September 24, 2008

OpenWorld - Wednesday, Sep. 24

5:55PM - Dinner at another Thai Restaurant

After the abrupt end to the keynote (which to be more honest was bascially a press announcement), we all got shuffled out of the building.  On the way out, we were paraded by a grid of ~6 Oracle Database Machines working in parallel.  Someone from Oracle was saying that these machines could serve up 1 Tb of data in 5 seconds.  Now that's fast.

I'm now seated at a hole in the wall Thai restaurant.  They only take cash and the place seats about 25, but the food is excellent.  I encourage any of you who are near Union Square in San Francisco to visit King of Thai at 420 Geary.  Dinner is about $10 per person, so it's cheap too.

After dinner, I'm going to skip the Oracle Party over on Treasure Island.  Bands performing there will be Psychodelic Furs, Gin Blossoms, Seal, UB40, Alan Jackson, and Elvis Costello.  I'm not a fan of any of these bands and since you can never find any one you want to network with at one of these events, I'm going to be staying in to prepare for my presentations on Thursday.  Yes, I know I'm missing out on my chance at fun, merriment, madness, and chaos, but there's always next year.  Maybe they'll bring back Billy Joel?

This will be my last entry for tonight most likely, because no one much cares about my PowerPoint reading back in my hotel room, but I will be blogging more tomorrow starting with the 10:30 session at the Marriott on What's New and What's Coming with the Business Intelligence Applications.

3:37PM - Larry Ellison Keynote with Mark Hurd from HP

Mark Hurd, Chairman and CEO of HP, just joined the keynote via web conferencing.  The room was much more receptive to listening to an HP person after Larry's announcement.  Also, this HP person was only there for 5 minutes which was pleasant.

He then showed a commercial of some happy  Oracle Database Machine and Oracle Exadata server test customers.  Oh, hell, it just ended.  Huh?  This was supposed to go to 4:30.  I guess they covered the major points and wanted to end while the buzz was at its peak.

The masses are headed for the doors.  Luckily, I'm near the back!

3:30PM - Larry Ellison Keynote announces Oracle's 2nd Hardware Product

He now announced the "HP/Oracle Database Machine" which is, per Larry, the world's fastest database machine (and no, it's not the only one: Teradata and Netezza make them).  These servers have 64 cores,  and run on Linux.  They hold 14 Exadata Storage Servers supporting 14 Gb/sec throughput.  Altogether, that's 112 Intel cores.  The storage in one of these is 168Terabytes.  That's 1,400 times more storage than Apple's largest iPod (his joke, not mine, but funny as hell).  That really is a great deal of music.

He quoted some testing benchmarks from one of their test clients that showed table space creation was 10 times faster on one of these new servers and some activities (like certain reports) were 70 times faster.  Altogether, they noticed 28 times average improvement.  He gave certain other examples (all running on basically 1/2 of one of the new Oracle servers) all which seemed to give minimums of 10-fold improvements and most were a lot higher.  The average improvement seemed to be 30 times speed up.

The price for these Oracle database is <$14,000/Tb (at list, because per Larry, "the Oracle sales guys never give discounts").  The HP/Oracle Database Machines are available immediately.

3:15PM - Larry Ellison Keynote announces Oracle's 1st Hardware Product

A commercial of Oracle & BMWs yacht entry in the next America's Cup was just shown.  Larry came out and talked about "his regular job for the last 7 or 8 years [ws] trying to win the America's Cup."  That's funny (especially after the HP drudgery).  I think he's about to announce something big.

He's talking about how hard drives these days can't keep up with the bandwidth requirements of modern databases.  As databases get larger and larger, the problems get more severe.  He just said that data warehouses tend to slow down at 1Tb and he had a nice chart to prove it.  He's now talking about ways to solve the data bandwidth problem: reduce data going through the pipes or have wider/faster pipes (and more of them).

Larry just announced Oracle's first hardware product.  Joint developed with HP, they've created "The Exadata Programmable Storage Server."  It has 2 Intel processors (with 8 cores altogether) and 12 disk drives iwth up to 12 Tb of raw storage.  The servers run Oracle Enterprise Linux  and hosts data for Oracle.  This reduces the amount of data that flows between the storage servers and the database servers.  It doesn't pass disk blocks but rather query results back to the database server.  In other words, the query runs on the Oracle X Server and passes the result set back to the Oracle database servers.  The presumption is that companies would have grids of these new Oracle X Servers integrating with grids of Oracle databases.

Each server also has 2 twenty Gigabit (InfiniBand) network cards that are able to each handle 1 Gb/sec of data transfer to the database grids.  The cards, though, can actually handle 5 Gb/sec: it's just that the the current hard drives can only spin fast enough to support 1 Gb/sec.

The Exadata Storage Server is available immediately on Linux.

3:00PM - Larry Ellison Keynote (brought to you by HP)

As of 2:10, the line to get into the keynote stretched out the door for a block-and-a-half.  After waiting in the line, I arrived in Moscone South Hall D to sadly discover that all the traditional blogger seats were already taken.  They had to open up a second blogger section (sadly, with no power outlets which is what I really liked) at the rear of the center section.  I admittedly have a better view than some of the people at the wings.

