Oracle Upgrades x86 Data Center Stack

Oracle's Sun Fire x86 systems data center stack brings new hardware, including Intel-powered blade servers. However, this does not mean that Oracle is changing its relationship with AMD, Oracle says.

Oracle on June 28 revealed an upgraded version of its Sun Fire x86 systems data center stack that includes a series of new Intel-powered blade servers, five new rack mount servers, and a new 10 Gigabit Ethernet cluster networking module that embeds into the blade structure.
Because this was strictly an Intel x86-based announcement, there was no indication of any news on the Advanced Micro Devices chip front. However, that does not mean Oracle is changing its relationship with AMD, Oracle marketing executive Graham Lovell told media members and analysts in a conference call.
There also was no news of storage array upgrades to go with the cluster system products, because all of the storage for these new systems is contained within the new blades, Dimitris Dovas, Oracle's director of product management of Sun x86, network, and blade products, told eWEEK.
Dovas acknowledged that for the high-end workloads these new systems handle, the data storage function needed to be as close to data processing as possible for performance purposes. Thus the NAND flash-equipped blade servers in this system are, in effect, being used as storage arrays. Using blades for storage purposes is not a new development, but it has been becoming more common in the last several months.
Oracle Executive Vice President of Systems and Storage John Fowler said the new Sun Fire systems are aimed at enterprises that run a mix of Oracle and non-Oracle workloads across a variety of systems.
However, Oracle isn't shy about reminding people that as of this year it provides the top-to-bottom data center stack, plus all the middleware, management tools and applications to go with it.
Each single x86-based cluster can support up to 720 Sun Fire blades, Lovell said. The new systems ship with preloaded Oracle Solaris, Oracle Enterprise Linux-either Red Hat or Novell SUSE-and Oracle VM, Fowler said.
They also can be reconfigured to work as needed with VMware's vSphere virtualization layer and Windows Server and Exchange.
Networking is handled by two devices: a Sun Blade 6000 Virtualized Multi-Fabric 10GbE Network Express Module router and a Sun Network 10GbE switch. Both are designed to slide into a 19-inch rack next to blades, replacing larger, standard-sized network switch and router boxes.
Network virtualization functions are embedded in blade processors, Dovas said. The new systems are controlled by one central management facility, Oracle Enterprise Manager Ops Center.
Lovell said the blade networking needs "zero management" and that the systems can be set up and made running "30 minutes after you unpack the box."
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Chris Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger is Editor-in-Chief of eWEEK and responsible for all the publication's coverage. In his 13 years and more than 4,000 articles at eWEEK, he has distinguished himself in reporting...