Why the Right Storage Infrastructure Is So Critical for DBAs and IT Leaders

I spend a lot of time talking with CIOs around the world, on the infrastructure side of the house as well as the database/enterprise app side of the house. I hear first-hand, from DBAs and IT infrastructure teams alike, about the challenges they face with choosing the right infrastructure for their database and enterprise app environments. I consistently hear stories of the difficulties of meeting service-level agreements, of meeting performance objectives, of providing continuous availability, availability to recover quickly, of driving down TCO and leveraging the benefits of virtualization. Customers tell me they want a virtual, open architecture that will allow them to leverage best-in-class technologies, but are concerned about the performance impact this may have on their production databases and applications.

At EMC World, I told you how EMC faced this challenge as we standardized our own business-critical applications infrastructure that included Oracle, SAP, and Exchange. Like many of our customers, our experience proved that virtual infrastructure can achieve the standardization gains across IT while being able to maximize performance for production applications and databases.

I provided specific examples of this in my keynote address. Just a small amount of flash in virtualized Oracle databases in online transaction processing (OLTP) and Data Warehouse workloads delivers extreme levels of performance.  How much? 3.7 million random I/Os per second for Oracle OLTP environments at very low latencies and over 32 GB/second read scan performance with over 21 TB/hour data loads for Oracle data warehouses. More importantly, this standardized approach of flash and virtualization makes a measurable impact on long-term TCO.

There is also an interesting added benefit of virtualization and flash in terms of multi-year TCO for production database and application environments. A recent post by Wikibon.orghighlights the impact of how a small amount of flash, combined with virtualization of Oracle production database servers, can dramatically impact hardware, software, and maintenance TCO over a three-year period.

Optimizing performance and TCO for one specific database or application is nice, but what most IT organizations are driving toward is a way to standardize how these benefits are delivered across the data center. Oracle, Microsoft, and SAP have all been offering strategies to standardize within their own field of vision. Take Oracle’s “engineered systems,” for example. Oracle applies standardization vertically and promises optimized levels of IT performance and IT productivity—at least for a part of IT. That doesn’t mean that standardization is a compromise—it just means that standardization needs to be broadly applied to be effective for all business-critical applications. A vertically integrated approach for a specific database, custom-written application, or one vendor’s stack is not easily leveraged across a virtual cloud computing environment, and several customers have found they have become locked in and can’t leverage best-of-breed technologies that could make their organizations more efficient and flexible, and avoid the single-vendor lock-in problem.

Customers looking to standardize IT infrastructure for their high-performance Oracle database environments can do so without sacrificing openness and choice thanks to the new Vblock™ Specialized System for High Performance Databases. Unlike narrowly focused engineered systems, the new Vblock System delivers optimized performance for Oracle with flash, along with the Vblock System’s inherent high availability and ability to cost-effectively scale the system incrementally, all while preserving the choice to run other Oracle or non-Oracle workloads today or in the future. Targeted for large database environments requiring millions of IOPs, the system will enter limited availability (through VCE’s First Customer Ship Program) in Q4 2013, with targeted GA in Q1 2014.

To help our customers optimize their unique Oracle environments, EMC has created an open, online community for Oracle customers to engage directly with EMC’s global solutions experts. Here, Oracle DBAs and IT infrastructure teams can access dozens of tested and proven solutions, training materials, and case studies from EMC/Oracle customers who have achieved impressive performance and efficiency results virtualizing their Oracle database environments.

When selecting the right infrastructure for your Oracle database environment—where performance, availability, and efficiency for business-critical apps such as Oracle are paramount—don’t settle for just any engineered system. Choose the system that will best help you meet your performance objectives, availability requirements, and service-level agreements and at the same time drive down TCO.

About the Author: Brian Gallagher