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Ellison unveils 'Exalytics' in-memory machine

The latest member of Oracle's family of software-and-hardware systems will target SAP's HANA platform

By Chris Kanaracus
October 2, 2011 10:57 PM ET

IDG News Service - Oracle CEO Larry Ellison unveiled the Exalytics Intelligence Machine, the latest member of the company's products that combine software and hardware, during a keynote address at the OpenWorld conference on Sunday in San Francisco.

Exalytics incorporates an in-memory database, a design principle that will put it in direct competition with SAP's HANA in-memory computing platform. In-memory databases place information to be processed in RAM, instead of reading it off disks, providing a performance boost.

The Exalytics machine includes 40 processor cores and 1TB of DRAM, but can hold five to 10TB of data in memory thanks to compression, Ellison said.

It runs a software stack that includes parallelized versions of Oracle's TimesTen in-memory database, BI (business intelligence) stack and Essbase OLAP (online analytical processing) server, Ellison revealed.

The system handles user queries "at the speed of thought" through a new interactive user interface, which will be demonstrated on Monday, Ellison said. The UI runs the same on PCs and the Apple iPad. "It really is quite spectacular."

An adaptive in-memory cache decides which information should be stored in memory based on the ongoing workload, he said. "If people keep asking the same questions over and over again, we keep the answers in memory so we don't have to compute them again." The cache is self-tuning, he added.

Ellison did not provide pricing information for the system, and it was not immediately clear when the product will be available, but more details could come this week at OpenWorld.

One major difference between Exalytics and HANA lies in the hardware strategy, as customers can choose from a number of different hardware vendors who are partnering with SAP to sell HANA as an appliance.

"Oracle's in-memory play validates SAP's innovation in this space and efforts to redefine and simplify the technology stack," SAP spokesman James Dever said via e-mail. "It will be telling to see their true commitment to in-memory, which challenges Oracle's bread-and-butter relational database business."

Meanwhile, Ellison did not discuss another expected new system that will apparently be called the Big Data Appliance. That product, which was on display outside the OpenWorld keynote hall, will involve the Hadoop open-source framework for large-scale data processing as well as NoSQL database from Oracle, according to a description card.

While Oracle's rivalry with Hewlett-Packard has heated up in recent months, Ellison reserved the trash talk on Sunday for IBM.

"We're determined to deliver best-of-breed in every aspect of our computing architecture," Ellison said. "We're in the business of catching up [with IBM] in the microprocessor business. If we don't pass them we'll be very, very close. If our microprocessor is the same speed and we move data a hundred times faster than they do, I like our chances in the marketplace."

Reprinted with permission from Story copyright 2014 International Data Group. All rights reserved.
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