Oracle Database Appliance: Perfect Timing For Sun-Oracle Offspring

With the ubiquity of mobile devices including tablets and smart phones each becoming incredibly powerful data collection devices, and with social media, new use patterns and more and more powerful processing, database technologies would appear to face a mountain of challenges.

Enter the Oracle Database Appliance. The combination of a powerful, Linux-based, Intel Xeon-based Sun server and Oracle database software, the system provides redundancy, massive processing power and redundancy in a 4U rack-mountable box.

Taking a look at the Oracle Database Appliance in the CRN Test Center Lab, we found this to be full of opportunity for VARs to deliver significant value. The system we reviewed shipped to us with two, 6-core Intel Xeon X5675 processors with 96 GB of memory – far more than the lion’s share of most servers running in databases today. The system is built with 12 TB of storage, that is mirrored – again, far more than many currently deployed servers now maintain.

VARs can add value in several ways while deploying the Oracle Database Appliance.

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For starters, they can lift it out of the box and put it into the rack. The 4U box weighs in at about 167 pounds and is a serious piece of metal. At least two people, preferably three or four, would be on hand to install this system into a rack.

As a redundant system, this 4U server has redundant power supplies, Gigabit Ethernet ports and two exterior fans for each server system for a total of four external fans. As this unit is meant for a rack in a data center or a closet, the 50 to 80 dB of noise is fine. Actually, given the computing horsepower in the Oracle Database Appliance, we never noticed any significant heat thrown from this server and it remained at room temperature even while running for several hours. If you’re going to deploy major server hardware of any kind, great thermals are always a relief and the Oracle Database Appliance provides outstanding thermals.

Additionally, VARs will add value through the configuration and deployment process – a process that could take a couple of hours of working through line commands and ensuring software installs and configures properly.

From a software perspective, Oracle has integrated its database software, Oracle 11g, with Oracle Linux; configuration can be performed remotely or at the appliance itself. Oracle has taken great pains to provide detailed documentation, as well as the option for wizard-based configuration – steps that could make the process less time-consuming during deployment for VARs.

And, VARs and ISVs have an opportunity to deliver application-based solutions inside the box to extend its value and functionality.

What the Oracle Database Appliance provides in $50,000 box much more processing power and computing capability than even high-end mainframes that are less than a decade old. The servers support installation of Oracle Database 11g, Enterprise Edition (The default has the software downloadable onto the server once it is shipped and set up into a rack, although it can also be pre-installed and ready for on-site configuration.)

With, essentially, two servers in one box (with redundant power and networking), the Oracle Database Appliance supports Oracle Real Application Clusters or Oracle RAC One Node – depending on the failover choice of the organization.

Oracle’s timing appears to be nearly perfect for several reasons:

• The continued – even accelerated – explosion of data that businesses are now required to exploit and manage on a 24-by-7 basis has become an increasingly complex factor for enterprises of all sizes. Oracle’s approach is to simplify what can be simplified.

• Data shows that while enterprises and VARs are preparing for meaningful transitions to cloud computing, those transitions will take at least several years. In the meantime, a solution like Oracle Database Appliance will provide a boost in performance and reliability with a relatively small footprint for data centers of all sizes. Not only that, but Oracle’s “pay as you grow” model means that enterprises should look at this as a scalable solution should they choose to put of any cloud transition for even longer.

• While so many elements and best practices go into securing data in an enterprise, we think that Oracle’s approach – including the use of Oracle Linux – provides a net gain in security. With compliance becoming a key issue for more enterprises, this is not insignificant.

The CRN Test Center likes and recommends this appliance for that reason, for the performance, and for the strong security offered by the underlying Oracle Linux in the box. It’s more than a solid offering for the SMB space, it’s potentially a game-changer as data and security needs race to keep up with the oncoming generations of technology.