Why Oracle should sell “cars” – not servers! – Part 1

Yes, I must apologize to car salesman as they should feel slighted by comparing them to an Oracle sales person. However, when you watch a YouTube video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2bvRO8ipXWc by Scott Lynn, Solaris Product Manager at Oracle you can’t help but wonder how businesses continue to fall for what appears to be constant misleading claims and statements.

Here are a few of the claims made by Scott that I will discuss in detail below.

  • Barely 40 seconds into the video Scott claims T5 is the Worlds Fastest Processor – Why yes, this car is the “Fastest” in its class!
  • Claims each generation of SPARC has seen a 2X performance increase (while his own chart doesn’t even show that) – The HP for this engine is up 2X from last years model!
  • Power7+ is only 10% faster than it’s predecessor over the last 3 years – My car is the only manufacturer to make real improvements model year after model year.
  • Compares the $/Perf of M9000 at $18 to T5 @ $4 which is a 78% decrease in price performance – Our latest car is better, faster and cheaper whereas the competition has had issues, slower and cost more for less – that’s what I am hearing at least.
  • Made claims for a European Telco moving from a x86 / Linux / VMware solution to T4 obtaining 10X greater transactions and 2X the performance for the same number of licenses – one customer was able to achieve 55 mpg using normal driving habits – I’m sure you are no different than he is!
  • Solaris is 85% less costly than a typical x86 solution – This car pays for itself!
  • Solaris is almost $1K less per VM than competition at $2543 vs $1591 – For what you get, this car is less expensive. Let’s go talk to the Finance Manager now.
  • VMware uses 10 – 30% overhead while Solaris has virtually 0% overhead – their car has emissions controls but this car is wide open!

I almost do not know where to begin. At the end of the video he threw in a set of floor mats, mud flaps and a oil change.  Below are my responses to Scott’s claims that I listed above.

  • T5 is the Worlds Fastest Processor so says “Oracle”. That’s right, based on their own internal testing the T3 outperforms T2 by 2X. T4 outperforms T3 by 2X. T5 outperforms T4 by 2X. First, by what standard? On a core vs core basis? Socket vs socket? Maybe actual benchmarks? None of us know because they do not publish anything. All we have to go by are Scott’s words – because he said so, it must be true!  Sun published very, very few benchmarks or any other public results for the T2 & T3 servers. They started publishing some with T4 after adding the S3 core – must’ve been feeling their oats 🙂

The image below could be interpreted with some literary license I guess but I’m taking a literal interpretation because they do that to not just imply x86 and Power do not perform from generation to generation like SPARC T series has but in the very picture in which they criticize the competition they show themselves to not scale from generation to generation.  Stunningly inept? Oversight? It will just take a bit more research to provide various data points to support what Oracle actually shows.


The picture below shows an example of performance, pricing and sizing manipulation. Oracle uses 2 x 64 core servers to get a 28.8K result vs 2 x 16 core Power7 servers to get a 10.9K result 4X the number of cores to get just 2.6X higher performance. A more likely server solution would be 2 x Power7+ 740 servers, each with 16 cores.  Those servers would have a sell price of approximately $115K each.  There is a similar result on the cousin server running Linux called the 7R2 which delivered 13.1K EJOPs.  Those 2 x 16 core servers with 1/4 the cores of the T5 are roughly 1/2 the results of the T5’s 128 cores at a lower price. With Oracle EE database cost of $47,500 per core and WebLogic at $35,000 per core, each carrying 22% software maintenance per year – starting with the first year.  Of course, the Power solution is using DB2 and WebSphere Application Server which are both less costly than the equivalent Oracle products but the licensing model favors Power in this case. Not because of the Oracle reasons which is to manipulate vendors servers like they do with x86 and SPARC but because the 740 and 7R2 both are 2 socket servers.  Like all 2 socket servers they have a PVU rating of 70 per core.

