MetService claims NZ Oracle first

MetService reckons it’s the first organisation in New Zealand to roll out Oracle’s 11g database, but being first isn’t anywhere near as important as the boost the technology will give to product development.

CIO Russell Turner says there were lots of drivers for the rollout, including increased support, capacity and an upgrade to new hardware, but specific new features were also attractive.

The new version has better support for geospatial queries, he says, better performance management and improved space management, all of which answer MetService’s peculiar needs. It also delivers better statistical performance management.

Also upgrading from Oracle 9i to 10g would have taken months and the service would still have had to go through a separate 11g upgrade shortly after.

Every day a large amount of mathematical data is imported. That part of the equation is predictable, he says, but what is not is how it is used and queried. Turner says data arrives and gets deleted from the database very quickly.

“It’s not very persistent,” he says. “It’s mostly mathematical model data. It’s very compute-intensive.”

MetService sells temperature prediction data to energy companies in the US and Europe for planning purposes. They use these forecasts, which differ from local forecasts having been generated from MetService’s models, to boost production efficiency and maximise returns.

MetService receives 10GB of base data a day from the World Meteorological Service, processes this and sells back what Turner calls a “value added datastream”.

He says MetService has a large development shop delivering visualisation tools for its data and the Weatherscape flyover, as seen on TV.

The Oracle project was approved in May and rolled out last week. Turner says apart from a notified six-hour outage, users were unaware of the change. That said, basic functions are in use right now, with more sophisticated features being introduced over the next few months.

Turner says one of the challenges during the project was modelling how much to let the SAN do and how much to let Oracle do itself.

“The preformance is amazing,” he says. However, he attributes at least some of that to a hardware upgrade to Hewlett-Packard BL460 blade clusters. Storage is also from HP, in the form of a 10TB EVA storage SAN.

The upgrade, through a feature called DataGuard, will also support MetService in its goal to have a separate disaster recovery facility in Auckland by the end of next year.

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