Gartner: Oracle Hopes Red Hat Linux Will Jump-Start Oracle9i RAC

On 5 June 2002, Oracle announced that clustering and high availability for the Oracle9i Database with Real Application Clusters (RAC) are available for the Red Hat Advanced Server OS on Dell Computer PowerEdge servers. In addition, Oracle announced cluster file system and clustering support for Red Hat Linux.

First Take

Oracle has taken a lead role in enhancing Linux to meet enterprise requirements for availability and scalability. This is the first OS Oracle will take complete responsibility for, and customers will have a single support line, with Oracle diagnosing and resolving problems. This approach aims to ease enterprises’ fear about support and accountability from Linux vendors. However, enterprises must have an Oracle license support agreement as well as the mandated support contract for Red Hat? Advanced Server.

Oracle wants to own more of the software stack in addition to the database management system (DBMS) so that it can build in functions that will advance its sales of Oracle9i RAC. Oracle has therefore integrated cluster software, which traditionally comes from OS and middleware vendors. Oracle ported its own cluster file system – along with event management and monitoring, installation, and administration obtained from Hewlett-Packard? TruCluster – to Red Hat Linux. The cluster file system will let users administer Oracle9i RAC databases from the file system rather than from complex raw partitions.

For the Linux OS, enterprises now have a single vendor assuming a greater degree of vertical functions and integration with Oracle products (e.g., movement to transparent failover of Oracle applications) at bundled pricing. However, pricing for Linux remains level with Unix pricing:

Although enterprises don’t have to pay extra for the components Oracle added to Red Hat Linux, the bundled price for Oracle9i RAC is $60,000 per processor, the same as for Oracle9i RAC on all other platforms.

Enterprises will need a support contract and must pay a license fee for Advanced Server of $800 to $2,500 per server, depending on support.

Although Oracle9i RAC offers functions the competition does not have (shared concurrent access for scalability), they carry a significant price premium. Other DBMSs available on Intel servers (on Linux or Windows) have much lower cost (e.g., IBM DB2 Extended Enterprise Edition for Linux costs $12,500 per processor at the promotional price).

Oracle will have to discount heavily to build a significant installed base of Oracle9i RAC for Linux.

None of the other databases Linux supports have the shared, concurrent scaling potential of Oracle9i RAC. However, Oracle has not proven the need for a parallel DBMS on Linux, nor has it validated its claims for scalability with references and benchmarks. Thus, Oracle and Red Hat will likely concede substantial discounts as they seek to validate claims that Linux has a compelling total cost of ownership compared with Microsoft? SQL Server, DB2 Universal Database or Oracle on Unix.

Analytical Sources: George Weiss and Donna Scott, Gartner Research

Reference Material and Recommended Reading

“Red Hat’s Enterprise Linux Will Face Tough Competition” (FT-16-0453). Red Hat must offer benchmarks that prove Linux scales comparably with Unix in installations up to eight-way and must keep Advanced Server’s development synchronized with the Linux community’s efforts. By George Weiss.

“Database Management Systems for Linux: Perspective” (DPRO-89839). For Linux to make greater inroads in the enterprise, it must rapidly gain the attributes that have made commercial Unix a success as a deployment platform for enterprise applications. By Mary Hubley and Ann Katan.