Hurd unveils Oracle's latest mega-machine

The ex-Hewlett-Packard CEO will be in charge of selling Exadata X2-8

Oracle co-President Mark Hurd ripped the curtain off Exadata Database Machine X2-8, the newest incarnation of the company's high-performance data processing systems, during a keynote address at the OpenWorld conference on Monday.

Four problems have dogged the data warehousing market, according to Hurd. Namely, companies are dealing with oceans of data; they have many users with questions about that information; often, users want to run difficult queries; and all of them want the answers fast, he said. "When those four things come together, systems fall apart."

But Exadata X2-8 and its predecessors are supposed to keep it all together in the face of such challenges. One key component is "smart storage" software built into the systems' storage servers. The software moves query processing closer to data and cuts the amount of information that must pass through the system's interconnects, giving a performance boost.

The new product essentially takes the same components and technologies used in earlier Exadata versions, but thinks bigger.

It includes a pair of eight-socket database servers containing 2TB of memory and 128 processor cores; 14 storage servers with 168 cores and up to 336TB of capacity; and more than 5TB of flash cache, which holds frequently accessed information in order to provide a speed boost compared to reading it off disk. In addition, the system uses 40Gbit internal interconnects and supports 10Gbit external Ethernet speeds.

Exadata X2-8 brings the number of available Exadata configurations to four. Oracle is selling it now and can ship products in 30 to 45 days, Hurd said. It wasn't immediately clear whether pricing for the new version will be calculated in any different way than other configurations.

First launched in 2008, Exadata has now become Oracle's most successful new product, according to the vendor. Oracle has also begun to iterate on Exadata's core concept with related products like Exalogic Elastic Cloud, which was announced by CEO Larry Ellison on Sunday.

Hurd is heading up sales, marketing and support for Oracle, and a crucial part of his job will be to sell customers on the value of systems like Exadata and Exalogic.

He left HP last month after a scandal involving his relationship with a contractor and the alleged falsification of expense reports.

HP has sued Hurd, saying he will not be able to do his job at Oracle without breaking a confidentiality agreement tied to his severance package. Ellison declared the suit "vindictive" and said it has placed the two companies' longtime partnership in jeopardy.

Hurd made no mention of HP or the suit during his brief appearance on Monday.

Overall, the new product announcements show Oracle is "doubling down on hardware integration," said IDC analyst Al Hilwa via e-mail. "It will be interesting to watch over the next few months how well these devices sell. Oracle basically has to transform its high-end server revenue to these types of integrated machines. If they generate great traction, then this transformation will carry through the entire industry. Everyone is watching Oracle."

Chris Kanaracus covers enterprise software and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Chris's e-mail address is Chris_Kanaracus@idg.com

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Tags business issuesopenworldIBMCivil lawsuitshardware systemsmark hurdIT managementHewlett-PackardOraclelarry ellisonservicespersonnelit strategylegalsoftware

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