Elisabeth Stahl on Benchmarking and IT Optimization

I Want to Buy a Zoo, Not an Oracle System

with 5 comments

Most people don’t think about going to the zoo in the middle of winter. But it’s actually the very best time to go.

No crowds, the zebra fried oreo shacks are closed, and the animals are at their very best. And, after all, isn’t that what it’s really all about?

Last week, I had a spectacular visit. The polar bears were playing with dead Christmas trees, the seals and sea lions were playing with their rubber balls, and the grizzly cubs were playing with themselves.

And then there’s the Rainforest. Imagine stepping from a cold snowy Cleveland day into a zoological tropical paradise. Sort of like the feeling you get when the plane doors open, you get your carry-on from the overhead, and you step off in Miami. My rainforest favorites are the tropical monkeys, the river otters, and, of course, the anteaters. But alas, last week, the anteaters were still, lying on their sides, hiding behind a crop of rocks.

And that’s how I’ve been feeling lately about Oracle.

  • See what’s hiding behind the Oracle SPARC SuperCluster and Exadata systems. “Must buy” storage server software.
  • See what’s hiding behind that pricing in the Oracle benchmark. Artificially low support costs.
  • See what’s hiding behind Oracle’s “Itanium roadmap.” An investigation into Oracle’s “potentially abusive” practices.
  • What else do YOU think Oracle is hiding? All thoughts welcome.


    Oracle SPARC T4-4 server (4 sockets/32 cores/256 threads) 205,792 QphH@3000GB, $4.10/QphH@3000GB, available 5/31/12.
    Source: Results current as of 1/11/12.
    TPC-C ,TPC-H, and TPC-E are trademarks of the Transaction Performance Processing Council (TPPC).

    The postings on this site solely reflect the personal views of the author and do not necessarily represent the views, positions, strategies or opinions of IBM or IBM management.

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    Written by benchmarkingblog

    January 11, 2012 at 1:41 pm

    5 Responses

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    1. Do you ever to stop to wonder how confusing this sort of blogging is for customers?

      I’ve been through all 10 pages in the link you provided to “Must Buy” SPARC SuperCluster software and couldn’t find any reference to SuperCluster software? Please help, this would be very useful to know.

      You mention “artificially low” Oracle Database support costs for the Oracle SPARC T4 TPC-H benchmark, yet I’ve been reviewing this benchmark and the most recent IBM Power 780 TPC-H benchmarks with my colleagues and there are more questions than answers. The most important one of all: why did IBM use Sybase IQ as the database, with a price of approx. only $50k per server? This is presumably an alternative to including Oracle DB or IBM DB2 for the benchmark, which could add in excess of $6m over three years (inc. support) for the Power 780, rather than the $50k for Sybase IQ? Do you have any idea how annoying these smoke and mirror benchmarking tactics are to customers?

      I appreciate the replies section of this blog doesn’t require much in the way maintenance, yet it would be interesting to know your opinion a reader’s thoughts once in a blue moon 🙂


      January 16, 2012 at 11:13 am

      • Hi Wallis, thanks so much for your questions. 1)If you look at the SPARC SuperCluster ( you will see that Exadata storage is actually a piece of this configuration. The storage server software mentioned can be found in the price list for Exadata in the link. 2)IBM has published many TPC benchmarks with DB2 so you can see price performance there; in the one you allude to, Sybase was used because many clients use Sybase and it has been requested as a proof point. The important point for this one is to look at the support costs.


        January 16, 2012 at 12:35 pm

    2. Elisabeth,

      1.) I took a look at the Oracle Supercluster link, but couldn’t find any mention of Exadata software being a pre-requisite, or to quote you, “Must buy”?

      2.) When you say TPC, I presume you are referring to TPC-C, i.e. OLTP? I’m more interested in a Data Warehousing (heavy I/O) type of test, such as TPC-H. There doesn’t seem to be anything for Power 7 with DB2 or Oracle Database @ TPCH 1TB, 3TB, 10TB?

      All the most recent Power 7 benchmarks @ 1TB and 3TB use Sybase IQ, yet all other Power TPC-H benchmarks over the past decase have been configured with DB2 or oracle Database. Hence my initial question in relation to the price of Sybase IQ vs the prices of DB2 and Oracle DB2. IBM’s motivation seems to be the published price and price / performance with these recent benchmarks running Sybase IQ. Surely you wouldn’t try and have us believe this configuration is being driving by the market when Sybase IQ’s miniscule market share is a declining single digit %?

      On the assumption we’ve covered the economics of using Sybase IQ for a benchmark, how would you expect the Power 7 QphH to compare with DB2 or Oracle DB? Any customer could then substitute the approx. $50k per server for Sybase IQ with the $4m – $6m for DB2 or Oracle Database and then make a much more objective comparison with Oracle SPARC and HP Itanium.



      January 18, 2012 at 10:46 am

    3. I really don’t understand why you state:
      “The important point for this one is to look at the support costs.”

      Why focus on Oracle’s support costs when the Power 780 is missing both realistic licensing costs and the associated support costs? i.e. using Sybase, rather than DB2 (or Oracle database for that matter!).

      Not to mention the use of Red Hat Linux on Power, rather than the much more expensive AIX and PowerVM Enterprise!


      February 1, 2012 at 7:09 am

    4. Sybase IQ is a much better option for data warehouse rather than IBM DB2.

      Heat Phlux

      March 30, 2012 at 4:45 am

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