When Oracle teamed with HP to introduce the first version of Exadata, the new product was positioned more as data warehouse appliance. In its second incarnation, Exadata (or rather, the Sun Oracle Database Machine – Exadata is really the storage component of the machine), Oracle has dramatically upped the ante – it’s now promoting as a solution for OLTP (online transaction processing) as well.
For customers who are wondering if Exadata is for them, the way to decide is simple: if you have a large production database with tens of Terabytes of data, do consider Exadata – it probably will make a lot of sense, when you compare its cost with the improvement in performance, due to the Flash Cache feature and a brand new SQL processing strategy wherein most of the unnecessary data for a query is weeded out at the storage level. If you have an OLTP database, you may want to consider Exadata even if your database isn’t very large – Exadata supports extreme levels of transactions per second (TPS), even if you buy but a quarter rack, the smallest size in which Oracle sells Exadata.
Field reports have just started trickling in about production implementations and they indicate that the actual performance does match the promises. The much wider data I/O “pipes” made possible by Infiniband and the fact that you can continue to use all of Oracle’s industry leading database capabilities (partitioning, parallel processing etc) with Exadata mean only one thing: contenders such as Teradata and Netezza better watch out!