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Oracle's Grid Software Gets More Grip

Grids that commission several computers to work together on one task are great, but if you don't have the software to manage the snarl of data traffic, they can be an absolute nightmare.

To mitigate those issues, Oracle has updated its Release 2 of Enterprise Manager Grid 10g Control. Also called Oracle Grid Control, it offers new tools to help administrators manage software in a grid, including Web applications, hosts and the network.

The suite includes new service modeling, graphical service topologies and service dashboards that help administrators simplify and automate the delegation of tedious computing tasks. New root cause analysis tools help managers find problems in the application stack that can hinder performance.

Admins can then track the grid's performance across multiple nodes and tiers through one Web-based console.

R2 will let enterprises store software images from a operating system, application server, database and Oracle Real Application Clusters installations in an image library. System managers will then be able to automatically deploy new systems by tapping into the library.

By keeping the software current with reference-based patching, businesses can adjust to changes in resource demands with the assurance that each deployment is tested and is in compliance with corporate standards.

Grid Control also has a new bare metal provisioning functionality that saves time and money by enabling admins to provision Linux servers and keep the Linux OS in sync with a reference image directly from Grid Control.

Oracle has long been known as a company whose products only work with its other products. The Redwood Shores, Calif., vendor is attempting to change that with R2 of Grid Control.

Oracle Grid Control features increased support for application servers, firewalls, operating systems, load balancers and storage components not made by Oracle.

For example, R2 has new management plug-ins that hook into BEA WebLogic (version 7.0 and above); F5 Networks Server Load Balancer; IBM WebSphere (version 5.0 and above); and, Network Appliance's NetApp Filer. More plug-ins, including Check Point Firewall and Juniper Netscreen Firewall, are scheduled to follow.

Oracle Enterprise Manager 10g Release 2 is available today on major Linux platforms.

New packaging and pricing models to facilitate the adoption of R2 are afoot, too. Configuration packs for non-Oracle Systems are $3,000 per processor. Provisioning costs $3,000 per processor, while the service level management pack is $3,000 per beacon and $100 per test.

System management plug-ins supporting partner products include $1,500 per processor for hosts; $1,500 per processor for non-Oracle middleware; $1,500 per network device; and $1,500 per terabyte for storage.

IBM and Sun Microsystems also hawk grid strategies, though no company instills the grid message across its entire product line as religiously on Oracle, which uses the grid term to convey value in everything from its database to its application server.

IBM and Sun, for example, use the grid term to describe scientific applications that run on supercomputers. Both have been increasingly vocal about pushing such high-end solutions into the commercial sphere.