IBM and Oracle plot grids

SAN FRANCISCO (09/19/2003) - IBM Corp. and Oracle Corp. are both embracing the trend toward modularization and virtualization, two key components of grid computing. Although their technological approaches differ, their underlying business objectives are similar: They want to own your IT control.

By evening out the use of computing power over less powerful and less costly server boxes, On Demand computing from IBM and Oracle's 10g (the g is for grid) database promise faster access to more critical information and dramatic cost reductions.

On Demand includes the integration of applications across a heterogeneous environment to share information and availability of computing power on an as-needed basis. The Oracle 10g database and its components will give IT managers the ability to dynamically add capacity -- more processing power, more application servers, more instances of a database, and more storage -- at will.

In what amounts to a "massive engineering feat," Oracle was able to sever hard-coded allocation of resources to systems by creating a virtual database, a virtual application server, and virtual computing power out of an array of database computers, application servers, and server blades, according to Benny Souder, vice president of distributed database development at Oracle. Oracle Grid Control software will manage it all.

IBM's view of grid computing is a part of its larger vision for On Demand. Whereas Oracle's grid concentrates on the Oracle stack in a single location, Big Blue is addressing a distributed, heterogeneous environment.

Yes, IBM wants to manage "the ups and downs of demand," said Jeff Jones, director of strategy for data management at IBM, but it also wants to help IT "grow the IT infrastructure in the direction of increasing integration and sharing information."

On Demand pieces this environment together with WebSphere as the glue.

Oracle execs call IBM's On Demand "Pay On Demand," and IBM says Oracle's grid is nothing more than its RAC (Real Application Cluster) technology scaled to a higher capacity.

Their technological approaches may differ, but their strategic positions have more in common than you think.

If Oracle's grid concept has legs, Grid Control puts Oracle in a new place within the software stack and within the enterprise. Oracle would not only own the database, the app server, and the applications, but now it would own the management piece that must be used to make it all work. In other words, buy into Oracle's solution, and Grid Control may be giving Oracle control over your IT destiny.

As for IBM -- why, shucks -- On Demand has the very same goal. "IBM has positioned On Demand in the software market to be the solution that transcends heterogeneity and the 'messy' conflicts of the applications ... by superimposing IBM's software and consulting services on top of an increasingly commoditized applications infrastructure," said Joshua Greenbaum, principal at Enterprise Applications Consulting.

Greenbaum said IBM is out to prove that "innovation is applications-infrastructure-independent and WebSphere-dependent."

Buy into either technology in a big way, and you might as well put a ring in your nose so they can lead you around.

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