Oracle serves up upgrades and partnerships

Oracle Corp. announced the second release of its Oracle9i database and a partnership with Red Hat Inc. to further promote the Linux platform – and even threw Dell Computer Corp. into the fold.

To go along with the second release of 9i, Oracle also announced that the 9i Application Server and J Developer tool are now shipping.

Oracle detailed its plans to optimize its database and clustering software for Red Hat’s Linux Advanced Server. “Within the next couple of months we expect to see Linux overtake Windows as the most popular operating system to download 9i,” said Mark Jarvis, chief marketing officer for Oracle.

He pointed out that Oracle has been onboard with Linux since 1999, as the first company to deliver a relational database on the Linux platform. IDC numbers suggest that the current US$50 million Linux market will grow by at least a factor of 10 by 2006. “We see Linux gaining enormous popularity out there, both with the developers and within the enterprise,” Jarvis said.

Dell, which has certified its PowerEdge servers to run Oracle9i database Release 2 and Red Hat Linux Advanced Server operating system, will also offer certified configurations of its hardware for Oracle9i Real Application Clusters.

Dell has also agreed to resell Oracle software licenses with its hardware products; until now customers had to go to Oracle to receive a license key that would activate their database.

The renewed effort by Oracle to offer its database software on Intel-based servers running Linux could spell trouble for Sun Microsystems Inc., which builds Unix servers that are widely used to run Oracle’s software. As Linux is considered a close cousin of Unix, customers who don’t need the power of a Sun server could turn to Linux as a less expensive alternative and one that has a familiar feel for system administrators, said Mark Shainman, senior research analyst for the Meta Group in Cambridge, Mass.

Because of Linux’s lower cost and platform independence, it presents an opportunity for the company to delve into other areas of the marketplace, added an Oracle spokesperson.

“Oracle sees the potential in (small and medium-size businesses). It’s an opportunity for us to expand our market to bring the lower cost infrastructure in line with what our customers are looking for,” said Brent Chin, national solutions manager for Oracle Canada in Mississauga, Ont.

Oracle is not alone – IBM Corp. has also become a major player in the Linux market. IBM has been supporting clusters of Linux servers with its DB2 database software license since December 2000, the company said.

But while the clustering aspect has been highly touted by Oracle, the company will now concentrate on moving into a new market. Warren Shiau, software analyst for IDC Canada Ltd. in Toronto, said the move will allow Oracle to enter the SMB market, an area it has traditionally had difficulty entering.

“This doesn’t present so much a problem for Microsoft as it does a solution for Oracle. It’s a step forward in addressing some of the issues at the lower end of the marketplace that they’ve had,” he said.

– With files from IDG News Service