Oracle adds virtualsation, faster performance to Database Appliance for SMBs

The systems now have 512GB of RAM and 32 processor cores

Oracle has rolled out version X3-2 of its Database Appliance for small and medium-sized businesses that it says delivers up to twice the speed and more than four times as much storage as the first edition, which was launched in 2011.

In addition, Database Appliance customers can take advantage of a new virtualization option in version X3-2. Independent software vendors could use the virtualization capabilities "to package and ship a complete solution-in-a-box," Oracle said in a statement released Tuesday. It is also capable of "automatically pinning the database and application VMs to specific cores," thereby tying costs to the actual capacity used, according to Oracle.

Another option allows customers to add a storage expansion shelf, providing room for larger data volumes as needed. Oracle has also developed a series of preconfigured virtual templates for its database, WebLogic application server and a number of applications, allowing for easier deployments, according to a statement.

The Database Appliance is aimed at companies that have smaller budgets or appetites for IT spending, but wish to gain some of the performance benefits of Oracle's flagship Exadata database machines.

The new X3-2 systems now have 512GB of RAM and 18TB of raw disk storage and 800GB of flash memory, according to a statement. That compares to 192GB of RAM and 12TB of raw storage in the original. X3-2 also includes 32 processor cores, up from 24 in the first edition.

Oracle has charged US$50,000 for the base Database Appliance hardware, a price that remained valid as of the latest public price list, which is dated Feb. 26. It wasn't immediately clear whether the new, upgraded hardware in version X3-2 will carry a higher cost.

In contrast, an entry-level Eighth Rack version of Exadata lists for $200,000 in hardware costs.

But both systems are better seen as a delivery vehicle for Oracle software licenses, which provide the vendor with lucrative annual maintenance revenue streams.

Still, customers can start by using just a handful of processor cores and then scale up to the full 32 available cores in the system as desired, according to an Oracle data sheet. They can also choose to run a single Oracle database instance or use the vendor's Real Application Clusters technology to create a high-availability environment.

Since acquiring Sun Microsystems and its hardware business, Oracle has focused on selling systems like the Database Appliance rather than trying to compete with the likes of Hewlett-Packard and Dell in the commodity server market.

While Oracle has seen hardware revenues continually fall, officials have stressed that engineered systems carry much higher profit margins for Oracle than basic hardware would. Oracle CEO Larry Ellison has also said hardware revenues will begin growing within Oracle's current fiscal year.

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

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