|A common challenge that organizations have is determining what they should do about legacy applications built on older technology platforms. These apps often don’t fit well with their plans to implement a modern, scalable, and secure services-based infrastructure but the path to replacing those apps is not necessarily clear. A prime example of this dilemma is addressing the considerable investments they have tied up in Oracle Forms applications. Oracle Forms has been around for a very long time, so organizations that have been using it for any period of time will probably have lots of Forms applications, most having outdated user interfaces with hard coded business logic that is not well understood. Although the latest version of Oracle Forms (11g) has the ability to interact with elements of Fusion Middleware 11g, that interaction is very limited.Oracle considers Forms to be a “mature” technology so not much has actually changed with Forms or is likely to change any time soon. Although Oracle has stated that Forms is not going away, Oracle Application Development Framework (ADF) is firmly established as their strategic platform for application development going forward, with no plans to provide a migration path for existing Forms customers.In this post I wanted to discuss some of the business drivers for replacing Forms applications as well as some considerations for identifying which Forms applications to replace or modernize. In a future post I’ll discuss some of the options you should be considering to support your modernization and replacement plans.Why you should replace your Oracle Forms applicationsThere are several obvious reasons for replacing Oracle Forms applications.First, customers who have been using Forms for a significant period of time probably have applications built by developers who left the organization and have left behind little or no documentation. These apps are unlikely to be understood all that well by your current team of developers so time must be spent investigating the app whenever there is an issue or a new requirement to be implemented, increasing support, development, and testing costs. Further, the Forms specific skill sets for maintaining these applications have over time become harder to find and retain – after all, who wants to work on 1980’s technology? These factors all contribute to rising support costs that are adversely impacting total cost of ownership.A common complaint with Forms applications is that they are using old, outdated user interfaces, resulting in low user adoption and poor user satisfaction. The workforce of today is used to modern web interfaces with usability paradigms that are inconsistent with the way these older Forms applications were designed to work. Further, the Forms UI’s miss out on the move towards incorporating new capabilities such as social business features or supporting new channels like mobile, which most organizations realize is becoming an imperative.
Another pressing issue is that the business logic contained within these apps has been hard coded, which makes them difficult to update as market conditions change and processes are updated. This can impact your organization’s business agility, leaving you exposed to competitor threats and potentially missing important market opportunities. Certainly there is a risk that users – both internal and external to your organization – are left dissatisfied when changes cannot be made or delivered on time.
So, our next question is “why shouldn’t I adopt Oracle ADF as a replacement for Forms?” Certainly there are plenty of organizations that have gone that route. ADF is a platform for developing applications that use several standards based technologies (e.g. Java skills, web development skills, etc.). However, there are several reasons why you might not want to go down this path:
So for many organizations it makes far more sense to consider standards based alternatives to ADF that make use of lightweight frameworks that provide more flexibility and choice.
Considerations for modernizing and replacing Forms applications
So assuming you have a wide range of Forms apps, your first task is to build an inventory of all Forms apps and then examine how these apps are maintained and what changes are actually required. Some have probably been in use for years doing their job, with few new requirements and no significant usability issues, no need to support new channels like mobile, no new integrations needed, or any of the other typical drivers for application change. These are obviously the cases where it makes the most sense to just leave the app alone. Start with the assumption that not all Forms apps will need to be replaced and stay focused on those apps where there is a solid business case to replace.
Your next set of Forms apps are those where usability might be an issue, but for the most part the app does its job and could use just a bit of modernizing. Solutions such as exposing the app through a portal, treating them as back office apps that are called through a workflow, or wrapping the Forms app as a web service and calling on them to deliver a business function as needed are all reasonable ways to deal with this group of apps. This type of modernizing is again going to be the hallmark of apps that are undergoing very little change so these approaches help avoid unnecessary migration costs and risks.
The key is to identify the apps in the inventory that have been costly to maintain, or cases where new requirements are being raised. Look for cases where the business logic must be updated regularly, where the app needs to be delivered through new channels such as mobile, or cases where there the Forms app must be integrated with several other applications.
Once you’ve identified this group, focus on building the business case for moving the app to a new platform. Unless you’ve got a clear and compelling business case it is unlikely you will ever see the funding for the replacement. There are a lot of different ways to go through the decision process to determine which apps to leave alone, which to modernize, and which to replace. There will certainly be many borderline cases as well. The key is to identify the costs associated with the apps – licensing, subscription & support, maintenance, development, testing, etc. as well as costs that may be harder to measure, such as productivity and usability. Ask the business users of these apps about their pain points and the opportunity costs of continuing to use these applications. Pulling together this focused inventory of Forms apps along with the hard and soft costs will go a long ways towards moving down the path to replacement.
In his revolutionary book “On the Origin of Species”, Charles Darwin described the process of evolution and proposed his theory of the “survival of the fittest” (although he did not explicitly use the word “evolution”, nor did he use the term “survival of the fittest”). My guess is that most of the financial analysts of our day have not heard of that theory since many of them maintain “buy” or “neutral” rating for Oracle. My rating is “sell, sell, sell”. Too bad I am obligated to keep some of Oracle stock as part of my Total US Market Index Fund. Can someone create a fund with no Oracle stock there? Put me in line for that one.
You see, I just can’t see why would anyone buy Oracle software at these ridiculous prices they charge. Yes, I know that list prices get discounted, but sooner or later, Oracle gets you on maintenance. And guess what? Maintenance is tied to list prices. Why not use better software that costs less? IBM is one such example.
It has been quite some time since I wrote about the SPECj battles between IBM and Oracle (see previous Article 1 and Article 2). Red Hat JBoss still has no results published… Today I would like to discuss the rare case of an “apples to apples” comparison between IBM and Oracle on almost identical hardware. It is not often that we get to see results published by different vendors on the identical processor types on servers with very similar configurations. Such rare comparison point became possible thanks to IBM publishing a result last year that compares very well to the earlier Oracle publish. Yeah, I know I am three months late with this article… But better be late, than never.
Here is the side by side comparison of results:
Here are some observations based on the table above:
- IBM and Oracle used the same number of identical models of Intel processors for app server and for database machines (16 cores for each machine).
- IBM performance per core was 14.3% faster than Oracle result (since Oracle result was published earlier in the year, we can cut them some slack on this one).
- Despite being faster, IBM cost was almost twice as low as Oracle result for the non-clustered configuration (comparing WebLogic Standard vs. WebSphere App Server).
