Showing posts with label database. Show all posts
Showing posts with label database. Show all posts

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Seeking to Master Information Explosion: Enterprises Gain Better Ways to Discover and Manage their Information

Transcript of a BriefingsDirect podcast on new strategies and tools for dealing with the burgeoning problem of information overload.

Listen to the podcast. Download the podcast. Download the transcript. Find it on iTunes/iPod and Learn more. Sponsor: Hewlett-Packard.

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Dana Gardner: Hi, this is Dana Gardner, principal analyst at Interarbor Solutions, and you’re listening to BriefingsDirect.

Today, we present a sponsored podcast discussion on how enterprises can better manage the explosion of information around them. Businesses of all stripes need better means of access, governance, and data lifecycle best practices, given the vast ocean of new information coming from many different directions. By getting a better handle on information explosion, analysts and users gain clarity in understanding what is really going on within the businesses, and, especially these days, across the dynamic market environment.

The immediate solution approach requires capturing, storing, managing, finding, and using information better. We’ve all seen a precipitous drop in the cost of storage and a dramatic rise in the incidents of data from all kinds of devices and across more kinds of business processes, from sensors to social media.

To help us better understand how to best manage and leverage information, even as it’s exploding around us, we’re joined by Suzanne Prince, worldwide director of information solutions marketing at Hewlett-Packard (HP). Welcome, Suzanne.

Suzanne Prince: Thanks, Dana.

Gardner: As I mentioned, things have changed rather dramatically in the past several years, in terms of the amount of information, the complexity, and the sources of that information. From your perspective, how has the world changed for the worse when it comes to managing information?

Prince: Well, it’s certainly a change for the worse. The flood is getting bigger and bigger. You’ve touched on a couple of things already about the volume and the complexity, and it’s not getting any better. It’s getting worse by the minute, in terms of new types of information. But, more importantly, we’re noticing major shifts going on in the business environment, which are partially driven by the economy, but they were already happening anyway.

We’re moving more into the collaboration age, with flatter organizations. And the way is information is consumed is changing rapidly. We live in the always-on age, and we all expect and want instant access, instant gratification for whatever we want. It’s just compounding the problems.

Gardner: I’m afraid there's a price to be paid if one loses control over this burgeoning level and complexity of information.

Prince: Absolutely. There are these horror stories that we all regularly read in the press that range from compliance and eDiscovery fines that are massive fines. And, we’re also seeing major loses of revenue.

I’ll give you an example of an oil company that was hit by hurricane Katrina in the Gulf of Mexico. Their drilling rigs were hit and damaged severely. They had to rebuild them and they were ready to start pumping, but they had to regenerate the paperwork, because the environmental compliance documentation was actually on paper.

Guess what happened in the storm -- it got lost. It took them two weeks to regenerate that documentation and, in that time, they lost $200 million worth of revenue. So, there are massive numbers associated with this risk around information.

Gardner: We’re talking about not just information that’s originating in a digital format, but information that originates in number of different formats across a number of different modalities, from rich media to just plain text. That has to be brought into a manageable digital environment.

Information is life

Prince: Absolutely. You often hear people saying that information is life -- it’s the lifeblood of an organization. But, in reality, that analogy breaks down pretty quickly, because it does not run smoothly through veins. It’s sitting in little pockets everywhere, whether it’s the paper files I just talked about that get lost, on your or my memory sticks, on our laptops, or in the data center.

Gardner: We’ve heard a lot about data management and data mining. That tends to focus on structured data, but I suppose we need to include other sorts and types of information.

Prince: Yes. The latest analyst tracker reports -- showing what type of storage is being bought and used -- reveal that the growth in unstructured content is double the growth that’s going on in the structured world. It makes sense, if you think about it, because for the longest time now, IT has really focused on the structure side of data, stuff that’s in databases. But, with the growth of content that was just mentioned -- whether it's videos, Twitters, or whatever -- we’re seeing a massive uptick in the problems around content storage.

Gardner: While we’re dealing with a hockey stick curve on volume, I suppose that the amount of time that we have to react to markets is shrinking rapidly. We’ve had an economic storm and folks have had to adjust, perhaps cutting 30-40 percent of their businesses as quickly as possible. So, in order to react to environments that are themselves changing, we can’t wait for a batch reply on some look at information from 3-10 weeks ago.

Prince: No. That comes back to what I said previously about instant gratification. In reality, it’s a necessity. Where do I shed? Where do I cut my costs? Where are the costs that I can cut and still not cut into the meat of my company? More importantly, it’s all about where are my best customers? How do I focus my sales energy on my best customers? As we all know, it costs more to get a new customer than it does to retain an old one.

