If you've run into the problem where you're running out of space on your Exadata system, relief is on the way. Oracle has announced the Exadata Storage Expansion Rack. It comes in 3 handy sizes, just like your Exadata: Quarter, Half, and Full. They've taken out the database servers and left the remaining guts inside (KVM, Cisco switch, 3 IB switches for half and full, 2 IB switches for quarter).
The quarter rack has 4 cells, a half has 9, and the full rack includes 18 storage cells. All come with the "High Capacity" 2TB 7200RPM SAS drives, meaning the full rack comes with 194TB of usable space. The best thing about this is that you'll be able to add the storage to your existing Exadata without taking anything offline. Just connect the new Exadata storage to the spine switch on your existing Exadata, and you're ready to configure the cells and add the griddisks to ASM.
While checking the pricelist, I also noticed the inclusion of the Exadata memory expansion kit. This will allow you to upgrade the RAM on your X2-2 database servers from 96GB to the maximum of 144GB. No word on whether this has been officially announced yet.
I was involved in an interesting Exadata installation last week. We have a client that wanted a half rack Exadata spit into 2 quarter racks to separate development and production. The best part was that we were doing this from the factory image, without the use of Oracle's ACS. Normally, a standard Exadata installation can be a tricky proposition, but since we've run through the process a few times for other customers, it wasn't too difficult.
We started by running the dbm_configurator spreadsheet and giving it the configuration information for a quarter rack system. We then went through the process again for another quarter rack, with an additional storage cell (a half rack can't be split evenly since there are 7 cells). We decided to give the extra cell to the production cluster since it would be running +DATA in high redundancy. We did have to massage the hostnames and IPs a little bit, since the clusters would be sharing the switches, and the IPs would be intertwined between the 2 clusters.
After this, we ran through the typical installation. The only difference was that we had to run everything twice. Once from db01 (production), and once from db03 (would become db01 in development). What we ended up with were 2 separate clusters that only shared the Infiniband network. We had a fully functional Exadata environment to test patching and software code releases.
If your company is looking at purchasing 2 quarter rack Exadata systems that would go into the same datacenter, I would definitely recommend looking at a split half rack solution. Not only do you get an extra storage server and Infiniband switch (half and full racks include a spine switch, while the quarter rack only has 2 leaf switches), you can get significant savings on floor space and power. The power requirements for single phase power are the same between and quarter and half rack - 4 L6-30 plugs. If you purchased 2 quarter racks, you would need 8 L6-30 plugs in total. Also, since (according to Oracle) you are not allowed to place anything else in the rack, you end up with 2 cabinets that only have a few components in them.
Overall, it was a fun experience to go through the installation from the factory image to client handover. We even had enough time at the end to get a DBFS up and running for the client.
I've been asked to participate in the Exadata Virtual Conference organized by Tanel Poder that is being held August 3&4. I'll be speaking about something near and dear to my heart, Exadata patching! Patching Exadata can be a scary proposition, considering that one patch touches Exadata storage application code, provides OS and kernel updates, and even flash firmware for the hardware components. Many customers of ours have noted that they have had issues with patching, or are reluctant to patch all together due to the complexity of the process. I'm looking to explain the process in plain English and take the fear out of it. Speaking with me will be the authors of Expert Oracle Exadata. Tanel will be speaking, along with Kerry Osborne, one of the best Exadata performance guys around, and Randy Johnson, speaking about IORM. It should be an interesting format, allowing for a direct Q&A after each session. Early bird pricing is $375 per attendee until July 22.