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Oracle Continues To Invest In Linux

According to IDC, Linux is the fastest growing platform; expected to grow 174 percent to US$5.9 billion by 2006.

To capitalize on the growing popularity of Linux, Oracle partnered Dell and Red Hat last month to announce their collective commitments to Linux for enterprise.

They will jointly develop, test and bring to market enterprise-ready Linux solutions based on Dell PowerEdge Servers and Dell/EMC and PowerVault storage systems, Release 2 of Oracle9i Database with Real Application Clusters and the Red Hat Linux Advanced Server operating System.

Oracle was one of the earlier software vendors to support Linux; an open source code operating system (OS) that serves as a cheaper alternative to other OS.

The Oracle9i Database was developed specially to support the Linux environment and it has proven to be popular with the Linux community as nearly 370,000 downloads in 2001 were recorded on Oracle Technology Network (OTN), Oracle's developer community Web site.

Linux Adoption In Asia
Although only about 15 percent of the 850 corporations surveyed in Asia were found to have servers running on the Linux platform in 2001, this is double the acceptance rate a year ago where only six percent to seven percent of the corporations had servers running on the Linux platform, said Gartner.

According to the director of Oracle 9i Marketing, Asia Pacific, Oracle Corporation, Peter Thomas: "Momentum behind Linux has been particularly strong in China and South Korea."

In China, the government has built its domestic software industry using Linux as the platform not only because of the lower costs, but they did so to avoid reliance on Windows OS. This move has helped drive Linux adoption rate in China.

In a report published in NewsForge, its author Jack Bryar stated that Linux has been especially popular with the Asian animation studios in countries such as India and Korea because of the lower cost factor.

Said Thomas: "There are many factors that determine the cost of a system including reusability of hardware, the types of expertise within your company and the amount of retraining necessary, and so on. While it is difficult to quantify the potential cost savings of a system without knowing the customer's specific situation, generally, for many customers, Linux clusters offers a less expensive alternative due to the low cost hardware and operating system, flexible scalability, and increased reliability." (see table for a price comparison).

Inhibitors
Despite the lower cost, a major inhibitor preventing some enterprises from embracing Linux is the lack of applications and support for the Linux environment. Thomas has observed that, while gaining wider acceptance in Asia, Linux is used mainly used for low-level applications, such as file sharing, and Web and e-mail applications in most enterprises.

The big financial institutions for instance, will not risk running their critical applications on a Linux platform.

Windows is still the most widely used enterprise OS in the region, with Sun Microsystems Inc.'s Solaris being the second most commonly used operating system. Linux is ranked third, said Thomas.

He gave an example: "Linux adoption has not been as popular in mature IT countries such as Australia because companies tend to look at factors such as availability and support of applications."

But this barrier will be overcome in due time as more vendors are now lending their support and developing more applications for the Linux environment.

By teaming up with Dell and Red Hat, Oracle aims to provide customers in key verticals, including banking and finance, high-tech manufacturing, government and telecommunications the technology and full support they need to run their applications on a reliable, low-cost Linux environment.

It's CEO, Larry Ellison, has said earlier that there are two ways of making Linux more reliable. "One is by providing much better support, which we are doing. Second is with a cluster to provide fault tolerance. If we do our job well, there is no need to build bigger, faster machine, which will be just too expensive and too unreliable comparatively. Rather than buying a big IBM server, you buy a rack of RAC."

Oracle also has plans to work with other vendors to deliver certified configurations of Oracle9i Real Application Clusters.

Besides Oracle, other major vendors such as IBM, Hewlett-Packard, SGI and SAP have all pledged their support for Linux. IBM, for instance, has announced last year that more than US$200 million would be invested in Asia alone in the next four years in support of Linux.

As this trend continues, coupled with more Linux distributors, system vendors and others working towards developing easier-to-use Linux OS to encourage resellers to invest in Linux so that they too can provide the necessary high value-add activities to maximize investments in Linux, such as the necessary consulting and integration skills, said IDC, companies' fears of lack of support from industry players will be eased, if not eliminated.

For Oracle, more than 3,500 developers and independent software vendors (ISVs) have already downloaded Oracle technology on Linux from its OTN, and more than 550 of these partners have certified their solutions with Oracle9i Database on Linux. And its list of partners supporting the Oracle9i Database on Linux is growing, an indication that signifies the increasing importance of Linux.

As IDC has projected, by 2006, Linux will overtake Windows as the dominant server platform in the world.

No. Of NodesServer HardwareNo. Of CPUsPrice in USD
2xIBM zSeries z900:2064-116
(16 CPUs @ ~750 MHz, 64 GB)
32$14.8M
8xIBM zSeries z800:2066-004
(4 CPUs @ ~600 MHz, 16GB)
32$3.6M
8xDell PowerEdge 6650
(4 CPUs @ 1.6 GHz, 16GB)
32$364K