news Victorian utility Yarra Valley Water this week disclosed it had implemented several Oracle hardware products as it sought to boost the performance of its IT systems, including the vendor’s Exadata Database Machine and its Exalogic Elastic Cloud solution.
Yarra Valley Water is owned by the Victorian State Government and is the largest of Melbourne’s three water retail businesses. It provides water supply and sewerage services to over 1.7 million people and over 50,000 businesses in Melbourne’s northern and eastern suburbs, including some recycled water and trade waste customers.
In a statement issued by Oracle yesterday, the utility said it had conducted a review of its aging hardware systems and made a subsequent decision to in-source its IT systems from a managed service provider in order to better support its enterprise and mission critical applications. The implementation took place in May 2012.
“There is nothing else quite like Oracle’s Engineered Systems that I know of, for a start, we were amazed by the installation time. We placed the order at Christmas, had the boxes on the floor in January, and had them racked, cabled, installed and applications into development and testing within a month,” said Ramesh Subramaniam, Chief Architect, Yarra Valley Water, in Oracle’s statement.
“By May we had Oracle Customer Care and Billing live and in production and that also included an upgrade to that application. Within two weeks we had all the performance and stability issues fixed. Now IT can deliver a much higher quality of service to the business. We were finding we were spending more time trying to actually manage the technology stack than trying to actually solve business problems. Now we can get back to focussing on business activities and business functions rather than keeping the engine room, effectively, just running.”
The organisation’s chief information officer Leigh Berrell added: “Exalogic was attractive to us because it allowed us to focus more on the business applications than the technology and infrastructure, and reduced the need for us to be in the hardware game. We now only have two paired boxes to manage, rather than 12 disparate pieces of infrastructure requiring different skills sets – our boxes look lonely!”
“Because the systems are engineered to work together it is a very efficient way to implement IT – it takes most of the design work out – and we are definitely seeing the benefits of running Oracle software on Oracle hardware. We are very happy with the results, and will further develop our private cloud strategy around the Oracle platform.”
Oracle said that in Yarra’s datacentre, as a result of the use of Exadata, regular overnight re-indexing of the data warehouse, which previously took 8 hours, now takes around one hour; and a complete re-indexing/re-build, which covers six applications, now takes around 3.5 hours instead of 24 hours. This was assisted by moving it onto the new platform, with no code change required, helping translate into a significantly lower cost of ownership for YVW, and eliminating the need for onsite management overnight.
The utility is also running Oracle Utilities Customer Care & Billing, which helps it manage 700,000 customer accounts, as well as Oracle’s Primavera Enterprise Project Portfolio Management, Oracle Business Intelligence Enterprise Edition 11g, Oracle WebCenter and Oracle WebCenter Content for its website and intranet portal. Other elements of YVW’s private cloud platform include Oracle Identity Management, Oracle WebLogic Suite and built-in virtualisation with Oracle VM.
The deployment caps off a strong series of wins for Oracle with its Exadata and other ‘engineered systems’ in Australia recently.
In late January this year, top-tier bank Westpac revealed that it wouldl shift some processing resources off existing mainframe infrastructure and onto Oracle’s Exadata and Exalogic platforms, as it attempts to gain higher levels of efficiency in the platforms that underpin its project to achieve a single view of customer information.
Earlier in January, Oracle announced that giant retailer Coles had deployed the company’s Exadata Database Machine and Enterprise Manager 12c running on Oracle Linux to enable what the vendor described as ‘critical trend reporting” during retail seasonal spikes. The Commonwealth Bank of Australia is also known to be using Exadata.
In late November, for example, Oracle revealed that it signed a wide-ranging $63 million contract with the Federal Department of Defence earlier this year that will see the US technology giant supply virtually all of its major product lines, ranging from its popular PeopleSoft, Database and Fusion products to its Exadata hardware and even its Exalogic Elastic Cloud technology.
Virgin Mobile Australia has also recently commented on how happy it is with its Oracle Exadata machines, and in May last year Oracle revealed its involvement in a series of new Australian technology rollout projects, with all of the initiatives using multiple pieces of the US software giant’s complex software stack and some additionally using some of the hardware products which it has been pushing following its integration of Sun Microsystems. Some of the names revealed at that point were home improvement retailer Masters, as well as Surat Basin Homes and Australian Hearing.
I wrote the following in June 2012 regarding Exadata in Australia, and it still applies:
I’ve been fascinated to see the progress which Exadata has made in the Australian market over the past few years. I was particularly interested to see whether Oracle’s claim of integrated hardware and software (perhaps influenced by Larry Ellison’s relationship with Apple supremo Steve Jobs?) with the product line would be adopted by customers who have long been suspicious of apparent attempts by Oracle to lock them into using its product line through various technical approaches.
What has surprised me over that period has been the variety of organisations which have deployed the Exadata. Of course, we were always going to see organisations the size of the Commonwealth Bank deploy one — an organisation with hundreds of millions of dollars in IT spend every year will almost by definition test out any significant new technology which comes onto the market — but organisations such as the Australian Finance Group and Australian Hearing are nowhere near to that scale, and neither is Virgin Mobile, which is essentially a marketing arm for Optus’ mobile network.
I won’t say that the Exadata is going to be the best solution for most situations requiring powerful database processing, and of course we need to take the positive statements above by Virgin and Oracle with a huge grain of salt, but in general it does seem as though the Exadata product line has earned its stripes. It will be interesting to see to what extent it can supplant more traditional database servers in other organisations around Australia over the next few years.
And of course I always love the sense of nostalgia you get when you see the Sun Microsystems logo on the side of a huge Oracle server, as we did in the recent hit movie The Avengers. Sun is gone, but its memory still lingers on. Pity there are no MySQL appliances or we might get the same feeling ;)
Image credit: Oracle