Oracle OpenWorld: Show Me the Users


By Tony Kontzer

Oracle hasn't had a whole lot of interesting things to say so far at its huge OpenWorld conference in San Francisco, which opened on Oct. 2. All that will likely change when CEO Larry Ellison takes the stage on Oct. 5 just a couple of hours after his rival (and former underling), Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff, finishes making fun of Oracle's "false cloud," as he's termed it in the past.

In the meantime, however, a panel of Oracle customers convened on Oct. 4 provided some of the conference's most useful content thus far for anyone who's been hoping to hear more than a steady stream of Oracle product messaging.

The topic was Oracle's Exadata Database Machine, which combines servers, storage, networking and software in one amped up package--and which happens to be the latest target of Benioff's "false cloud" warnings. Oracle trotted out a diverse set of customers, all of whom have achieved pretty monumental improvements in getting a handle on "big data," as my colleague Susan Nunziata wrote yesterday.

First up was Benoit Thibaut, senior IT project manager for SNCF, France's state-owned railway operator. With 241,000 employees, 12,000 trains per day, and 2,000 point-of-sale locations, SNCF had some serious issues with reliability, performance, and agility. The organization's old architecture was primitive, didn't meet performance objectives, and was too expensive and complex. Exadata, Thibaut said, brought improvement on all the desired fronts.

The most eye-popping metrics: SNCF's batch processing became five times faster than it had been prior to the deployment, and the enterprise reduced its list of database vendors from seven to one.

Then there was Bulent Salturk, IT director for Turkcell, Turkey's largest telecommunications provider. With more than 500 Oracle databases running, including 150 in production, Turkcell's legacy setup wasn't getting the job done, leaving many user queries unfinished in the time they needed answers.

Enter Exadata, and transformation followed. Turkcell saw its i/o throughput improve from 5 GB per second to 21 GB per second. The time required to perform data backups was slashed from 44 hours to just 14 hours. The company's report run times sped up tenfold, its hardware footprint was reduced by 90 percent, it saw a 10x improvement in data compression, and energy savings figure to total nearly $300,000 over three years.

Takakazu Imai, CIO of Japanese financial services firm Rakuten Securities, was on hand to share how his company had gotten itself in hot water with regulators after a series of system failures. Exadata, he said, was helping the company to make itself better prepared for such incidents, as well as more accountable with all of its stakeholders.

But perhaps the most succinct testimony came courtesy of Winthrop Short, VP of database and analytics for Orbitz, the online travel booking Website. Too much complexity in its IT environment was causing Orbtiz to have challenges with i/o throughput and availability, and the company was under increasing pressure to show more results in hotel searches, improve the accuracy of those searches, and return results faster. Short sought help, and liked what Oracle had to say.

"It boiled down to the fact that if the price and value were right, then Exadata had a home with us," he said. "Any time we can take complexity out, that's time, money and bandwidth that can be invested elsewhere."

With Exadata in place, Orbitz is delivering 30% more hotel search results, and Short says the company is gaining critical insight and realizing great business value, and has even removed pretty much all of the latency customers used to experience when the company was performing software patches.

False cloud or not, considering the plethora of Exadata success stories at its fingertips, it's a wonder Oracle bothers using its valuable conference time presenting any of its own messaging for the technology.


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