T5 with 64 cores vs Power7 780 with 16 cores. Oracle picks a entry level vs IBM enterprise class. Intentionally use 4X the cores to get higher results while different classes to show wider cost delta.
T5 with 64 cores vs Power7 780 with 16 cores. Oracle picks a entry level vs IBM enterprise class. Intentionally use 4X the cores to get higher results while different classes to show wider cost delta.
  • Even Scott’s own chart doesn’t show a 2X increase for each generation. If I was going to say it and had the bazillions of marketing dollars that Oracle has I would at least have the red line reflect 2X from generation to generation because now it just looks like he is lying.
  • X86 has only had a 20 – 50% increase. Again, he doesn’t provide any data so we can only speculate. I will write some future blogs on the overstatement of x86 performance but in general, they do get more performance (per socket) with each generation because they tend to double the number of cores per socket: 2 => 4 => 8 => 15.  I can’t find any statements by x86 where they claim a 50% increase on a core vs core basis.  Where they make statements is usually on a socket basis and a lesser degree on a core basis – again, because their per core increase isn’t typically all that spectacular. They increase performance by doubling or adding cores.
  • In comparing Power7+ servers over 3 years one might think you were comparing it to Power6 or Power6+ but I think your marketing department is trying to be sneakier than that. However, Power7+ was first introduced in October 2012 then February 2013. Power7 wasn’t first available until March 2010 which means that Power6+ was the generation of server available 3 years prior. First, P7+ was ~30% per core better over P7 but remember that isn’t who they said they were comparing it to since it was in 3 years. Power7+ is ~43% better over Power6+. By the way, I used a P7+ 750 with 8 cores @4.0 GHz vs a P7 with 8 cores @ 3.0 GHz. In comparing to Power6, I had to pick a server that existed in each generation. I chose the P7+ 780 with 16 cores @ 4.42 GHz vs a P6+ 570 with 16 cores @ 5.0 GHz. Unlike Oracle which likes to compare a IBM Power 795 to their entry level T5 server which is like comparing a SPARC M9000 server to a SPARC T2000 – the servers simply are not in the same class.  The servers I selected are either the same in it’s class in the case of the 750 with one being first generation power7 from March 2010 vs a Power7+ 750 available in February 2013.  Also, the Power7+ 780 which replaces the Power6+ 570.  Unlike some mysterious Oracle internal testing numbers I used IBM’s rPerf numbers which are specific to Power servers (what Power Architects use to size Power vs Power) and used to compare one model to another. The data is available to the public online in their Systems Performance Report.
  • Scott compares the M9000 to a T5. That is like comparing a Cadillac to a Chevrolet Malibu. The M9000 is a true enterprise class RISC server. The T5 is not in the same league as the M9000…For that matter, nor is the M5 or M6 servers (in the same league as the M9000). This is a perfect example of the egregious marketing behavior of Oracle. They compare the cost of the top end enterprise server designed to scale I/O, cpu cores and memory based on the technology of the day with very high RAS features – which comes at a premium. T5’s are entry level servers using current technology for the processors and memory. They glue them together to scale from 1 to 8 sockets. They don’t even say which T5 server? -2? -4? -8?
  • For the European Telco – How many x86 servers? What generation of processors? How many T4 servers? What model? Number of cores, etc? Easy to make claims – He said “This car will go 0 – 6 mph in under 5 sec and get 35 mpg in the city!”.
  • Solaris is 85% less costly than a typical x86 / VMware / Red Hat solution. Here is another Oracle marketing tactic which is to shift topics around. The video is on the economics of Solaris so they mix cost efficiencies of Solaris for SPARC and Solaris x86 leaving the viewer the option to interpret what they say for one (x86) must be the same for the other (SPARC). What they lead you to believe is that Solaris virtualization is comparable by “features” to VMware but nowhere close in cost with OracleVM being considerably less expensive. I am no VMware specialist but what I do know is that Oracle is using OS based virtualization called Solaris Zones, which is included in the OS. That is how they get the cost to $0. On a feature comparison though, VMware is much more robust and feature rich than LDOM’s and Solaris Zones which they generically label both as OracleVM.
  • I don’t dispute the VMware overhead. VMware and its users seem to dispute it but that isn’t the purpose of the comment. We can discuss this in a future blog. They claim the Solaris virtualization is virtually 0%. For which product? They mention Solaris Zones but they also have LDOM’s now called Oracle VM. That has a different overhead amount that requires VM’s for Control and I/O so leaving the reader to believe virtualization is the same between platforms is disingenuous. This snapshot from the SPEC website for SPECjEnterprise2010 shows quite a difference in performance results for a 128 core T5-8 server with one using Solaris Zones and the other OracleVM, presumably LDOM’s. Of course, Solaris has Zones for both x86 and SPARC but they are apples to oranges when compared to VMware for features and functionality. Using the Oracle standard for financial disclosure I will have to do a future blog comparing a Power8 server with AIX using Workload Partitions, which are similar to Solaris Zones. Unlike the x86 server there is still an underlying hypervisor that would allow for separate VM’s with their own OS instance all without having to pay for a virtualization suite
Looks like overhead when using Solaris Zones
Looks like overhead when using Solaris Zones

I’ll pick up part 2 of this “car buying” journey.  You’ve already watched the video and hopefully with my comments pointing out how Oracle massages, manipulates, mis-states and generally exaggerates results or capabilities you are hopefully becoming a skeptic of everything they say.

I’m putting this together a bit faster than I intended but I have a tweet to my new found buddy Phil Dunn of Oracle that I want to hit “send” on so I’m sure I’ll make a few tweaks, updates and corrections.  My intention is to accurately capture their mis-statements without making my own. I’ll correct the record though.  Will they?

Author: powertheenterprise

Client Executive & Enterprise Architect

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s