Now that Oracle OpenWorld 2010 is just under 70 days away I thought I would take a moment to mention that the Oracle Real-World Performance Group will again be hosting three sessions. This year I think we have a very exciting and informative lineup of sessions that are a must-attend for those wanting to see and hear Oracle Database performance insight right from Oracle’s own performance engineers. Hope to see you there!
|Session ID:||S317164 (Monday 2:00PM)|
|Session Title:||The Latest Real World Performance Challenges|
|Session Abstract:||Oracle’s Real-World Performance Group — the group that first presented at Oracle OpenWorld parallel query techniques with partitions, the index-less database, cardinality challenges with the optimizer, over-processed databases and connection storms — this year presents the performance issues before you experience them and how to plan for future projects with success. All topics discussed in this session come from the Real-World Performance Group’s observations and problem solving.|
|Session ID:||S317166 (Monday 5:00PM)|
|Session Title:||Real-World Performance Panel Session|
|Session Abstract:||This session is your chance, via written questions, to ask a panel stacked full of real-world performance talent all those questions to which you’ve just wanted to get a simple answer. You can write your questions on postcards available in the meeting room. Please focus on performance topics and not system debugging! |
|Session ID:||S317165 (Tuesday 2:00PM)|
|Session Title:||Oracle Database Performance Secrets Finally Revealed|
|Session Abstract:||Have you ever seen a real-world database performance engineer solve Oracle Database performance problems? Wouldn’t you like to know all the performance secrets they know? In this session, real-world database performance engineers will go over many of the performance secrets they use to get extreme performance out of Oracle Database. Not only will they tell you about these secrets but they will demo them for you as well. This session is specifically for those wanting to advance their database performance knowledge and experience.|
As a member of the Real-World Performance Group at Oracle I have participated in quite a number of Exadata POCs over the past two years. Often times those POCs are constrained in a number of ways: time, schema/app modifications, etc., because the objective is a proof, not a full blown migration. As a result there is often significant performance that is left on the table just waiting to be fully exploited — the kind of performance that really makes a database performance engineer excited — mind blowing performance. This includes, but is not limited to, data model changes, SQL query modifications and re-engineering batch processes. The reason these types of modifications get me so excited is that design decisions are often influenced by the then current deployment platform and with the Exadata powered Oracle Database Machine those restrictions are frequently lifted. You see, with Exadata the rules change, and so should your design decisions. Sure, you could just pluck-and-plop an existing Oracle data warehouse database onto an Oracle Database Machine and it would likely run much faster than it does on your current system, and you will be wowed, but you very well may shouting four letter expletives describing how fast it is if you do some re-engineering. This is why I’d like to highlight (my emphasis) this quote from a recent Pythian news update:
Pythian provides LinkShare with consulting and technical expertise for the planning, configuration, deployment, management, administration and ongoing operational support of their migration project. This includes re-engineering the database, adjusting the data model, redefining table structures, creating new indexing schemes and re-writing and tuning SQL queries, among other tasks. The project is scheduled for completion later this year and the results will be unveiled at Oracle OpenWorld in September 2010.
Hats off to both Pythian and LinkShare for realizing that they can capitalize on the opportunity to re-engineer with Exadata and fully exploit the power of the Oracle Database Machine platform. I can’t wait until Oracle OpenWorld to hear just how awesome their performance deltas are. Don’t just shoot for a level 5 performance (porting only) increase with Exadata, do a little re-engineering and turn it all the way up to 11 for that extra push over the cliff, Spinal Tap style!
I tend to keep the content of this blog fairly technical and engineering focused, but every now and then I have to venture off and do an editorial post. Recently some of the ParAccel management decided to fire up the FUD machine on the ParAccel blog and take aim at Oracle’s Exadata making the following claims:
“There are 12 SAS disks in the storage server with a speed of about 75 MB/s [The SUN Oracle Exadata Storage Server datasheet claims 125 MB/s but we think that is far-fetched.]” -Rick Glick, Vice President of Technology and Architecture (link)
“We stand by the 75MB/sec as a conservative, reliable number. We see higher numbers in disk tests, but never anywhere near 125MB/sec.” -Barry Zane, Chief Technology Officer (link)
Far Fetched Or Fact?
As a database performance engineer, I strive to be extremely detailed and well researched with my work. Clearly, these comments from Rick and Barry were not well researched as is evident from information publicly available on the Internet.
