Customers Question Oracle-Only Grid

10g technology may ease grid computing.

Oracle Corp. customers are of two minds when it comes to the companys plan to help them reduce IT costs with grid computing.

While some said they like the many features in the Oracle 10g database and application server platform released at OracleWorld here last week, others said Oracle needs a reality check when it recommends customers run exclusively Oracle 10g shops.

Like other clustering technologies from companies such as IBM, Hewlett-Packard Co. and Sun Microsystems Inc., Oracles 10g grid technology promises to address traditional IT problems by pooling industry-standard servers and storage into an adaptable infrastructure that can meet changing business demands.

All components in that chain would preferably be Oracle components, with Oracle Application Server 10g serving as the middleware to enable applications to run on the resulting grid, officials said.

Clustering with Oracles RAC (Real Application Clusters) is at the core of the Redwood Shores, Calif., companys proposition. 10g introduces cluster workload management software thats designed to make installation, configuration and administration of clusters easier.

Some 10g beta testers and large Oracle customers are thrilled with 10gs new features and buy in to the idea of using Oracle technology from top to bottom to get to the grid. San Diego-based Qualcomm Inc. is in the early stages of beta testing 10g and envisions tying together 500 business areas into a grid to manage, deploy and administer from one point.

"If I have Oracle9i Application Server and Oracle Database 10g, I have to have whole different skill sets of people trying to manage two products," said Arvind Gidwani, manager of IT at Qualcomm. "I just want to focus on 10 percent of the functionality [in 10g]. If Oracle offers that, I dont think theres a distinction between best of breed and what Oracle offers."

Still, its not hard to find Oracle users who scoff at the idea of moving out of their heterogeneous shops. Paul Adkins, a database administrator for Allstate Corp., in Hudson, Ohio, said his company has good reason to run databases from the three big vendors: Oracle, IBM and Microsoft Corp. For example, its hard to tune Oracle databases for both online transaction processing and decision support systems environments, Adkins said, so he has to segregate two systems on different types of boxes.

Although Allstate will eventually use Oracle RAC to help the problem of underused resources, grid computing is futuristic and cant be rolled out without architectural changes to applications, as Oracle officials claim, Adkins said. "I dont know what kind of architecting you have to do, but I bet diamonds to dollars you have to do something," Adkins said. "Its not going to be push-button."