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Oracle Big Data Appliance now available, but at what cost?

The Oracle Big Data Appliance is now generally available, as is Oracle’s big push into the field of big data. But some think that an appliance isn’t really a good fit for big data.

Oracle today made its Big Data Appliance generally available, part of a partnership with Hadoop distributor Cloudera to elbow itself into the big data field. But some question whether big data lends itself to an integrated appliance.

The appliance, which runs on Oracle Linux and includes a rack of 18 Oracle Sun servers, costs $450,000. The company initially announced it at Oracle OpenWorld last fall. The appliance also includes the Oracle NoSQL database, Cloudera’s distribution of Hadoop and Cloudera Manager software, and an open source distribution of the R programming language.

Cloudera is one of the major distributors and supporters of the Hadoop programming framework.

George Lumpkin, Oracle vice president of data warehousing, said the appliance form factor means that Oracle does all the provisioning and configuration of the environment so that end users don’t have to. “With Hadoop, there are a lot of organizations that don’t have big data, and so they may see more value in having something pre-configured for their big data environment,” he said.

But Curt Monash, president of Monash Research, says organizations can set up big data infrastructures that are just as good and much less expensive than what Oracle is offering in its Big Data Appliance. He said he isn’t really buying the integration point that Oracle is selling.

There are downsides to a big data appliance, including “overpaying for the same thing you could get much more cheaply elsewhere,” and “losing out on some flexibility because you’re stuck in a fixed appliance format,” he said.

Monash does see benefit in the Cloudera Manager software, saying it provides some important cluster-management capabilities that you would want with Hadoop. Some of those features include automated Hadoop deployment, centralized management through a user interface, and configuration management.

“It is very hard for an outside organization to support enterprise Hadoop users unless something like Cloudera Enterprise or at least Cloudera Manager is in place,” he said.

Kirk Dunn, the chief operating officer for Cloudera, said his company has been deploying Hadoop for three years “for the most data-intensive corporations worldwide.” He added that the company would assist Oracle on Level 2 and 3 support requests on the Big Data Appliance.

Oracle also announced Big Data Connectors, a software package the company claims better integrates Hadoop with NoSQL and Oracle Database. The Big Data Connectors are being sold separately, as Lumpkin said many organizations may already have a big data infrastructure set up, but would still want to take advantage of being able to load Hadoop data into Oracle Database.

More on Oracle big data

Read the entire interview with Oracle's Lumpkin and Cloudera's Dunn

Read Oracle’s initial announcement of its Big Data Appliance

Learn about Oracle’s distribution the R programming language

Dig Deeper on Oracle data warehousing

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