RealTime IT News

Dell's Open Source Plans Favor Oracle

Dell Wednesday expressed its faith in open-source computing like never before and expanded its pacts with vendors Oracle and EMC .

Oracle Chairman and CEO Larry Ellison joined Dell CEO Michael Dell onstage at the Pierre Hotel to discuss how the two companies had inked a global sales agreement to implant Oracle databases and application servers on Dell servers in Europe and Asia, and create cost-effective servers powered by Oracle software for small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs).

Specifically, Dell will craft server and storage platforms primed for Oracle 9i Database with Real Application Clusters for both Red Hat Linux Advanced Server and Microsoft Windows environments. This cluster computing, which allows multiple computers and systems on a network to work as one, is aimed at prying customers from using, say, IBM mainframes that do not scale the way the cluster system employed by Dell using Oracle software would. The firms said the systems will start at $18,000.

While that was the meat of the news, Dell spent the bulk of his time on stage discussing the total cost of ownership benefits and return-on-investment mantra of how much the enterprise sector is endorsing open source software -- and by extension how much money it is saving -- to power their information technology infrastructure.

Dell used a presentation peppered with a number of studies from such research firms as IDC, Gartner and Meta Group detailing estimates, figures and predictions as to how much more the enterprise customer will benefit from going to open source -- especially Dell servers powered by Oracle software -- as opposed to proprietary Unix-based systems. He cited statistic after statistic about how, driven by customers' desire to have powerful systems at as low a cost as possible, standards-based products were winning the day over proprietary forebears from the likes of IBM, HP and Sun.

For example, he said Linux-based systems are growing at a compound annual growth rate of 97 percent. His chart showed how RISC-based systems are more expensive than Intel-based two-processor systems. Interestingly, he said Dell would focus on two- and four-processor systems more because 8-,16- and 32-way systems' architectures are too complex and do not evolve to meet technology advances.

"[Dell] are the only large computer systems maker employing standards-based systems," Dell said. When it came time to discuss cluster computing, Dell called Ellison to the stage.

Ellison peppered his address with anecdotes, some of them humorous, but his message was clear: Oracle wants to help Dell drive out proprietary, Unix-based systems made and sold by rivals such as IBM, HP and Sun in favor of Linux-based cluster computing.

Calling the database the "choke point" in the enterprise data center, Ellison said the point is to get information to put into the database to help people do their jobs. Over time, he said, this role hasn't changed, but the depth and breadth to which people need to access information has increased. Because of this, the IT world requires software and systems that provide more performance and more reliability. The catch -- something Ellison said is his company's great challenge -- is that they want to spend less. Then he peppered his cluster computing speech with stabs at IBM's database, mainframes and "on demand-computing" strategy.

"When IBM wants to show off their fastest new Unix computer," Ellison said, "Oracle is the database they use because the benchmarks all show we're the fastest."

He then went on to explain how IBM's DB2 database is not fast enough, is too expensive, and how IBM mainframes and Unix boxes have a single point of failure. Moreover, if an enterprise needs more power, it needs "to throw the old machine out and get a bigger one."

With Oracle's Real Application Cluster technology running on Dell servers, Ellison said the grid aspect makes it possible for a single system to fail, but the network will experience no downtime because another one steps up to takes it place. This, he said, saves companies time and money. He cited his own company, saying Oracle employs 24 server for its operations worldwide. If one goes down, the other 23 step up to take its place.

Ellison did not go unchallenged in the question and answer period. Illuminata Analyst Gordon Haff posed the question that, seeing as how Oracle is stressing that proprietary systems will buckle under increasing pressure from the open source community, was he not concerned that the same might happen to the database realm?

Ellison said no, because his company's databases are some of the most secure software applications ever composed. If the data within in is lost, unlike an operating system failure, it cannot be recovered. He claimed Oracle hasn't had one of its databases cracked in a decade.

"The database is the last piece of software that faces a threat from open source," he said.

Dell and Oracle have been partners since 1998 and Dell most recently served as Oracle's launch partner for its "Unbreakable" Linux strategy. The pair will also team on a migration program to lure Unix customers to Oracle9i Database with Real Application Clusters on Dell systems.

In separate news, Dell also announced that its deep pact with EMC has blossomed a bit: it has begun manufacturing Dell EMC CX200 storage systems worldwide, and has introduced new entry-level storage area network (SAN) "bundles" to support the needs of small- and medium-sized businesses.

Dell said the new CX200 systems are perfect for lightweight applications. The modular architecture of Dell EMC storage arrays supports this.