Database Journal author calls it “a tuned combination of database server, storage server and private interconnects that truly can outperform commodity hardware configurations.”

All about Exadata
Oracle’s Exadata appliances are among the company’s leading enterprise products and are promoted as an all-in-one answer to storing, sorting and analyzing data. This article in Database Journal spells out many of the functions in the appliances, including the architecture of the storage system, executing queries and how the operating system works.
 
While an Exadata box will operate well on its own, author David Fitzjarrell writes, IT departments may run into problems if they separate Oracle database administration, networking, storage and system administration.
To address potential problems, “Oracle suggests a new role, the DMA (Database Machine Administrator) that has both Oracle admin rights and O/S admin rights (root) so that patching can be performed and verified by personnel trained in Exadata machine management,” Fitzjarrell writes.
Exadata faces stiff competition from IBM’s line of Power Systems servers, which can perform some of the same functions.
 
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