- IBM cost was almost two and a half times lower than Oracle’s for the clustered configuration (comparing WebLogic Enterprise to WAS ND).
These are some impressive numbers. I find it interesting that Oracle keeps telling that their Exalogic hardware runs WebLogic several times faster than any other equipment does, but provides no proof of these claims.
What does my common sense tell me about these findings?
- Well, for one thing I am not surprised that the difference in performance is so small. After all, both IBM and BEA (opps, I should say Oracle) have been around for a long time in Java-years (similar to dog-years). There are many companies running mission critical applications on WebSphere and WebLogic. Those are rock solid application platforms and the rivalry over years have boosted performance of both products (does Red Hat pay any attention?).
- Secondly, the dramatic difference in cost is even less surprising as IBM hardware historically beaten Sun (opps, Oracle I should say) hardware. To be more specific, Oracle hardware cost is 91.27% higher than IBM’s in this benchmark.
- Thirdly, the cost gap is widened even further by the lower license cost of the IBM software compared to Oracle’s. This is true for both WebSphere and DB2 as compared to Oracle WebLogic and Oracle DBMS.
Perhaps this explains why companies are moving away from Oracle to IBM to save money. Here are some examples – D+H story, TBC Corporation, Huntington Bank, Bauer Media Group, and others.
Do you want to be next? Migrate your software and hardware from Oracle to IBM to save!
PS. If you are interested in comparing the cost of IBM and Oracle middleware, you may want to review these articles:
“So, while it took us a year to do the development on Oracle Fusion, we were up and running both development and a production service on the DataPower appliance within four months, shockingly fast.” – Paul Lewis, Vice President of Technology, Architecture and Security, D+H.
Davis + Henderson Corporation (D+H) has been a trusted partner to the financial services industry for over 130 years. Today, D+H offers a broad range of technology and technology-based solutions to financial institutions across North America, including commercial and mortgage lending technology, student lending services, collateral registration and recovery services, and payments solutions. Headquartered in Toronto, D+H employs approximately 4,500 people.
In 2010 and 2011 D+H was trying to build a new SOA platform using Oracle Fusion Middleware and Sun GlassFish, but it proved to be exceedingly difficult and after performing several POCs, D+H decided to switch to IBM WebSphere Application Server, IBM DataPower appliances and the IBM DB2 database.
In addition to reducing their costs, D+H has seen 20 to 40 percent performance increases and can now deploy new workloads in hours versus the five days required in the past.
Read complete case study:
Interesting article in NY Times today: “Billion-Dollar Flop: Air Force Stumbles on Software Plan”:
QUOTE: “For the United States Air Force, installing a new software system has certainly proved to be a wicked problem. Last month, it canceled a six-year-old modernization effort that had eaten up more than $1 billion. When the Air Force realized that it would cost another $1 billion just to achieve one-quarter of the capabilities originally planned — and that even then the system would not be fully ready before 2020 — it decided to decamp… The software initiative, called the Expeditionary Combat Support System, was supposed to manage logistics using software from Oracle. In 2006, the Air Force announced that it had awarded a $628 million contract to the Computer Sciences Corporation to serve as lead system integrator…” END QUOTE
Unfortunately the article is not answering some of the key questions one might have after reading it:
- As a taxpayer I want to know whether US government will have its money back?
- Why exactly the program failed? Was it software’s fault, or vendor incompetence, or all of the above? (one of the suggested reasons is the desire to do too much at once and lack of central leadership in the project)
- How can the Air Force to go forward with the software systems built in 70s?
- What disciplinary actions are taken against those who was in charge of spending this much taxpayers money?
- What actions are taken against Oracle and CSC? Where there any SLAs set for the project?
To quote wikipedia: “The principle of minimum total potential energy is a fundamental concept used in physics, chemistry, biology, and engineering. It asserts that a structure or body shall deform or displace to a position that minimizes the total potential energy, with the lost potential energy being dissipated as heat”.
I think the same applies in business, except not for energy, but for the cost of the system. Any IT System these days seems to be trying to achieve the lowest cost. Unlike physics, IT System does not do it by itself and there is no law that forces it to do it, but it is common sense and business acumen of those who run those system that makes them consider ways to reduce costs. If costs can’t be reduced, it is rare that IT Systems change.
Considering the high cost of switching from one platform to another it is always educating to see examples of those companies who perform a large scale re-platforming effort. And perform it successfully. It is critical for IT decision-makers to choose the right enterprise middleware platform for their organization. Middleware plays a strategic role in everything from the time-to-benefit for new IT services to the efficiency with which optimal performance can be maintained for existing ones. IT decision-makers therefore have to factor all kinds of attributes into their middleware choices—including technical features, ease of use, infrastructure resource utilization and licensing costs.
In this webinar, industry analyst Andrew Bisson of the Branham Group will share the results of his recent in-depth study of middleware users. His insights will help you leverage their hard-won real-world experiences so you make a smarter middleware decision.
Webcast Title: IBM WebSphere vs. Oracle Fusion: Lessons from the Real World
Webcast Date: December 7, 2012
Webcast Time: 1:00 PM EST (10:00 AM PST)
|Andrew Bisson, Vice President, Consulting Services, Branham Group Inc.|
|Roman Kharkovski, IBM, Executive IT Specialist|
Not to be outdone by Forrester’s Recent wave of Dynamic Case Management, last week Gartner released their own next-generation evaluation for Intelligent Business Process Management Suite vendors:
According to the new Magic Quadrant report,
Business managers and knowledge workers today … are being asked to make faster and better decisions and to "do more with less" in an ever-changing business context, but cannot do so without improved visibility into their operations and environments.
Impressions from the conference and analysis of Oracle announcements.
Last week I attended Oracle OpenWorld conference in San Francisco, CA (even took handful of photos). One thing that struck me was the number of claims about imaginary records broken by Oracle – starting with the Larry’s keynote on Sunday and continuing every day on technical tracks. Not only Oracle announced “performance records” for Java and databases, but even the number of times these “records” were repeated over and over again was a record in itself. This reminded me of the London Olympic Games, except that there was big difference between fair competition at Olympics and un-verifiable nature of Oracle claims.
