Enterprise computing made simple

Dec 4 2011   2:55PM GMT

How to turn your 100TB oracle DB into 10TB DB?

Alaa Samarji Profile: AlaaSamarji

In Today’s market we find that everybody that is somebody in today’s world have some form of an Oracle database running somewhere in his datacenter for the simple reason that it’s just that good vs its competition. But what do we do when the data start getting bigger and bigger, we start facing slow query performance, the risk of silent corruption grows over time, you find yourself in need of constantly upgrading your storage disks and performance and buying redundancy software’s just to keep the performance you have when you first purchased your first license.

Some time back, Oracle launched the Exadata machines which were huge million dollar DB boxes that can take you to the moon with the sum of power they were holding and they were using a secret weapon to achieve that crazy performance and that weapon was named “Hybrid columnar compression”.

so what’s a hybrid columnar compression?. Well in definition Hybrid Columnar Compression on Exadata enables the highest levels of data compression and provides enterprises with tremendous cost-savings and performance  improvements due to reduced I/O. HCC is optimized to use both database and storage  capabilities on Exadata to deliver tremendous space savings AND revolutionary  performance. Average storage savings can range from 10x to 15x depending on which Hybrid Columnar Compression level is implemented – real world customer benchmarks have resulted in storage savings of up to 204x.

I remember the first time I saw those numbers I thought it was just a marketing stunt until I popped the hood and took a look inside that technology and what I found was pretty impressive.

Traditionally, data has been organized within a database block in a ‘row’ format, where all column data for a particular row is stored sequentially within a single database block. An alternative approach is to store data in a ‘columnar’ format, where data is organized and stored by column which saves space however dramatically bring down performance.

Oracle’s Hybrid Columnar Compression technology is a new method for organizing data within a database block. As the name implies, this technology utilizes a combination of both row and columnar methods for storing data. This hybrid approach achieves the compression benefits of columnar storage, while avoiding the performance shortfalls of a pure columnar format.

So basically how you usually store your data based is something like this.

Block A

Block B

Block C

Block A

Block B

Block C

Block A

Block B

Block C

With hybrid columnar your database will look something like this.

Block A

Block B

Block C

Block A

Block B

Block C

Block A

Block B

Block C

By combining the blocks in this manner the compression was immense and the results found were really incredible.

Now having said that everybody got really excited, as oracle have found the solution for a problem haunting the masses for years now. Who would say no for a technology that can bring 100TB to 10TB of database and save thousands and thousands of dollars on storage arrays disks, licenses and maintenance charges and who you say no for a 10x performance improvement? Since everybody knows a smaller database run faster than a larger one so it’s just common sense and why to say no if this feature is coming free with the box and won’t save a thing, or will it?

Those Exadata machines comes with a bill and a big one for that matter so all those super features like cutting DB size by 10 and increase performance by 10 looked a bit farfetched to the SMB market until Oracle has declared that this technology is now available on the ZFS appliances which means even the cheapest 20K  ZFS box can do what the million dollar Exadata is doing so the real big question to ask after that is, what are you still waiting for?

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