Oracle Touts Grid Computing

By Darryl K. Taft  |  Posted 2003-08-25

Oracle Touts Grid Computing

Dont call it a comeback, weve been here for years…so says Oracle Corp. when it comes to grid technology, as the company prepares to deliver grid extensions to its database and application server platform.

John Magee, vice president of Oracles application server and tools products, said that when Oracle announces its new database and application server platforms—the Oracle 10G database and Oracle Application Server 10G—at the OracleWorld conference in San Francisco in two weeks, it will be with technology proven over years of research, development and internal use.

"With the new release were introducing a whole range of new technologies including grid; the G is for grid," Magee said.

He added: "People are talking about on-demand and utility computing models, and there are a number of proposals to do that. But we think grid offers the best model of how to deliver this on-demand or utility computing model."

While other companies, most prominently IBM Corp. and Sun Microsystems Corp., have announced grid computing strategies and technologies over the last couple of years, Oracle has been working on a grid solution in its research groups, then using grid technology internally, Magee said.

"Weve been working on this technology for many years now, and we have results of real R&D and real software products," he said.

Meanwhile, Oracles internal use of grid technology featured "thousands of blades," Magee said. "We see this as part of the whole issue of clustering. Grid is the evolution of the clustering model."

For Oracle, the addition of grid is "the beginning of a major shift for us, and were beginning to provide the stuff for a commercial use of grid," Magee said. "You have to create an application thats grid aware."

Although the grid-computing model has primarily been used in scientific and academic applications, the challenge is to make the transition to the commercial world. But to date, the work has consisted of a "scavenger model of best-effort levels of service, where whatever capacity you have available you can bring to bear," Magee said.

"Were delivering grid capabilities into the application server to make it truly hardware independent," he said.

Next page: WebSphere and the grid.

WebSphere and the Grid

IBM last month announced that its WebSphere application server would be grid-enabled.

The latest version of WebSphere Application Server, WebSphere 5.0.2 Enterprise Edition, includes grid-computing features that let customers tap unused or underutilized resources across their enterprise and use them in the way utilities employ a grid of sources that can deliver power to users on demand.

Magee said Oracle supports the Open Grid Services Architecture (OGSA) and the Open Grid Services Infrastructure (OGSI) standards, which are focused on developing a grid systems architecture based on Web services.

Part of Oracles plans for the Oracle Application Server 10G includes Web services management features to foster reuse of applications and services. The new grid-based Oracle application server will feature an upgrade of the Oracle Application Development Framework (ADF), which will be a services-based framework for building reusable services for components applications, "which can then be provisioned more dynamically in the Oracle 10G platform," Magee said.

"Oracle is definitely on the right track in adding grid capabilities to their database, application server and management tools," said Mary Johnston Turner, Enterprise Strategies practice director at Summit Strategies Inc., a Boston-based market research firm. "Their strategy is similar to what IBM has already announced with its on-demand operating environment architecture. I expect over the next year or two we will see most major vendors offer a grid-based strategy for federating data access and managing IT resources across the enterprise. I expect grid-based integration and management will quickly prove to be more efficient than traditional approaches while providing a more flexible, standards-based way to reach across different environments."

Meanwhile, with the new Oracle 10G platform, users will be able to run existing applications without having to optimize them for the grid, Magee said.

Oracle knows it cannot pull off its plans alone. The company will focus on partnerships to bring its grid plans to life. "In particular were looking at partnerships with platform vendors that well leverage to bring grid to commercial environments…" Magee said. "You need off-the-shelf components, like blades from Dell, HP and Sun, for instance."

Magee added that what separates grid from clustering is that there is much more automation with grid computing.

Although Oracle will support all major operating systems, Linux is a very important part of this trend, Magee said. "When you look at these commodity clusters, a big fat expensive operating system sticks out like a sore thumb in this model."

IBMs grid strategy also focuses on Linux. IBM Research and IBMs software teams developed the companys WebSphere grid technology over the last two years. It is the latest effort the company has made to work grid computing into the enterprise. In January, IBM announced 10 new grid solutions for five key markets.

IBM introduced grid offerings for the aerospace, automotive, financial and life sciences industries, as well as for the government, said Dan Powers, vice president of grid strategy at IBM, in Armonk, N.Y.

IBM is partnering with DataSynapse Inc., Platform Computing Inc., Avaki Corp., Entropia Inc. and United Devices Inc. as middleware suppliers. IBM also signed reseller agreements with DataSynapse and Platform Computing. IBM will provide services in five basic areas: research and development, engineering and design, business analytics, enterprise optimization and government development, Powers said.

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