Last month I covered two ads that Oracle had published about their commitment to Sun’s hardware line and its performance vs. IBM as a database server (see here.) The second ad showed an IBM server at 6 million transaction/sec side-by-side with an unannounced SUN configuration at “XX” million transactions/second. I’m a literal kind of guy, so I assumed that “XX” implied a double-digit result greater than 10 million transactions/second. So I was disappointed with the actual Sun result released on Monday (see here). The SPARC-based ExaData 2 cluster achieved 7.7 million transactions/second using the latest hardware, scale-out clustering, and a boat load of FLASH memory instead of high-performance disk. This clustered result represents ~25% improvement over IBM’s single system result from 18 months ago which didn’t use FLASH at all.
The 25% improvement brings me to Oracle’s performance challenge, “offering a 10 million dollar reward if your application isn’t twice as fast on Sun hardware”. If the best that Sun/Oracle’s engineers could manage was a 25% improvement, it sounds like it should be pretty easy to win. But before you start spending the money, read the conditions of the benchmark. First, if you aren’t using IBM storage for your database, you can’t even play (see rule 2-B). Second, you have to prove that the application performance is limited by the database, rather than other way around, which may be difficult. If that doesn’t turn you off, how about section 5-D which states “Sponsor, in its reasonable discretion, reserves the right to limit the participation of any entity or person in the Challenge, amend or interpret these Official Rules”.
Posted by: Nik Simpson