In the eyes of many, Oracles RAC (Real Applications Cluster) technology can be credited for the companys success in dominating the RDBMS/Linux market to date. "IBM isnt as focused in the database space as Oracle has been, and RAC is the differentiator," said Charlie Garry, senior program director for database research at The META Group Inc., in Simsbury, Conn. "If youre going to go to something thats less scalable, potentially less reliable because its the unknown, [like Linux], RAC does provide people with a better feeling theyll get more reliability. And if they need to scale, they can add nodes. Thats something none of the other guys can do right now who are running on Linux."Outside of RAC, what will matter even more to pushing enterprise use of Linux to run beneath databases will be widespread adoption of the Linux 2.6 kernel. Up until 2.6, Linux kernel versions have been somewhat unwelcoming to enterprise databases mostly due to issues such as thread management and I/O efficiency, according to Carl Olofson, an analyst with IDC, in Framingham, Mass. Up until the past few years, heavy-duty database use on Linux has been pretty unusual," he said. "Youre probably seeing more of it now. Our recent studies have shown theres serious use of Oracle databases on Red Hat Linux."
Olofson explained that the growth of such "serious" database use can be seen in the increasing number of instances of real transactional databasesthat is, databases of normal size and complexity, as opposed to simple, read-only databases that people might put on server farms so they can provide easy lookup capabilities online for things such as product catalogs.
As Oracle will be quick to point out next week, the 2.6 version of the kernel will benefit from contributions that have trickled down from Oracles and IBMs kernel teams. Such improvements include improved I/O throughput, memory utilization, I/O and SMP scalability, reliability and manageability.
"A lot of stuff coming is stuff Oracle and IBM themselves have contributed back, initially to Red Hat [Inc.], but its made its way into the distribution, the 2.6 kernel," Garry said. "That stuff makes it easier for databases to run."
And as databases get easier to run on Linux, and as the RDBMS/Linux market grows ever more serious a contender for overall RDBMS spending, so too will the battle for dominance grow more heated among the database kings.
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