Oracle to embrace grid computing in upgrades

Oracle to embrace grid computing in upgrades

Oracle has taken the wraps off the next generation of its flagship database, which is being upgraded to support more extensive clustering and grid-computing capabilities. Oracle this week wouldn't disclose full details about the upcoming release. But Robert Shimp, the vendor's vice president of database marketing, said features will be added to make it easier for users to exploit grid computing models, in which applications are run across large numbers of relatively inexpensive servers.

The upgrade is being dubbed Oracle Database 10g and will be accompanied by similarly named versions of Oracle's application server software and Enterprise Manager tools. The 10g release will also include increased scalability, reliability and security capabilities, Shimp said.

In addition, the three products are being developed jointly for the first time. According to Shimp, that should result in tighter integration and more automated self-management capabilities. The software is in beta-testing; a firm release date hasn't been finalized, he said.

Several Oracle users expressed interest in grid computing if it lives up to the promises being made by Oracle and other vendors. But they noted that grid technology still faces some potential roadblocks, including reliability and pricing concerns.

For instance, IT staffers at the California Public Employees Retirement System (Calpers) in Sacramento are facing tight budgets and might use both Linux servers and grid computing products in an effort to cut costs, said Jack Corrie, division chief of IT services at the pension fund.

But he added that Calpers officials need to do their homework to make sure that an emerging concept like grid computing is sustainable from a technology standpoint.

Hal Kuff, systems and network manager at Tessco Technologies Inc. in Hunt Valley, Md., said Oracle's pricing model is a big stumbling block. Although Kuff approves of the vendor's technical direction, he said he doesn't see the point of buying cheap Linux servers and running them in a cluster if Oracle is going to charge a premium price to license its software for each CPU in those systems.

"We've been waiting patiently for them to evaluate their per-CPU licensing model in a blade (server)-type of environment," Kuff said. "We can't achieve ROI by licensing reserve capacity for use three hours a day. Oracle needs to make the price right." For Tessco, it now would make more economic sense to buy a big Unix server, he added.

"Definitely, the pricing models of grid computing have been a big question in the minds of customers," Shimp acknowledged. Oracle hasn't modified its licensing policies thus far, "but we are aware of all the questions, and we're working on that," he said.-- Computerworld (US)

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