Friday, September 30, 2011

Free at Last! (to post about EHCC on ZFS!)

About a month ago, I made a post re:HCC working on ZFS...which I later had to remove, because it hadn't officially been announced yet.  Finally, it has been officially announced to the world:
 
http://www.oracle.com/us/corporate/press/508020

When I originally posted about this, I was told that it was due to new functionality being put into the firmware of the Sun 7420 that would allow it...that HCC compression would be offloaded to the CPU of the head of the 7420.  Kevin Closson correctly pointed out in a comment on my post that it wasn't a new feature in the 7420...there isn't HCC "offloading" like in a storage cell...its just that the code that prevents this from working is being removed if you're using storage from Oracle (Sun/Pillar Axiom).  Kevin went on to say the feature of HCC on non-storage cell storage made it through beta testing...there was no technical reason to prevent the functionality.

He was clearly correct, because the official announcement states, "Hybrid Columnar Compression...is enabled in an update to Oracle Database 11g Release 2."  ...no mention of a firmware update.  That'll be the last time I listen to a non-technical source about a new technical feature.  I'm just glad I didn't try to argue with Kevin. :)

About a year ago I was in an RFP with different vendors to provide a database solution to a client.  The client went with Exadata...the primary reason was that HCC would reduce the amount of storage needed.  Without HCC, much more storage would have to be purchased, and that cost more than offset the additional cost of licensing incurred by the Exadata platform.  It was a huge selling point that the other storage vendors couldn't match.  I hear rumors that may change in the future, however.... ;)

Anyway, I can see why Oracle would make that an Oracle-storage-only feature, I witnessed it making them a multi-million dollar deal.  In a perfect world, Oracle would allow the feature to work on all storage platforms, and if people chose to go with the Pillar Axiom or Sun storage, it would be on the ample merits of their storage platforms alone.  The customer would be allowed to choose what they believe to be the best storage solution to match their database, all other things (and compression features) being equal.  So...making this an Oracl-only feature is good for Oracle, but possibly bad for the customer.

I wonder how different this "new" feature is than what we first saw in patch 8896202 (for 11.2.0.1 on OEL/RH).  This is the patch to enable the compression advisor to estimate Exadata HCC compression ratios.  It showed that HCC worked on any storage without Exadata.  I first used that patch when it came out...about a year and a half ago, on a linux vm with vmdk storage.  The thing is, when you do a trace...its not just an estimate...it literally takes your data and compresses it with HCC, and gives you the results.  Soooo...I guess I'm just reinforcing the point that this isn't a new technical breakthrough, HCC on non-Exadata is a feature that's no longer prevented (as long as you buy the storage from Oracle).


It does move in the right direction for the customer though...7420 storage is much cheaper than a storage cell.  I look forward to trying it out.  Maybe I'll post some performance numbers of HCC on the 7420 vs a storage cell.  Hmmmmm........

Openworld 2011 (How to fill out your sessions)

I always put off signing up for my sessions...if you're the same way, and you're new to Openworld, maybe this will help you.

Sessions are often disappointing because...from the description you expect a "deep dive" into the technology, and they often end up being a marketing presentation, not at all technical.  Last year I was at a session whose subject included the phrase "deep dive"...and it was still very light.  I hate that...because there are always options for the session, and you don't know if you made the wrong choice until at least a few minutes in.  At that point...it seems rude to get up and leave and try to find a better session...but do it anyway...this is your valuable time, don't waste it.

Another common pitfall to sessions that, from their description look like they'll be interesting, is when a non-technical manager gets up and speaks to the project, without knowing the technical details.  These are usually a waste of time, but not always, because usually his techy underlings are lurking in the audience, and at the end of the session, during question/answer, he'll defer all the questions to the techies.  At that point you start getting valuable information.

So, my strategy this year is to primarily pick the sessions based on the presenters.  Any of these presentations will be excellent:CLICK HERE  also HERE. After that, I populate the schedule with the database path, and then I go back and use search terms to find things like: "hadoop", "storage", "Exadata", "Backup", "Database Appliance", "RAC" etc.  Then go back and prioritize the ones that have time conflicts.

When you try to sign up for a session that's at the same time as a different session and you get a time conflict, it asks you if you want to move the "other" session to "your interests"...say yes...because that way if you're in a session that tricked you into thinking it was going to be interesting...and it turns out to either be a high level marketing session or a manager talking about what his techy team accomplished (I hate those) then while you're sitting there you can pull out your Droid/IPhone and use the Openworld 2011 app to see what your alternate session that gave you a time conflict was.  If it isn't filled up, you might be able to leave and go there...hopefully it'll be better.

I wish there was some kind of a rating scale for the sessions to give you guidance on how technical they are...but even if they had it, it would be subjective, and you'd still have the same problem.  I think if you follow the guidelines above you'll be in reasonably good shape.

Rumors of Openworld 2011

Its that time of year when everybody starts guessing re:What Larry will have to say for us that's new and exciting from Openworld.  Here are some guesses:

1. 11.2.0.3 is already out for Linux from metalink/MOS...following the new pattern of 11.2.0.2 where its a complete download rather than a patchset.  So...with that out of the way...I've been seeing patches "Backported from 12.1" for months now on MOS.  Its a good bet Larry is going to drop RDBMS 12 on us.

2. We've all heard by now about Oracle's new database appliance.  Its a stepping stone for smaller organizations to Exadata.  A managed database/hardware solution with good performance.  I plan to check it out at some point later this year...I'll let you know how that goes.  Today I got an email from Oracle that mentions "Oracle Database Appliance 12c Private Database Cloud."  So...this lends credence to #1 above, and...interestingly it'll be called...not 12i, not 12g...but 12c.

3.  Without giving details this time (I was asked to remove the post talking about a change to HCC as it relates to storage), let me just say...there will be a big, positive change to HCC as it relates to storage.

4. This one is huge:  Oracle's Hadoop appliance!  I heard about this a few months ago, but I can finally talk about it.  There have been tweets and blogs mentioning "Exa-Hadoop", and here's something official that confirms it:<>.  I think this is an interesting play for Oracle...Hadoop's profitability in an appliance is clear...they make money on the hardware and on support.  Since the product is Opensource, they'll help the entire Hadoop community with their development (Like OVM helps Xen and OEL and OCFS2 helps linux.) There's huge interest in the industry around Hadoop.

5. Exalogic v2!  I've heard from a somewhat unreliable source (you know who you are) that Exalogic will now have better support for Cache Fusion...this will be a huge performance boost.

6. OEM 12 (or maybe 12c?)!  I don't know if this will be announced, but the timing seems really good.  See my previous post re:my friend who was encouraged by Oracle to remove his post re:the coming features of OEM 12c.  :)   There's some pretty cool stuff on the way...huge changes.  I saw a mock up of the new UI about a year ago...its completely different and vastly improved. 

I just read a funny post <> on this topic...Oracle really should come out with a product called "SexiaBIHadoop."

There are always surprises...can't wait to be there. :)