Oracle unveils X5 Engineered Systems with new datacenter strategy

Larry Ellison unveils the next generation of Oracle's engineered systems, already lined up to compete against offerings from Cisco, Red Hat, Microsoft, and others.

REDWOOD SHORES, CALIF.---Oracle has been heavily pushing its cloud strategy in the public eye and earnings reports over the last year, but the tech giant shifted the narrative to its datacenter portfolio this week.

Oracle chairman and chief technology officer Larry Ellison unveiled X5, the fifth generation of Oracle's engineered systems, to media and analysts at company headquarters on Wednesday afternoon.

Ellison touted that X5 represents "the future of the datacenter" as Oracle integrated software and hardware in advance so that its customers don't have to worry about this on their own.

"Everyone is talking about the cloud these days," Ellison observed, "but people aren't connecting any better." Rather, it's how we interconnect our datacenters to the cloud that will fulfill this transformation.

"There has to be some degree of compatibility between the public cloud and your private datacenter," Ellison said.

At the X5 datacenter's core are a pair of Intel socket servers supporting Virtualized Linux, Ethernet or Fabric interconnect, direct-attached/NAS/SAN storage options, and cloud management software.

Ellison underlined the Intel component especially as it represents "a new strategy" for Oracle: to compete for that two-socket core business.

Ellison admitted Oracle "didn't invent the idea of engineered systems," acknowledging Teradata was there first before Oracle ever rolled out its flagship Exadata series.

"But we did a better job and still sell more systems than they do," Ellison quipped.

That integration comes in the form of the new Virtual Compute Appliance X5 converged infrastructure system, consisting of compute servers, software-defined networking and sophisticated hardware.

Ellison highlighted the software-defined configuration of the server and storage networks on VCA, sporting high-speed Infiniband internal networking alongside connectivity for Ethernet and Fiber Channel to link up with existing networks.

Within the X5 portfolio include the X5 Big Data Appliance for Hadoop and NoSQL big data jobs and the Exalogic X5-2 for private clouds, or the Oracle Cloud on-premise with the same Platform-as-a-Service and Infrastructure-as-as-a-Service Elements.

Lamenting current back-up appliances typically lose data during recovery, Ellison turned to the Zero Data Loss Recovery Appliance, introduced at OpenWorld 2014 for wiping out data loss itself. With a real-time "redo" transport and fully-automated recovery functions, the appliance can be restored to any point in time, re-examine logs to extract malicious transactions, and then push those processes through again.

One appliance alone can handle thousands of databases with potential backup connections to on-site datacenters, remote datacenters, and the cloud.

"The big deal is it's fully automated, so it's easy to operate, and you never lose data. It's as a no-brainer appliance as we have," Ellison remarked.

He further stressed Oracle has manufactured, tested, and support all these pieces in-house, calling out rivals Cisco, EMC, VMware, Microsoft, and Red Hat and hinting at more fragmented (not to mention expensive) deployment options.

Along with promising the "lowest purchase prices in the industry," Ellison insisted that X5 will deploy applications in a few minutes compared to competitive options thanks to application templates within the Oracle software stack.

For example, Ellison said VCA X5 software will list at $45,000 (including annual support), which he then compared to Cisco's UCS software priced at $265,000 per year (plus $166,000 in annual support fees).

The X5 generation of Oracle database machines are available to order now.

Earlier on Wednesday, Oracle issued 169 new security fixes with Java, Fusion Middleware, Enterprise Manager and MySQL all on the repair list. The next CPU round is scheduled for April 14.

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