Gardner: Also compounding the complexity nowadays, we’re hearing quite a bit about cloud computing. One of the promises of the vision around cloud computing

We’ve seen very good returns on investment (ROIs) ranging from 230 percent to 350 percent. We’ve seen major net benefits in the millions.

is being able to share certain data to certain applications, certain people, certain processes, but not others. So, we need to start managing how we then allow access to data at a much more granular level.

Prince: The whole category of information governance really comes into play when you start talking about cloud computing, because we’ve already talked about the fact that we’ve got disparate sources, pockets of information throughout an organization. That’s already there now. Now, you open it up with cloud and you’ve got even more. There are quality issues, security issues, and data integration issues, because you most likely want to pull information from your cloud applications or services and integrate that within something like a customer relationship management (CRM) system to be able to pull business intelligence (BI) out.

Gardner: I just spoke with a number of CIOs last week at an HP conference, and their modus operandi these days is that they need to show a return on whatever new investments they make in a matter of one or two months. They don’t have a 12- or 18-month window for return on their activities. What are the business paybacks, when one starts to do data mining, management, cleansing, storing, the whole process? When they do it right, what do they get?

Prince: We’ve seen very good returns on investment (ROIs) ranging from 230 percent to 350 percent. We’ve seen major net benefits in the millions. And, in today’s world, the most important thing is, to get the cost out and use that cost to invest for growth. There are places you can look, where you can get cost out quite quickly.

I already mentioned one of them, which is around the costs of eDiscovery. It may not be provisioned yet in the IT budget, but may be in your legal department’s budget. They are spending millions in responding to court cases. If you put an eDiscovery solution in, you could get that cost back and then reallocate that to other projects. This is one example. Storage virtualization is another one. Also outsourcing -- look into what you could outsource and turn capital expenditure into operating expenditure.

Gardner: I suppose too that productivity, when lost, comes with a high penalty. So, getting accurate timely information in the hands of your decision makers perhaps has a rapid ROI as well, but it’s not quite as easy to measure.

Right information at the right time

Prince: No, it’s not as easy to measure, but here’s something quite interesting. We did a survey in February of this year in several countries around the world. It was both for IT and line-of-business decision makers. The top business priority for those people that we talked to, way and above everything else, was having the right information at the right time, when needed. It was above reducing operating costs, and even above reducing IT costs. So what it’s telling us is how business managers see this need for information as business critical.

Gardner: I suppose another rationale for making investments, even in a tough budgetary environment, is regulatory compliance. One really doesn’t have a choice.

Prince: You don’t have a choice. You have to do it. The main thing is how can you do it for least cost and also make sure that you’re covering your risk.

Gardner: Well, we’ve had an opportunity to look at the problem set. What sorts of solutions can organizations begin to anticipate and put into place?

Prince: I touched on a few, when I was talking about some of the areas to look for cost savings. At the infrastructure layer: we’ve talked about storage. You can definitely optimize your storage -- virtualization, deduplication. You really need to look at deleting what I would call "nuisance information," so that you’re not storing things you don’t need to. In other words, if I’m emailing you to see if you’d like to come have a cup of coffee, that doesn’t need to be stored. So, optimizing storage and optimizing your data center infrastructure.

Also, we talked about the pockets of information everywhere.

You need to have a governance plan that brings together business and IT. This is not just an IT problem, it’s a business problem and all parties need to be at the table.

Another area to look at is content repository consolidation, or data mart consolidation. I’m talking about consolidating the content and data stores.

As an example, a pharmaceutical company that we know of has over 39 different content management solutions. In this situation, a) How do we get an enterprise view of what’s going on and b) What's the cost? So, at the infrastructure layer, it's definitely around consolidation, standardizing, and automating.

Then, at the governance layer, you need to look at data integration. You need to have a quality plan. You need to have a governance plan that brings together business and IT. This is not just an IT problem, it’s a business problem and all parties need to be at the table. You’re going to need to have your compliance officers, your legal people, and your records manager involved.

One of the most important things we believe is that IT needs to deliver information as a business-ready service. You need to be able to hide the complexity of all of that plumbing that I was talking about with those 39 different applications. You need to be able to hide that from your end users. They don’t care where information came from. They just want what they want in the format that they want it in, which is usually an Office application, because that’s what they’re most used to. You’ve got to hide the complexity underneath by delivering that information as a service.

Gardner: It sounds like an integration problem as well, given that we’re not going to take all these different types of information and data and put them into a single repository. It sounds as if we’re going to leave it where it is natively, but extract some values and some indexing and gain the ability to access it rather rapidly.

