Oracle To Take Aim At Grid Management - InformationWeek

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9/12/2003
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Oracle To Take Aim At Grid Management

Grid computing isn't big among businesses now, but Ellison predicts it will be

Half of Oracle's customers will be using grid-computing technology and practices in five years, according to Oracle CEO Larry Ellison. He made the prediction last week while debuting the next generation of Oracle's database, application-server, and enterprise-management software. Ellison and other Oracle executives touted their so-called 10g products as the industry's biggest effort to make grid computing mainstream.

Speaking at the OracleWorld conference, Ellison preached grid computing as an alternative to ever-larger servers for enterprise computing. Individual servers are expensive and unscalable, and they represent a single point of failure, he argued. Grid computing is better at balancing workloads and is more fault-tolerant. It gives "10 times the computing at one-10th the price," Ellison said.

Grid computing bundles processing power and data storage so resources can be reallocated as needed. For example, servers processing payroll twice a month can be switched to other chores the rest of the time. "The grid is kind of a virtual mainframe," says Carl Olofson, an IDC analyst. It's most commonly used in scientific and technical settings, and relatively few business managers understand the concept. Only 11% of the 300 executives InformationWeek surveyed in June say grid projects are a priority this year, dead last among 48 options. Olofson says promised economic benefits of grid computing "should resonate" come budget season.


OracleWorld

Grid computing offers "10 times the computing at one-10th the price," CEO Ellison told OracleWorld attendees.

Photo by Karl Mondon/Contra Costa Times
Oracle's 10g features are designed to ease the building and administration of grid-computing systems. Assembling database clusters should be easier, for example. The new line will sport automatic storage-manage- ment features that hide the complexity of how a database works with data files and storage subsystems. It also will have workload-capacity-management functions to balance processing capacity within a database cluster. 10g will automate performance diagnosis, memory management, and application tuning.

Jeremy Foreman, a systems analyst and database administrator in New Mexico's transportation department, is testing Database 10g and says the automation has freed him to do strategic development. "Being the sole DBA means I don't have a lot of time to spend troubleshooting," he says.

New integration and enhanced Web-services technology in Application Server 10g make it easier to create a single data model for grid computing, according to Oracle. Enterprise Manager 10g has new grid-control software for managing IT resources.

It's not known if Oracle will make its Real Application Clusters part of the 10g lineup. The software, which debuted as part of Oracle9i, is a crucial component of Oracle's grid push and is an option with the Oracle database. Colgate-Palmolive Co. is implementing Real Application Clusters to support its SAP apps, says Arthur Fleiss, IS department senior manager. He plans to evaluate 10g and expects grid computing will make change management easier.

Application Server 10g will be available next month. The database and enterprise-management software will ship by year's end, Oracle says. Packaging and pricing for 10g products will be disclosed this week.

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