Exadata vs. IBM P-Series

Earlier this year I participated in a Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) study that was run by a company called the FactPoint Group. The goal was to compare the cost of purchasing and running Oracle on Exadata vs. the cost of purchasing and running Oracle on IBM P-Series hardware. The findings are published here:

Exadata vs. IBM P-Series

Fair warning, the study was funded by Oracle and the first 10 minutes are a sales pitch for Exadata, but the data collected by FactPoint for the TCO study fills the rest of the presentation.. That part was very interesting (to me anyway). They interviewed people from 5 companies which had been running in production on Exadata for at least 6 months and 5 companies that had production systems running on IBM P-Series machines. As a bonus, 2 of the Exadata customers had previously run their systems on IBM P-Series hardware or currently had other systems running on P-Series machines.

The TCO calculations were based on equivalent systems from a CPU count basis. That is, they priced out an IBM P7 system that had the same number of cores as an Exadata Half Rack and used that for the calculations. I didn’t think that was really a fair comparison since the performance of the two systems was vastly different. In fact, one of the customers that had moved from IBM to an Exadata had the following to say:

“This data warehouse was originally on 12 a P570 and the nightly load took 5 hours. With Exadata it takes 30 minutes with the Exadata 1⁄4 rack running at only 5% CPU utilization. Weekly stats updating went from 60 hours to 35 minutes. Backups reduced from 14 hours to 45 minutes.”

This is only one of many quotes from the customers included in the presentation. The quotes were quite revealing, and to my way of thinking, were the most interesting part of the presentation. Another oddity of the cost calculations was that they included RAC licenses in the Exadata costs while not including RAC in the IBM costs. Again I felt that this was an unfair comparison as RAC provided HA capabilities to the Exadata platform that the IBM platform simple didn’t have. Nevertheless, the study found that Exadata was about 35% less expensive. I wonder what it would have been if they had tried to cost an IBM system that performed as well as an Exadata and provided the same HA capabilities.

Updated 11/23/2012 – Note that the official white paper produced as a result of this study is now available here: Cost Comparison – Oracle Exadata Database Machine vs. IBM Power Systems

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