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Conor O'Mahony's Database Diary

Your source of IBM database software news (DB2, Informix, Hadoop, & more)

Archive for the ‘IBM pureScale Application System’ Category

Initial Thoughts on New Oracle Database Appliance

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I just watched the Oracle Webcast announcing its new database appliance. Here are my initial reactions.

I expected Oracle to announce a mini-Exadata, as had been widely rumored. However, as far as I can see, this is not a mini-Exadata. I don’t have details yet, but it does not appear to contain the Exadata storage-layer software. This is simply an Oracle Database appliance, or an Oracle RAC appliance. Nothing more. In other words, it is the fusion of Oracle software, Oracle hardware, and some support/services.

Because this announcement is really about making Oracle Database easier to deploy, I’m not sure it has much applicability for organizations with an existing Oracle Database set-up, unless they are planning a hardware migration. But judging from how this was presented and positioned, Oracle are probably focusing this product on channel sales, and making this as partner-friendly as possible.

I like that Oracle have followed IBM’s lead and added pay-as-you-grow licensing/pricing. In this appliance, you activate and license CPU cores as needed. Of course, IBM pureScale Application System already offers this. However, IBM does still have an advantage in this regard with its ability to seamlessly add or remove database processing capacity, with a combination of its transparent scaling and daily-based software licensing. In other words, you can purchase the DB2 pureScale database software licenses only for the days where you need the extra capacity. This is a great strategy for eliminating the over-provisioning of database software licenses just to deal with situations where there are significant short-term spikes in demand (like retailers around the holidays, for instance). For more information, check out the “flexible licensing” section of the following blog post: IBM Previews New Integrated System for Transactional Workloads.

Something that’s not clear yet are the growth options for these Oracle Database Appliances. At least from my initial look, there does not seem to be a seamless upgrade path to Exadata. It appears that if someone wants to grow from this appliance, it will not be an insignificant undertaking. Perhaps someone from Oracle can comment on that.

So, in summary, this announcement appears to simply be a packaging exercise by Oracle, where they have created a relatively straightforward database appliance. Your thoughts/reactions?

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Written by Conor O'Mahony

September 21, 2011 at 2:38 pm

Oracle Exadata vs. IBM pureScale Application System for OLTP Environments

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Philip Howard, Research Director at Bloor Research, recently evaluated the performance, scalability, administration, and cost considerations for the leading integrated systems from IBM and Oracle for OnLine Transaction Processing (OLTP) environments. Here is a summary of his conclusions:

Bloor Research compare Oracle Exadata and IBM Smart Analytics System for OLTP

And here is a video with his evaluation. It is packed with practical advice regarding storage capacity, processing capacity, and more.

Written by Conor O'Mahony

August 29, 2011 at 8:30 am

IBM Previews New Integrated System for Transactional Workloads

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Today, at an event in California, IBM is disclosing details about a new integrated system for transactional workloads called the IBM pureScale Application System. This new integrated system will comprise of DB2 pureScale and WebSphere Application Server on IBM Power 770 servers that run the AIX operating system. When you receive the system, the components are already integrated, already configured, and already tuned for handling transactional workloads.

IBM pureScale Application System is the latest in IBM’s line of workload-optimized systems. IBM’s strategy is to provide integrated systems that are optimized for particular workloads. For instance, the IBM Smart Analytics System that was announced last year is optimized for analytical workloads. Whereas IBM pureScale Application System is optimized for transactional workloads. This optimization extends from hardware configuration through software configuration and storage configuration. By the way, today, IBM also announced new models of the IBM Smart Analytics System for System x (x86) and System z (mainframe).

We are all well aware of the benefits of such integrated systems. These typically include lower initial purchase costs and single-number support. Because the systems are pre-integrated, they take less time and effort to deploy, which means that you enjoy faster time-to-value. I could go on-and-on, but I’m sure you know all of this already.

So, what’s so special about IBM pureScale Application System? Of course, the individual components of this system all have their own merits. From the raw performance, server utilization, and resiliency of the IBM Power 770, to the leading performance, cluster scale-out efficiency, and continuous availability of DB2 pureScale, to the performance, transaction integrity, and flexibility of WebSphere Application Server. These are all very compelling aspects to the system. However, in my opinion, the real value of this system lies in:

  1. Workload Optimization

    Unlike Oracle Exadata, which is designed to handle both transactional and analytical workloads within the same environment, IBM pureScale Application System is optimized for transactional workloads only. Transactional and analytical workloads are fundamentally different in nature. Catering for both types of workload within the same system means that you cannot truly optimize for either of those workloads, which in turn means that you will have a less efficient and more costly IT environment. Database software is very expensive to purchase and maintain. In my opinion, to prudently and efficiently run your IT environment, you cannot afford to run less efficient systems. You need systems that are optimized for the work being performed.
     
  2. Flexible Configuration

    The base system for the IBM pureScale Application System consists of two IBM Power 770 servers, each of which has 4 CPU cores and 32GB of RAM. There are two IBM Power 770 servers for redundancy reasons. They are connected by an Infiniband network. Initially the system is configured with four logical partitions that are dedicated to DB2 pureScale. You can optionally add partitions for WebSphere Application Server. The system then installs the software on these partitions, and optimizes the settings for the chosen configuration.

    You can scale within by adding CPU cores to each IBM Power 770 enclosure. You can scale up by adding additional enclosures for each IBM Power 770 server. And you can scale out by adding additional IBM Power 770 servers. Adding WebSphere Application Server instances and DB2 pureScale cluster nodes is flexible and easy.

    This flexibility to grow as your needs dictate is in stark contrast to the rigid configurations for the Oracle Exadata system.
     
  3. Flexible Licensing

    One aspect of the IBM pureScale Application System that excites many clients is the flexible licensing. DB2 pureScale has daily pricing. When you combine daily pricing with true application transparency, where you can easily add and remove cluster nodes in minutes and without application changes, it means that clients do not need to over-provision for the worst case scenario. Instead, they can add or remove capacity as needed, and only pay for the additional capacity for the days on which they use it. This can dramatically reduce software license and maintenance costs for retailers who have huge spikes in activity during holiday periods, for organizations with similar “busy periods”, for business who want to run special promotions, and so on.

IBM has not yet announced the availability date for this new system. However, it is expected to be available for purchase in June of this year.

Written by Conor O'Mahony

April 7, 2010 at 12:05 pm

Integrated Systems mean Easier Deployment and Faster Performance

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If you attended the 2009 IBM Information on Demand conference, you may have seen the following video. It focuses on how two IBM clients benefit from workload-optimized solutions from IBM. A workload-optimized solution is essentially a single system where all components (hardware, database software, reporting software, analytics software, etc.) come pre-configured and pre-integrated for optimized operation. IBM offers pre-configured and pre-integrated solutions for both OLTP and OLAP environments, with DB2 pureScale and IBM Smart Analytics System respectively.

Because these integrated systems come pre-configured for optimal performance, you don’t have to worry about integrating, balancing, and tuning the systems during deployment. This saves a lot of time, and ensures a faster time to value for the new system. Farmers Insurance estimate that they saved months of deployment time. Rooms To Go went from nothing to an entire system (extracting, transforming, loading, warehousing, and analyzing data) with dashboards in just two months.

Another benefit of these systems is improved performance. IBM tests and certifies the integrations, ensuring they are configured for optimal operation. IBM also uses established best practices to pre-tune the systems. When Farmers Insurance put their system in place, they immediately saw performance gains of 42%.

Written by Conor O'Mahony

December 21, 2009 at 11:00 am

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