They hit their maximum capacity (someone said the room holds 10,000) at 2:20 and they closed the rear doors.  People still waiting to get in were directed to various TV screens showing the keynote on closed circuit TV.  While part of me actually would have enjoyed watching in a less busy setting (with a power outlet), there's something about the vibe in the room you don't get to experience without actually being there.

Safra Catz introduced Ann Livermoore, EVP of HP Technology Solutions Group.  The lights switched from red to blue and the commercial began.  Literally, it was a non-stop commercial. Ann didn't even try to hide it like the Intel guy did by trying to talk about something non-vendor specific.  She showed a video clip of a commercial that was so god awfully monotonous that my brain threatened to walk out whether my body was coming or not.

She did tell me something I didn't know which is that HP is actually a very large software vendor.  She said that if you took their software and made it into its own company, it would be the 6th largest software vendor in the world by revenue.  While I understand why HP wanted to buy this hugemongous infomercial, you think they could have done it better.  Droning on with a single person in front of the room is boring.  Get some spice up there, HP: us IT professionals bore easily.  Bring a star with you next time to tell a joke or two.  I hear Michael Phelps is out of work these days, so maybe you could get him (oh, that was already done on Monday by someone else).  Talking data centers in a dim room is a recipe for naptime.

Please, let this be over soon.  My arse is hurting almost as much as my brain.  Oh, wait I think the end is near!  Yes, she just finished.  Larry should be coming out soon.  Please, Larry, reward my patience with something revolutionary.  Something about a revolutionary database accelerator would be nice.

2:14PM - Roske on Essbase Outline Optimization

My presentation was back in Moscone West, room 3024.  It started at 1, and the right after lunch timeslot is atrocious.  People get back late from lunch and everyone's satiated and tired.  It's harder to keep people's attention so you have to try that much harder to be interesting.  The problem with that is no one's in a laughing mood right after eating.  That said, it went well.

The room held around 250 and it was about half full.  That was about 75 more people than I expected, to be honest.  It's hard giving a technical talk on optimizing Essbase outlines at a high-level function like Oracle OpenWorld.  Afterwards, about 50 people came up to me to give me their cards so I could send them the slides.  While there was a bit of laughter, the room was pretty quiet throughout the talk.  I think I maybe took 10 questions during the presentation and again at the end.

Among other things, I told everyone to ignore most of the optimization tips in the Essbase Database Administrator's Guide (especially around 32-bit Essbase).  Here are just some of the things that I pointed out are wrong in the DBAG:

  • Block size.  The recommendations in the DBAG are too big for blocks these days.
  • Order of dimensions.  The "hourglass order" for dimensions is long dead and Time should usually be your first dense dimension.
  • Dynamic calcs.  Dynamic calcs do not always slow down retrievals and in dense dimensions, they often speed up retrievals.
  • Data cache.  The DBAG still says to set it to 1/8 of the data file cache... even though hardly any database should be using data file cache (because using it requires Direct I/O and hardly anyone should be using Direct I/O).
I started to feel like the presentation was "Everything You Learned in Essbase Bootcamp or Read in the DBAG is Wrong."  We ended at almost exactly 2PM which is good, because the Ellison keynote is at 2:30.

10:00AM - What's New in OBIEE Answers+ 11g

Nikki Sanger, Presentation Services Product Manager for Oracle OBIEE delivered the "What's New and What's Coming in Oracle BI Answers 11g."  She started off by promising few PowerPoint slides (but everyone says that) and a live demo at some point.  The room holds ~180 (it's in the basement of the Marriott) and was mostly empty.  Too bad, because Answers looks like the future of OLAP analysis at Oracle.

Officially, 11g is being released in calendar year 2009 (oh, that's vague).  It will support familiar OLAP-style end user interaction.  Its OLAP style interaction is still data source agnostic even though it has an OLAP user interface.  It doesn't link directly to physical data sources and Answers is not only for OLAP data sources.

Nikki's demo of Answers really impressed me.  It's very pretty, but it does have a fundamental different feel than Web Analysis.  Whereas Web Analysis is meant for end users (okay, maybe power users) to create new reports, Answers seems more built for IT audiences.  That said, using existing reports/dashboards in the client interface seems even easier than in Web Analysis.  For instance, sorting by row values, column values, or member names is done just by hovering over a member, waiting for little up/down sort arrows to appear, and then clicking on them.  It seems intuitive.

There were a lot of graphical things (traffic lighting, pinboards, and others) I've done in Analyzer (oops: Web Analysis) that I didn't see in any of the Answers views.  I don't know if that's because they're not there in this beta or if Nikki just didn't have time to show everything in the product.  She did show some of the chart types available in Answers and they are more extensive than Web Analysis.  She also mentioned the additon of a new Answers 11g "map view" which may replace Web Analysis pinboards.  Judging by the overall prettiness of Answers, I'd be shocked if it didn't have better charting than Web Analysis.

Web Analysis customers: you should be evaluating Answers.  Answers is not yet ready to replace Web Analysis, but sometime next year with the release of Answers 11g, it will be a valid option for sitting on top of Essbase.

She's spent the entire session talking about what's coming in 11g.  She had very few slides (fraking awesome) and most of the session was mostly demoing.  All in all, I enjoyed the session.  I have some time off until my presentation at 1PM.  It's on Essbase Outline Tuning in Moscone West, room 3024 (in case you happen to be at OpenWorld).

No comments: