Is It Possible to Build an Exadata Simulator?

The idea of creating an Exadata simulator arose at Oracle Day 2011 Istanbul. One of my friends was trying to fix a virtual machine in a hurry (right before his presentation), he said his “fake Exadata” crashed. He was just joking but I wondered if it’s possible to build an Exadata Simulator using virtual Box (or any other virtualization software). I googled and found nothing useful but I started to work on it.

An important point is, simulating Exadata does not mean simulating all features of Exadata Database Machine. The key features of Exadata Database Machine are infiniband connections and Exadata Storage Servers (the offloading capabilities and Flash Cache). It’s obvious that we do not need to simulate infiniband. All we need is to simulate “Exadata Storage Servers”.

Smart scanning, storage indexes, hybrid columnar compression, I/O resource manager, smart flash cache are all handled by the Exadata Storage Server “Software”. Although it’s called Oracle Exadata Database “Machine”, its heart is the Exadata Storage Server “Software”. You may say that all hardware needs software but the Exadata software is not an embedded one, it’s just an application running on Oracle Linux 5.x 64bit.

I found a way to download the Exadata Storage Server Software. It took about 3 days to install it to a virtual box, and 1 week to solve the problem about mapping physical “disks” to cell disks. By the way, I haven’t modified any executable file nor script. So it was a clean installation. Then I created an ASM disk group using my “fake” Exadata Storage, and started to test the features of Exadata Storage Server.

Exadata Simulator

I’ve noticed an interesting thing about Exadata Storage Server Software. It detects that it’s running on a virtual/non-Exadata machine and reports it as a “fake hardware” 🙂 So it seems that Oracle intentionally did not put an hardware-lock to Exadata Storage Server Software.

Well, I should mention that there’s a problem with my Exadata Simulator. I did tens of tests with different data, but I couldn’t make “storage indexes” work. I found some articles and create same sample data, and do same queries but my Exadata Simulator never used storage indexes.

When I was trying to map physical disks to cell disks, one of my friends said that he read an article of Arup Nanda about simulating Exadata. I know that article. It was about performing the Oracle Exadata simulation in SQL Performance Analyzer, but I wanted to check it again. I googled for “Exadata Simulator” (it seems “Exadata Simulator” are the right keywords to search), and I found an article which says Oracle has an Exadata Simulator which is used in Exadata Training. It explains why Exadata Storage Server Software runs on a non-Exadata harware. Oracle probably wanted to run it as a simulator. I also learned that it’s possible to download Exadata installation ZIP files from Oracle Software Delivery Cloud. By the way, my friends (probably access to this simulator) never told me about it, it seems they are good at keeping secrets 🙂

In short, it’s possible to download Exadata Software from Oracle Software Delivery Cloud (edelivery.oracle.com – ZIP files of latest versions are not password protected). You also get “Official” Exadata Documents when you download the ZIP files. With some work, you can install Exadata Storage Server Software partially to any Oracle Linux 5.x 64bit running on Virtual Box (or any other virtualization software) and build a virtual Exadata Storage Server. I don’t know the legal restrictions so I can’t write a step by step guide but I’m sure that people will start to build their own Exadata Simulators because now they know it’s possible.

Additional Info (1): I said I had problems with storage indexes, but after some tweaks on parameters, I made it work. It seems exadata storage cell software decides not to create storage indexes if the storage node has low memory.

Additional Info (2): Although software downloaded from e-delivery.oracle.com is free to use for education, Oracle says it’s illegal to run exadata storage server software on a non-exadata hardware. So I deleted my simulator. Please do not ask me to share it or the instructions to build it.

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Gokhan Atil is a database administrator who has hands-on experience with both RDBMS and noSQL databases, and strong background on software development. He is certified as Oracle Certified Professional (OCP) and is awarded as Oracle ACE (in 2011) and Oracle ACE Director (in 2016) for his continuous contributions to the Oracle users community.

23 Comments

    • Gokhan Atil

      Unfortunately, it’s not legal to run Oracle Exadata software (cellsrv) on a non-Exadata hardware, so I can’t tell you how to do it.

  1. We would like to certify our product on Exadata for our customers, how can we create a test environment without buying hardware like the Exadata machine?

