Oracle Lures JDE Shops with New Exalogic Hardware
October 9, 2012 Alex Woodie
Want scalability for your JD Edwards EnterpriseOne ERP system? You could choose a “blue stack” configuration based on the latest IBM Power Systems servers. But if you’re talking with Oracle salespeople about a hardware upgrade, chances are good that you’ll be pointed toward the latest technology in Oracle’s “red stack,” namely the Exalogic Elastic Cloud X3-2, which can be outfitted with 480 Intel Xeon processors and 7.7 TB of memory.
Oracle unveiled the latest in its Exalogic brand last week at the Oracle OpenWorld conference in San Francisco. In case you missed it, OpenWorld this year was all about the cloud and Oracle’s place in it. Oracle CEO Larry Ellison may have criticized the cloud as over-hyped in the past, but Mr. E is now fully embracing the cloud and positioning his products as the ultimate in cloud-enablement solutions.
The Oracle Exalogic Elastic Cloud is an “engineered system” that’s composed of two parts: hardware and software. The Exalogic hardware is based largely on the X86-powered Exadata database clusters that Oracle and Sun first rolled out in 2009, before Oracle’s acquisition of Sun was complete.
Oracle evolved the Exadata design to handle application server workloads, launched it as Exalogic two years ago at OpenWorld. Oracle positions its Exalogic hardware as preconfigured clustered application servers to use as a server building block. The word “cloud” is new, and reflects the massive shift toward infrastructure as a service (IAAS) and other forms of hosting that is currently making its way through the IT industry.
The Exalogic devices are available like baby back ribs: in full racks, half racks, quarter racks, and one-eight racks. Companies can stack these babies together, the thinking goes, and the management software and the built-in InfiniBand switches automatically hook everything together, providing the elastic scalability touted in the name. (The fact that the Exalogic Elastic Cloud has hard scalability limits and does not actually feature a cloud component shouldn’t matter, right?)
The Exalogic software, called the Oracle Exalogic Elastic Cloud, supplies the foundation for the Exalogic deployment. It includes the Oracle VM for Exalogic hypervisor, the Exabus communication fabric (built on 40 GB/s InfiniBand), a Traffic Director for balancing the load on the bus, the Exalogic Control point for managing the underlying hardware, network, storage, and firmware, and either the Oracle Linux or Solaris operating system for running actual applications. Users can run Java apps atop the WebLogic Web application server, or use Tuxedo or Coherence environments, and manage the whole kit and caboodle with Oracle Enterprise Manager 12c. (The database component of an application is housed separately–and preferably, in Oracle’s view–on Oracle 11i running on a separate Exadata database machine.)
Oracle updated the hardware component at last week’s OpenWorld. The key changes in the new Exalogic Elastic Cloud X3-2 hardware are the inclusion of the latest Sandy Bridge Xeon processors and memory improvements. The new processors increase the total number of cores in an X3-2 full rack to 480, up from 360 in a full X2-2 rack. Full-racked memory has been boosted from 2.9 TB to 7.7 TB. All this extra processing horsepower translates to a 250 percent increase in application performance, and a 60x improvement in “application deployment density,” which is due to “hardware-assisted Single Root I/O Virtualization (SR-IOV),” Oracle says.
Oracle says many of its ERP and CRM products will run just fine on the Exalogic clusters. This includes JD Edwards EnterpriseOne, in addition to E-Business Suite, PeopleSoft, Siebel CRM, and Oracle ATG Web Commerce. Obviously, JD Edwards World, with its RPG code base, will not run on the Linux and Solaris environments that are housed within the Exalogic machine. Oracle also claims that more than 300 ISVs have certified their applications to run on Exalogic through the Exastack program. However, it appears that there’s only one North American application vendor, Computer Sciences Corp., on the list.
JD Edwards customers have traditionally run their ERP systems on IBM i servers and their predecessors. Oracle has had to swallow hard and maintain some semblance of a “partnership” with its biggest system rival, but there are obvious kinks in the relationship. There’s not much it can do with customers of the monolithic JD Edwards World ERP application (which runs solely on the IBM i OS), except to pressure them to upgrade to EnterpriseOne.
But when it comes to multi-tiered, modernly architected JD Edwards EnterpriseOne, Oracle is leaning hard to stop the leakage to the “blue stack.” In some ways, an integrated system like Exalogic looks a lot like what JDE EnterpriseOne shops are used to running with the IBM i server. Despite the fact that they need a separate database server, the Exalogic lineup provides the type of integration and scalability they have been accustomed to getting from the IBM i server, only now the bill comes straight from Oracle.