Oracle, Cisco create protocol to speed 11g setup

Cisco did its part for Oracle users as the OpenWorld conference opened Monday, announcing a protocol it developed with the software company for running Oracle databases over larger server clusters.

The two vendors developed the RDS (Reliable Datagram Sockets) protocol and will make it part of an industry-developed open-source software distribution called Open Fabrics Enterprise Distribution, said Pramod Srivatsa, a product line manager for Cisco server fabric switches. It is intended for Cisco switches using Infiniband high-speed data-centre technology.

Growing data centres and demands for processing have driven the development of new forms of connectivity, such as Infiniband and 10-Gigabit Ethernet, between servers in data centres. But pure networking speed — up to 20G bps (bits per second) in the case of Infiniband — isn’t all that’s needed to make data centres run faster.

Enterprises that want to set up a very large deployment of the Oracle 11g database software once had to do it on a single large server, Srivatsa said. Oracle already offers RAC (Real Application Clusters) 11g software for distributing that deployment over multiple, smaller Intel-based servers running Linux. But that only works up to a cluster of about four servers, and RDS makes it more scalable, he said. RDS has been tested successfully with as many as 16 servers and is designed to work for clusters of as many as 64 using Infiniband, according to Srivatsa.

Infiniband is well-suited to Oracle database software because it has to quickly exchange many messages of varying sizes, Srivatsa said. Mellanox, which supplies some of Cisco’s chips for Infiniband switches, helped develop RDS. In the future, customers will probably be able to use RDS with 10-Gigabit Ethernet too, Srivatsa said.

RDS was designed for clusters of servers in one data centre, which could include blade as well as rack servers, he said. Customers of both Oracle and Cisco can request the software from the companies now and start testing it. Cisco will start providing RDS for commercial use in its Infiniband servers after it is certified by Oracle, probably next month, Srivatsa said.

On Tuesday, at the SC07 supercomputing conference in Reno, Nevada, Cisco introduced the SFS (Server Fabric Switch) 3504, designed to let enterprises connect blade servers running Oracle database software with traditional Fibre Channel storage-area networks (SANs). The switch connects to a blade or rack server using Infiniband and serves as a gateway to both an Ethernet LAN and a Fibre Channel SAN, Srivatsa said. In the case of blade servers, it helps IT departments do more with systems that typically have just one type of external connectivity, he said.

The SFS 3504 can be ordered starting later this month and is set to ship in December. The average starting list price, depending on configurations, will be US$150 per port.

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