SAN specialists not required for Exadata implementations

Would-be buyers of Oracle’s Exadata database appliance will be able to operate the machines without storage specialists on staff

Oracle’s Exadata V2 appliance contains an Infiniband storage area network (SAN), but SAN specialists are not required to operate the device according to Peter Thomas, Oracle’s Senior Director for Exadata Solutions and Architecture.

Infiniband is a networking standard that is often found in high-performance computing environments, but is not a mainstream tool for storage area networks or server interconnects due to its expense. Thomas says Oracle chose the technology to make the Exadata appliances as fast as possible.

“We call Exadata a ‘balanced an optimised configuration,’” Thomas told SearchStorage ANZ. “Customers have told us that when they try to scale Oracle applications they find they have too much storage and too little CPU, or the reverse.” By building the SAN and servers into a single system, Thomas says Exadata aims to give users sheer speed without the need to tune networks, SANs and other components to achieve the results they desire from their applications.

“SAN vendors make general purpose storage,” he says. “We are creating an environment for Oracle applications so you can run Oracle faster than is possible in any other environment.”

The devices therefore include the Infiniband SANs, which include dual 40Gb links, comprise a dozen disks and support either 600GB SAS or 2TB SATA drives. A tier of four solid state disks can also be included.

Thomas says the devices are aimed at organisations whose need for rapid data processing is paramount and that application specialists, not storage administrators, will likely operate Exadata machines.

“Database administrators will not need any new skills to operate Exadata,” he said, such is the level of abstraction of the SAN inside the device.

Storage professionals will, however, be involved in backing up Exadata devices. The machines boast Gigabit Ethernet ports, making iSCSI SANs a possible backup target. Thomas told SearchStorage ANZ that Exadata V2 also offers a spare Infiniband port and that Infiniband-to-fiber channel adapters are available for those organisations wishing to use fiber channel storage as a backup target.


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