTek disk and tape storage arrays, and all its EMC-affiliated storage.

Oracle OpenWorld 2011 continues through 6 October at the Moscone Centre. JavaOne, being held in conjunction, is at the Hilton.