PayPal completes a 60-day migration to Oracle Exadata

Mark Fontecchio

SAN FRANCISCO -- It was shortly after PayPal had tested the Oracle Exadata X2-8 box that corporate executives sent a mandate to IT: Ramp up your compute and storage capacity tenfold, and do it fast.

Normally, this sort of project takes several years. But PayPal was growing fast and needed to quickly meet its service level agreements (SLAs). In particular, it was looking to cut down transaction response times to about 40 mm as opposed to the 160 to 400 mm they were getting with their Solaris SPARC infrastructure. And PayPal wanted to get the project done in months, not years.

Amit Das, engineering architect at PayPal, said the company was growing exponentially, with data doubling every year. Das described a fast-paced online transaction processing (OLTP) environment with more than 500 Oracle Database instances, up to 14,000 concurrent processes, and 80,000 executions per second. The company's popular Web front end needed a lot of compute muscle on the back end.

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Das had become familiar with Exadata well before the project began. Prior to joining PayPal last year, he worked with Oracle and was technical lead for the world's first production "go-live" for Exadata, at Apple Inc. He also has more than a decade of experience working with Oracle Real Application Clusters (RAC).

Earlier this year, Das and members of the IT team at PayPal began exploring the idea of using Oracle Exadata for the necessary ramp-up. It ended up taking about 60 days from pilot testing to production, he said.

PayPal installed Exadata "clusters" in two data centers. The new setup includes production clusters, standby clusters, and a test and development cluster. Each production cluster includes a four-node RAC configuration with 64 Exadata storage cells and two Exadata X2-8s. The total amount of space on each cluster: 131 TB.

The company deployed its production clusters in about five days. It synced up its existing information stores to Exadata using Oracle GoldenGate and performed data validation. They then completed an end-to-end application switchover, which only required 10 minutes of downtime.

"Most of that time was due to restarting the application tier," Das said. "PayPal is very happy with Exadata. It is meeting all our SLAs."

PayPal is not done. Das said that the company is interested in the Exadata X3-2 models, which Oracle officially announced on Sept. 30. The new Exadata machines boast faster processing and better capacity than the X2-8.

PayPal is also taking a look at Oracle Database 12c, which Oracle unveiled this week at its annual OpenWorld conference. Das said he is particularly interested in Oracle Database 12c's Pluggable Databases feature as well as improvements to RAC.

View the next item in this Essential Guide: Can the DBA manage the Exadata machine? or view the full guide: Guide to Oracle engineered systems and server appliances

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