Prince: Yes, because business users, when they want things, want them quickly or they do it themselves. We all do it. Each one of us does it. "Oh, let’s get some spreadsheet going" or whatever. We will never be in a place where we have everything in one bucket. So, it’s always going to be federated. It’s always going to be a data integration issue. As I said, we really need to shield the end users from all of that and give them an easy-to-use interface at the top end.

Gardner: Are there any standards that have jumped out in recent years that seem more valuable in solving this problem than others?

No single standard

Prince: No, not really. There are a lot of people who keep taking runs at it. There are the groups looking at it. There are industry groups like ARMA looking at the records management. AIIM is looking at the information content management. But, there is not any one particular standard that’s coming out above the others. I would recommend, because of the complexity underneath and the fact that you will always have a heterogeneous environment, open standards are important, so that you can do more of a plug-and-play game.

Gardner: It seems that what we were doing with information in some ways is mimicking what we have done with applications around integration and consolidation. Are there means that we have already employed in IT that can be now reused or applied to this information explosion in terms of infrastructure, service orientation, enterprise service buses, or policy engines? How does this information chore align with some of the other IT activity?

Prince: It sort of lines up. You touched on something there about the applications. What you said is exactly true. People are now looking at information as the issue. Before they would look at the applications as the issue. Now, there's the realization that, when we talk about IT, there is an "I" there that says "Information." In reality, the work product of IT is information. It’s not applications. Applications are what move it around, but, at the end of the day, information is what is produced for the business by IT.

Gardner: Years ago, when we had one mainframe that had several applications, all drawing on the same data, it wasn’t the same issue it is today, where the data is essentially divorced from the application.

Prince: Yes, and you mentioned it before. It’s going to get even more so

We've definitely got the expertise and the flexible sourcing, so that we can help reduce the total cost of ownership and move expenditure around.

with cloud. It’s going to get even more divorced.

Gardner: From HP’s perspective, what do you have to bring to the table from a methods, product, process, and people perspective? I'm getting the impression that this has to be done in totality. How do you get started? What do you do?

Prince: There are two questions there. From an HP perspective, as you said, we bring the total package from our expertise and experience, which is vital in all of this. One of the main things is that you need people have done it before. They know the tricks and have got maturity models and best practices in their back pockets and they bring those out.

We've definitely got the expertise and the flexible sourcing, so that we can help reduce the total cost of ownership and move expenditure around. We've got that side of the fence and we've obviously got the adaptive infrastructure. We already talked about the data warehouse consolidation. We've got services around governance. So, we've got the whole stack. But, you also asked where to start, and the answer is wherever the customer needs to start.

Gardner: It's that big of a problem?

Increasing law suits

Prince: Yes, it is that big, and it’s going to depend. If I'm a manufacturing company I might be getting a lot of law suits, because the number of law suits have gone sky high since people are trying to get money out of enterprises any way they can. So, look for where your cost is, get that cost out, and then, as I said before, use that to fund innovation, which is where growth comes from. It's all about how you transform your company by using information.

Gardner: So, you identify the tactical cost centers, and that gives you the business rationale and opportunity to invest perhaps at a strategic level along the way, employing governance as well?

Prince: It’s like any other large project. You need to get senior executive commitment and sponsorship -- and I mean real commitment. I mean that they are involved. It’s also the old adage of "how do you eat an elephant?" You eat an elephant in small chunks. In other words, you have a strategic plan and you know where you are going, but you tackle it in tactical projects that return business benefits. And then, IT needs to be very visible in communicating the benefits they are making in each of those steps, so that it reinforces the re-investment cycle.

Gardner: Something you mentioned earlier that caught my attention was the new options around sourcing. Whether it's on-premises, modernized data center, on-premises cloud-like or grid-like or utility types of resource pools, moving towards colocation, outsourcing and even a third-party cloud provider, how does that spectrum of sourcing come into play on a solutions level for information explosion?

Prince: Again, it goes back to the strategies that we were talking about. There needs to be an underpinning strategy, and people need to look at the business values of information.

There needs to be an underpinning strategy, and people need to look at the business values of information. There is some information that you will never want outsourced. You will always want it close at hand.

There is some information that you will never want outsourced. You will always want it close at hand -- the CEO’s numbers that he is monitoring the business with. They're under lock and key in his office. It’s core business value information. There are others that you can move out. So, it’s going to involve the spectrum of looking at the business value, the security, and the data integration needs, assessing all of that, and then making your decisions.

Gardner: Are there some examples we can look to and get a track record, an approach, and learned some lessons along the way? After we have a sense of what people have done, what kind of success rates do they tend to enjoy?

