Oracle Corp.s push toward more extensive support for Linux may help propel the open-source operating system into broader enterprise use, although some Oracle customers may be slow to commit to running the companys database on Linux.
Oracle in an event at its headquarters here last week announced its first certified configurations of the Oracle9i database using Red Hat Inc.s Linux Advanced Server and Dell Computer Corp.s PowerEdge servers. This is the first time Oracle has offered customer support for the operating system.
Oracle and Red Hat, of Raleigh, N.C., for the past year have worked on improvements in Linux Advanced Server that boost the servers performance and reliability. Part of that development work has been the integration of Oracles 9i database RAC (Real Application Clusters) feature on Linux Advanced Server.
Oracle Chairman and CEO Larry Ellison touted Oracle9i RAC on Linux as a lower-cost option for enterprises that provides speed and fault tolerance through clustering.
"A cluster of four Linux machines is more reliable than an IBM mainframe," Ellison said.
On the companys Oracle Technology Network Web site for developers, Linux is poised to overtake Windows as the most popular database and application server download, an Oracle official said.
International Data Corp., of Framingham, Mass., said the database market for Linux will grow to $5.1 billion by 2006, from $63.9 million in 2001, and surpass the market for Unix.
But Oracle is not alone. Other database vendors are adding Linux support as well. Teradata, a division of NCR Corp., is also prepared to port its database to Linux but is waiting for customer demand to increase before certifying its use, said Chief Technology Officer Stephen Brobst, in Dayton, Ohio. Brobst said he expects certification for Linux either by the end of next year or in 2004.
The momentum, however, may take time to reach inside the enterprise. Some customers contacted last week said they would not seriously consider switching out their current Oracle database implementations with Linux mainly because they had already committed to an operating system and hardware.
Mike Bathalon, manager of IT operations for Green Mountain Power Corp., said the Colchester, Vt., energy company is consolidating nine Oracle database instances into a single, clustered 9i RAC database. Although Oracle introduced him at last weeks event, Bathalon said this project will use HP Tru64 Unix on AlphaServer hardware. He isnt considering Linux except possibly for a smaller development project.
"We have no concern but one in our future—[the current consolidation on Tru64 Unix]," Bathalon said.
Other corporate IT managers at the event had no definitive plans to move current or future database projects to Linux, either. However, many said they are starting to consider Linux for the first time.
"[In the past,] no one could point to a version of Linux with enterprise support," said David Brown, senior emerging technologies architect at Vector SCM, a Novi, Mich., joint venture of General Motors Corp. and CNF Inc. "I didnt feel I could say, Lets replace IBM and Sun [Microsystems Inc.] to an OS built by the public [with] no good way to get support.
"With Oracle supporting it, thats a huge advantage."
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