New X5 Generation Will Bring Pricing Improvements to Oracle Exadata

Archived Published: 22 January 2015 ID: G00273374


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Oracle added next-generation hardware and software as well as flexible configurations and pricing to Exadata, allowing less costly entry and upgrades. Purchasing and IT management should re-evaluate Exadata.

News Analysis


On 21 January 2015, Oracle announced Exadata X5, the sixth revision of Oracle's database management system (DBMS) engineered system.


Exadata X5 contains technology upgrades of all components over the previous version, and should be a big step forward in customer satisfaction with respect to cost. According to Gartner inquiries, a major obstacle to purchasing Exadata has been the total cost of acquisition due to the prescribed hardware sizes and associated licensing of the entire system. Exadata X5’s most important changes are flexible, configurable hardware, capacity on demand (COD) pricing of the DBMS software and the availability of Oracle Virtual Machine (OVM) on Exadata.

These changes provide greater flexibility in the configuration and associated cost of licensing Exadata. Customers no longer need to upgrade in prescribed increments, but can add one DBMS server or one storage server at a time, beyond the base one-fourth rack configuration. Hardware increments can now be less costly. Existing customers can apply incremental hardware configurations back to Exadata X2.

COD means the DBMS software can be added incrementally. The entire Exadata configuration no longer needs to be licensed. Instead, a minimum of 40% of the cores in a server must be licensed (14 cores per server, or eight cores per one-eighth rack). Customers can incrementally purchase DBMS licenses as needed for performance growth, instead of a large expenditure upfront. COD can be used only with X4 and X5.

Oracle has also added OVM for a new level of isolation at the virtual machine level. Although this isolation adds to the overhead with system resources, it is another way to consolidate DBMS instances, in addition to Oracle RAC and the Oracle multitenant option. There are no restrictions on what can be run in OVM, but it is optimized for the Oracle DBMS. We recommend using OVM on Exadata only for the DBMS and possibly some Oracle or third-party tools such as Oracle Data Integrator (ODI). OVM can be used to license database options by virtual CPU instead of full servers, saving licensing costs. OVM and COD require a minimum of 40% of the cores in the system to be licensed.

Exadata X5 features the latest Intel Haswell Technology (18-core chips), faster InfiniBand with updated software drivers, faster and larger DRAM memory, and double the flash on the High Capacity Storage Server. The Exadata X4-2 High-Performance Storage Server — with 12 1.2TB hard-disk drives (HDD), for a total of 14.4TB — has been replaced by the X5-2 Extreme Flash Storage Server, with 8 1.6TB PCIe flash devices (12.8TB flash total). Customers can mix flash and HDD or have an all-flash Exadata configuration.

Exadata Flash Storage Server software is $20,000 per flash unit (HDD is $10,000). With eight flash devices per storage server, the total software cost per flash storage server is only 33% higher. Included with existing licenses are other improvements and new software features, including in-memory fault tolerance which mirrors columns in-memory, eliminating potential downtime, and direct-to-wire InfiniBand to accelerate online transaction processing.


Purchasing and IT management:

  • Re-evaluate the cost of Exadata with the new COD and incremental hardware options. Total cost of acquisition may come down and compare favorably to do-it-yourself infrastructure.

  • Consider COD. There is no penalty for choosing COD, and it allows greater flexibility in the initial cost.

  • Evaluate the system overhead when using OVM in Exadata. Although it has greater isolation, it also uses larger amounts of system resources. Use OVM carefully when running applications other than the Oracle DBMS.

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