The Oracle Exadata Express Cloud Service was announced at Oracle Open World 2016. This service looks like an excellent use case for Oracle Database development purposes as well as setting up a test environment. And even for small to medium sized production situations it looks very promising as you can see in the table below. Especially the cheapest option offers a lot of bang for your bucks.
But alas, this service was not as widely available as I expected. The first months it was US-only and you could only figure out by ordering the service and then you would find out on the last page that you should "contact your Oracle sales rep". I sincerely doubt whether he or she could provide you with that service, so I just waited until it would be more generally available.
And since a few weeks the Oracle Exadata Express Cloud Service is also available in Europe - I don't know about other parts of the world. A missed chance though that Oracle didn't announce that properly. You can only find out by trial-and-error. And to be clear, your data will still reside on US soil...
After entering my credit card number I made my purchase irreversible and I immediately received an order confirmation. As I expected these cloud things go very fast I started waiting for the mail that would say that my service was ready. Not on that same day. Not on the next day. But two days later, I finally received my "Welcome to Oracle Cloud" email. If any webshop that ships physical items would move that slow, they would be out of business pretty soon.
But now I was ready to go! First I had to create my "service instance". No clue what Oracle did the last two days, but effectively I only had access to a console where I could create such an instance. Why doesn't Oracle create that instance immediately? Because in the end what I ordered was a service instance - not the option to create one...
Nevertheless, with a few clicks I had requested my instance as seen in the screen below (notice the little missing icons / images on the upper left and right buttons...).
The only thing that had to be done was firing up a 20Gb Pluggable Database (PDB). On my VM that would take a few minutes. So on an Exadata beast ... a minute or maybe two?
Alas, no. For some reason it took 4 (four!) full days. All those days I logged in to see whether there was any progress and all I saw was:
After the Oracle internal issues were solved - the PDB was created super fast, but the registration process failed somewhere - I was finally up and running.
It took a while, but I hope it was worth waiting for ....