Prince: Because it’s such a broad topic, it’s hard to hone in on any one thing, but I will give you an example of document processing outsourcing. It’s just an example. With the acquisition of EDS, we offer a service where we will automate the mailroom. So, when the mail comes into the mailroom, it gets digitized and then sent to the appropriate application or user. If it’s a customer complaint, it will go to the complaints department. If it’s a sales request, it will get sent to the call center.

That’s a totally outsourced environment. What all of our customers are seeing is a) reduction in cost, and b) an increase in efficiency, because that paper comes in and, once digitized, moves around as a digital item.

Gardner: We perhaps wouldn’t name names, but have you encountered situations where certain companies, in fact, found themselves at a significant deficit competitively as result of not doing the right thing around information.

Lack of information

Prince: Well, I can give you one. Actually, it’s in the public domain. So, I can name names. New Century. They were the first sub-prime mortgage company to go under in the US, and it’s publicly documented.

The bankruptcy examiner has actually written in his report that one of the major reasons they went crash was because of the lack of information at the management level. In fact, they were running their business for the longest time on Excel spreadsheets, which were not being transmitted to management. So, they were not aware of the risks that they were actually exposed to.

Gardner: We’ve certainly seen quite clear indicators that risk wasn’t always being measured properly across a number of different industries over the past several years. I suppose we would have to attribute that not only to a process, but to simply not knowing what’s going on within their systems.

Prince: Yes. I'll give you another public domain example of something from a completely different angle -- a European police database. They have just admitted -- in fact, I think it went public in February -- that they had 83 percent errors in their database. As a result of that, over a million people either lost their jobs or were fired because they were wrongly categorized as being criminals.

You have absolutely catastrophic events, if you don’t look after your quality and if you don’t have governance programs in place.

Gardner: I want to hear more about how we get started in terms of approaching a problem, but I also understand that we should have some hope

The bankruptcy examiner has actually written in his report that one of the major reasons they went crash was because of the lack of information at the management level.

that new technologies, approaches, and processes are coming out. Has there been anything at the labs level or the R&D level, where investments are being made that offer some new opportunities in terms of some of the problems and solution tension that we have been discussing?

Prince: In HP Labs, we have eight major focus areas, and I would categorize six of them as being focused on information -- the next set of technology challenges. It ranges all the way from content transformation, which is the complete convergence of the physical and digital information, to having intelligent information infrastructure. So, it’s the whole gamut. But, six out of eight of our key projects are all based on information, information processing, and information management.

I'll give you example of one that’s in beta at the moment. It’s Taxonom, which is an information-as-a-service (IaaS) taxonomy builder. One thing that is really important, especially in the content world, is the classification of the content. If you don’t classify, you can’t find it. We are in beta at the moment, but you are going to see a lot of more energy around these types of solution.

Gardner: So the majority of R&D money’s, at least at HP, is now being focused on this information explosion problem set.

Prince: Yes, yes, absolutely.

Gardner: Interesting. Well, some folks may be interested in getting some more detailed information. They perhaps have some easily identified pain points and they want to drill down on that tactical level, consider some of the other strategic approaches, and look to some of those benefits and risk reduction. Where can they go to get started?

Prince: The first one to call is your HP account representative. So, talk to them and start exploring how we can help you solve the issues in your company. If you want to just generally browse, go to I'd also strongly recommend a sub page --

Gardner: Very good. Well, we were discussing this burgeoning problem around information explosion, along with some of the risks and penalties that unfortunately many folks suffer and some of the paybacks for those who start to get a handle on this problem.

We've also looked at some examples of winners and, unfortunately, losers and we have found some early ways to start in on this solutions road map. I want to thank our guest today. We have been talking with Suzanne Prince, worldwide director of information solutions marketing at HP. Thank you, Suzanne.

Prince: Thanks, Dana. It was a pleasure.

Gardner: This is Dana Gardner, principal analyst at Interarbor Solutions. You have been listening to BriefingsDirect. Thanks and come back next time.

Listen to the podcast. Download the podcast. Download the transcript. Find it on iTunes/iPod and Learn more. Sponsor: Hewlett-Packard.

Join a free HP Solutions Virtual Event on July 28 on four main IT themes. Learn more. Register.

Transcript of a BriefingsDirect podcast on new strategies and tools for dealing with the burgeoning problem of information overload. Copyright Interarbor Solutions, LLC, 2005-2009. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Oracle and HP Explain History, Role and Future for New Exadata Server and Database Machine

Transcript of BriefingsDirect podcast recorded at the Oracle OpenWorld Conference in San Francisco the week of Sept. 22, 2008.

Listen to the podcast. Download the podcast. Find it on iTunes/iPod. Learn more. Sponsor: Hewlett-Packard.

