Dell, Oracle Push the Clustered Data Center

Duo promotes move away from big platforms.

Michael Dell and Larry Ellison teamed up last week to pitch a vision for the future of the data center that is built on smaller, standards-based Dell Computer Corp. servers and Oracle Corp. database clustering software.

But some enterprise customers, while seeing a trend toward distributed computing on industry-standard Windows or Linux systems, are not ready to abandon large symmetric multiprocessing platforms.

Dell, his companys chairman and CEO, and Oracle Chairman and CEO Ellison used an appearance at a Dell analyst conference here last week to announce new low-cost server clusters for small and midsize businesses.

Specifically, Dell, of Round Rock, Texas, will sell a PowerEdge server and storage platform optimized for the Oracle9i database and Oracle Real Application Clusters, which enable applications to view server clusters as a single system.

Priced starting at $18,000, the offering includes two PowerEdge 2650 servers, Red Hat Inc.s Advanced Server and a Dell PowerVault 220s SCSI array. The clusters can also run Windows and come with entry-level CX200 arrays, which are a joint offering from Dell and EMC Corp.

Michael Dell said the package gives customers more reliability, availability and cost savings than Unix offerings.

"[The advantages] are simply too great to ignore, particularly in times of economic turmoil," Dell said. "Proprietary systems will continue to become the exception and the niche."

Andy Miller, director of network operations at Dallas-based Wyndham International Inc., said he is exploring the idea of using computing clusters within his Dell system, but for now, he will continue using larger IBM systems running AIX on the back end.

"If an opportunity [to consider clusters of Dell servers for the back end] presents itself, it certainly is compelling to look at," Miller said. "But we have a high amount of dollars sunk into [the IBM servers]."