February 28, 2012 – Oracle announced the general availability of its Exalytics data processing appliance, first announced in October.

The company also updated the Oracle Business Intelligence Foundation Suite with 87 new product capabilities, including visualizations, optimizers and simpler interfaces for users, developers and administrators.

Exalytics, like SAP's HANA product, uses in-memory storage, the equivalent of a personal computer's RAM, instead of disk drives, which makes it much faster at processing information. It uses custom and packaged applications that can also support more users.

Oracle says benchmark and customer testing of Exalytics showed relational online analytic processing (ROLAP) reporting and dashboard gains of 10X to 100X over previous products, and multidimensional OLAP (MOLAP) modeling performance increases of up to 79X.

The appliance uses Oracle's latest TimesTen in-memory database designed for analytic processing with built in features like analytic functions and compression for very fast reading and writing of large amounts of data. The product runs a Sun Fire server with 1 terabyte of RAM and 40 Intel processing cores.

Among the 80-plus applications in the updated BI Suite are horizontal and industry-vertical focused apps supporting analytics in finance, human resources, sales, procurement and spend analytics. There is also improved performance management for planning and forecasting purposes built on Oracle's Hyperion products.  

Pricing for the Exalytics appliance starts at $135K with licensing and annual support increasing the figure closer to $200K.

Eric Helmer, an IT consultant with a specialty on Oracle-Hyperion BI infrastructure, wrote on his blog that the appliance is geared to work well for select customers, like using OBIEE against large Essbase data sets. However, Helmer questioned the lack of additional enterprise project management capabilities for financial reporting and planning, and advised to “wait for some of the early adopters to shake this out.”