Dana Gardner: Hi, this is Dana Gardner, principal analyst at Interarbor Solutions, and you're listening to a special BriefingsDirect Podcast recorded at the Oracle OpenWorld Conference in San Francisco. We are here the week of Sept. 22, 2008. This HP Live! Podcast is sponsored by Hewlett-Packard, and distributed through the BriefingsDirect Network.

Today we are going to discuss a large and an impactful product announcement at Oracle OpenWorld that took place on Sept. 24. It was the introduction of appliances in a cooperative relationship between HP and Oracle to create some of the most high performing databases and date warehouses in history. We are going to talking about the Oracle Exadata Storage Server and -- when put together in a very impressive configuration -- what becomes the HP Oracle Database Machine.

Here to help us understand how these impressive server configurations and high-speed, extreme-performance databases came together, we are joined by Rich Palmer, the director of technology and strategy for industry standard servers at HP. We are also joined by Willie Hardie, vice president of Oracle database product marketing. Welcome to the show, Willie.

Willie Hardie: Good to be here, Dana.

Gardner: Tell me a little bit about this very momentous announcement. This has been several years in the making, but it’s not just a product announcement. It seems like an architectural shift, and also an alliance and partnership shift in terms of the cooperation between a hardware provider, in this case HP, and Oracle, until now purely a software company.

Hardie: That’s an excellent question. So what we actually announced this week is the Oracle Exadata Storage Server. Now, the Oracle Exadata Storage Server is an intelligent storage device. We’ve basically taken industry standard hardware and storage components from HP, and we’ve combined that with smart intelligence software from Oracle that allows us to offload query processing from the database servers to the storage servers.

So now they can do a lot of the work for us, to allow the stripping off of the rows and columns that we require, and push last data backups through much wider networks.

Gardner: For those of us who are not computer scientists, but are nonetheless interested in the outcomes, architecturally we are putting the intelligence that we usually have in a database server in very close proximity to the data storage itself, connecting that through a very fat pipe in the form of InfiniBand. And, in essence, parallel processing comes to bear, because of the proximity. Is that correct?

Hardie: Absolutely. So what we are able to do for the first time ever is we can use these storage devices to actually do the query processing itself. So the more that the storage server processes and we compute into our configuration, the more of the workload they can take off, which traditionally is done at the database server.

Gardner: Let’s go to Rich Palmer at HP. Tell us a little bit about the history. How did this come about, and what is it that HP has been doing to improve upon the performance of this long-term database lineage?

Rich Palmer: If you look at HP and Oracle as partners in this industry, we have a long-standing history together. We have several reference configurations, more than 50 reference configurations that we do with industry standard hardware and Oracle solutions, which we’ve been delivering for many years now.

Going back all the way to the introduction of Oracle Real Application Clusters (RAC), and even before RAC introductions, the history of the two companies really stems from two leadership positions. HP does more servers on Oracle than any other company. Oracle does more data warehouses than any other company. You bring those two forces together, and you get a very strong formidable entry into this data warehouse appliance market.

Where HP and Oracle really started this discussion stems back a couple of years, and it really became a trend in the market of bringing data and server processing power closer together; that trend has escalated over the last couple of years -- especially as so much data has been growing at exponential rates, every single year. What we found is that, you cannot push so much data over a traditional storage fabric. This new technology allows us to do that.

Gardner: And we are talking about very large data sets, of terabytes and larger, right?

Palmer: Enormous Data sets. Let me give you an example, and I think we are all very familiar with this example. We all use cell phones in today’s industry. Every one of those cell phone calls is a database record somewhere, be it on AT&T’s database or T-Mobile’s database or whomever's database -- they store that data. Now, when they are storing that data, sometimes they are going to want to move it. If you have a narrow pipe to push that data down, and you’re bringing back enormous amounts of data that is erroneous, and you don’t need the other data; all you need is just for what you’re looking for in the query.

So this process allows us to push just the query information across that pipe. Less data over the pipe, a wider pipe, and your performance goes up dramatically.

Gardner: Okay, so let’s unpack this a little bit. We’ve established that the marketplace is demanding better performance, particularly in the use of large data sets, 1 terabyte and larger up to 10 terabytes, and size often. That requires the movement of very large sets of data, and the inhibitor here was the storage’s physical capacity, and ability to deliver the data.

So you’ve re-architected, and we brought together two companies to work together. This brings the question: Why hasn’t the hardware and software duality gotten closer before this? Why now?

Palmer: In this market, it’s constantly evolving to a state where you have to bring software tools to the table, and you have to bring high-performance hardware to the table. The evolution of both of those have hit at the perfect time in the last year.

