EMC, Oracle Prep NAS Nest

Duo plan to sell joint services to put databases on network-attached storage

September 10, 2003

3 Min Read
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The days when companies shied away from putting databases on their NAS servers seem to be numbered. As a sign that the database-on-NAS market is maturing, EMC Corp. (NYSE: EMC) and Oracle Corp. (Nasdaq: ORCL) announced a joint NAS service offering today.

The two companies launched their joint service at OracleWorld in San Francisco today, claiming that it will allow customers to easily deploy Oracle databases over EMC Celerra NS600 NAS systems.

This is yet another dimension of our strong partnership with Oracle,” says Don Swatik, EMC’s VP of global solutions.

The new NAS service, available now, is EMC and Oracle’s third joint service offering this year. The companies say it provides a cost-efficient alternative to the traditional direct-attached storage for small database environments (see EMC, Oracle Expand Services Pact and EMC, Oracle Get to Second Base).

Until recently, few companies would have thought to put databases on their NAS servers. Organizations have generally put their large, mission-critical databases over SANs, while smaller databases have been stuck on direct-attached storage.“Today, we’ve come from a mentality of ‘Thou shall not do databases on NAS’ to ‘NAS can be a fine solution,’ ” says Meta Group Inc. analyst Rick Schafer.

And partnerships like the one EMC and Oracle announced today are helping foster that notion, he says. “It’s not that you couldn’t do Oracle on EMC before, but this is more shrink-wrapped. It makes it easier for customers.”

Of course, EMC isn’t the first company to think of offering a service to help customers move their databases to NAS. Network Appliance Inc. (Nasdaq: NTAP) launched a similar service offering with Oracle nearly a year ago and claims to have about 2,000 customers running databases on their NAS boxes (see NetApp Unveils Products, Partners).

“NetApp’s already established this market,” Schafer says, adding that the EMC deal is the next logical step to a maturing market. "EMC admittedly came a tad late to the game, but this is certainly a positive step. At the very least, it will give NetApp’s customers something to think about."

NetApp says it isn’t worried about the increased competition. "We’re a clear market leader in the NAS space," says Puneet Pandit, NetApp's director of global alliance for Oracle. "The market strategy from EMC is more complex and more expensive than what we have. Our value proposition is a lot different."And indeed, it would seem NetApp’s Oracle service is less expensive and doesn’t take as long as EMC’s. While NetApp customers pay $22,000 for a seven-day installation package, EMC's NAS customers can expect to pay between $50,000 and $75,000. For that price, Oracle and EMC service professionals work with the customer for about three weeks to design, implement, and optimize the NAS systems and software with the database technology.

And while EMC and Oracle suggest that customers refrain from putting databases larger than 300 Gbytes on NAS, NetApp’s Pandit claims that his company has customers that have multiterabyte databases running on its NAS boxes.

“Our numbers are typical of how customers and organizations will deploy these systems and achieve satisfactory performance,” EMC spokesman Rick Lacroix writes in an email. “It is technically possible to run a large database on a NAS system if it has low-activity or limited numbers of users… For larger databases with commensurate transaction rates and users, we recommend a SAN to achieve optimal performance.”

No matter who’s got the best service offering, Randy Kerns, an analyst with the Evaluator Group, says that customers are bound to snap them up like hotcakes. “The majority of these companies have really cut their staffing to the bone,” he says. “They just don’t have the staff to do this stuff themselves anymore.”

— Eugénie Larson, Senior Editor, Byte and Switch

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