Oracle raising grid stakes

Oracle Corp.’s upcoming database addresses major issues surrounding grid computing by enabling enterprises to build reliable grids based on commercial, rather than customized, technology, an Oracle official said on Monday.

Oracle Database 10g is to be introduced at the OracleWorld conference the week of Sept. 7, said Robert Shimp, vice-president of database marketing at Oracle, in Redwood Shores, Calif. Although Oracle is calling the product a major release of the database, the company is not yet saying when it will ship.

Grids are intended to pool resources of multiple computers together for executing a single application. The database will overcome the inability of current grids to provide for prioritization of jobs, which is a critical need in an enterprise business, Shimp said. Grids have been predominant in the scientific community, where “best-effort capacity,” in which the grid handles the job when it can, has sufficed. “Obviously, enterprises can’t use that. They need predictable capacity,” Shimp said.

Version 10g also will provide for a centrally managed system usable by thousands of people, unlike scientific grids, which have been customized for use by a small number of people, according to Shimp. “Scientific grids traditionally have been handcrafted, each one built using custom consulting services,” he said.

Utility computing, in which computing cycles are offered in a utility-like fashion, will be boosted by the database, Shimp said. While grid technology often is seen as futuristic, customers are reportedly expressing interest in it. “We get quite a few customers coming in to talk to us about what grid computing has to offer,” he said.

According to Shimp, both enterprises and ASPs offering outsourced application processing will benefit from Version 10g. He added that the new database will add to existing grid capabilities in the current Oracle9i database, such as the Real Application Clusters (RAC) capability.

While Oracle has supported the Open Grid Services Architecture (OGSA), a Web services-based grid computing platform from the Globus Project research effort, Oracle’s database will not implement OGSA for some time. OGSA offers capabilities such as identity management and provisioning, but the technology is not yet ready for support in Oracle’s database, Shimp said. “It’s a ways away from being implemented,” he added.

IBM Corp., however, has pledged to add OGSA technologies to its operating systems and WebSphere application server beginning later this year, an IBM official said in June at the Enterprise Linux Forum conference in Santa Clara, Calif.

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