I was exposed to Exadata a few weeks ago and my brain has been churning ever since.
I can't speak about specifics (you know, the first rule of Exadata don't you?) unfortunately. I can speak about how I think it can be applied though (I hope).
I came away from that experience in sheer awe. To the point where I am rethinking the entire database landscape.
You may have read somewhere that, in regards to Exadata, you have to relearn your use of indexes. In other words, you don't need them (well, I'm sure there are cases) other than referential integrity.
What about materialized views? Indexes (non-RI anyway) and materialized views are basically work-arounds for a lack of raw power. I saw Exadata scan 45 million rows (in an Explain Plan) and immediately said, that should be materialized, that you don't, or shouldn't, normally, scan that many records. Then I started to think about it...why? Why materialize it if you can scan it in mere seconds?
Materialize views and indexes both require support to some degree or another. Both take development time in way or another. With Exadata, you might just not need them anymore. That's a good thing.
Taking it out one step further, do you even need a data warehouse any more? I'm not talking about the top 5% of shops out there, I'm talking about the smaller shops that are not processing thousands of transactions a second.
Think about why you build a data warehouse. Data warehouses are designed to make reporting easier by 1, creating a standalone instance that has it's own resources; 2, creating a design (denormalization in some cases) that makes it very easy to get at the data.
I may be crazy, but why create all that extra work if you don't need to? By going the DW route, you now have ETL routines, a separate database and a separate design, all of which need to be maintained. Doubtful the same person will be doing everything so you hire more staff.
(Remember, I'm talking about the 95% here).
The raw power of Exadata would allow you to do everything in a single location.
I've had private conversations with people about this very subject...some think I'm off my rocker (naturally), some haven't been exposed to it and are wary of speculation, and others see some merit in my rambling.
I'm very excited about the possibilities with Exadata. What say you?
Added January 26, 2011
A great post by Jeff McQuigg: OOW BI Imp Panel Questions #3: Can Exadata Replace a DW? - I asked this question at the OOW panel, but I'm not sure if this is directly related as mine was rushed to go see Larry's speech. Good read.