The first bit of documentation I would research before making such comments would be the hard disk drive specification sheet. The 12 drives in the Exadata Storage Server, a Sun Fire X4275, are 3.5-inch 15K RPM SAS 2.0 6Gb/sec 600GB drives. Looking at the drive spec sheet, it clearly states that the sustained sequential read is 122 MB/sec (at ID) to 204 MB/sec (at OD) [that’s Inner Diameter & Outer Diameter]. Seems to me that Oracle’s claim of 1500MB/s per Exadata Storage Server (125MB/s for each of the 12 SAS drives) is certainly between 122MB/s and 204MB/s.
Now granted, one might think that vendors overstate their performance claims, so it may be resourceful to search the Internet for some third party evaluation of this hard disk. I went to a fairly well known Internet search engine to try find more information using a highly sophisticated and complex set of search keywords. To my astonishment, there at the top of the search results page was a write up by a third party. I would encourage reading the entire article, but if you want to just skip to page 5 [Benchmarks – HD Tune Pro] you will be presented with data that shows the minimum (120MB/s), average (167MB/s) and maximum (200MB/s) read throughput for sequential read tests performed by the author for the hard disk drive in dispute. Looks to me that those numbers are completely in line with the Sun spec sheet – no over exaggeration going on here. At this point there should be exactly zero doubt that the drives themselves, with the proper SAS controller, are easily physically capable of 125MB/s read rates and more.
Stand By Or Sit Down?
As I see it, there are three possibilities:
- Disk vendors are overly optimistic in their continuous sequential read rates.
- The newer class of SAS2 compatible 15Krpm drives and controllers are faster than the older generation we’ve measured.
- Our disk access patterns are not getting all the available performance.
Let’s drill into each of these possibilities:
- Perhaps vendors are overly optimistic, but how overly optimistic could they possibly be? I mean, really, 125MB/s is easily between the spec sheet rates of 122MB/s and 204MB/s. Truly 75MB/s is a low ball number for these drives. Even Exadata V1 SAS drives more than 75MB/s per drive and the HDD is not the limiting factor in the scan throughput (a good understanding of the hardware components should lead you to what is). Even the Western Digital 300GB 10K RPM VelociRaptor disk drive has benchmarks that show a maximum sequential data transfer rate of more than 120 MB/s and sustain a minimum of 75MB/s even on the innermost part of the platter, and that is a SATA drive commonly used in PCs!
- Barry states that ParAccel has no experience nor metrics (measurements) with these drives or seemingly any drives like them, but yet Barry calls “75MB/sec as a conservative, reliable number”. Just how reliable of a number can it possibly be when you have exactly zero data points and zero experience with the HDDs in dispute? Is this a debate that can be won by strength of personality or does it actually require data, numbers and facts?
- Perhaps the ParAccel database has disk access patterns that can not drive the scan rates that Exadata can, but should one assert that because ParAccel database may not drive that IO rate, Exadata can’t, even when said rate is within the realm of physical capability? I certainly would think not. Not unless the intention is simply to promote FUD.
So, as I see it, there are exactly two possibilities: Either one has technical knowledge on what they are talking about (and they have actual data/facts to support it) or they do not and they are just making things up. At this point I think the answer is quite clear in this situation; Rick and Barry had no data to support their (incorrect) assertions.
And The Truth Shall Be Revealed
Three weeks after Barry’s “three possibilities” comment, Barry reveals the real truth:
…we [ParAccel] have gotten a number of newer servers with SAS2 drives…[and] the newer generation of disk drives are faster than my experience…Exadata’s claim of 1500MB/sec per server seems completely reasonable…My apologies for any confusion created.
As it has come to pass, my assertion that ParAccel had absolutely no experience and thus no data to support their claims is validated (not that I really had any doubts). Spreading FUD generally does cause unnecessary confusion, but then again, that is usually the intention. I would expect such nonsense from folks with marketing in their title, but I hold a higher bar for people with technology in their titles. This was a simple debate about physical disk drive characteristics (and not software) and that is something anyone could get concrete factual data on (assuming they actually take the time and effort).
And Isn’t It Ironic… Don’t You Think?
