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Exadata is Oracles latest database machine which is a pre-configured system ready to be turned on, making database workloads faster, easier to manage and less expensive. It is an easy to deploy machine that is available in the market for hosting Oracle Database and delivers high levels of Database performance.

Exadata delivers extreme performance with the help of its massively parallel grid architecture which is built on Real Application Cluster and Exadata storage. The machine is simple to use, easy to manage and is highly reliable. It is the world's first database machine that has been designed to deliver extreme performance for both data warehousing and online transaction processing (OLTP). Exadata would help the organizations that are struggling with rapidly increasing demands for greater quantities of information and increasing user population that demands for more sophisticated data analysis.

With Oracle Exadata, companies would be able to reduce their costs through data consolidation and would be able to manage huge amounts of data on multiple compression tiers which would help them manage all their applications in a better way. This in-turn would help take better decisions pertaining to business in real time scenarios. The extreme performance of Exadata has powered new business processes by opening the gates of imagination and innovation that will help firms generate more revenue and get better opportunities of competitive differentiation.

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Exadata- History

Exadata was initially co-designed and co-developed by Oracle Corporation and Hewlett Packard, where Oracle designed the database, operating system, and storage software whereas HP designed the hardware for it. With Oracle's acquisition of Sun Microsystems, Oracle announced the release of Exadata Version 2 with improved performance and technologies.

Exadata was announced by Oracle CEO, Larry Ellison at the 2008 Oracle Open World conference in San Francisco and with this Oracle entered the hardware business with a pre-built Database machine, engineered by Oracle itself. The hardware at this time was manufactured, delivered and supported by HP. Since the acquisition of Sun Microsystems by Oracle in January 2010, Exadata hardware utilizes Sun based hardware. Oracle claims that it is the fastest database server on the planet. It started out with Exadata V1 which supported only Data Warehouse technology. Consequently, Exadata V2 was launched which could facilitate OLTP and VLDB. That was followed by Exadata X2 which supported scale-up technologies. All these versions stored database on the disk. This changed with Exadata X3, where an entire database could be stored in memory at once.

In August 2011, Oracle announced that Exadata Database machines would be available with Solaris 11 Express (in addition to Oracle Enterprise Linux).On 30th September, 2012, at the Oracle Open World Conference, an upgraded version of Exadata database machine, X3 was released that will allow customers to run all of their databases in-memory, providing blazing performance.

There are a lot of differences between the specifications of the X3 and the previous versions, the most significant one being increase in the size of Flash memory. This enables the entire database to reside in the cache, enabling performance that far exceeds the mechanical limits of standard disk drive technology. Oracle Exadata X3 Systems also deliver other significant improvements like up to 40 percent faster response times and around 30 percent reduction in power and cooling as everything is bundled up in one single rack.

Exadata Architecture

Exadata is unique because the software and hardware have been bundled to work together in an optimized manner. Exadata hardware has three main components: The Database compute nodes grid, The Storage compute nodes grid and the Infiniband combines together network.

The database grid is powered by powerful Intel Xeon processors which offer up to 8 cores and 16 processing threads in a single semiconductor die.

The storage grid stores data in an intelligent manner. It searches tables and indexes filtering out data that is not relevant to the query. The cells serve data to multiple databases enabling OLTP and consolidation, which makes it more simple and robust.

The Infiniband network is a high performance, low latency network which provides 80GB/s bandwidth per link, SAN-like efficiency and is as simply managed as an IP network. The InfiniBand network has the flexibility of a LAN network, with the efficiency of a SAN. By using an InfiniBand network, Oracle ensures that the network will not bottleneck performance. The same InfiniBand network also provides a high performance cluster interconnect for the Oracle Database Real Application Cluster (RAC) nodes.

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It is known that there is a "secret sauce" in the platform that makes it greater than all its other parts. That is the software component of Exadata, which has been designed for the specialized hardware and has been pre-configured, pre-tested and pre-tuned by Oracle. With database innovations such as Oracle Exadata Smart Scan, Smart Flash Cache, and Hybrid Columnar Compression, it is believed that Oracle has rewritten the rules of data movement and I/O within a large data environment. Each of the advancement adds unique capabilities to the Exadata platform, forming the essential ingredients of Oracle's secret formula for delivering extreme performance for both data warehouse and OLTP workloads.

The Oracle Exadata Smart Scan lets the storage system query subsets of the data directly, without an I/O operation. With Exadata, each storage cell contains 8 CPU cores and portions of the Oracle Database software, with the ability to perform data filtering at each storage cell. As a result, the database receives only the data it actually needs and applicable queries will be executed in parallel across each of the 3 storage cells, in the case of an eighth rack. This result in less data being sent to the database and less processing needed in the compute nodes. The Smart Scan service is facilitated by the storage grid which provides database-aware storage services, such as the ability to offload database processing from the database server to storage, and the ability to provide this while being transparent to SQL processing and database applications. Hence just the data requested by the application is returned rather than all the data in the queried tables.

