Oracle Rolls Out New Intel, SPARC Blade Servers

Oracle officials said the new Intel- and SPARC-based blade servers offer enterprises greater density, performance and energy efficiency, and target cloud, HPC and virtualized environments.

Oracle officials, a week after rolling out the latest offerings from their SPARC road map and once again pointedly challenging rivals Hewlett-Packard and IBM, now is unveiling new blade servers aimed at high-performance computing and highly virtualized environments.

Announced Dec. 8 at the Oracle OpenWorld Latin American show in Brazil, the SPARC T3-1B blade server and dual-node Sun Blade X6275 M2 system are designed to give customers with such scale-out environments high performance in a highly efficient, low-cost package, according to Dimitrios Dovas, director of product management for blades, x86 servers and networking at Oracle.

The vendor also is unveiling a blade cluster reference architecture around its Oracle VM virtualization software and an optimized blade solution for Oracle's WebLogic Suite.

The announcements not only highlight Oracle's continued efforts to grow the data center hardware business it gained when it bought Sun Microsystems earlier this year for $7.4 billion, but also its belief that its key advantage over rivals like HP and IBM is its ability to tightly integrate its enterprise applications with the systems.

"We believe that Oracle software works best on Oracle hardware," Dovas said in an interview with eWEEK.

It falls in line with what Oracle officials said earlier this year, just after the Sun acquisition, when they noted that while Oracle hardware can run other vendors' software, the best results come through the combination of Oracle hardware and software.

The Sun Blade X6275 M2 is a dual-node blade that doubles the density while increasing performance and lowering power consumption, Dovas said. Such qualities are important in HPC, virtualized and cloud computing environments, where users are looking to pack as much compute power into their data centers as possible, while keeping power and cooling costs down.

"We can double the density of the blade infrastructure ... without sacrificing performance, capacity, the memory footprint or bandwidth," he said.

The Intel-based system also can come with Solaris, Oracle Linux and Oracle VM preinstalled. If users include Oracle Enterprise Manager 11g, they will have a single management system to handle the entire application-to-disk infrastructure, Dovas said.

The new SPARC system, the SPARC T3-1B blade server, is the system powering Oracle's SPARC/Solaris-based Exalogic Elastic Cloud T3-1B, which was rolled out last week. The x86-based Exalogic cloud computing system, powered by Intel processors, was introduced in September. The new version of the Exalogic cloud-in-a-box solution, unveiled Dec. 2, is based on Oracle's SPARC/Solaris platform.

Like its x86 brethren, the SPARC T3-1B blade also offers high density and reduced power consumption, Dovas said.

The vendor's Oracle VM blade cluster reference architecture offers enterprises a guide to best practices that Dovas said can help speed up VM (virtual machine) deployment time by 98 percent in iAAS (infrastructure as a service) cloud or other highly virtualize environments, he said.

"It can reduce the deployment time of a VM from a few days to a couple of hours," Dovas said.

Oracle's optimized solution for the WebLogic Suite running on a Sun Blade X6275 M2 blade also can drive up performance in cloud and virtualized environments, he said. The combination of the two can speed up response times 25 percent and throughput 20 percent, all in half the footprint of other blades.

"We are going very, very aggressively into the private cloud space and into the highly virtualized data center space," Dovas said.

He said the advantages in density, performance and energy efficiency from the new systems should help Oracle increase its traction in the highly competitive server space. That will be important, as Oracle inherited a Sun hardware business that was hurting even before the sale. The loss of business only increased when Oracle announced it was buying Sun, as customers were unsure what Oracle would do once Sun was in the fold.

Market research firm IDC said Oracle saw server revenues grow in the third quarter. However, Gartner analysts did not, saying that Oracle revenues fell.

"Following the acquisition of Sun's hardware business, the company now faces the challenge of preventing further declines in the hardware segment," Gartner analyst Adrian O'Connell said in a statement when talking about the third-quarter numbers Nov. 30.