On Dec. 2, Oracle announced the next move in its program to integrate its hardware and software assets, with the introduction of Oracle Private Cloud Architecture, an integrated infrastructure stack with Infiniband and/or 10G Ethernet fabric, integrated virtualization, management and servers along with software content, both Oracle’s and customer-supplied. Oracle has rolled out the architecture as a general platform for a variety of cloud environments, along with three specific implementations, Exadata, Exalogic and the new Sunrise Supercluster, as proof points for the architecture.

Exadata has been dealt with extensively in other venues, both inside Forrester and externally, and appears to deliver the goods for I&O groups who require efficient consolidation and maximum performance from an Oracle database environment.

Exalogic is a middleware-targeted companion to the Exadata hardware architecture (or another instantiation of Oracle’s private cloud architecture, depending on how you look at it), presenting an integrated infrastructure stack ready to run either Oracle or third-party apps, although Oracle is positioning it as a Java middleware platform. It consists of the following major components integrated into a single rack:

  1. Oracle x86 or T3-based servers and storage.
  2. Oracle Quad-rate Infiniband switches and the Oracle Solaris gateway, which makes the Infiniband network look like an extension of the enterprise 10G Ethernet environment.
  3. Oracle Linux or Solaris.
  4. Oracle Enterprise Manager Ops Center for management.

The Sunrise Supercluster is a T3 or M5000/Solaris-based cluster with an architecture similar to Exalogic but with tighter clustering that effectively answers the question about whether or not the Exalogic architecture is capable of also running transactional applications as well as middleware. Oracle announced it with a world-record 30 million tpm-C on the venerable TPC-C benchmark, eclipsing IBM’s Power/AIX record of 10,000,000 set about four months ago. Oracle claims the benchmark was run with standard Oracle 11-G and the recently announced Solaris 11.

Infiniband? Does anyone still care about Infiniband? Actually it is doing quite well as an interconnect for HPC clusters, and is in fact ideally suited for the type of well-bounded domain that Exalogic or any other private cloud infrastructure offers. At a current speed of 40 Gb and with latency a fraction of 10Gb Ethernet and an excellent hardwired QOS architecture, IB is ideally suited as the internal interconnect for an integrated stack such as Exalogic, particularly since Oracle includes a gateway that allows it to interconnect with the external 10G Ethernet worlds.

This Oracle announcement puts Oracle squarely in competition, albeit with a very different technology base, with HP’s, IBM's and the VCE consortium’s integrated cloud infrastructure offerings. Primarily intended as a platform for Oracle’s software, it appears to also offer a strong platform for any software that supports Oracle’s Linux or Solaris stack.

Almost as a side note, Oracle also announced the rebranding of its M-Series as joint Fujitsu/Oracle products and the latest performance kicker for the current M-Series in the form of  new CPU which will offer an approximate 20% performance boost. I&O professionals should note that this is not the new SPARC architecture announced at Oracle Open World, which will first see the light of day in late 2011 or 2012, which will be the first real proof point for execution on the future SPARC roadmap after the acquisition.

The proof will be in the pudding, and in the end Oracle will get graded on both which pieces of their own software they migrate to Exalogic and how successful they are at encouraging others, both in-house and ISV developers, to support their applications on Exalogic and on the new cluster. In the meantime, Oracle is doing an excellent job of convincing us that they are serious about investing in integration of their hardware and software IP.

How does this look to you as a platform for future internal clouds? Will any of this make you reconsider a decision to migrate away from SPARC or Solaris?