Oracle has launched Exalytics during the Oracle Open World 2011. I was not there, but I had calls, mails and slides explaining to me what it was.
To be honest with you, I first thought it was an in-memory database. So, to simplify, I thought it was a HANA competitor. I’ve heard about Times Ten inside, an in memory database acquired by Oracle in 2005 ago but never pushed commercially, at least on the analytics space. I have heard about fantastic performance improvement, like 30 times faster, or 70 times faster, the speech and the presentation was very close to the Exadata speech. So in my mind, Exalytics was an in-memory database.
But Exalytics is definitely not an in-memory database. To understand what it is, let’s go back a few years in the past.
A few years ago, Oracle has launched Exadata. Exadata was directly targeting Teradata, at least for the name, as Exa means a million times more than Tera : 1 Exabyte = 1024 Petabytes = 1024×1024 Terabytes. Exadata is a database appliance. It means you buy a package including the hardware (the rack, the Infiniband switches, the Intel servers to store the Oracle database and the Intel servers with lot of disks and Sunfire cache system to store the data) and the software (the oracle database) already installed. Once acquired and plugged in the datacenter, declaring the right instance is enough.
One year ago, Oracle has launched Exalogic. Exalogic is the contraction of Exa (Exa meaning… a lot as said just before and is the proof it is a new brand in Oracle) and Weblogic, the Java application server from the BEA portfolio. And Exalogic is another combination of hardware and software. Once again a rack, switches and many Intel servers with Weblogic preinstalled. The interest of such combination is that the software is optimized for the hardware, finely tuned by Oracle itself, and all is preinstalled. So there is no need to define installation norms, guidance or whatever … Just plug and configure.
Exalytics is not only the contraction of Exa and Analytics (No, it doesn’t come from Monolithic, the H and the Y should prove it). Exalytics has to be considered as a specialized version of Exalogic for the Oracle BI Foundation suite.
And many of you are wondering: What is Oracle BI Foundation?
Oracle BI Foundation regroups mainly 2 oracle analytic products:
- Oracle BI EE (for Enterprise Edition): It includes a BI portal, a ad hoc and dashboarding tool called Answers, a reporting tool called BI publisher, a scheduler, a scorecarding tool…
- Oracle ESSbase: This OLAP tool comes from Hyperion acquisition and is used is most of the EPM (Enterprise Performance Management) tools of the Hyperion portfolio.
To speed up the BI Foundation tools, having an optimized Java application server is fine, but this is not enough. Oracle had the idea of adding an in memory database that can be used as cache by both tools.
So ESSbase can put its cubes in memory and provide fantastic response time, not only for OLAP request, but also to improve dramatically all the Hyperion tools using ESSbase like Planning. ESSbase has been optimized for Exalytics to improve performance and memory usage. Note that I still believe that in-memory databases will make OLAP databases outdated; using such a cache technology is just a way to hide it from a known future.
And OBI EE can use its memory to cache any kind of source declared on the repository. It means that the TimesTen database can be used to cache any source of data: Oracle databases, DB2 databases, Microsoft databases but also SAP BW, flat files, Excel files, ESSbase (once again)… So any database used currently for reporting with bad reporting response time could be stored on the Exalytics and provide astonishing response time. And this is not the only value. The Exalytics version of OBI EE is version 188.8.131.52 and contains an interesting update. You can manipulate the reports without having to check any validation box to change the report. It is updated instantaneously, like when using Tableau, Qlikview or Tibco Spotfire.
If I add that the TimesTen database has been improved to compress data, using algorithms like columnar compression. it means Exalytics can radically improve the reporting capabilities of existing datawarehouses or datamarts, without rebuilding or migrating the database(s), so at low cost (beware: the Exalytics pricing is still unknown).
On the hardware part, Exalytics is a simple Intel server, with 40 cores (4 Intel Xeon 10 cores each), 1 TB of RAM, Infiniband connectivity and Ethernet access. The Exalytics server can be added to an Exadata rack (when half or quarter rack) as it supports Infiniband. Last precision, Oracle has guaranteed to me that Exalytics supports scaling out and is very reliable. But because it is not yet available (Q4 2011 or Q1 2012, civil year, not Oracle fiscal year) I can’t yet guarantee it.
So at the end, Oracle Exalytics is a competitor of Qlikview. It should allow fast integration, user friendly interface and high performance.
What is the competitor of SAP HANA on Oracle portfolio? I think the answer is clear in my mind: Exadata is the Oracle competitor of SAP HANA. I will come back to it on another blog.
If you look for some complementary information on Exalytics, you’ll find it there