Analysis: Grid gets another fan

At its major user conference this month, Oracle will begin a potentially big new push in Grid computing. Grid computing, centered on a couple of international spec efforts, seeks to configure computer resources on a global scale to be used as needed. As most major software players are staking some claim on Grid, Oracle could hardly be expected to sit on the sidelines.

Early reports and word from Oracle execs indicate that the Oracle database, app server and tools will be renamed and refigured. So get ready for Oracle 10G, Oracle Application Server 10G and JDeveloper G.

Oracle has much to offer in this still-evolving space, claims Robert Shimp, Oracle’s vice president of database marketing.

“If you look at Grid technology over the last 10 years or so, most applications are scientific,” said Shimp. “Most are heavily computational in nature. For example, looking for prime numbers required highly parallel computer-oriented systems.”

But data may drive the real Grid boom, say Oracle and others.

“There are relatively few apps that are data-intensive in the Grid world today,” said Shimp. “The primary reason for that is it is difficult to scale out a database through clusters of servers.”

Is Oracle’s Grid strategy a true push or a possible sales pitch? More details will need to emerge before the value can be measured. It is still not clear if Oracle’s last major DB rebranding -- that pitched Oracle 9i as “Internet-ready” -- was substantive in every category. The last rev of the database added important features and gained significant sales, although a major Internet boom and bust was a leavening factor. [See “The ’i’ Gets Bigger at Oracle,” Application Development Trends, August 1999.]

Heretofore, Oracle has approached distributed database issues via technology known as Oracle Real Application Clusters. “That technology allows us to cluster many low-cost servers,” said Shimp. Existing Grid advocates want to know more before they endorse Oracle 10G.

What does it mean to go from clusters to Grid? At the least, it means “much more automation,” said Oracle’s Robert Magee. The company is prepared to deliver important instrumentation improvements for deploying Grid software, he indicated. It is also taking part in Grid standardization efforts that are fashioning middleware for Grid deployment, Magee said.

Standards will take a while. In the meantime, according to Magee, customers have been forced to “manually wire” Grid apps together. What Grid means to Oracle, he said, is that “we are building into our software the ability to coordinate the different storage, data and application runtime services required to implement Grid in an enterprise.”

Please see the following related stories: “Oracle tools strategy: 10G signals grid direction” by John K. Waters

Analysis: Oracle helmsman on a tear?” by Jack Vaughan

Or, click here for an extended look at Oracle from ADT's August 1999 issue.

About the Author

Jack Vaughan is former Editor-at-Large at Application Development Trends magazine.


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