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Oracle Updates Its Exalogic Servers

By Sean Michael Kerner (Send Email)
Posted July 30, 2012


Back in 2010, Oracle first released the Exalogic engineered system. Now, two years later Oracle is releasing a significant software update that expands the virtualization capabilities of the system.

Exalogic is what Oracle refers to as an engineered system, which includes compute, storage, networking and software in an pre-configured chassis.

Mike Palmeter, Senior Director of Exalogic product marketing at Oracle, explained to ServerWatch that Oracle has made some minor tweaks to the system over the last year and half. That said, the Exalogic 2.0 release, which officially became available last week, is what Oracle considers to be a 'significant' update.

Oracle Exalogic - RoundedWith Exalogic 2, Oracle is now including support for server virtualization by way of OracleVM technology. Additionally, Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) and a deployment automation layer are also part of the new release.

The deployment automation layer is called the Virtual Assembly Deployer, and Palmeter described it as providing a push button approach to virtualization deployment. The IaaS interface is exposed by way of something called Exalogic Control.

With these new features, "users can log into a system and based on what they have been provisioned via their account, [they can] then create virtual servers, networks and storage and then deploy the applications," Palmeter said. "There is also a Java API, where the deployer can be implemented."

The assembly deployer enables larger and more complex applications to be programmatically deployed with the push button approach.

Virtualization

While support for OracleVM is new to Exalogic, Palmeter noted that there have been other virtualization capabilities in the system since the beginning. One of those capabilities comes from the InfiniBand network interconnect used by Exalogic. The shared storage in the system has also provided storage virtualization.

The OracleVM 3.0 release included with Exalogic 2.0 provides specific support for further enabling the InfiniBand-based network virtualization with a technology known as Single Route I/O Virtualization (SR-IOV).

"What that provides is a way to overcome the traditional I/O performance problems that most hypervisors have," Palmeter said. "The benefit of SR-IOV is it gets the hypervisor out of the I/O path."

As a result, with SR-IOV the performance overhead required to run OracleVM on Exalogic is near zero.

"Our virtualization overhead is as close to zero as we have seen from any vendor," Palmeter said. "That means that applications that are latency sensitive can be deployed on the hypervisor with almost no change in application characteristics or significant performance degradation."

Intel and Linux Support

While the Exalogic software is getting a major update, the hardware is not. Intel updated their x86 server lineup earlier this year to the Romley Xeon-E5 series. The Exalogic currently ships with the previous generation Westmere chips.

"Our standalone servers will track the Intel roadmap more closely," Palmeter said. "It takes us longer on the engineered systems to absorb new products, but it will be following along in a bit."

The Exalogic is also a Linux-based system, although it currently remains on the Oracle Linux 5.x release and not the new 6.x branch.

"We have incrementally updated the Oracle Linux version that we've shipped with Exalogic. We're shipping Linux 5 and we will be releasing a version with Linux 6 shortly, but it's not part of this release."

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at InternetNews.com, the news service of the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.

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