Few products in cloud software / platforms are around for 10 or more years, Oracle Exadata just turned ten years old and joined that illustrious club. Let's look at what the underlying importance and relevance for enterprises is.
What are the key trends?
For a product to make it to 10 years, it must have gone with the trends of time, in this case staying with the computing trends that power enterprise workloads. There are a number of trends that are changing the enterprise computing landscape – let's look at the most pertinent ones:
- Heterogeneous Computing Demands. CxOs are confronted with rapidly changing computing demands. Barely having satisfied the business need for big data, the computing requirements that CIOs must answer stretch from support for machine learning to speech recognition for internal and external digital assistant / chatbot solutions, all the way to the edge of the enterprise. New computing platforms have entered the data center—for instance, with the advent of large GPU racks to run machine learning. A never-before-seen platform diversity manifests itself at the edge of the enterprise to support the Internet of Things (IoT). And the pace of change is not slowing down, as shown by new demands for additional workforce support (e.g., augmented/mixed/virtual reality) and new user experience support (e.g., holographic displays).
- The Need for a Single Control Pane. The era of CxOs simply accepting that new products bring a new control pane is history. CxOs operating next-generation applications[i] must run them as efficiently as possible, via a single control pane. This not only allows for more efficiency to manage infrastructure but also is the best way to manage a heterogeneous landscape effectively. Ramping down and ramping up resources as demand requires cannot be done from a "zoo" of instrumentation. At the same time, the automation of resource scaling is essential, so humans can focus on oversight instead of spending time and energy on operational tasks.
- Degrees of Cloud Skepticism. Although many next-generation application use cases are best (and sometimes only) operated in the cloud, there is still a degree of skepticism over computing in the public cloud. It ranges from rational challenges (such as whether IaaS vendor data instances are available inside of a necessary jurisdiction) to reasonable challenges (hardware write-downs and connections to existing on-premises computing resources, such as mainframes) to less rational concerns (for instance, regarding data safety). Nonetheless, it means that CIOs need to implement and operate workloads in local data centers for at least the next decade.
Figure 1 – The six Next Generation Computing Platform Trends
Source – Holger Mueller, Constellation Research
Other relevant trends are the pressure to achieve high data center utilization, the rising complexity of the IT organizations, and compliance pressure.
What is it?
Oracle Exadata X8 is an engineered appliance / server system that has been engineered to run Oracle workloads best. First and foremost, the Oracle Database, but also Oracle's portfolio of SaaS applications.
Oracle has continued to upgrade Oracle Exadata over the decade of its existence. Key recent innovations on the hardware side are flash memory to support in-memory columnar storage, hot swappable flash storage and 25 GigE client networking. On the software side Oracle has ensured that Exadata works best with the software innovations of the Oracle Autonomous Database, the support of automatic indexing and on the services side the support for
Exadata Cloud Service and Exadata Cloud at Customer.
Figure 2 – The capability growth of Oracle Exadata
What sets Oracle V8 apart from other next generation compute planes is the 100% Identicality between running Exadata on premises and running Exadata in the Oracle Cloud. No other vendor has the same physical hardware on both sides of the computing equation between on premises and the public cloud.
High Identicality gives CxOs the confidence that they can move compute loads across the compute architectures, across on premises and the cloud
without having to make any changes. Identicality on the hardware side ensures that there is no residual risk of hardware related incompatibility that is possible in purely software abstraction solutions. This matters to enable key next generation computing best practices like bursting workloads and achieving cross platform high availability.
Why does it matter?
There as number of reasons why CxOs care about viable Next Generation Computing platforms:
Old-Guard Vendors Are No Longer Viable
Humans are driven by habits, and CxOs are no exception. If they could still procure all of their computing needs from the vendors they dealt with in the 1990s, the majority of CxOs would likely do so. The problem with these "old-guard" vendors is that they have failed to innovate, are no longer viable from a cost perspective and often have switched to business models that are perceived as extortion. Therefore, innovation and commercial necessities require CxOs to deal with a new set of computing vendors.
For decades now, CxOs have been asked to do more with less, especially on the IT side. For a long time, the benefits of Moore's Law have bailed out CIOs because they were able to offer better computing power at the same costs or equal computing at lower costs. But Moore's Law is running out of runway, and at the same time new next-generation application use cases require innovative new platforms that charge a premium.
