IBMs Database VP: Our Grid Scales Better

By Lisa Vaas  |  Posted 2004-11-02

IBMs Database VP: Our Grid Scales Better

Sure, says IBMs database guru, Oracle is talking a good game on grid computing with Oracle Database 10g, but IBMs still pummeling its biggest database competitor in terms of price and in terms of how many nodes its technology has scaled to in production environments—try 1,000, compared with Oracle Corp.s 16.

Database Editor Lisa Vaas recently caught up with Bob Picciano, vice president of database technology in the IBM Canada Laboratory, to find out what the Toronto lab has been up to lately, besides trying to wrest its reputation as grid king back from the Redwood Shores, Calif., clan.

Beyond attempting to drive IBMs grid technology deep into industries such as financial services, it turns out that the database crew has been busy with the recently released DB2 (which was code-named Stinger), with Information Integrator and with satisfying customers insatiable hunger for content management solutions.

How is DB2 8.2 set to compete with Oracle Database 10g?

Great new features in 8.2 have again been met with positive reception by our clients, especially new features for 8.2 that deal with high availability. It really delivers a very simple way to set up a high-availability failover environment with a much more cost-effective value proposition than our closest competitor: up to 60 percent savings in some cases

When were talking about competing in terms of high availability, were talking Oracle RAC (Real Applications Cluster) technology. How is IBM doing competing with Oracle vis-à-vis grid and clustering?

There were statements by members of Oracles executive team of their capabilities in the grid space. Weve participated in over 100 new grid implementations this year [alone].

[In the meantime,] the Waters Group [which publishes the financial magazine Waters] gave us the No. 1 ranking for grid solutions.

Click here to read about Sun Microsystems grid vision.

What is it about the financial services industry that makes IBMs technology stand out in that vertical?

Our notion is that … [database and grid technologies have] to be open and allow participation with a variety of information sources, and to do so by allowing people to use open interfaces and open application models.

The interesting thing about Oracles technology is its only suited for small sources of deployment. You know the limitations on RAC: It can only scale to 16 nodes. Anything beyond that in their architecture is considered a proof of concept. Most of their grids are homogenous clusters either for availability or adding a node for computing capability.

We can scale to 1,000 nodes. In DB2, weve had many customers doing that.

Next Page: On to Linux integration work.

Linux Integration

Oracles big on bringing grid to SMBs (small and midsized businesses), though, whereas IBM is closely associated with academic grid deployments—i.e., not always commercial.

Our technology for grid for medium and smaller clients is broader than just the database. You can provision application servers, you can provision application and orchestrating technology to manage your own environment, all orchestrated through one console to bring capacity up and down on command.

Oracle has a nice focus because they have nice capabilities. Theyre trying to make a noise about that one capability.

On to other Toronto lab goings-on. IBM recently announced, with SuSE Linux AG, the new Software Integration Center up at the Toronto lab. A priority was to situate DB2 comfortably on top of SuSEs Linux Enterprise Server platform. Hows that going?

Weve had very, very good setup experiences with Red Hat and SuSE on the tight Linux integration work weve done. With DB2 8.2, which was code-named Stinger, we delivered a lot of the direct I/O, synchronous I/O, that sort of stuff that came along with the better scalability of the Linux 2.6 kernel.

We see that paying off with the Linux customers we have as well.

In terms of the enterprise scalability of Stinger and Information Integrator 8.2, which is on the same base, with the advanced I/O features in 2.6, were seeing more enterprise-class workloads being done on DB2/Linux.

Is that resulting in more IBM/Linux customers?

Weve [acquired] 500 new Linux customers since the beginning of 2004. For new servers, we see a faster adoption rate for Linux than for Windows. We see Linux growing very rapidly. As most analyst presentations would show, the Linux servers will outship the Windows server shipments [in coming years].

Both IBM and Oracle have intense Linux focus now. Whats distinguishing the two?

The big wave here is all about information management. When I look at the market to see whats differentiating DB2, its our breadth of experience. Most others are delivering point database solutions. While we still think we have the best relational database in the market, we have a broad range of other capabilities necessary to solve information management problems.

What problems, exactly?

Volume, velocity and variety. We know the volumes are huge. Enterprise databases over the past five years are 100 times larger than five years ago.

And a great deal of variety. Used to be, structured data was the name of the game. Now, its important to get your hands on unstructured.

Today, companies might be spending up to 40 percent of their annual IT budgets on integration.

So, youre saying that content management is where the big bucks are?

IBM had strong growth for our third quarter. Database revenue grew 11 percent. Distributed enterprise content management revenues grew 56 percent.

Eighty-five percent of the worlds information is in unstructured formats. People are really struggling to get their arms around all that information.

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