So let’s take a closer look at what exactly was announced by Oracle in the past week:
- New version of the Exadata machine X3-2 (shipment date is unknown)
- New version of the Exalogic machine X3-2 (shipment date is unknown)
- Oracle Database and Java public and private cloud services (available now)
- Oracle Database 12c pre-announcement (to be shipped “sometime in 2013”)
Oracle Exalogic X3 and Exadata X3
As you probably know by now, IBM has recently announced PureData System as a new addition to the PureSystem product line. My interest is around Exalogic and I won’t go into Exadata discussion in this post.
Oracle did not announce the ship date for Exalogic X3-2. When asked, Oracle speakers at different sessions mentioned that X3-2 will ship within the “next 12 months” and someone even said it will be “available soon”, however nobody provided a specific date. The new version will have more DRAM, SSD and HDD space and processor cores. Here is the difference between Exalogic X2-2 and X3-2 (picture is courtesy of my old iPhone 4s, which I replaced with shiny new Motorola Android this week, and yes, I am totally lovin’ it :-):
Oracle claimed that new Exalogic will be significantly faster than the old one (would you even consider buying X2-2 version now knowing how much faster the new version will be?):
What I find interesting is that despite all these claims of “unprecedented” performance, there is not a single SPECjEnterprise 2010 benchmark published by Oracle on Exadata or Exalogic. Perhaps these machines are not as fast as they are on paper? Or perhaps these are simply cost prohibitive per transaction? Who knows… I don’t pretend to know the answer. All I know is that there is not a single public performance benchmark published on Exalogic. All Oracle claims are just that – claims, not verifiable, using their own application and methodology.
May I mention the IBM performance leadership in SPECjEnterprise 2010? Since April 2012 IBM held the world record for transactions per core on x86 platform and improved that result significantly last month with the new result, using the new IBM chip Power7+ and WAS v8.5 on Power780+ server with DB2 10.1:
The other important characteristic is scalability. In terms of vertical scalability IBM software and hardware are by far more efficient when compared to Oracle. Just look at the diagram below. WebSphere App server delivers near perfect 95% linear scaling going from 16-cores to 64-cores on Power7 IBM Server. Oracle WebLogic Server only delivers 64% scaling going from 16 cores to 80 cores on Sun Fire server (both are single server configurations). I could not find results on SPEC where IBM and Oracle would have exactly the same number of cores, so I picked two closest ones.
Having said all this, performance and scalability are entertaining, but not particularly useful when making buying decisions. If supply of resources and money was unlimited, then everyone would make their decision based on those “theoretical” performance numbers. In our real word (since we don’t know any other world), resources are in limited supply, hence optimal choice needs to consider cost of the system as part of the equation. Fortunately it is very easy to compare Application Servers by pricing total cost of the software and hardware and dividing that by the total number of transactions per second (EjOPS in SPEC terms). Granted this is only small part of the TCO, yet one that can be calculated easily. Other parts of the TCO may be even more important (development costs, administrative costs, downtime costs, risks, upgrades, systems integration, etc.), but unfortunately those are much harder to measure objectively. Here is one example where IBM and Oracle published SPECjEnterprise2010 results within one month of each other and used very similar hardware for the test. In these tests you can see Oracle WebLogic was 2% faster per core compared to WebSphere (processors were not exactly the same model), but much more important is the fact that Oracle’s cost per transaction was 2.95 times (!!) higher than IBM’s.
Now the million dollar question – how does this future version of the Oracle Exalogic X3-2 compare to the currently shipping version of the IBM PureApplication System? And why have I not provided cost comparison for Oracle Exalogic to IBM PureApplication System? Or perhaps cost per transaction? The answer is that neither IBM nor Oracle have published SPECjEnterprise 2010 numbers on these systems so far, but the point of the IBM PureApplication System is not just raw performance (although there is plenty of it), but the ease of use of the system and lower operational costs compared to traditional systems, hence marketing slogan “built-in expertise, integration by design, simplified experience”. And that was the main design point of this new line of IBM Pure systems. Performance is almost like a nice add-on bonus and in my opinion is not as important as reduction of operational costs.
Back in June I have posted detailed comparative analysis of IBM PureApplication System and Oracle Exalogic in my earlier posts titled “Oracle Exalogic – the emperor has no clothes” (see part 1 and part 2). New in this future Exalogic X3-2 machine will be full support for virtualization, plus more storage and processing power. There also seem to be some improvements to the Oracle Cloud Control software to make it easier to manage the system.
When Oracle makes Exalogic X3-2 available it will still lag behind IBM PureApplication System in terms of computing power and the ability to consolidate workloads to reduce floor space in datacenters. As you can see from the comparison table below, IBM provides more processor cores, more storage compared to Oracle. IBM system also was significantly more power efficient than Exalogic X2 version. Considering that new version of Exalogic will add a lot more memory, CPUs and SSDs, I expect that its power usage will spike up significantly and may well be double of that of the IBM system. However I will wait for the final specs on Exalogic to be released to confirm this assumption.
Hardware specs are interesting and cool to look at, however the true value of the system lies in its ability to simplify day to day operations by providing pre-configured software, centralized administrative tool, quick deployment of new workloads and prioritization of existing workloads. This was exactly the design point of the IBM PureApplication System. Looking at the work done by IBM it is apparent that the total integration of the system was the primary goal. At the same time Oracle touts new hardware improvements and forgets to mention that it is up to a user to install and configure the software to make use of their box. What a stark difference in approach between IBM and Oracle!
One other peculiar observation is that IBM system comes with pre-installed WebSphere Application Server and DB2 software and licenses while Oracle makes their users purchase, install and configure the software. End even more than that, it seems to be impossible to purchase and get support for Oracle Database on Exalogic as Oracle is trying very hard to force their customers to buy Exadata boxes. In IBM PureApplication System you can run small and medium databases alongside with the JEE workloads – all on the same rack. With Oracle you can’t – gotta have two racks.
I would also like to give credit to Oracle where it is due. There are some wise architectural decisions and good engineering work that is currently being done to optimize Oracle Coherence for Exalogic. Coherence is taking advantage of SDP (Socket Direct Protocol) and DRMA (Direct Remote Memory Access) over Infiniband between nodes in a rack and across Exalogic racks. According to Oracle, this is yielding big performance improvements, which is very believable. Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately for some of us ) no other product in Oracle Fusion middleware is taking advantage of SDP or DRMA, except for those Oracle products using Coherence for caching.
For complete comparison of the IBM PureApplication System vs. Oracle Exalogic, please refer to my earlier posts titled “Oracle Exalogic – the emperor has no clothes”.