Oracle Exadata Smart Flash Cache caches data intelligently, replaces mechanical "spinning disk" operations with electronic flash memory operations. All reads and writes are served from or committed to flash cache, with writes to disk occurring whenever the database decides it is best to. Smart Flash Cache allows up to 1.5 million random I/O operations per second (IOPS) and can scan data at up to 75 GB/sec. This feature allows for at least 10x better performance (roughly ½ a millisecond per single block read) when compared to a traditional disk.

The Oracle Exadata Hybrid Columnar compression reduces the cost of storing large amounts of data and increases the speed at which data can be scanned. Hybrid Columnar Compression permits data to be stored in a hybrid of both, which achieves the benefits of columnar storage compression and the performance of sequential row storage. Average storage savings are 10x-15x with some users seeing significantly higher compression rates, depending on the data structure. The 4.5 TB of usable storage in a full rack is effectively 45 TB (assuming 10X compression).

The Exadata Database Machine has been designed to work with, or independently of, the Oracle Exalogic Elastic Cloud. The Exalogic Elastic Cloud provides the best platform to run Oracle's Fusion Middleware and Oracle's Fusion applications. The combination of Exadata and Exalogic is a complete hardware and software engineered solution that delivers high-performance for all enterprise applications.

Exadata - X3

The Exadata X3 Database machine is Oracle's latest appliance of the Exadata family and as already mentioned, it has a lot of unique features. X3 mass memory hierarchy delivers extreme performance by automatically moving all active data from disk to memory. All the active data can be stored in the cache as the flash memory has been expanded by 4 times. With so much flash storage in a fully configured database machine, Exadata can perform up to 1.5 million I/O operations per second for OLTP. This is comparable to 15,000 disk drives in 150 array frames. The SQL scan rate for reporting and warehouse is 100 GB/sec which is comparable to 1000 disk drives in 10 array frames. Decryption has also been moved to hardware in order to increase the speed.

The Exadata Database Machine is available in two versions:

Exadata Database Machine X3-2: This machine comes in eighth, quarter, half and full rack configurations to meet any applications requirement and enable scalability. The configuration can be chosen depending on the size, performance and I/O requirements of the database to be deployed. One version can be upgraded to the other ensuring a smooth upgrade path as processing requirements grow. X3-2 expands from 2 sixteen- core database servers with 512 GB memory and 3 Exadata Storage servers to 8 sixteen-core database servers with 2TB of memory and 14 Exadata storage servers all in one rack.

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Exadata Database Machine X3-8: The Exadata Database Machine X3-8 combines scale-up and scale-out architecture by delivering a grid infrastructure containing large Symmetric Multi-Processing (SMP) database servers and an Exadata Storage grid. Earlier, a large SMP required a full rack by itself and was difficult to scale out further. The Exadata X3-8 uses two of Sun's compact 80-core Intel based servers to create a high-performance highly-available database grid. The X3-8 has the same storage grid architecture as that of X3-2 with 14 Exadata Storage Servers providing smart query offload,10 times more data compression, 504 TB of raw storage and up to 1.5 million I/Os per second to 22.4 TB of high performance PCI flash in Exadata storage. The Exadata X3-8 is available in full rack configuration and can be expanded to an 8-rack grid.

Apart from these RAC options, clients could need additional storage for which oracle has provided the Exadata Storage Expansion Rack X3-2. It enables expansion of the Exadata Storage Capacity and bandwidth of Exadata Database Machine X3-2 and X3-8. It is designed for databases that involved deployment of very large amounts of data like backups and archives of machine data and unstructured data.

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Qualitative Breakthrough

It is not the quantitative gains, but the qualitative gains that make the Exadata machine so exciting. Oracle Exadata is massively scalable, fully redundant and highly secure package of servers, storage, networking gear, and software components that have been engineered together to deliver extreme performance for all database related applications.

It delivers outstanding performance in I/O and SQL related operations for OLTP (online transaction processing), data consolidation of mixed workloads and DW (data warehousing). Extreme performance is delivered for all types of database applications by utilizing a massively parallel grid architecture based upon Real Application Clusters and Exadata storage. Database Machine and Exadata storage delivers breakthrough analytic performance, is simple to use and manage, and delivers mission-critical availability and reliability.

Implications

Oracle Exadata enables superior business decision making by allowing analysts to consider more possibilities and do deeper analysis more quickly. As organizations look to improve efficiencies by adopting a cloud-computing environment, many are turning to Oracle Exadata for their infrastructure platform. Because of its extremely fast processing capability, Oracle Exadata can handle multiple workloads, making it ideal platform for consolidating onto a private cloud.

Normally data must be extracted from online transaction processing (OLTP) systems and loaded into a separate data warehouse for reporting and query processing, consuming valuable resources and requiring the IT staff to maintain two separate database systems. Oracle Exadata now enables customers to consolidate OLTP and business intelligence applications onto the same system, reducing both capital and operational overheads.

Oracle Exadata is a complete system that has been pre-integrated and performance optimized from day one. The time, risk and expense involved with custom configurations are eliminated, so one can get up and running quickly. And because it is based on Oracle Database 11g, one can easily leverage one's existing Oracle personnel and ecosystem.

In addition to the technical benefits, customers adopt Oracle Exadata to mitigate deployment risks. It offers a single support contact, easier system management and fewer licensing issues. With pre-bundled hardware and software, there are no lengthy implementations, configuration and tuning chores. .