Linux Muscling to the Top in Oracle Shops

 
 
By Lisa Vaas  |  Posted 2006-04-04
 
 
 
In the coming year, Linux is set to push Unix out of its traditional reigning role as the Oracle operating system of choice, a new survey predicts.

Solaris, Suns flagship Unix operating system, now dominates Oracle sites. Its installed at 49 percent of Oracle shops among the 812 surveyed in January by the Independent Oracle Users Group, or IOUG.

Other Unix flavors—HP-UX and AIX—combine with Solaris to give Unix control over 73 percent of Oracle shops. But Linux is moving up fast, with 44 percent of respondents saying theyll be running their databases on Linux by this time next year.

Ari Kaplan, IOUG president, said this is a "huge" showing for open source, underscoring both its large-scale enterprise adoption and businesses growing urge to unyoke themselves from Unixs high costs.

"Now the market has accepted Linux. [It] has accepted [that] you can run hugely scalable, Oracle RAC [Real Application Clusters], multinode, thousands-of-concurrent-user Oracle instances, on Linux," said Kaplan in Chicago. "[Combine that with] the overall lower cost of ownership, and youve got the best of both worlds, and were seeing the results."

COCC, a data processor for community banks and credit unions, is one Oracle shop feeling the Linux love. Brent Biernat, director of network services, said that the member-owned cooperative moved from Unix to Linux two years ago and has seen a slew of benefits, including hardware, software and labor cost savings of about 40 percent, as a result of migrating off AIX running on IBM big iron and onto low-cost Intel boxes.

COCC hosts Oracle Financial Management, Oracle E-Business Suite and Oracle Database on Novells SUSE Linux Enterprise Server for its member banks. Oracle Financial Management delivers services such as an electronic banking platform, check processing, check imaging, report writing and loan origination. With the new setup, COCC processes more than 7 million check images monthly and services more than 7,000 workstations and 540 ATMs.

At LinuxWorld, Novell discusses its OpenSUSE build service as part of a new Linux build service framework that will become the development platform for future SUSE Linux distributions. Click here to read more.

Robert Bessel, director of public relations, said that besides cost savings, COCC is seeing faster deployment because of Linux. "As we got into it, we realized there are things we do want to run on these [big-iron boxes] but there are applications like Oracle Financials better served running on Linux," said Bessel in Avon, Conn. "It gives us faster deployment on Linux. Where we had to buy AIX in the past, it would take many, many months to bring in a box from IBM."

Upgrading Oracle Financials is also much faster on Linux, Biernat said. "The time it would take us to upgrade Oracle Financials on AIX was shortened tremendously by going to Linux," said Biernat.

Before Linux, COCC had more than 40 AIX instances, and it took the cooperative about 20 weeks to upgrade, Biernat said, given that the organization could upgrade only one instance on each box at a time. Now, COCC has 83 instances, spread over about eight boxes. It now can upgrade multiple instances per box, cutting the upgrade time down to about seven or eight weeks.

Bessel said another bonus was that grumbling from IT was mercifully absent, given that Unix and Linux are such close kin. "I was asking a guy who runs the shop what it takes to move this over," he said. "The good news was that for DBAs [database administrators] and experts familiar with AIX, moving to Linux was a natural fit: very similar."

Another Oracle shop happy with a recent migration to Linux is 3n, a provider of mass notification systems that broadcast to large numbers of people, whether its by phone, e-mail, BlackBerrys, instant messaging or what have you. 3n upgraded to Oracle Database 10g, Oracle RAC and Oracle Application Server 10g in January. Its all running on Red Hat Linux—a "fairly simple choice," said CIO Kim Terry, considering the operating systems reliability and cost-effectiveness.

"Ive run Oracle on multiple platforms," said Terry in Glendale, Calif. "Ive never seen anything more stable than Red Hat. The last company I was at, we were running on Sun servers. Oracle seemed to run fine on that as well, but Red Hat has been largely a nonissue."

The upgrade to RAC and 10g was motivated by 3ns need for a Denver site to be an active-active backup location rather than just a failover site for the Los Angeles location, Terry said.

3n is close to that goal. On March 30, it was testing Oracles Streams product, a generic mechanism for sharing data that can be used as the basis of processes including messaging, replication and warehouse ETL (extraction, transformation and loading) processes.

"With the Streams product, with one live database talking to another, exchanging data bidirectionally, well be able to have load balancers on the front end of the network actually drop work off in both locations on an active basis: two live sites working in tandem with each other," Terry said. "There basically wont be any failover scenario or business resumption plan. It will be active all the time."

Terry said that although 3n has been running 10g only a few months, it appears that Oracle has "certainly tuned 10g better than 9i" when it comes to Streams. "Performance wasnt quite as consistent under 9i as under 10g," he said. "We found queries have ironed themselves out when we upgraded."

3n doesnt use a lot of open source outside of Linux. The company is looking at putting its systems documentation on the wiki server, but outside of that, its "pretty much an all-Oracle environment," Terry said.

And the ticket to why Linux is poised to push Unix out of the Oracle limelight? These simple words: "Its all in place and working fine," Terry said.

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