Having watched Oracle OpenWorld keynotes in 2011 I would have thought Oracle Public Cloud was made available last year, but it took one year from the announcement to the general availability. As of last week Oracle offered Oracle Database and WebLogic Server as public cloud services. If you want to jump with both feet into this cloud, be warned that not every application will run on the cloud version of WebLogic. There are number of limitations, for example:
- Only HTTP based protocols are allowed in and out of the Oracle cloud and between application JVMs, hence only use of local EJBs, no remote EJBs. You cannot use JMS or t3 or RMI/IIOP protocols.
- Oracle Cloud Messaging service is only available as preview.
- Application cannot use JNI code and native libraries, only pure Java.
- Administrators will not get a full console of the WebLogic. Instead they will get a special simplified cloud console. This means a lot of configuration options remain out of reach and Oracle will make a lot of configuration assumptions for you.
- One cannot purchase only Java service, only Java + Database services together (and guess which database are you getting?)
- Database access options are limited – one must use WebLogic JDBC or JPA, but can’t use Hibernate or other 3rd party ORM frameworks.
- Oracle SOA Suite does not run on the Oracle Cloud today. Only WebLogic Server does.
- Scalability of the cloud is limited as you are only able to run members of the WebLogic cluster within the boundary of a single Exalogic rack. Cluster members can’t live on different racks. For some users this will not become a problem, however cloud usually means “elasticity” and “unlimited scaling” and Oracle Cloud does not deliver this capability in the current version.
- VPN access to the cloud is not provided. All communications with the software running on the cloud must be done over the public internet traffic via http(s) or ftp(s). No, you don’t get to ssh into the Exalogic box either.
Nevertheless, this is a big step forward for Oracle as they finally recognized that the “cloud” is important to their customers. Back in 2011 I compared IBM and Oracle Cloud services. Today IBM has significantly more mature and flexible cloud offering in terms of technical capabilities (for example, IBM Smart Cloud does not limit our customers to IBM only products). Detailed analysis of the latest Oracle Cloud vs. IBM Smart Cloud will be a subject of a future post.
One thing that struck me with this new Oracle Public Cloud is the pricing model – you must pay in monthly increments. This is very much UNlike IBM Smart Cloud or Amazon EC2 or many other clouds where you pay based on hourly usage. I think hourly pricing is likely to be far more economical for most, but a few customers. Monthly cloud usage? Hmm… This is like buying monthly restaurant voucher. You better make sure you eat there every day, three times a day, or you won’t get your money worth compared to per-meal billing.
Oracle Database 12c
There are number of new features planned for the Oracle DB 12c version, but the release is planned for “sometime 2013” and it is not clear how many of those features on the roadmap will actually make it to the release. If Oracle Java roadmap is of any indication, I suspect a lot of the interesting stuff may get pushed into the next version for another year or two.
After looking at detailed comparison of the Oracle 12c announcement to the latest version of DB2, it appears that a lot of the planned Oracle DB 12c features are already in DB2 and some have been for quite a few years (I will leave detailed discussion about this to database experts – watch this blog for updates). Plagiarizing Samsung Galaxy S3 commercials about iPhone 5, I can say the same thing about Oracle DB 12c and DB2 – “The Next Big Thing is Already Here”.
So, what is the difference between Oracle OpenWorld 2012 and Olympics?
At Olympics you have a fair and open competition – all athletes compete at the level playing field and results are transparent and auditable. At OpenWorld, Oracle showed charts where their software has N times performance advantage over “something” and quite often it was not even clear what that “something” was. At other times Oracle used old benchmarks published by IBM or other competitors one or two years ago and claimed superiority. You don’t win Olympics by running faster than the other guy did two years ago. You need to run side by side here and now, otherwise it is called “Oracle misleading marketing”.
Branham Group has published results of their study of companies who evaluated side by side and in some cases moved their existing workloads from Oracle Fusion middleware to IBM WebSphere.The paper describes what was learned about, the reasons these organizations chose IBM, their overall real-world experiences to-date at this stage in their development and deployment cycle, and the correlation between their expectations and their actual experiences based on their selection criteria. The study features four organizations:
- TBC Corporation, a multinational wholesaler and retailer of aftermarket automotive parts and services;
- Huntington Bank, a large regional full-service consumer and commercial bank;
- Bauer Media Group, a multinational magazine publishing company; and
- a large logistics information service provider that has chosen to remain anonymous.
Each of these organizations has shared their ‘lessons learned’ for the benefit of other peer organizations and executives facing similar important IT decisions. The report provides company-specific findings from the individual case studies followed by an integrated discussion of benefits and TCO insights in the context of these real-world examples.
Download this free report directly from the IBM website.
In my earlier post titled “Oracle Exalogic – the emperor has no clothes!”, I compared Oracle Exalogic to “classic” servers sold by IBM, HP, and others. The conclusion of that article was that Exalogic does have several interesting capabilities, but overall provides less flexibility and more vendor lock-in than classic server solutions. You might want to reread that article again for a refresher on Exalogic before proceeding with the information below.
This year IBM has really changed the game by introducing a new kind of integrated system. Here is an excellent six-minute video overview of the new IBM PureApplication System by Jason McGee. In this post, I compare IBM PureApplication System to Oracle Exalogic. Here is the summary of my analysis. The rest of this post explores each of these topics in more details.
Q: Is middleware preinstalled on my system?
IBM PureApplication System comes from the factory with virtualization, cloud software, and middleware, and also operating system hypervisor images installed and configured. By design, its “smarts” include the capabilities found in the IBM Workload Deployer (IWD), with built in redundancy to avoid a single point of failure. I have explained capabilities of IWD in one of my earlier posts titled “Comparison of two private cloud tools from IBM and Oracle”. After you power on the PureApplication System, you can start using all the default patterns provided onboard with the IWD or create your own patterns in minutes and quickly deploy them into compute nodes within the PureApplication System. There is no need to install an operating system or WebSphere Application Server, DB2, WebSphere Extreme Scale or other IBM middleware. All of those components are already configured as patterns and are ready for deployment. When you deploy patterns, the system will place them on the most appropriate compute nodes, considering current workload, CPU, network and memory utilization, as well as other factors for optimal placement of components.
No longer need your deployment? You can easily delete it with a single click. The system will remove all related resources, including virtual guests for database, caching servers, application server, HTTP server and other related resources even if they all run on separate compute nodes. You can also schedule automatic removal of the deployed configuration after a certain period of time – just to make sure that those test environments do not sit there forever doing nothing. What is even better is that PureApplication System provides self-service user portal with an access control list so that those who are authorized can deploy their applications and patterns from the simple browser-based user interface (or make an API call) and not even have to bother the IT department for deployment or installation help.
