Oracle Exalogic's secret sauce, discussed

Oracle executive attributes 'cloud in a box' performance boost to emerging high-performance network protocol.

In a recent TechTarget video interview, Oracle Fusion Middleware VP of development Adam Messinger discussed the secret sauce (well, more of an open secret) behind Oracle Exalogic, the company's integrated WebLogic and Java server appliance. (Or what it also calls "cloud in a box.")

Messinger wasn't convinced at first that an integrated appliance could deliver a lot of value:

"When we started putting it together, I wasn't actually convinced about how much performance benefit we'd get, nor how much savings we thought there would be in putting together an integrated system. As we’ve done it though, I've been actually pleasantly surprised, in there is a huge amount of performance optimization that is possible in reducing friction between layers. So just making sure that the kernel parameters in the OS are lined up with the tuning in the VM, lined up with the tuning in WebLogic -- that by itself is like tens of percent increase."

As Messinger explains it, the secret sauce behind Exabyte's enhanced performance capabilities are in its leveraging of InfiniBand, a switched fabric communications link used in high-performance computing and enterprise data centers.

InfiniBand "lets us put a bunch of relatively inexpensive computers together into something that kind of acts like one single computer. So for running clustered middleware, this is really great. It lets us run down failure detection time, so when one node fails, we can detect it in a sub-millisecond, quickly, and we know with high probablility that it's actually dead, unlike with Ethernet, where you have to rely on timeouts, don't know if its actually getting dropped or whatever is going on."

Don't confuse InfiniBand with Ethernet, Messinger adds:

in terms of its technical value, Infiniband, its easy to compare it to Ethernet or something like that, but really it's a lot different than Ethernet,  in that it looks a lot more like a bus than an asynchronous network."

Messinger adds that Oracle has been able to boost performance on Ethernet, but "it's like 10x or better on infiniBand."