Ellison claims grid marks 40-year breakthrough

Grid computing is the IT industry's first new architecture in 40 years, Oracle chairman and chief executive officer Larry Ellison...

Grid computing is the IT industry's first new architecture in 40 years, Oracle chairman and chief executive officer Larry Ellison claimed as he formally launched the company's grid-enabled database and application server.

The 10g releases of Oracle Database and Application Server enables customers to add computing capacity simply by adding two-processor, Intel and Linux-based servers to a grid of linked systems, Ellison stressed at the OracleWorld show in San Francisco.

This is a departure from the traditional race that has had system suppliers always trying to build bigger, faster computers as the way to boost computing power, he said.

"There's no place to go if you have a single-machine architecture," Ellison said. "Applications in the information age are beginning to outgrow even the largest computer. There isn't enough capacity."

"For the last 40 years it's been a quest to build bigger and bigger mainframe computers," Ellison said. Even PC leader Microsoft has joined the game recently by producing a benchmark for its SQL Server database running on a 64-processor Windows system, the Oracle chief noted.

With Oracle's grid approach, enterprises can add capacity cheaply and have fault tolerance, identity management, patch distribution and centralised monitoring of multiple systems in a grid. Automatic load-balancing and provisioning also are featured.

"After 40 years, Oracle is introducing an alternative to the one-big-server approach to running your large, mission critical applications, in fact, running all your applications," Ellison said.

Oracle's grid approach features four central components. A storage grid is attached to an array of database computers, which is connected to a collection of application servers. The fourth component, management, is provided by Oracle's Grid Control software.

"It's all perfectly interconnected and all managed as if it were one computer. That was a massive software engineering feat," he said. Existing Oracle applications run faster and more reliably on the grid, with no code changes necessary. Software such as SAP applications can coexist on the grid, said Ellison.

"It is a completely fault-tolerant grid made up of inexpensive PC components with almost unlimited performance and capacity at an incredibly low price," Ellison said.

Oracle plans to publish pricing of its 10g products next week and the 10g versions of the database and application server are expected to ship later this year.

Oracle's grid efforts stemmed from Oracle's parallel server and Real Application Clusters technologies, Ellison said.

Other suppliers offering a similar approach to Oracle's grid plan include IBM, which is promoting its on-demand strategy, intended to help customers transform business processes while leveraging existing IT infrastructure, including hardware, software and services.

Sun Microsystems's N1 architecture is a virtualising and provisioning technology intended to provide for unified management of data centre resources.

Paul Krill writes for InfoWorld

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