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Oracle Wheels Out Its Big Data Appliance Ahead of Schedule

Goes to Cloudera for Hadoop

In a surprise move on Tuesday, January 10, Oracle wheeled out its Big Data Appliance.

That's the one it said in October would be ready sometime in the first half. Only nobody believed it meant early in the first half. Heck, it's not even clear anybody thought Oracle could make the first half at all and it probably couldn't have met so early a date if it hadn't been secretly closeted for months with Cloudera.

It's using Cloudera's version of Hadoop in the thing rather than lose time dicking around rolling its own.

Cloudera is the oldest, most established of the Hadoop start-ups whose ranks now include MapR (tight with EMC, its Greenplum database and the EMC Data Computing Appliance) and Hortonworks (buddies with Microsoft and SQL Server 2012) and it's assumed to have more customers and more experience than anybody else.

Observers say Oracle's use of Cloudera shows it's serious. Big Data is supposed to be a $70 billion industry growing at maybe 20% a year and Oracle wants more than its fair share so it's not letting any grass grow under its feet.

To prove it's serious, Oracle is low-balling the highly engineered system. Rather than charge millions like it does for its Exadata, Exalogic and Exalytics appliances, Oracle's Big Data Appliance will go for a mere $450,000 a rack with maintenance on both the hardware and software running only 12% a year. The price is a third less than expected.

For the money customers will get a full rack of 18 Sun Fire x86 servers with 216 CPU cores, 864GB main memory, 648TB of raw disk storage, 40 Gb/s InfiniBand internal connectivity and 10 Gb/s Ethernet connectivity, perfectly sized for the greatest number of customers.

Users also get Cloudera's open source Distribution Including Apache Hadoop (CDH) and Cloudera Manager software, Cloudera's Google Big Table-ish HBase, an open source distribution of R, the programming language, the Community Edition of Oracle's NoSQL Database, Oracle's HotSpot Java Virtual Machine and Oracle Linux, the Oracle fork of Red Hat. The widgetry can be used in multiple ways.

Oracle and Cloudera are going to split support, with Cloudera getting the hard software questions.

Oracle's also got a bunch of separately priced connectors so users can integrate data stored in the CDH Hadoop Distributed File System (HDFS) or Oracle NoSQL Database with Oracle Database 11g. The four connectors cost $2,000 per server processor.

Betcha Oracle figures it can up-sell Big Data Appliance users on Exadata, Exalogic and Exalytics since everything's tightly integrated.

It's also possible that Oracle might want to buy Cloudera eventually depending on how things go and how its vision of itself as a database company morphs. Currently they're bound together by a non-exclusive multi-year alliance.

A huge win for Cloudera, the start-up is reveling in the validation it's getting from Oracle and all the feet Oracle can put on the street. It can probably anticipate an uptick in its consulting and training business. It also figures the Oracle ecosystem will produce new tools, applications, systems and services in support of the CDH platform.

More Stories By Maureen O'Gara

Maureen O'Gara the most read technology reporter for the past 20 years, is the Cloud Computing and Virtualization News Desk editor of SYS-CON Media. She is the publisher of famous "Billygrams" and the editor-in-chief of "Client/Server News" for more than a decade. One of the most respected technology reporters in the business, Maureen can be reached by email at maureen(at)sys-con.com or paperboy(at)g2news.com, and by phone at 516 759-7025. Twitter: @MaureenOGara

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