In contrast, Oracle Exalogic does not come with any middleware installed. The user must log in to the Oracle Software Delivery website, download the correct version of Oracle Fusion Middleware, and install and configure all of it from scratch on the selected Exalogic compute nodes. User must be aware of the workload on the system and manually pick appropriate compute nodes for installation and deployment. One must also install all of the appropriate prerequisite software, JDK, database, fixes, and updates for the WebLogic and other Fusion Middleware components – all manually. There is an option to use command-line installers if you need to install WebLogic on many compute nodes, but you have to create the scripts and you have to run them manually for each compute node that needs to be provisioned.
No longer need that installation? Manually stop servers and run uninstall. Repeat for each compute node involved. As of this writing, there is no documentation about the use of the Oracle Application Assembly Builder on the Exalogic system. There is no self-service user portal to allow users to deploy their applications and configurations. Those users still need to call IT support folks and have them provision all resources from scratch.
Q: Can I run the Java EE 6 runtime on my system?
Oracle: Yes (updated as of July 2012)
With PureApplication System you get the latest IBM software, including WebSphere Application Software v8.0 (for Java EE 5) and v8.5 (for Java EE 6) as well as other IBM middleware. Oracle WebLogic Server v.12c shipped in December 2011, but it was not available on the Oracle Exalogic until recently and you could run only WebLogic 11g (Java EE 5 certification level). However as of July 2012 Oracle supports WLS 12c on Exalogic.
Q: What about hardware specifications?
Here is a quick summary comparison of IBM and Oracle systems that are approximately similar in compute power, however if you look at specifics, you will notice that in every case IBM configuration has more speed, storage, capacity:
* – please note that the cost of both systems above is calculated using list prices and includes comparable software configuration.
* – HDD space is a usable capacity after formatting, not raw capacity as it ships (IBM’s raw capacity is 80 TB, Oracle provides 60 TB raw capacity).
As you may have noticed, the PureApplication System has newer generation processor, more cores in large configuration, significantly more RAM per compute node, more HDD space, more SDD space, yet it uses less power and cost almost half of what Exalogic system when you factor in the cost of the software. I was quite conservative with the cost calculation and gave Oracle some slack to reduce their already astronomic cost.
For the cost comparison I have used US list prices (no vendor discounts assumed). The cost for both systems includes hardware cost plus the license cost of the software for the application server and the database assuming that about two-thirds of the system runs the application server and about one-third runs a database. I will discuss cost comparison in much more detail in a future post. In the meantime, please send me email if you would like to understand the pricing comparison in details.
Not shown in the table above is the High Performance configuration of the IBM PureApplication System, that has to have more than one Exalogic boxes to match its power, but is delivered in a single rack by IBM:
In case you are interested in the hardware architecture of the PureApplication System, here is a short blog article by Ahmed Abbass.
Q: How long does it take to get the system going?
IBM: Under four hours
Oracle: Likely over one week
Because almost all of the configuration and setup tasks were already done by IBM in the lab and at the factory, the PureApplication System can be unboxed and deployed in under 4 hours. The user does not need to do much, other than configure some basic network and security options to connect the system to the user’s data center environment. The process has been automated by IBM and does not require week-long training class to get started. You can watch this short video of the system setup – 4 hours compressed into 90 seconds of video.
In contrast, Oracle Exalogic setup and installation manual is about 500 pages long, and involves hundreds of manual configuration steps to initialize, download, install, and configure the system. Oracle has posted their video of how Exalogic can be deployed in 10 hours, but that video skips many manual and labor-intensive steps in configuration. Look at the Oracle Exalogic installation guide and Exalogic Deployment Guide and consider all of the complexity involved with Exalogic deployment (just the high level table of contents of these documents is over 21 pages long). Oracle video shows provisioning of only a single compute node! There are 30 compute nodes in Exalogic – what about the other 29 nodes? With IBM PureApplication System, users do not need to worry about all of the compute nodes because their applications and patterns get automatically provisioned “cloud style” into the best compute node depending on the placement criteria (memory and CPU requirements, workload, and so on) – no manual steps involved.
One minor point bothers me – you must have a laptop to be able to run Exalogic Configuration Utility and execute some other configuration steps. Why don’t they build one into the system, like IBM did with PureApplication System? And where are you supposed to keep that laptop? Put it on top of Exalogic? Or maybe hang it on the side? Or slide it under the system? In front of it? Is there a “best practice”?
Q: Is software cost included with my system?
With PureApplication System you get licenses of WebSphere Application Server Hypervisor Edition (which is WAS ND packaged with Red Hat Linux), WebSphere Extreme Scale (as an embedded services for the Virtual Application Pattern and Shared Caching Service), DB2, IBM HTTP Server, Edge Components, Intelligent Management Pack (On-demand Router, and so on) for use on the system at no additional charge. You can deploy any number of instances of these components on as many compute nodes within PureApplication System as you want. All of these are packaged as hypervisor images and include licenses of the Red Hat Enterprise Linux — all at no additional charge to the user.
Oracle Exalogic does include licenses of Oracle Solaris and Oracle Linux, but all other software needs to be purchased separately, including WebLogic Server, Oracle Database, Coherence, and others. Detailed cost comparison of both systems will be a subject of my future post.
Q: Is there a way to track software licenses deployed on the system?
With PureApplication System you have the ability to turn on optional software license tracking. I already described above that you can deploy any number of instances of WebSphere Application Server and other software that is included the system, but if you purchase additional software, such as WebSphere MQ or WebSphere Message Broker, or WebSphere Portal, you can automatically track the number of cores and licenses used for all of the users, and generate user specific reports that can be used for charge-back purposes. You can even optionally enforce strict compliance so that you never deploy more software licenses than you have entitlements to. For example, if you have purchased 800 PVUs (IBM’s Processor Value Unit metric)) of IBM Business Process Manager software, you can enter this into the system configuration and PureApplication System will make sure that all of the concurrent running instances of all patterns and deployments that include IBM BPM will not exceed 800 PVUs in total. The added benefit is that IBM supports sub-capacity pricing that I described in details in this blog post.
I was not able to find any way to track or enforce software license tracking and compliance on Oracle Exalogic.
Q: Is the system cloud enabled?
