Improving performance with Oracle's Exadata Database Machine

As businesses become increasingly data driven, so does the software they use. One challenge is that data-intensive programs require powerful hardware, otherwise problems with performance would diminish the benefits of robust programs. Oracle addressed this problem in 2008 with its Exadata Machine. One of the most significant benefits to implementing powerful hardware such as Oracle Exadata Database Machine X3-8 is scalability. Utilizing Exadata Machine, which is designed with scale-out architecture, businesses can quickly adapt to new performance demands without completely redesigning their software.

Non-profit FAIR Health recently provided an example of the gains that can be achieved through Oracle technology. The organization selected Oracle Exadata Database Machine to handle the backup of more than 15 million insurance claims and achieved a five-fold performance increase in processing time as a result. In addition, FAIR Health was able to achieve higher ROI for its analytics technology - a 10-fold increase in performance related to the application of statistics.

Just as with best-in-class software, greater efficiencies can be gained by utilizing a mixture of technologies. In FAIR Health's case, this meant using compression technology in conjunction with Sun's ZFS Storage Appliance, resulting in a 14-times reduction in space required for both primary and backup storage. Consolidating storage hardware investment will likely become a critical factor in technology deployments, particularly as the application stack becomes capable of managing vast quantities of data. By looking for efficiencies now rather than later, FAIR intends to allocate more of its budget to other areas to improve product development. One of those initiatives will be in developing custom applications for more powerful analytics functionality.

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Making the most of Exadata implementation

As this case illustrates, adopting Oracle Exadata can foster significant improvements in hardware management. This can create a better environment for innovation and operational improvements, but there are several things that businesses should consider in implementing the hardware.

It may be helpful to start with assessing existing expertise to determine how to best approach implementation. Being able to draw on the knowledge of experts with experience in implementing Oracle architecture can yield significant benefits by fully optimizing deployments.

Oracle's Exadata Machine is designed with Oracle database in mind, but the complexity of technology migration is still easy to underestimate. It is not just a matter of moving files from one environment to the next, but in exporting it in such a way that accuracy and availability are maintained. The challenges associated with this complexity frequently result in unexpected business costs. For example, IBM's "The Hidden Cost of Data Migration" revealed that these projects often result in unexpected outages, which creates further problems as IT teams must work overtime to address availability and performance issues. After factoring in the cost of downtime, overtime wages and other considerations, IBM estimated that the hidden costs associated with a data migration can exceed $2 million in the course of two years.

The efficiencies that would be gained by implementing Oracle's powerful hardware would be diminished if an unexpected $2 million were added to the price tag. For this reason, it is critical to mitigate the risk of unexpected costs in the planning phase, but this can only be achieved by drawing on experts with comprehensive experience with Oracle architecture. Rather than risk insufficient planning, companies can instead utilize third-party services to help with planning, implementation and migration.

However, finding a company with the right services and proven knowledge can be its own challenge. For more information on selecting a provider, read Five Characteristics of a Good Oracle Exadata Implementation Partner.

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