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Oracle and Dell boost for enterprise Linux

Oracle and Dell have teamed up with Linux vendor Red Hat to "deliver enterprise-ready Linux".

The companies are collaborating to deliver systems based on Oracle 9i database release 2 with Real Application Clusters and the Red Hat Linux Advanced Serve Operating System running on Dell's Intel-based PowerEdge servers with Dell/EMC and PowerVault storage systems.

Oracle software already supports a variety of Linux distributions including Red Hat. However, the database company has worked closely with Red Hat in recent months to tune its software to run best on its version of Linux, analysts said.

Dell has certified its PowerEdge servers to run Oracle9i database Release 2 and Red Hat Linux Advanced Server, and in coming months will also offer certified configurations of its hardware for Oracle9i Real Application Clusters (RAC), the company said.

Oracle's RAC allows users to run its database across multiple servers which, it says, is beneficial for providing load balancing, failover support, and greater scalability.

A Dell-certified configuration for Oracle9i on Red Hat Advanced Server will cost $11,900 (£8,100) per node, Dell said. This includes a PowerEdge 6400 server with a single processor, 1Gbyte of RAM and four 36 Gbyte hard drives, as well as the Red Hat Advanced server OS licence.

Dell has also agreed to resell Oracle software licences with its hardware products. Until now, customers had to go to Oracle to receive a licence key that would activate the database.

The renewed effort by Oracle to offer its database software on Intel-based servers running Linux could spell trouble for Sun Microsystems, which builds powerful Unix servers that are widely used to run Oracle's software.

Because Linux is a close cousin of Unix, customers who do not need the power of a Sun server could turn to Linux as a cheaper alternative, and one that has a familiar feel for system administrators, said Mark Shainman, senior research analyst with Meta Group.

"There's a huge percentage of database customers that could be running on a four-way box," he said, referring to servers that have four processors, such as the one announced by Dell. "If [Linux] sucks those customers away from Sun, they're looking at only competing in the high-end, eight-way and above arena."

The announcement is also a concern for Microsoft, said Stacey Quandt, an analyst with Giga Information Group. Microsoft is going after many of the same Unix customers that Linux vendors are pursuing. However, switching from Unix to Windows is more complex than the switch from Unix to Linux, she said.

There is also the issue of how much performance users get for the price. According to Shainman, Oracle software running on Linux trails only slightly behind that same software running on Windows.

"The potential price-performance with Oracle on Red Hat will be much more preferable over [Microsoft]," Giga's Quandt said.

Joe Yong, product manager for Microsoft's SQL Server division, disagreed. Moving to Windows from Unix, he said was, "a fairly easy switch. Even if you move from one flavour of Unix to another, you still have to learn quirks and differences between different versions."

On cost, Yong said the total cost of installing and maintaining Oracle9i on Intel servers running Linux exceeds the cost of running SQL Server on Windows software.

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