Oracles vision of storage for databases

Thursday 12th August 2010
Oracle HQ. Courtesy:

Oracle executive vice president of hardware engineering John Fowler has dismissed disk technology, lauded flash and put his vote with tape having a future.

In an Information Week interview the man described as Oracle's top dog for server and storage systems by The Register  is worth paying attention to what over his likes and dislikes, since systems complying these views will be emerging fromOracle over the next few years.

Oracle's overarching idea is to build integrated and converged stacks of server, storage and systems software so data centre applications can handle vastly more data than currently and at much faster pace.

Fowler's vision is of a Sparc processor strategy  leading to systems in 2015 with 128 cores, 16,384 threads and the ability to process 120m database transactions per minute.

He thinks that the separation between servers and storage area networks (SAN) and filers - is wrong. EMC and NetApp prospered because they built great products, but he feels it's time to bring storage back in-house and integrate it with the servers and the applications.

Networked storage was developed in relative isolation from servers and applications such as Oracle databases and SAP, Siebel and PeopleSoft software. Fowler believes his development people now understand the bandwidth, memory I/Os and latency needed by such software running on Oracle's servers, to develop storage that delivers what applications and servers will need.

"They're really old, and they fail a lot" is his take on discs, forecasting a tidal wave of development in storage. Planning is for 15-fold increase in storage controller throughput, and 50-fold improvement in storage controller capacity by 2015.

Server processing is going to be about building a capacity pipeline with latency and speed to feed and receive data from the hundreds of cores executing Oracle or SAP apps and keeping them busy, with no logical place for disks as storage.

Fowler says storage is going to come down in price over the next five years, and he talks of putting 50TB data in flash so entire data models can fit in memory and processing can occur in real-time.

This is the TMS RamSan approach, having a database in solid state storage, but the Oracle view is there should not be a separate supplier and a separate box. Solid state storage will be integrated and supplied by Oracle with casualties as the interface between servers and storage is refactored.

Oracle big focus is going to be on building Exadata-like tailored and integrated appliances for its own and other enterprise suppliers' big machine applications.

How long is a piece of tape?
Fowler thinks StreamLine 8500 library will have 2 exabyte (EB) capacity by 2015 and  b1,380TB/hour bandwidth. It will use tape reels of 20TB capacities instead of the current 1TB. A 2EB StreamLine library would have 100,000 slots for 20TB tapes, if that's 2EB of raw capacity.

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