The Innovation Imperative
While software is eating the world, enterprises are turning into software companies, and, as such, they need to innovate faster than ever. This makes CxOs look for winning platforms and ideally allows them to move workloads as seamlessly across them as possible. As enterprises flock to platform-as-a-service (PaaS)[ii] products to help them build these next-generation applications,[iii] workload portability is a key acquisition criterion and overall success factor for the selection of a PaaS[iv] platform.
Additionally, CxOs face challenges due to lack of skilled workers and contractual challenges that limit them to outdated and older platforms.
Figure 3 – The Five Buyer Challenges
Source: Holger Mueller, Constellation Research
Advice for CxOs
The following recommendations can be made for CxOs looking at their computing architecture:
Enable enterprise acceleration. Enterprises need to move faster than ever before, and IT/computing infrastructures cannot remain the shackles on agility that they have been in the past. This is why CxOs look for next-generation computing platforms that allow them to transfer workloads from on-premises to the cloud and vice versa
without having to make changes. This is a key strategy to help the technical side of an enterprise contribute to the overall objective and necessity of enterprise acceleration.
Select companies that have the greatest capability of identicality. Identicality is the key to workload portability. The higher the identicality between an on-premises architecture and a cloud architecture, the better the chances to move workloads seamlessly. This argument is intuitively clear to CxOs leading the transformation, and platforms with high identicality are therefore clearly preferred. Even better when vendors state that they designed for identicality and want to keep identicality high — as high as technically feasible. As stated in this report, Oracle excels at Identicality between Exadata on-premises, Oracle Exadata Cloud Service, Oracle Autonomous Database and the Oracle Exadata Cloud at Customer platforms.
Evaluate Oracle Exadata as existing Oracle customers. As most customers run the Oracle Database in one way or another, it is important that they familiarize themselves with the most prominent member of the Oracle Cloud at Customer product family, Oracle Exadata Cloud at Customer. Being able to lower TCO, reduce support and maintenance, fit sizing to the average load of the machine, burst to the cloud for peaks and transfer loads between Oracle Cloud and on-premises are substantial benefit drivers that CxOs cannot ignore. Experienced Oracle customers know that the best deals are usually available in Q4.
Consider Oracle's option as a prospect. Database and tech stack migrations are challenging, so non-Oracle customers will look at Oracle Cloud at Customer with some distance. The benefits of Oracle Exadata on premises are substantial are substantial, though, and CxOs need to talk with their respective cloud and technology stack vendors about what they can do in this regard. Should the projected gap of future roadmap become too large, and the potential cost savings with Oracle Exadata substantial enough, it is time to pay attention, but consider a potential migration.
Take a stance on commercial prudence. No matter which vendor, enterprises need to make sure they pay for value. For Oracle Exadata, CxOs need to pay attention that licenses and services (for instance, costs to burst to the cloud) are still providing their enterprise with an attractive TCO. As with all services-related offerings, prices will fluctuate, need to be contractually agreed as long as desired and need to be constantly monitored to avoid negative commercial surprises.
Oracle has invested for a long time, and practically gave up on short-term, incremental growth areas in the marketplace to get its systems engineered from the silicon all the way to the SaaS application suite products together in one technology stack. Oracle has always kept the ability to deploy the same infrastructure on-premises, likely to anticipate customer demands as well as knowing that Oracle's IaaS offering was the last of the Oracle "as-a-service" products to reach maturity. This has put Oracle Exadata in a favorable position compared with the competition for next-generation computing architectures because it gives CxOs the highest flexibility to fluidly deploy workloads across the cloud and on-premises.[v]
It is good to see enterprise IT vendors pursuing diverse strategies, and we can see the major players following distinct strategies. Diverse strategies mean different value propositions for enterprises, and that means more choice, which consequently gives CxO more options to differentiate and accelerate their enterprise with information technology.
The current three approaches are:
- The software only approaches that Google Cloud (with Anthos) and IBM (with IBM Cloud Private) pursue.
- The partner hardware strategy that Microsoft is using with Azure Stack. (It is too early to know where AWS will end up with Outposts).
- And there is Oracle who is building the vertically integrated product stack from silicon, across all ISO / OSI layers to the user click in a SaaS application.
Oracle Exadata X8 is the manifestation of the merits of that strategy, as Oracle has designed Exadata X8 highest Identicality, so that it can run the Oracle Autonomous Database in the best and most efficient way from on-premises to the Oracle Cloud. It is unlikely the competition will even make the attempt that they can run the Oracle Database better than Oracle. Effectively this means that Oracle Database customers will have compelling reasons to remain … Oracle customers.
So for now it is congratulations to Oracle with Oracle Exadata X8 – we will see soon how well the market will receive this new offering.