At OpenWorld last week, one of the highlights was of course, the keynote by Larry Ellison.  My friends in the database group had told me there would be a major announcement so I made sure to attend this session.  It is always interesting to hear Larry speak.  This time, I was told, there would be something very interesting on the database side.  People started lining up for Larry’s keynote about an hour and a half before the event.  I waited patiently.

I was quite impressed with what Oracle announced – the HP Oracle Database Machine and the Oracle Exadata Storage Server.  This is Oracle’s big entry into the data warehousing space.  3 years in development and with some very successful customers already, this is a major announcement.

The premise behind the Exadata Server is to move processing closer to the data.  The data is on disk and so if we can put processing power next to the disk, query execution is much faster.  Simple concept.  It works.  This allows for greater parallelization because a query is broken down and run on each disk separately and then the results are pulled to the database server and combined.

Each Exadata Server holds 12 Terabytes of data and the Oracle Database Machine has 14 of these Exadata Servers for a total capacity of 168 Terabytes.

The Oracle Database Machine is a pre-configured grid of 8 Oracle Database Servers with a grid of 14 Exadata Servers.  This is truly a powerful data warehouse appliance.  According to Larry Ellison, this is "the world’s fastest database machine".  These kinds of words are expected from someone of Larry’s position and stature running the largest database company in the world.  This also shows that Oracle is very serious about the data warehouse appliance space.

I have been talking about data warehouse appliances for some time now and it is nice to see the biggest database company in the world enter this space.  In Larry’s keynote, he compared the Oracle Database Machine to offerings from Teradata and Netezza.  It will be interesting to see what Microsoft comes out with as well.

It is also important to note that the Oracle Database Machine has been in development for 3 years.  Additionally, Oracle has had customers using the Database Machine for about a year now.  This tells you how much work has gone into building this kind of equipment.  While a data warehouse appliance is great for corporations because it makes setting up and configuring a data warehouse easy, to get something of quality takes time to design, build, and test.  As such, leaders in this space such as Teradata and Netezza, while challenged by the likes of the Oracle Database Machine, will not disappear.

One interesting thing I found in Larry’s keynote was that Mark Hurd was not there in person.  Mark is the CEO of HP and as such I would have expected Mark to be present for such a big announcement.  Mark was there via videoconference so I am not sure…  At any rate, Larry’s keynote was short, sweet, and to the point.  I think this announcement by Oracle will be one that in the years ahead will be looked on as a major turning point in the data warehouse industry.