The same day I read Barry’s “truth comment” I also read Jerome Pineau’s blog post on social media marketing. I could not help but recognize (and laugh about) the irony of the situation. Jerome lists several tips on being successful in SMM and the first two really stood out to me:
- Do not profess expertise on topics you know little about. Eventually, it will show.
- Always remain honest. Never lie. Your most important asset is credibility. You can fix almost any mistake except credibility damage.
Truly, truly ironic…
The internet buzz seems to be that Larry Ellison, CEO, Oracle Corporation and John Fowler, EVP, Sun Microsystems, Inc. will be announcing a new product, the world’s first OLTP database machine with Sun’s brand new FlashFire technology on Tuesday, September 15, 2009, 1 p.m. PT.
Both Sun and Oracle have Webcast invitations on their websites:
I plan on being at the Oracle Conference Center for the launch and will try and Tweet the highlights. First Oracle Database 11g Release 2, now an OLTP database machine. Are there more innovations up Oracle’s sleeve? I guess we’ll have to wait and see.
Even though Oracle OpenWorld 2009 is a few months away, I thought I would take a moment to mention that the Oracle Real-World Performance Group will again be hosting three sessions. Hopefully you are no stranger to our Oracle database performance sessions and this year we have what I think will be a very exciting and enlightening session: The Terabyte Hour with the Real-World Performance Group. If you are the slightest bit interested in seeing just how fast the Oracle Database Machine really is and how it can devour flat files in no time, rip through and bend data at amazing speeds, this is the session for you. All the operations will be done live for you to observe. No smoke. No mirrors. Pure Exadata performance revealed.
|Session Title:||Real-World Database Performance Roundtable|
|Session Abstract:||This session is a panel discussion including Oracle’s Real-World Performance Group and other invited performance experts. To make the hour productive, attendees need to write their questions on postcards and hand them to the panel at the beginning of the session. The questions should stick to the subject matter of real-world database performance. The panel members look forward to meeting you and answering your questions.|
|Session Title:||The Terabyte Hour with the Real-World Performance Group|
|Session Abstract:||Last year at Oracle OpenWorld, Oracle launched the Oracle Database Machine, a complete package of software, servers, and storage with the power to tackle large-scale business intelligence problems immediately and scale linearly as your data warehouse grows. In this session, Oracle’s Real-World Performance Group demonstrates how to use an Oracle Database Machine to load, transform, and query a 1-terabyte database in less than an hour. The demonstration shows techniques for exploiting full database parallelism in a simple but optimal manner.|
|Session Title:||Current Trends in Real-World Database Performance|
|Session Abstract:||The year 2009 has been an exciting one for Oracle’s Real-World Performance Group. The group has been challenged by bigger databases, new performance challenges, and now the Oracle Database Machine with Oracle Exadata Storage Server. This session focuses on some of the real-world performance ideas and solutions that have worked over the last year, including performance design philosophies, best practices, and a few tricks and tips.|
Oracle put out a press release today entitled “Customers are Choosing the Oracle Database Machine” mentioning the new Exadata and Oracle Database Machine customers. I’ve quoted a few parts of it below. Oracle cites twenty initial customers.
Initial Oracle Exadata customers including Amtrak, Allegro Group, Automobile Association of the UK, CTC, Garanti Bank, Giant Eagle, HISCOM (Hokuriku Coca Cola), KnowledgeBase Marketing, Loyalty Partner Solutions, M-Tel, MTN Group, Nagase, NS Solutions, NTT Data, OK Systems, Research in Motion, SoftBank Mobile, Screwfix, ThomsonReuters, and True Telecom, confirm the benefits Oracle Exadata products bring to their Oracle data warehouses.
