Oracle sweeps into the hardware market

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Oracle has made its first move into the hardware space, unveiling a pair of servers co-branded with HP at the OpenWorld conference in San Francisco.

The company claims that the products, which include a rack-mounted storage appliance and a complete database server system, will enable the fastest database performance to date.

The centrepiece of the rollout is the Oracle/HP Exadata Storage Server. The server combines 12 disk storage drives with two Intel quad-core processors and Oracle's Enterprise Linux and Parallel Query Database software offerings, as well as two Infiniband connections running at 1Gbps.

Oracle chief executive Larry Ellison told attendees during his keynote address that the principal feature of the storage server is the ability to serve network users with answers to their queries, rather than simply returning blocks of data.

In doing so, the server avoids the slowdown which generally comes when storage systems eclipse the 1TB mark, according to Oracle.

"There is a huge data bandwidth problem," Ellison said of conventional servers. "You have storage systems that can store 10TB of data, but they can't move that data off the disk and into the database servers very fast."

Ellison blamed much of the problem on a lack of scaling. As the amount of storage increases, the means for managing it does not, eventually slowing database performance.

The company hopes that the onboard processing and management muscle in the Exadata servers solves the problem by upping the means for handling storage each time a new unit is added.

"With the [Exadata server] every time you add another storage server you're not just adding disk capacity, you're adding two Infiniband pipes, two processors and more cache, so the system remains in balance," explained Ellis on.

Not content with the storage device by itself, Oracle is also rolling out a complete database server offering. The new Database Machine (PDF) will carry the same HP/Oracle co-branding, with HP assembling and providing hardware support for the system.

The new system links the new storage server with rack-mounted database server units and aims to consolidate multiple server units into a single enclosure.

Ellison was not hesitant to declare the Database Machine the fastest database system on the market. He noted that in test cases, customers had found the systems to be up to 30 times faster than previous database setups.

Both the Datacenter Machine and individual Exadata Programmable Storage Server units for x86 Linux database systems are currently available.

The company plans to expand the Exadata units to other versions of its database offering, although no specific dates were given.
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