ORACLEWORLD: Not all users rush to embrace grid computing

While a number of users say they have an interest in Oracle Corp.’s grid computing strategy, several claimed that the company still has a way to go before they buy into the concept.

Oracle officially unveiled its 10g family of products this week at the OracleWorld 2003 database user show, providing the cornerstone of its grid computing platform. The grid concept works by allocating available enterprise resources to handle computing demands as needed, maximizing existing IT investments and boosting scalability and performance. Company executives claim that customers can rely on multiple low-cost blade servers that are added as demand spikes, rather than on large, expensive mainframe or Unix boxes, which often are underutilized.

Pricing has yet to be announced.

Asked about Oracle’s grid plans, a couple of users at the show said there are some obstacles to overcome before they will feel ready to implement Oracle’s grid vision.

For Arthur Fleiss, senior manager at the information systems department at consumer goods maker Colgate-Palmolive Co. in Piscataway, N.J., the biggest challenge will “be a change in mind-set” in his company. Colgate-Palmolive runs 30 Oracle production databases, including Oracle9i and 8, and is interested in exploiting grid computing to improve reliability and performance. It has been been beta-testing the 10g database since last month.

While the technical challenge to grids isn’t great, at Fleiss’ company, there “is the mind-set that there is one application and one server (configuration) and to get people to think beyond is a change. That’s the biggest hurdle.”

Other Oracle users said they’re in no rush to implement grid computing.

“As far as our environment goes, I don’t see a need for Oracle’s grid architecture,” said Jeremy Forman, computer systems analyst at the New Mexico State Highway and Transportation Department in Santa Fe. Currently, he is beta-testing the 10g database and plans to go live with it when it ships.

While Forman sees the potential benefits of harnessing all that CPU and server power, he believes his department is too small for it. “Performance-wise, we’re pretty happy how the apps work,” he said.