    • Gokhan Atil

      I understand your situation but I can’t do anything to help. Please contact Oracle support 🙂

    • Anshu Singare

      Hi Olaf,
      Responding to your query ”
      Olaf says:
      November 19, 2012 at 17:26

      We would like to certify our product on Exadata for our customers, how can we create a test environment without buying hardware like the Exadata machine?

      : You would want to contact Oracle Sales for your region & ask them for a POC / POV (Proof of Concept / Value) to certify your product with Exadata. This allows Oracle to add your product to ‘Exa* certified third-party products’ & you to do vice-versa – benefits both. This process is usually free & you’ll also get to build some useful contacts in Oracle Sales.

  2. vishnu

    Although software downloaded from e-delivery.oracle.com is free to use for education, Oracle says it’s illegal to run exadata storage server software on a non-exadata hardware. So I deleted my simulator. Please do not ask me to share it or the instructions to build it.

    then why build it, test it and then post it on the web…

    • Gokhan Atil

      Vishnu, edelivery says you can freely download and use the software for education but after I posted my article, I have unofficially (and kindly) warned so I deleted my virtual exadata.

  3. Manish Nashikkar

    Hi Gokhan,

    Wow, thanks for sharing this post. can you please tell, how many Nodes with what RAM & Disk size you need to create to simulate exadata environment ( I believe two nodes should be enough, one is for Db Node and another is for Storage Cell ), is this right ?

    • Gokhan Atil

      Manish, I prefer not to answer any questions about the simulator but I’ll make an exception. As you said two nodes are enough. RAM and disk space are up to you, but an interesting point is, if your “cell server” do not have enough RAM, then it will not support storage indexes (unless you set it explicitly).

  4. Pingback: Simulador de Exadata | oraclefromguatemala

  5. Karthik

    Hi Gokhan,

    Can you updated me the link to download the exadata software for practice as I see that multiple mediapack for exadata in the edeilvery link for the Host and  Exadata Storage Cell .

    Thanks

    Karthik

  6. vijay

    Hi Gokhan Atil,

    First of all i am your super fan of your blog. I am learning   new information from  your blog. Can you please let me know  where can i download exdata simulator oracle exadata storage server software. please update me . I download Oracle Database Machine Database Host (X4800M2, X4800, X4-2, X4170M3, X4170M2,
    X4170) Image 11g Release 2 (11.2.3.3.0) for Linux x86_64 from edelivery oracle. Am i downloaded  correct simultor? Can you guide how to install in virtual box

    Regards

    Vijay

    • Gokhan Atil

      No but because cellsrv is just a RPM package, it’s not a problem to upgrade it to newer version.

  7. Dear Gokhan,

    thank you for this article which showed me that I finally can have an Exadata machine.

    I completed the exadata cell server VM configuration on ESX and created the Cell with GRID disks and cell disks.

    Now I want to use this machine as a storage server to install Grid infrastructure on another VM.

    I configured the cellip.ora and cellinit.ora on the database machine but when I try to run the KFOD command from the grid software it doesn’t return any disks.

    I think there is a problem in the connection between the exadata cell server and the database server.

    I need your help in this as I can’t find good documents on the internet about this issue.

    Thanks

    • Gokhan Atil

      Krasi, all I can say is, commenters are responsible for their comments in this blog 🙂

    • Murali

      Hello Gokhan,

      You mentioned ” I said I had problems with storage indexes, but after some tweaks on parameters, I made it work”.

      Could you kindly let us know how to make storage indexes work? What are the Parameters that we need to Tweak and their setting? I assigned 2GB RAM for cell.

    • Gokhan Atil

      Thank you Avichal. It could be much better if I could share the steps to creating the simulator (Exadata VM image) but it would cause some legal problems 🙂

  8. Sam

    Hi Gokhan,

    Can you please share how to get the oracle database machine Exadata storage cell software to download. I tried in edelivery.com and I don’t find the software. Am I checking in the right site to get the cell software?

    Thanks
    Sam

    • Gokhan Atil

      Hi Sam,

      You can download it on edelivery. Login there with your Oracle web account, search for “Exadata Storage Server Software”, choose the platform and then you’ll see the Exadata software on the list. You probably forgot to choose the platform, that’s why you couldn’t find it.

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