Oracle maps out its grid goals

SINGAPORE (09/23/2003) - Information technology organizations are inefficient because they do not use their assets efficiently. This is because currently, many IT shops run one server at 90 percent capacity and the other at 10 percent.

This is the assessment of Chuck Phillips, executive vice president at Oracle Corp.

To solve this problem, firms should adopt the concept of grid computing and sharing resources. For this reason, users are better served with a single software environment, from the database through to the applications. "What is crucial now is a software layer to virtualize all of the components," said Phillips who was in town recently for customer meetings.

The shared infrastructure between our products makes grid computing possible, said Philips.

Grid computing allows companies to dynamically exploit low cost hardware as needed. This reduces costs, guarantees the availability of resources and turns computing into an utility.

To this end, at its annual OracleWorld customer show in San Francisco last week, Oracle showed the development of its grid strategy when it introduced its Enterprise Manager console which will manage all of the applications running on a grid architecture. This tool will enable the Oracle database, application server and Collaboration Suite to participate in a grid.

Further to this, Oracle's latest version of its flagship database, Oracle 10g and 10g application server will include self management capabilities that will enable grids of hundreds of thousands of low cost nodes.

Richard Sarwal, vice president of Data Server Applied Technology said, "Self management for each component is really an enabler for the grid. Our position continues to be that you should be able to stitch together low cost, modular componentry into a grid.

In any case, some analysts see the 10g announcement as an image makeover while others believe that the grid announcement marks the start of a fight between Oracle and rivals such as Microsoft and IBM.

This is because they believe the new grid-based strategy will help Oracle establish a convincing presence as a more versatile provider of complete enterprise solutions.

Said Dana Gardner, senior analyst at research company, The Yankee Group, "I think 10g helps them turn the corner from being a database company to a true enterprise class data center company that can supply you with infrastructure."

This will enable Oracle low cost easier-to-administer solutions. Gardner said that the announcement is a manifestation of Oracle's re-definition of the grid, one that focuses on distributing infrastructure resources across low cost hardware to contain management capabilities and to reduce dependency on administrators.

Also key to its grid strategy is the support of major partners such as Hewlett-Packard (HP), Dell Computer and Sun Microsystems.

For example, HP will integrate the Globus Toolkit and Open Grid Services Architecture across the breadth of the company's consumer and commercial product lines. The move is aimed at simplifying the use and management of distributed IT infrastructure resources.

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