Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Oracle Annouces the Exalytics Business Intelligence Machine

Larry Ellisom opened Open World with a keynote on the theme of Extreme performance and focused on how the Oracle Exadata and Exalogic servers have hardware and software engineered together for performance.

The Exa* line feature both parallel hardware and software.  That means the servers, network, storage, vm's, OS, database and middleware all run parallel with no single point of failure.  The Exa* line uses a Hybrid Columnar Compression algorithm to compress the data in memory.  The computers also use Infiniband network connectivity within the machine which provides a 10x performance increase over TCP/IP.  Combining the compression with the network performance gains, Oracle is claiming 100x performance increases.

Likewise, the Exa* line has massive amounts of RAM inside the machine.  How much?  You guessed it.  10x more.  Combining the 10x compressed memory with the 10x more RAM means 100x more data in memory.

In summary, the Exa* line is fast.  Oracle cited results from customers including BNP Paribas where the data warehouse ran 17x faster with no other changes.

So, what does this have to do with Essbase?  Larry Ellison also announced the new Exalytics Intelligence Machine.  The marketing bulletpoints on this announcement included extreme in-memory analytics, speed of thought analysis, and instantaneous business intelligence.   As many of you remember, Speed of Thought Analysis was one of the Arbor or Hyperion marketing slogans; it is great to see it back!

The details of the machine, though, are really cool.  The hardware features include:

  1 Tb of RAM (which could contain 5 to 10 Tb of compressed data)
  40 cores (4 x 10 Core Intel Xeon CPUs)
  Disk read rates of up to 200 Gb/sec
  40 Gbps Infiniband internal network
  1-10 GBps ethernet external network

Exalytics isn't just hardware.  It comes pre-installed with software as well:

  BI Foundation Suite: OBIEE
  In-memory parallel Analytics
  In-memory parallel Essbase
  In-Memory Parallel TimesTen

So, what the heck is In-memory parallel Essbase?   The short answer is that it is Essbase tuned to work with in-memory data.  So, what does that mean?  They have implemented an adaptive in-memory cache that decides what get stored in memory.  The algorithm adapts to change to the workload and can auto-tune or be tuned by administrators.

What I have learned talking with my sources is that the Essbase server engine has a number of new optimizations that enables it to better utilize large amounts of memory.  Apparently, these optimizations will also be in the upcoming version of Essbase regardless of whether Essbase is running on the Exalytics hardware.  In other words, the improvements will benefit all Essbase customers but the improvements can be more fully leveraged on the Exalytics hardware.

Thomas Kurian, who is the Executive Vice President of Product Development at Oracle, introduced the details of Exalytics in his keynote.  At the ACE Directors meeting last week, we were honored to have Thomas speak to our group where we were briefed on Exalytics.  I have heard Thomas speak a number of times since the Hyperion acquisition and, in my opinion, I think Thomas is truly one of the smartest people in the world.  He is responsibile for hundreds of products yet, last week, I heard Thomas answer a question about support on a specific virtual machine.  Not only did he have the answer, but he referenced a specific device driver file. Wow!

Oracle had an Exalytics machine on display outside the keynote.  Here is a picture of the Exalytics machine (in the foreground; that is an Exadata database machine in the background). 

So, yes, I actually got to touch the new machine.  Oracle didn't announce availability or pricing on the machine.  Of course, I am sure your friendly neighborhood Oracle sales rep would be happy to answer those questions for you.

On the screen in the background, Oracle was displaying the new OBIEE running against Essbase.  It appears they have implemented much of the same type of functionality that was previously available in the Hyperion Visual Explorer add-in for Excel.  This type of visualization is very helpful for spotting patterns in large datasets and I expect it will be very popular.

I look forward to working on an Exalytics based system soon.  I know a number of customers who look forward to having one of these systems. 


Cameron Lackpour said...



Cameron Lackpour

Cameron Lackpour said...


Tim Tow said...

Me too!


Cobb said...

Hmm. I like. And of course you have given the most detailed account of what it is that I have seen yet. Since my interest is the virtual platform, I'm now curious to what Amazon will make available in the coming months with regards to big iron. They just announced support for Nvidea GPU enabled machines - and there's at least one in-memory OLAP DB (Palo) that is making use of that big iron option. Of course I have been waiting for this development in Essbase for six years. It could be great.

Tim Tow said...

Regardless of what Amazon offers in big iron, I don't foresee they can come close to replicating Exalytics. After all, I would think they are going to use more generic hardware that is not specifically designed for the needs of Palo (which, ironically, was our original internal codename for Dodeca).