Deployment of virtual applications patterns in PureApplication System can be configured with scaling policies – that is the system will automatically grow or shrink the size of the dynamic cluster based on the workload and relative importance of particular application relative to other applications running on the system and competing for compute resources. PureApplication System is fully virtualized and is controlled by the IBM Workload Deployer. Here is a good six-minute demo of the IBM Workload Deployer. There are many more demos of IWD on YouTube. The users can easily deploy new patterns on the system without having to provision physical hardware and deal with labor-intensive software installation, configuration and patching. Charge-back reports can be generated for billing. Although being a physical server, PureApplication System certainly has limits to its capacity if compared to cloud and cannot pretend to be a “true” cloud (after all, true cloud is supposed to be limitless in capacity from the user standpoint), there are many “cloud” capabilities in the PureApplication System, including application elasticity, user self-service portal, one-click deployment into a virtual pool of compute nodes, high level of abstraction from the underlying physical platform, self management and advanced monitoring capabilities, high performance, high reliability, and so on.
Oracle Exalogic does not exhibit qualities listed previously. I have provided extensive comparison of the IBM Workload Deployer features to what Oracle has to offer in my post titled “Comparison of two private cloud tools from IBM and Oracle”. To make matters worse, even Oracle Virtual Assembly Builder does not run on Exalogic today – at least it is not documented in the Exalogic manual.
Additionally, PureApplication System includes all of the capabilities of what used to be called WebSphere Virtual Enterprise and here is a comparison to what Oracle has to offer in my earlier post called “How does WebSphere intelligent management and virtualization compare to WebLogic?”.
With Exalogic, if one of your applications requires more compute capacity, you would have to manually provision additional instances of WebLogic Server or Oracle Database or Coherence – assuming you catch the demanding application at the right time and are able to flawlessly install and configure additional instances of the application. Again, this is all done manually with Oracle Exalogic. In IBM PureApplication System you get “autopilot” behavior – as soon as one of your applications needs more capacity, it is dynamically provisioned and in some cases less important applications will be slowed down or un-deployed from some nodes to free up compute space for the more important application.
Q: Are there third-party applications that I can run on the system?
IBM: Yes, over 80
Oracle: None known
IBM has a catalog of third- party certified applications for PureApplication System called PureSystems Centre. At the time of this writing, there are 86 solutions.
I was not able to find any third- party certification information for Oracle Exalogic. If you know such data, please let me know. So far it appears that some limited set of Oracle software is the only thing that runs on Exalogic.
Q: Can I virtualize all this computing power?
Oracle: Not fully supported
The Intel version of the PureApplication System includes VMware hypervisor preinstalled and preconfigured. The Power7-based system includes PowerVM hypervisor. In both cases these are completely integrated into the overall architecture and are well supported by the IBM Workload Deployer. Users do not really need to know much about the hypervisor at all. It is almost completely transparent to the user. All you need to do is select the pattern and deploy it into the system. All steps for virtual guest provisioning are done under the covers with no effort from your side.
Until April 2012, Oracle did not provide any virtualization on Exalogic. All you could do is run native images of Solaris or Oracle Linux. Starting May 2012, based on the customer feedback that I got, the Oracle VM can be installed on Exalogic as a technology preview, but is not fully supported configuration at this time. This must be very disappointing for Exalogic users because having all this compute capacity and not being able to virtualize it must be a source of major dissatisfaction. Not to mention the software costs – if you can’t run Oracle VM, you must license an entire compute node for your Oracle software. Ouch…
Q: Can I manage the system from a single management user interface?
One of the key advantages of the PureApplication System over the traditional server environment is that you get a single user interface to manage and monitor every aspect of the system, including compute nodes, rack and blade cages, cooling, power, networking, storage, security, virtualization, middleware, database, and even your applications. This truly is a unique capability. I do not believe any other system on the market offers similar function today. In this video that I already referenced at the top of my post you can see the Central Management Console in action.
In contrast, Oracle Exalogic includes multiple separate administrative consoles that you would use depending on the task at hand. You would use separate consoles for managing Exalogic:
- compute nodes,
- Oracle VM hypervisors and virtual machines (when they become fully supported),
- WebLogic Server domains,
- Coherence grids,
- Oracle Database.
In fact, each compute node is managed as an individual entity. Each domain of WebLogic is managed individually. You would need to manually install and configure Oracle Enterprise Manager and WebLogic Management Pack (all at extra cost) to be able to manage multiple WebLogic domains from one console.
Q: Are compute nodes easily replaceable?
In PureApplication System all compute nodes are driverless, and storage is provided by the shared RAID resource, which is running on two IBM Storwize V7000 controllers each with its own expansion unit. The benefit of this design is that compute nodes can be easily replaced in case of failure. After the compute node fails, all of its configuration and data resides on the RAID, and after you replace failed node with a new one, it automatically gets recognized and picks up its configuration from the same RAID where the failed node kept its data. This makes for a very simple and reliable failure repair process.
In Exalogic compute nodes have local storage and keep their configuration local. To prepare for failures one would need to do regular backups of each node after each configuration change (!), and in case of failure, restore node configuration from the backup manually (assuming backup was easy to find and the restore process worked as designed). This design makes for much more labor-intensive failure repair process, longer repair times, and most important, not a reliable system – do you make a full backup each time you make even a little configuration change on a compute node?
Q: Does my system have built-in expertise?
Built-in expertise was perhaps the main driving force for the design of the PureApplication System. The whole point was to take decades of IBM experience in designing and operating mainframes — AS/400 servers (now IBM i), Power Systems, and more recently Blade Systems — and combining that with the expertise of designing transaction monitors (CICS, TXSeries) and also DB2 database, WebSphere Application Server and caching (WebSphere eXtreme Scale) combined with storage and networking experience and fusing that all together into a unit that has all these key parts integrated, and optimized for transactional workloads running OLTP Java and Database operations. The user does not need to be expert in each area separately and gets to enjoy all the best practices and optimized architectural decisions made by IBM implemented and codified in the PureApplication System. Architects of the system, however smart they are, were successful in building it not so much because they are geniuses (they well might be), but because they were standing on the shoulders of giants (pardon me paraphrasing). There are a number of patterns included onboard with the system that are ready to be deployed, and there is capability to customize and extend those patterns. Look at some of the demos published on youtube. The patterns include Web Application Pattern, Business Intelligence Pattern, Transactional Database and Datamart Pattern, Generic Java Application Pattern, as well as ability to reuse these patterns to build your own.
