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Oracle Exalytics became generally available on Monday, with one expert saying in-memory technology is quickly becoming an IT commodity.
Exalytics joins the ranks of other products such as SAP HANA that offer an in-memory component, which is many times faster than standard database processing. The Oracle Exalytics In-Memory Machine is a Sun Fire server that runs the company’s own TimesTen in-memory database, as well as Oracle Essbase and Oracle Business Intelligence Foundation Suite. It includes 1 TB of DRAM memory and 40 Intel Xeon processor cores.
In-memory processing was originally used for real-time stock market analysis, but its role has expanded throughout business intelligence. According to Jon Reed, an independent analyst with JonERP.com, in-memory will soon become more expected than extraordinary.
“I think speed through in-memory will become a commodity, somewhat like how in residential households broadband Internet is becoming a commodity,” Reed said. “One thing we can safely say is that you will have to have in-memory analytics just to get your foot in the door.”
End users who want their foot in the door of Exalytics will have to dole out some dough. According to the Oracle engineered systems price list, Exalytics hardware costs $135,000. System and operating system support adds about $30,000. Then you must pay for the TimesTen In-Memory Database for Exalytics, which is about $350 per user for named-user plus, or about $42,000 per processor. In addition, Oracle Business Intelligence Foundation Suite is a requirement for TimesTen. According to a different Oracle price list, BI Foundation Suite is about $4,500 per named user or about $550,000 per processor. Customers, of course, can often get steep discounts off list price.
Reed said doesn’t think there are any particularly new things included within in-memory appliances such as Oracle Exalytics and SAP HANA.
“I don’t want to say that they’re cobbling these already existing BI tools together, but that’s essentially what they’re doing,” he said. “They’re not offering a whole lot of new analytics capabilities.”
However, Reed added that there are companies who don’t have the resources to build their own in-memory, business analytics infrastructure. And so they may turn to a vendor who bundles it in an appliance for them. As Paul Rodwick, Oracle vice president of BI, said, “it runs Day 1 out of the box.”
Rodwick added that he sees the target audience for Oracle Exalytics falling into three groups: real-time BI users, existing Oracle applications users who want a “better use experience,” and Oracle Hyperion financial applications users looking for performance benefits.
Wayne Kernochan, analyst and president of Infostructure Associates, said he doesn’t expect in-memory databases to supersede traditional databases such as Oracle Database, IBM DB2 or Microsoft SQL Server anytime soon. But like Reed, he thinks in-memory will become more common.
“The value of in-memory databases is to allow us to optimize our querying for both main-memory and disk storage, which are two very different things, and which will both apply appropriately to many key customer needs over the next few years,” Kernochan wrote. “As we enter this new database-technology era, those who initially kick the tires in a wider variety of BI projects will find themselves with a significant ‘experience’ advantage over the rest.”