Oracle has been developing the software code for several years now, and HP has been working on the hardware side of this equation to bring together the two forces at this time. We are using industry standard technology, so it’s not something that we are the only hardware guys out there with InfiniBand, and InfiniBand is an evolving technology. But the performance of InfiniBand is at a point now where we can actually leverage it using Oracle software to offload the storage processing from the database server. Those are the two key components -- it’s not just the hardware, and it’s not just the software. You have to marry these two things together.

So why hasn’t it been done in the past? Well, it has to some degree, there are others who had tried to do this, but they haven’t done both. They haven’t been able to achieve both facets, and that’s really why this is the right product at the right time.

Gardner: Okay, Willie, let’s get into the actual product itself. Explain to me what the Oracle Exadata Storage Server actually is? What are we talking about?

Hardie: You see that the Oracle Exadata Storage Server is basically comprised of an industry standard HP DL180 Storage Server. So inside this storage server we have 12 3.5-inch disks to be 12 SATA drives. We have two Intel quad-core processors. We have 8 gigabytes of memory; we have two InfiniBand network connections, and dual power supplies.

So in this storage server we have a lot of storage capacity, we have a lot of processing power, and we have a lot of network bandwidth. Then the real secret sauce here is this intelligence software from Oracle that’s installed into each and every one of those devices. It’s this intelligent software that enables us to offload this query processing, which makes the Oracle Exadata Storage Server really unique.

Gardner: Okay, let's dumb this down a little bit in simplistic terms. Instead of large data sets moving from storage to the database and back, what happens differently now?

Hardie: What happens differently now is, because we are offloading the query processing at the storage server, the storage server can strip out the columns that we don’t need, strips out the rows we don’t need, returns a subset of data back up through this wide InfiniBand network. That’s what makes the difference. We are treating a much smaller data set that we pass up through this network, and the database server can just finish off that query processing much faster than it ever could previously.

Palmer: One of the other values that we achieve here is certainly in the data passing back and forth, or less data over a wider pipe. So you’re going to get exponentially better performance. Now at the storage servers you’ve taken the processing power of doing the query right at the disks, and in every one of these storage servers you have eight cores, these are Intel quad core processors, two of them in each servers, and so you have eight cores on the input/output (I/O) path directly to the disk.

So there is no external I/O going to your disks. Traditionally you’ve had to go outside of the server, go to the disk that is across the fabric -- and everyone else is sharing that fabric.

So you have many people sharing a fabric, versus now you have a dedicated fabric inside of the server. So it’s a copper-to-copper connection inside the server. Those disks are right on top of the processor. That is really the essence of it -- you can pull the data off of this rapidly because it’s all so much faster. As Willie indicated, you can strip out all the unnecessary data and pass a much smaller data set over a much wider pipe, back to your database servers. There are so many levels of performance improvement here.

Gardner: And to your point on the secret sauce -- you are also taking advantage of all those cores via multiple threads, and the software has been a deeply tuned to take advantage of those multiple threads in a concurrent fashion.

Hardie: Oh, absolutely, and Rich touched on that as well.

Palmer: When we add more Exadata Storage Servers into our configuration we can take advantage, not just that additional storage capacity, but we can now take advantage of that additional processing capability -- to own that storage layer, which is a big, big difference.

Gardner: And at the announcement here, Oracle Chairman and CEO Larry Ellison described use cases where improvement typically was 10x to up to 72x over what has been the industry benchmark.

Hardie: Absolutely, when you actually cut away the technology and look at this from a business perspective, what it means for me as a business user -- it means that when you’re accessing those data warehouses that Rich was talking about earlier -- like a call data record -- data warehouse have billions of rules additionally. What this means, when you’re accessing those, your queries are going to run much, much faster than they ever did previously. Not only will they run faster, you can have much more queries and more long-running queries concurrently. That’s what is going to be making the big difference.

So when we hear of customers talking about getting 20x performance, improving 30x performance in one particular instance; in one particular query, 72x performance -- that is extreme performance improvements, in anybody’s measurement.

Gardner: Okay, so we have this engine, this Oracle Exadata Storage Server. We also a new announcement, the HP Oracle Database Machine. Tell me how one relates to the other.

Palmer: The HP Oracle Database Machine is a single rack that contains everything you need to run a large data warehouse. It contains eight ProLiant servers running Oracle Database 11g and RAC. It has four InfiniBand network switches and it has 14 of these Oracle Exadata Storage Servers that we talked about earlier. So in a single unit you have everything you need, ready to load up your data and start running your business queries right away.

Gardner: Tell us a little bit, Rich, about this 42-slot rack configuration and why it’s right for the market now?

