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........

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