Storage Vendors Rally 'Round Oracle

Storage suppliers throw support behind enterprise database applications

November 13, 2007

4 Min Read
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Oracle's storage partners issued a series of announcements today in support of the Oracle OpenWorld event in San Francisco, signaling a hand-in-glove relationship between enterprise storage and structured database applications.

There are questions, though, about the actual impact of some of these announcements.

At the center of the news blitz is an Oracle product called Oracle VM, also announced today. This is a server virtualization platform based on Oracle's version of Linux and the open-source Xen hypervisor. Its purpose is to offer enterprise customers a "one-stop-shop" for database applications, virtualized server environments, and Linux applications.

Oracle VM can be ordered free starting November 14. Support costs range from $500 to $800 per system annually.

Who needs a hypervisor just for Oracle? Lots of enterprise folk, some say. "Products like Oracle VM can be excellent tools that enable IT to increase their server utilization, and dramatically reduce complexity and overall total cost of ownership," said IDC analyst John Humphreys in a prepared statement.At least one other analyst isn't so sure enterprises are ready to use different hypervisors for different applications in the fashion Oracle's announcement implies. "It remains early days for standards that handle the control and movement of virtual machines across virtual infrastructures sourced from different vendors," writes Illuminata analyst Gordon Haff in his blog today. "Its perhaps more thinkable that Oracle database and application servers might be kept independent from a general virtual infrastructure than would be the case with other, often less business-critical, applications."

Oracle did not respond to queries about whether it may support a VMware hypervisor at a future date. But VMware had an emailed response to the rival announcement: "We are pleased to see major application providers like Oracle beginning to understand and recognize the benefits of virtualization," stated Parag Patel, VP of alliances for VMware, in an email to Byte and Switch. "We believe Oracle’s announcement is in response to the overwhelming number of customers that have standardized on VMware to run enterprise applications including Oracle. We hope this will be the first of many steps that Oracle takes towards broad enablement of virtualization. Our many mutual customers are looking for stronger virtualization support from Oracle, including clear and consistent licensing guidelines for running Oracle software in virtualized environments.”

But Patel isn't sure Xen's the way to go. "There are at least five variants of Xen available to customers today. Oracle’s will be the sixth. We believe customers want a consistent approach to virtualization that has a proven track record with mission-critical deployments and a complete offering.”

Whatever the future of Oracle VM, storage vendors are standing by their database partner. Emulex, for instance, has written Linux code that gives each virtual machine created in Oracle VM a unique identifier for a SAN. "It's in the kernel now," says Emulex VP of software and customer marketing Scott McIntyre. "Linux distribution vendors must do their kernel grabs." He anticipates that the full Emulex virtual HBA implementations will be ready next year.

Dell, HP, NetApp, Pillar, Qlogic, and Liquid Computing also went on record in support of Oracle VM. Whether the verbal commitment is matched by actual products and sevices will depend on how well Oracle VM fares in the market.Next page

Meanwhile, other Oracle products were endorsed today. Among these is an appliance from archiving startup Solix and partner gloPlug, a NetApp integrator. Solix's gloPlug Appliance is a rackmount unit that combines elements of the Solix Enterprise Data Management for Oracle E-Business Suite with NetApp ReplicatorX and FlexClone. The unit links to any NetApp NAS or SAN.

Who needs it? Enterprise resource planning (ERP) customers with over 500 Gbytes of data, says Shekhar Dasgupta, COO of Solix. "Almost all ERP customers make multiple clones of databases for training, testing, and development. When they want to make a clone, it can take them 48 to 72 hours. Using this appliance, it takes one hour."

Solix says its clone-in-a-box approach is not only easier and faster, it's more secure than alternative methods. The vendor offers its own user interface for NetApp's ReplicatorX and FlexClone, which is tailored to shielding and filtering data for the clones made with the appliance.

On the downside, this is an expensive solution: The appliance ranges from $80,000 to $130,000, depending on the amount of storage required. And it's not going to be generally available until the first quarter of 2008.Other announcements today include the QLogic SilverStorm 9020 Enterprise Cluster Accelerator (ECA) switch, which offers 22 Double Data Rate (DDR) 20-Gbit/s InfiniBand ports linked to up to 22 hosts in an Oracle Database cluster.

The 9020 supports InfiniBand networking for Oracle's technique called Oracle Real Application Cluster (RAC), which allows a database to operate across a cluster of servers, sharing cache and disk. Oracle RAC for InfiniBand is also supported by Cisco and HP, and Cisco claims to be attempting to standardize it.

Stay tuned for updates as this week's event progresses.Have a comment on this story? Please click "Discuss" below. If you'd like to contact Byte and Switch's editors directly, send us a message.

  • Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO)

  • Dell Inc. (Nasdaq: DELL)

  • Hewlett-Packard Co. (NYSE: HPQ)

  • IDC

  • Illuminata Inc.

  • Liquid Computing Corp.

  • Network Appliance Inc. (Nasdaq: NTAP)

  • Oracle Corp. (Nasdaq: ORCL)

  • Pillar Data Systems Inc.

  • QLogic Corp. (Nasdaq: QLGC)

  • Solix Technologies Inc.

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