Palmer: Well, so if you look at the market in data warehousing, the appliance type of delivery is a much simpler deployment of hardware and software configurations. That is emerging as a high-growth area in data warehousing. So with this market trend that’s going on between HP and Oracle, we’ve been able to come together and put everything in customers’ needs in one box. We put it at the customer’s site, and that’s on a global basis.

If you look at HP, one of the strengths that HP brings to this relationship is our ability to distribute and deliver globally. We build all of these database servers or database machines in regions around the globe. They are not just built here in the United States; they are built in United States, they are built in Singapore, they are built in Scotland, and then they are delivered to those regions on a worldwide basis.

So this ability of HP to build the product from the ground up to an exact specification, deliver to the customer, install at to customer's site, and then have Oracle come in and tune the software to make sure it's optimally configured -- that is a no-lose environment. We have the ability here to deliver an appliance-like stack of hardware, put the right software set on that hardware, and target a customer's need for simplicity, high performance, and data reliability -- all in one box.

Gardner: Okay, we've described the marketplace need, the size of data pushing the envelope. Now we are re-architecting to adjust to that. We've described the subset, which is the Exadata Server, and then the configuration, which is the racked Machine. Now, what kind of organizations are going to be interested in having the forklift upgrade to this, bring it right in, drop it in, pre-configured, optimized, and what are they going to do with it? Is this for business intelligence (BI), is this for simply managing scale? What are the speeds that this now provides going to do for companies to improve, or to change, how they do business?

Hardie: The organizations that are going to be interested in Oracle Exadata Storage Server and the HP Oracle Database Machine are those primarily interested in large data warehouses. And by large data warehouses we're talking into the (terabytes and petabytes) and beyond. Now if you look at the organizations that are typically dependent on very large data warehouses, it's organizations that Rich mentioned earlier, the telcos could be an obvious one, call data records, retail organization, very much dependent on analyzing point of sales (POS) transactions. You look at other organizations like trading systems, massive amount of transactions flow through these systems on a daily basis.

Gardner: Especially these days.

Hardie: Absolutely. It is really important to understand what's going on with these transactions, and to make informed business decisions. The beauty of this is you have completely scalable infrastructure from a storage point of view. But more importantly, you've got completely scalable infrastructure from a query performance point of view. As you store more call data records into these systems, more POS transactions, more stock transactions into these systems, you're not going to deteriorate your query performance at all. The more hardware, the more storage servers you put into these systems, the better your performance is going to be.

Gardner: Now that I have this capability to bang on this thing, so to speak, in more ways without the degrading performance, in what ways do you expect these companies to actually "bang" on this? Is this going to provide new and higher level of business intelligence querying? Is this going to provide higher-order analytics? Are there going to more business applications that can derive near real-time data and analytics from this? All of the above? What's the qualitative payback?

Hardie: There is definitely an element of "all of the above." Let me give you some of the examples of some of the queries that customers have actually been experiencing using the Oracle Exadata Storage Server. This probably fits into the context pretty well. You have organizations out there, retail organizations, telcos, for example. You know, some of the queries they are running are literally running for over half an hour. In some cases it is hours.

Moving to this new architecture is bringing down these execution times. One particular example, a query that was running for over 30 minutes is now running in under 30 seconds. It's that scale of improvement. Now when you can set your terminal, your laptop, or your mobile device and then kick off a query and get an answer within seconds -- then you're going to do more of these. If you know that when you kick off a query it is going to take 30 seconds to return it, you're going to pick more times when you choose to kick that off. You don't have to worry timing that anymore. You can just ask queries when you like, and expect to get a quick answer.

Palmer: Willie, I think you are absolutely right. The ability to capture business information has accelerated so much because of this technology. There are customers that cannot access data records beyond a certain time period simply because of the massive size of those data records, or because of how long a query would take to access a historical group of data. That all goes away now.

Now you have the ability. Historically you might have been able to look at the last week's worth of retail records, or medical records. Now you have the ability to go and look at years and years of data in the same timeframe that you were looking at weeks of data, and query a much bigger dataset, because of this architecture. That's a big business value, because now I can trend my business in a much more effective way. I'm putting more productivity tools in the hands of the user, so that they can actually turn data queries and business intelligence back into a fundamental element of growing their business and being more competitive in their markets.

Gardner: I imagine this will also compel companies to put even more data and information into these warehouses, because they are not going to degrade the performance of these essential queries. They are also going to able to do more types of queries. And, again, we're improving the quality and breadth of the data types, but still getting even better performance. So it's sort of a qualitative improvement on many different dimensions.

Hardie: It's a qualitative improvement, and it's a quantitative. I mean, you're absolutely right. Organizations today are more and more dependent on faster access to better information. It's just as simple as that.

