Oracle Hardware Slumps. Will Exa Systems Save the Day?
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One area of Oracle's business that has not been one of uniform growth is the hardware segment. During the fourth quarter, Oracle's hardware systems products revenues were down 16 percent to $977 million. The decline is largely from the commodity x86 server business that Oracle inherited as part of its acquisition of Sun in 2010.
Larry Ellison, CEO of Oracle, stressed during the earnings call that his company's engineered systems were growing at a rapid rate. Engineered systems include compute, storage, networking and software in a converged platform. Oracle's engineered systems include the Exadata database box, Exalogic for Java applications, and Exalytics for analytics. Ellison said that both Exadata and Exalogic had triple digit bookings growth in the quarter with big customer wins at Facebook, Paypal and Deutche Bank, among others. He noted that Exalytics is also growing fast and is a direct competitor to SAP's HANA in-memory database analytics technology platform.
"We expect our Exa system business to approximately double in the current year," Ellison said. "We will continue to get faster too, riding the tech curve and improving the Exa systems at a fast rate."
The Exa class systems leverage commodity Intel CPUs, enabling Oracle to take advantage of Intel's performance gains as they become available. Ellison noted that for him, the most interesting part of the Exa class systems story is not that it delivers the highest performance in the industry but that it delivers great cost performance as well. That cost performance is a function of the fact that Oracle is using Intel at the core. It's also why Ellison sees further growth potential for the Exa systems as his company carves out an increasing share of the high-end system market.