Oracle Goes for the Grid

Vendor makes the latest version of its 10g database available, but should users buy into all the encryption hype?

July 12, 2005

3 Min Read
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Oracle Corp. (Nasdaq: ORCL) is looking to tap growing interest in security and grid computing with its new, souped-up 10g database (see Oracle Announces Its 10g R2).

The second version of the software, which was made available to users today, has been overhauled to help avoid the storage snafus that have recently plagued a number of high-profile firms. Ameritrade, Bank of America, and Time Warner Inc. (NYSE: TWX) have all lost tapes while being transported this year, raising questions about how best to secure storage data (see A Tale of Lost Tapes).

Clearly preying on users fears about lost data, Oracle is now touting a range of new encryption technologies for 10g. The vendor has introduced a new feature called Secure Backup, which encrypts databases stored on tape backups. This works with the original version of 10g, as well as earlier releases of the database, such as 9i.

Oracle has also introduced a feature called Transparent Data Encryption. This technology, it says, enables users to encrypt critical database data on disk without having to rewrite the applications that access the data. According to Oracle, this could be used for encrypting the likes of credit card and social security numbers.

Steve Duplessie, senior analyst at Enterprise Strategy Group, says that encryption is growing in importance at the moment, although he is not sure how many users will be won over by Oracle’s security story. “I doubt if you will see a heck of a lot of people do [encryption] with them,” he asserts.The reason? Users need to encrypt more than just their Oracle data, according to the analyst. “It’s critical but it only represents a subset of their overall data,” says Duplessie. Instead, he believes users are more likely to look for generic encryption technologies that can run across entire application sets.

A number of vendors are currently offering this type of device, notably Decru Inc., which was recently acquired by Network Appliance Inc. (Nasdaq: NTAP), along with NeoScale Systems Inc. and Vormetric Inc. (see NetApp Buys Decru and Storage Startup Blends VPNs, SANs).

However, it's likely that Oracle’s other 10g enhancements will help extend grid computing further into the enterprise. Oracle says that with this release it has expanded 10g’s clustering technology and enhanced the software’s management and load balancing features. The vendor’s Real Application Cluster (RAC) technology has now been extended to support up to 100 servers.

Although there are other database products on the market, such as IBM Corp.’s (NYSE: IBM) DB2, Duplessie feels that Oracle's proliferation in data centers makes it uniquely positioned to give grid computing a boost. Even though it's not the only application, it's a vital one. “Unless you can make a single instance of Oracle execute across multiple nodes, the commercialization of grid is not going to happen,” Duplessie says.

For some time now, there has been growing speculation that grid computing is set to burst out of its traditional niche in universities and shadowy government research labs (see Keynote: Grids to Grow and Opening Up on the Grid). If the improvements to Oracle can make it scale, Duplessie thinks it will be a step in that direction. “As the number of servers that you can execute on becomes bigger, grid gets more exciting,” he says.Oracle was unavailable for comment for this article.

— James Rogers, Site Editor, Next-Gen Data Center Forum

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