Oracle Exalogic does include an infrastructure pattern by combining storage, networking and compute nodes into one rack, but that is where it stops. It does not provide any software-related patterns and leaves it up to us to figure out where and how to deploy caching, web applications, database, and more. This is no different from the traditional server environment. All the design, planning, installation, configuration, and tuning must be done empirically and iteratively to figure out the best way to run on Exalogic. Oracle does help by providing a thick installation manual, but not more than that. I should mention that Oracle Exalogic Elastic Cloud Software is also designed to make WebLogic run faster by tuning networking and other options, but this is at a micro level. What Oracle needs to do is to follow the IBM lead and start providing some higher-level patterns for their Exalogic.
Q: Do I need to take an outage when making upgrades or repairing failures?
Oracle: Likely yes
In PureApplication System, even major system upgrades, and repairs of storage and compute nodes are all done from the front of the system. Regardless of the system size that you have (small, medium, large or high performance), you can always upgrade or downgrade the system by sliding blades and storage drives in and out from the front door. The reason IBM is able to do it is that the PureApplication System is built with all the newly designed blade cages, storage, and networking modules pre-wired for the maximum capacity; the user does not need to change anything from the rear of the rack to do all those repairs and upgrades. The backplane for blades is passive – just wiring, but all moving parts and almost all circuitry that has potential for failure can be serviced from the front.
Exalogic is a rack design, and maintenance of the system will likely require frequent trips to the back of the rack. Unfortunately things are very messy from the back of the rack – it is all too easy to accidentally pull the wrong wire and mess things up otherwise. Every time you make a trip to the rear of the rack, you are under major stress and significant potential to make things worse than they were. Therefore this is not even as much about the ease of use of the system as it is about the downtime avoidance and high availability, and speed of recovery from failures. Do not approach a horse from the rear. Always approach it from the front or from the side.
Q: Which system is likely to provide higher overall performance and price/performance?
Performance is a tricky subject because cross-platform comparisons are inevitably flawed. That is unless you add cost to the equation. Then you can really compare cost per transaction. But even then, to really figure out the cost per transaction one needs to consider the effort to manage the system, mean time to failure, and many other factors. Let’s look at raw performance, keeping in mind that it is of somewhat limited value without the bigger picture. It is just one piece of the puzzle.
IBM has done extensive work to optimize and tune WebSphere for running on the PureApplication System. But so did Oracle to optimize WebLogic for Exalogic. What system can deliver better overall performance, scalability, and most important price/performance ratio? Well, there has been no public benchmark published by either IBM or Oracle for respective systems (at least not yet), so we cannot directly compare two systems.
However we can do indirect comparisons. For one thing we can look at the SPECjEnterprise2010 results from both vendors and look for tests that were done on identical (or close to identical) hardware. It just happens that there are such tests! Here is an Oracle benchmark done on the Intel Xeon X5690 processor and here is an IBM result done on the same processor. If you look at the transaction rate per processor core you could see that WebSphere Application Server provided 524 EJOPS per core – that is 16% higher transaction rate per processor core compared to WebLogic Server rate of 452 EJOPS per core. Granted, that performance is not only a factor of processor model, but depends on a number of other factors, such as I/O, caching, and so on.
The second thing we can use to indirectly compare performance is the fact that IBM PureApplication System uses more modern Intel Sandy Bridge processors, while Oracle Exalogic is built on older generation Intel Westmere. Plus IBM system has more memory, faster disks, and more. See detailed hardware spec comparison above. One would expect that on faster hardware, WebSphere would run even faster than on slower hardware. In the end, you should try your own application on both systems, calculate the cost of the configuration and compare the cost per transaction.
Did I mention I will do a detailed cost analysis in a future post?
Q: Can I extend the built-in cloud capabilities of the system?
Considering that IBM provides impressive cloud management capabilities built into the PureApplication System, you might be wondering if those capabilities will cover all of your use cases. Likely not. For those cases when IBM software can’t fit your needs, there is a Plugin Development Toolkit so that users can extend the system to their liking. Here is a good example of how to create such a plug-in.
Because Oracle does not provide cloud management capabilities with their Exalogic, this question does not apply.
Q: Can I evaluate the system remotely without the hassle of “rolling the box” into my data center?
Oracle: Not known
IBM provides a 90-day cloud-based trial of the PureApplication System where you can create up to five virtual machines with 30 GB of storage – at no charge.
Oracle does not seem to provide a cloud-based trial capability at this time. One would likely need to sign all the paperwork and invest significant time, labor, and data-center space to host Exalogic system for evaluation. The cost of such “free” trial could be very significant.
I hope this quick comparison will help you make an informed decision for selecting the right platform for your company needs. In my opinion, IBM provides a significantly better value with its “built-in expertise” approach compared to the “business as usual” architecture of the Oracle Exalogic. What I have described in this article is proof that Oracle Exalogic is not a strong competitor to the IBM PureApplication System. If you want to do an apples-to-apples comparison, you need to compare Oracle Exalogic to one of the following IBM offerings: IBM System x, or perhaps IBM Power Systems, or new IBM PureFlex System.
Trying to compare IBM PureApplication System to Oracle Exalogic is like comparing latest generation digital SLR camera to the film camera. They both serve similar purpose, and in the end – you “might” be able to get similar results, but with huge differences in cost per picture, convenience, level of skills, and amount of time involved. I have switched to digital in 2003. How about you?
Not every performance problem can be fixed with caching, but assuming you have done your due diligence and your “slow” application is already tuned and well designed, adding caching can dramatically improve response times and reduce the load on backend systems. Here is an interesting new article with the analysis of the performance improvements possible due to the use of the cache. To quote the article:
“Caching content directly in the application server JVM has one obvious benefit: access to the cached content is extremely fast because no network traversal is required. Unfortunately, it also has a number of limitations:
• The maximum size of the cache is limited to the available heap in the JVM. A large and very full JVM heap can lead to long garbage collection pauses, slowing application response time.
• In a cluster of JVMs, content will be cached redundantly in each JVM, making for inefficient use of available cache space.
• A newly started JVM must populate its cache, which means slow initial response times and high load on the back end content source while the cache is warmed.”
