Where Does Oracle's Itanium Dump Leave You? - InformationWeek

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4/21/2011
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Doug Henschen
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Where Does Oracle's Itanium Dump Leave You?

Companies running Oracle software on HP's big servers will have to make choices. Here are the well-known migrations paths, a few unheralded options, and possible unintended consequences.

Sheetz had no idea Oracle would soon call it quits on Itanium development, but when Oracle made that announcement on March 22, "it made me look like a genius," he says. Veolia had made the move because it wanted to scale out, not up, using several smaller commodity servers rather than replacing a single, aging HP Integrity server.

"We added scalability and high availability where we had single points of failure previously," he explains. Database licensing costs were a wash, but hardware costs and support costs are lower on the new platform, Sheetz says, adding that Veolia gained database partitioning and Oracle training credits in the bargain.

Veolia was on one of the smallest and least-powerful Itanium servers, so current-generation x86 made sense. As a board member of the Independent Oracle User Group, Sheetz says he's quite aware that plenty of bigger companies and business units still prefer the power of HP Itanium, IBM Power Servers, or Oracle/Sun Sparc Unix servers.

Walking the halls and moderating an "Oracle on Itanium" roundtable discussion at last week's Collaborate 11 Oracle user conference, Sheetz says he fielded plenty of questions and "heard a lot of begrudging acceptance" of Oracle's Itanium move. "The main question was, does Oracle have a roadmap to get off of Itanium?" he says.

Despite IOUG's extensive contacts at Oracle, Sheetz says the group isn't aware of any such roadmap. I asked for the same thing from Oracle and was sent a cryptic email reference to a single-page listing of the final products to be released by Oracle supporting Itanium. As if to rub salt in the wound, the document also lists "Next Software Release Not Available On Itanium-based HP Servers." Is that supposed to be helpful? Nowhere to be seen, at least at this writing, was guidance from Oracle on migration paths.

A roadmap is the one thing that Carol Skarlat, executive VP and CTO at Stuller, wants to see. A 1,100-employee jewelry manufacturer, Stuller replaced an aging HP (Itanium-based) Superdome server with the latest model last year. That was a first step needed before moving up to the Oracle 11i database and Oracle e-Business Suite 12i. That last step is still underway, but on March 22, Skarlat discovered 12i will be the last version of the ERP suite to run on Itanium servers.

"This leaves us in a precarious position because we can't participate in new features that Oracle will introduce," Skarlat says. "We're just getting into the testing phase on 12i, and now we're at risk of not getting a good return on a big investment we just made."

In contrast to HP, which has been "very accommodating and communicative," Oracle, says Skarlat, "has not reached out to us. What is the strategy?"

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