As far as the software goes, customers should base their decisions on the type of deployment they have in mind, according to Guyer. Those looking to deploy Exalytics-powered reports and applications to a small subset of workers in their organization would find the named user licensing model more economical, whereas the processor model would make sense if the goal is to deliver such features to "uncountable" numbers of users.
Going by list price, the processor model would result in a machine with a price tag approaching $10 million. But customers can expect significant discounts from Oracle on the software, perhaps greater than 70 percent, bringing the average price down to about $3 million, he said.
"Oracle didn't have a good Q2," Guyer noted. "Going into Q3 and Q4, for someone that really wants this Exalytics machine, I think they could really negotiate this down."
Indeed, Oracle's second-quarter results, which showed a 14 percent drop in hardware systems product revenue, may have accelerated the release schedule for both Exalytics and the Big Data appliance. Oracle is under pressure from investors to boost the hardware business and its leadership is no doubt looking to give sales teams as many products as possible to push as its fiscal year draws to a close.
Meanwhile, Oracle shares many customers with SAP, and some of those may be evaluating HANA.
While SAP plans to position HANA over time for transactional as well as analytic workloads, the rivalry between the two companies' products is difficult to deny.
Oracle CEO Larry Ellison, for one, has previously mocked SAP's plans for HANA. And Ellison's keynote at last year's OpenWorld introducing Exalytics prompted senior SAP executive Sanjay Poonen to write a scathing essay, arguing that Exalytics was based on old technology.
It was not immediately clear how Oracle's pricing for Exalytics directly compares to HANA.
Pricing for HANA depends on the use case and SAP hasn't disclosed a uniform price list, said spokesman James Dever. "Each deployment can be different so at this phase we haven't disclosed standardized pricing."
Another wrinkle is the fact that Exalytics and Oracle's other appliances are built only with Sun hardware, while SAP is working with a range of hardware vendors that are creating HANA systems, adding more potential variability on pricing.
In any case, Exalytics' cost may not be a major barrier for Oracle, depending on the circumstances.
"When BI is too slow, executives may yell at IT," said analyst Curt Monash of Monash Research. "This can make IT urgently want a solution, with price-effectiveness not being the chief buying criterion."
Chris Kanaracus covers enterprise software and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Chris's e-mail address is Chris_Kanaracus@idg.com