What I like the most about the use of the caching described in the article is that it does not require any custom programming or redesign of the application. All you need to do to make your Portal, Commerce or Content Management software to become faster is to configure the cache at deployment time. Of course this is only possible if the Portal or whatever application in question has built-in cache capability, which is exactly what IBM did with our WebSphere Portal, WebSphere Commerce, IBM Web Content Manager and some other IBM software not mentioned in the article (such as WebSphere Application Server, WebSphere Message Broker, WebSphere Process Server, etc.)
In the area of data caching both IBM and Oracle offer first class products with a good track record. IBM has developed its WebSphere eXtreme Scale (WXS) product in-house and has a number of high profile customers using the product in mission critical applications for several years (take a look at this cool video where ESPN’s Director of Engineering explains how they used WXS to redesign their website).
Oracle acquired a company called Tangosol and rebranded their product as Oracle Coherence. The Coherence product has been around for a bit longer than IBM’s WXS product, but both have good reputations in the market and Forrester rated the IBM caching product higher on strategy and similar on technical capabilities compared to Oracle (I can’t post the official Forrester Wave report or even a picture here, but feel free to visit Forrester website and search for the “The Forrester Wave: Elastic Caching Platforms”).
Both products – IBM WXS and Oracle Coherence have a very comprehensive set of features, including Java APIs, REST, .NET support, automatic replication of data across multiple cache servers, high availability and failover, monitoring and reporting capabilities and more. There are few features in WXS that Coherence does not provide, such as Disk Off-load or Disk Snapshot support, which enables faster restoration of the grid post failure or maintenance. The alternative is to do the grid data replication over the network. The disk snapshot is stored locally on every machine with container JVMs running. Another WXS advantage is the ease with which new caching JVMs can be added to the grid. Performance for large scale implementation is another area where WXS shines compared to Coherence. Unfortunately Oracle software license does not allow anyone to publish their performance results without the Oracle written permission (and do you think they will allow anyone to publish any result that shows Oracle lacking?). Hence I can not share any specific numbers comparing WXS and Coherence, but I do suggest that you run your own performance tests to see which product is faster. I am sure Oracle can come up with a couple of things Coherence does well that WXS does not provide (if you know of any – please let me know).
In addition to technical advantages, IBM also wins on cost:
- WXS has lower license cost
The current WXS list price is $152 per PVU while the current Oracle Coherence Grid Edition list price is $25,000 per processor core (I will explain how this compares in examples below).
- WXS supports VMware and other software hypervisors, Coherence does not
What this means is that regardless of the number of cores you are using to run your caching product, you would have to pay for entire server with Oracle and only pay for the cores you actually use with IBM. The only hypervisor supported by Oracle is OracleVM, but chances are it is not what your company uses for virtualization. Take a look at my other post on this subject: “IBM and Oracle software licensing and support in virtualized private cloud environments”
- IBM provides Disaster Recovery, Warm Backup at no charge
Oracle wants you to pay for all of those.
- IBM provides Cold Backup at no charge
Oracle wants you to pay for Cold Backup in case you failover to it for more than 10 days in a year, including testing.
- First year of support for WXS is included into the license cost
With Oracle you pay for the 1st year of support on top of the license fee.
- IBM support cost is 20% of the license fee
Oracle charges 22% for support.
I have explained these cost differences in great deal of details in my recent webcast: “Save money with IBM WebSphere over Oracle WebLogic”.
Let me illustrate some of the above considerations with specific examples. Suppose you decide to run a cache on a grid of 4 servers and for those servers you decide to use IBM BladeCenter HS22. These are blades well suited for heavy caching workloads with high-speed I/O (up to four 10 Gigabit Ethernet to each blade and up to eight ports of total I/O per blade), can take up to 192 GB of ultra fast memory and have two Intel Xeon 5600 series processors, up to 3.60 GHz. The IBM PVU rating for these machines is 70 PVUs per core and Oracle core factor is 0.5. The table below provides an illustration of the cost difference between WXS and Coherence for such configuration, where each machine runs VMware hypervisor so that only select number of cores on each machine is used to run the caching software. Please note that in case of Oracle this makes no difference as licenses must be procured for all cores on each machine.
My examples below show three different configurations. The only difference between these configurations is the level of virtualization. First example shows the cost of a 4 server setup where only 2 cores out of total 8 cores on each server are used to run the VMware guest with WXS or Coherence. In second example I use 4 cores out of total 8 to run the VMware guest. The last example shows configuration where no virtualization is being used (i.e. native OS install) or VMware guests are using all 8 out of 8 total cores on all servers. IMPORTANT: All pricing examples are using list prices. As you well know, discounts are available from both IBM and Oracle, and the street prices that you would pay would be lower than the ones shown below.
As you can see WXS has significant cost advantage over Coherence in all cases, but it is mostly pronounced in the case when small percentage of the cores is used to run the caching workload. Since caching is memory intensive and not CPU intensive, the case where you use virtualization and only dedicate small number of cores to caching is more realistic scenario.
While the software version of the software provides choices for the deployment platform and the operating system, the appliance form factor offers significant advantages over traditional software. IBM delivers appliance with built-in WXS caching capability sold as the IBM WebSphere DataPower XC10 Appliance and is designed to work in heterogeneous environments. Appliance can be used as external cache by your custom application or by any of the IBM or 3rd party products that are capable of using Java or REST APIs. Once again, this article I mentioned earlier provides an example how XC10 can be used to accelerate Portal and Content Management applications.
One might ask – why would I ever want to use cache appliance if I can simply use cheap hardware and install software cache products? The answer is – simplicity and ease of deployment and operations. While software caching might be more flexible and highly customizable, many customers found that IBM XC10 caching appliance provides a very compelling value by being very easy to use and very fast to deploy, thus with significantly lower Total Cost of ownership. In those cases when customers need extensibility and additional flexibility, software caching may be better, but in many cases the simplicity and ease of use of appliance outweighs the flexibility and programmability of the software version of WXS. To illustrate my point, let me use this example of the tasks required to setup a new cache node in appliance form factor vs. software based caching:
As you can see, the fact that appliance embeds the software and comes pre-installed and tuned out of the box makes a big difference. But this comparison between software vs. appliance goes beyond just the time to setup, it also has large impact on the Total Cost of Ownership as I show in the table below:
Note 1: Cost comparison assumes $150 per hour labor rate and dual socket six core server for Oracle Coherence server
Next time you have performance and scalability issues with your application, consider the possibility of using caching. Also consider the flexibility of the software caching vs. the ease of use and simplicity of the cache appliance. There is no one answer to every problem, but with IBM you have a choice. With Oracle you do not.