“The HP Oracle Database Machine beat the competing solutions we tested on bandwidth, load rate, disk capacity, and transparency. In addition, Allegro Group saw a significant performance boost from the new data warehouse. A query that used to take 24 hours to complete now runs in less than 30 minutes on the HP Oracle Database Machine, and that’s without any manual query tuning.” — Christian Maar, CIO of Poznań, Poland-based Allegro Group “After carefully testing various options for a new data warehouse platform we chose the HP Oracle Database Machine over Netezza. Oracle Exadata was able to speed up one of our critical processes from days to minutes. The HP Oracle Database Machine will allow us to improve service levels and expand our service offerings. We also plan to consolidate our current data warehouse solutions onto the Oracle Exadata platform. This should eliminate several servers and a number of storage arrays and help reduce our operating overhead and improve margins.” — Brian Camp, Sr. VP of Infrastructure Services, KnowledgeBase Marketing “We anticipate the move of our Data Warehouse to Oracle Database 11g running on our first HP Oracle Database Machine with Oracle Exadata will deliver a substantial boost in performance and scalability, simply and easily. Our business users expect to benefit from faster access to information more quickly than ever before. The resulting agility should make a huge difference to our business.” — Andreas Berninger, Chief Operating, Loyalty Partner Solutions “The biggest technological challenge we face when we architect a database is how to create a system that performs fast with huge volumes. Oracle Exadata helps solve our performance demands. It's highly available and reliable, and it can essentially scale linearly. All of the queries we tested were faster with Oracle Exadata. The smallest performance boost we experienced was 10 times; the fastest was 72 times faster.” — Plamen Zyumbyulev, Head of Database Administration, M-Tel “A key component of RIM's manufacturing process is extensive testing of each handheld device. This testing generates large volumes of data, which is extensively analyzed by our quality and test engineers and business users to ensure RIM is producing the highest quality devices for our customers. The HP Oracle Database Machine is an ideal platform to store and analyze this data since it provides the performance, scalability and storage capacity for our requirements. It’s a cost-effective platform to meet our speed and scalability needs and is an integral component used for analysis in our manufacturing process.” — Ketan Parekh, Manager Database Systems, Research in Motion “The benchmark result of Oracle Exadata was amazing! Since it is based on Oracle Database 11g, we determined that it is compatible with other systems and the most suitable solution for our increasing data infrastructure.” — Keiichiro Shimizu, General Manager, Business Base Management Dept., Information System Div., SoftBank Mobile Corp. “Oracle Exadata is among the most successful new product introductions in Oracle's history,” said Willie Hardie, vice president of Database Product Marketing, Oracle. “Repeatedly in customer proof of concepts and benchmarks, Oracle Exadata has delivered extreme performance for customers' data warehouses.”
Oracle Corporation had its F4Q09 earnings call today and the Exadata comments started right away with the earnings press release:
“The Exadata Database Machine is well on its way to being the most successful new product launch in Oracle’s 30 year history,” said Oracle CEO Larry Ellison. “Several of Teradata’s largest customers are performance testing — then buying — Oracle Exadata Database Machines. In a recent competitive benchmark, a Teradata machine took over six hours to process a query that our Exadata Database Machine ran in less than 30 minutes. They bought Exadata.”
During the earnings call Larry Ellison discusses Exadata and the competition:
…I’m going to talk about Exadata again. I said last quarter that Exadata is shaping up to be our most exciting and successful new product introduction in Oracle’s 30 year history and [in the] last quarter Exadata continues to grow and win competitive deals in the marketplace against our three primarily competitors. It’s turning out that Teradata is our number one competitor…Netezza and IBM are kind of tied for second.
Ellison describes some of the Exadata sales from this quarter which include:
- A well-known California SmartPhone and computer manufacturer (win vs. Netezza) who commented that Exadata ran about 100 times faster in some cases then their standard Oracle environment
- Research in Motion
- A large East Coast insurance company
- Thomson Reuters
- A Japanese telco (biggest Teradata customer in Japan) who benchmarked Exadata and found it to be dramatically faster then Teradata
- Barclays Capital (UK)
- A number of banks in Western Europe and Germany
Larry Ellison follows with:
It was just a great quarter for Exadata, a product that is relatively new to the marketplace that is persuading people to move from their existing environments because Exadata is faster and the hardware costs less.
In the Q&A Larry Ellison responds to John DiFucci on Exadata:
By the way every customer I mentioned and alluded to were actual sales. Now some of these, because the Exadata product is so new, quite often will install in kind of a try and buy situation, but I can’t think of a case where we installed the machine that they didn’t buy. So we’re winning these benchmarks. Sometimes we’re beating Teradata. I think in my quote, I said we’ve beat Teradata on one of the queries by 20 to one. So we think it’s a brand new technology, we think we’re a lot faster then the competition. The benchmarks are proving out with real customer data, we’re proving to be much faster then the competition. Every single deal I mentioned were cases where the customer bought the system. There are obviously other evaluations going on and we expect the Exadata sales to accelerate.