Oracle hints at grid upgrades to come

Oracle Corp. foreshadowed improvements to its grid strategy, including updates to the Oracle Database 10g and the company’s enterprise management tools, during an interview with InfoWorld (U.S.) last week.

To boost grid technologies, Oracle is working toward automating resource provisioning, which is currently a manual process, said Bob Thome, senior manager of grid computing at Oracle.

Oracle is also seeking a standard for provisioning resources in a grid to more cleanly interface with third-party tools, such as Sun Microsystems Inc.’s N1 platform, Thome said. This work is occurring in the Enterprise Grid Alliance.

Furthermore, the next release of Oracle Enterprise Manager Grid Control and the version of Enterprise Manager in other Oracle products will focus on reporting service levels for applications.

Oracle is updating its grid products not only to better compete with rivals IBM Corp. and Microsoft Corp. in the database realm but also to help keep its edge over open source offerings such as Apache, JBoss, and MySQL.

“The relational database marketplace is about US$3.6 billion. MySQL had revenues of US$12 million last year. They’re so small you can barely measure it,” said Bob Shimp, vice-president of marketing at Oracle.

In terms of price, Oracle compares favourably with MySQL when considering triggers, stored procedures, clustering, analytics, and wireless support, Shimp said.

A MySQL AB official acknowledged that the MySQL database lacks some of the features Oracle offers. “We don’t put in all the bells and whistles that lead to complexity, slow performance, downtime,” said Zack Urlocker, vice-president of marketing at MySQL.

But according to RedMonk analyst Stephen O’Grady, open source databases are catching up to their proprietary brethren.

“Open source databases are migrating up the stack. They are being considered for pretty heavy workloads, and performancewise, people are getting pretty good results,” O’Grady said. “MySQL has added triggers and stored procedures, so a lot of the features DBAs needed are becoming commonplace.”

Daniel Kunkel, founder of BioWaves, a provider of sound therapy software, said that open source products are becoming more attractive for his company.

“Open source alternatives continue to become more viable choices for the enterprise, especially in new applications,” Kunkel said. “(But) Oracle has a great deal of respect in the enterprise community and a strong degree of feature lock-in, which makes switching to any other database untenable.”

Gartner Inc. analyst Donald Feinberg said it will be hard for MySQL to catch up to Oracle’s grid features.

“Competing with 10g in the grid space has to be years away (for MySQL). That wasn’t simple for Oracle to do, never mind MySQL,” Feinberg said.

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