Gardner: We've talked about the types of organizations that we'll use this now in its current configuration. I expected this re-architecting of the database and the storage will also move down market a bit. What possible other use-case scenarios do you envision for leveraging this technology beyond the high-end of the market, into other areas of the market?

Palmer: If you look at some of the growing and emerging markets today, just think of cloud computing and all of the massive amounts of data that we're storing in other locations on the Internet, or through a paid service, and the massive amounts of storage that's being deployed for those types of applications. That's not going to slow down at all. This allows us through the Database Machine to go in and drop in a configured environment for that workload, specifically dedicated to a workload.

You can now scale this product by connecting multiple racks together, you can now scale just the storage component, if the processing side of the database environment is sufficient. You can now just scale the storage nodes, so it is a scalable grid architecture that can grow on the fly. So cloud computing is a very good example where we really don't know what the upper limit of that storage is going to be. So deploy a configuration, say, on a HP Oracle Database Machine and then grow it as your needs grow. This is one application where we know this is going to succeed.

Gardner: Willie, we're also aware that organizations will just want the Oracle Exadata Storage Server. They might have their own environments, their own preference for configuring what's available to them, and what would become available to them in the future.

Hardie: Any organization that wants to run their data warehouse on the Oracle Exadata Storage Server -- all they have to do is buy the Oracle Exadata Storage Server. It's just as simple as that. Oracle and HP of long given customers a choice of configurable options. So if customer feels that something like HP Oracle Database Machine is not the right fit for their organization, if it does not fit the standard needs for their organization, then they have the option of buying the individual components, the Oracle Exadata Storage Server, the InfiniBand connectors, connecting to the database servers, they have that option.

Gardner: Looking at this again through how to get started, where do organizations go? Now that this is available immediately, both of these configurations, is the sales happening through both HP and Oracle?

Palmer: It's a cooperative effort, but Oracle is leading the sales process. So the Oracle sales representatives on a global basis are leading this process, and HP is certainly as their partner going to join with them and make sure that the customer receives the best from both companies.

Gardner: HP is going to service the hardware, but the support comes through Oracle, is that correct?

Hardie: Oracle is the first point of contact if you want to buy an Oracle Exadata Storage Server, Oracle is your first point of contact. So talk to your local Oracle sales representatives. If you do decide to buy one, and you want to resolve a support issue, you call Oracle, and Oracle will bring in HP as and when required to resolve any issues.

Gardner: To sum up a little bit, for those folks who perhaps are a few steps removed from the IT department, who are doing queries, or using business applications, what's the big take away for them? What about this announcement is going to change their world?

Hardie: For these types of users you just mentioned, a little bit or a couple of steps removed from the IT department ... To be quite honest, they don't really care what their systems run on. What they are interested in is getting fast answers to their business queries. It's just simple as that. So when these business users know that they can get instantaneous response times, they can get real extreme performance of their date warehouse, or of their business intelligence applications -- that's what's going to make a big difference for them.

Gardner: Rich, at HP, let me flip the question to you. For those people inside the IT department, who want to come in Monday morning without big headaches, what is this new configuration and architectural approach mean for them?

Palmer: Simplicity, higher performance, the ability to increase their service level agreements (SLAs) with their customers in the warehousing world. This is a solution built on industry standard hardware, with Oracle software that is just well accepted in the industry as an enterprise software leader. The IT departments are very comfortable with both of those facts. They're very comfortable with HP; they're very comfortable with Oracle. Putting the two together is a natural event for any IT manager.

Gardner: We've been talking about a large and impactful announcement here at Oracle OpenWorld, the introduction of the Oracle Exadata Storage Server -- the first hardware product from Oracle. Isn't that right?

Hardie: Absolutely.

Gardner: We've also looked at the configuration of those Exadata servers into the HP Oracle Database Machine, which is in effect a data warehouse appliance. Joining us to help explain this, we have been happy to have Rich Palmer, director of technology and strategy in the industry standard servers group at HP. And also Willie Hardie, vice president of Oracle database product marketing. Thanks to you both.

Hardie: Thank you, Dana.

Palmer: Thank you very much, Dana.

Gardner: Our conversation comes to you today through a sponsored HP Live! Podcast from the Oracle OpenWorld Conference in San Francisco. Look for other podcasts from this HP Live! event series at, as well as via the BriefingsDirect Network. I'd like to thank our producers on today's show, Fred Bals and Kate Whalen.

I am Dana Gardner, principal analyst at Interarbor Solutions. Thanks for listening, and come back next time for more in-depth podcasts on enterprise IT topics and strategies. Bye for now.

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Transcript of BriefingsDirect podcast recorded at the Oracle OpenWorld Conference in San Francisco. Copyright Interarbor Solutions, LLC, 2005-2008. All rights reserved.