Oracle Forges Further with Linux
Oracle's Plans For a Linux Future
"Now, you'll start to see enterprises running Linux on big SMP boxes," predicted Wim Coekaerts, principal member of the technical staff, Corporate Architecture, at Oracle.
In recent months, Oracle has been continuing its Linux push by setting a world record benchmark for symmetric multiprocessing (SMP) machines, teaming up with Red Hat on a development center in Singapore, pitching in on the Linux 2.6 kernel, and moving its own internal development environment from Solaris to Linux.
"Before, the large SMP market was untouchable by Linux," Coekaerts contended. "Linux only ran on up to 8-way SMP. Anything beyond that would be clusters. But we have now validated that Linux will run well on standard large-scale 32-bit SMP."
Specifically, Coekaerts was talking about a TPC-C benchmark result that Oracle turned in at the end of June. Oracle ran the performance benchmark of its 10g database on an NEC Express5800/1320Xd server outfitted with 32 Intel Itanium 2 processors and SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 9. In the benchmark, the database achieved 683.575 tpmC (transactions per minute) with a price-performance ratio of $5.99/tpmC.
"Also, we came out with a production release of the database for AMD64 three months ago," Coekaerts pointed out.
Meanwhile, Oracle's been helping out with the 2.6 kernel by assisting with bug fixes and other enhancements, particularly around Multipath and FailOver to Disk OS.
"Since 2.6 gives us a more mature product to work with, we're able to put in more of an effort. We've working with partner vendors during the early testing phases, to reduce the amount they have to do," according to Coekaerts.
Internally, Oracle is still on track to make Linux its standard database development platform by the end of this year.
"This means that whenever there's new code to develop, it will be developed on Linux. All the base testing will also be done on Linux," Coekaerts said.
Oracle converted developers in its Enterprise Application Server group to Linux last year.
Coincidentally or not, figures recently released by IDC show Oracle receiving a 19.4 percent share of the application server market for 2003, representing 15 percent year-over-year growth.
Ed Cheung, product marketing director for Oracle Application Server and Tools, pointed to ease of implementation as one key reason for the rise of Oracle's application server suite. "With Oracle's suite, upi don't have to hire IBM Global Services or outside consultants to get portal functionality, for instance," he said.
"The use of Linux drives down the cost of computing for customers. This has been proven again and again," Cheung added.
Next year, developers working on Oracle's collaborative applications will likewise make the switch to Linux.
The transition to Linux marks the second time in company history that Oracle's internal development has migrated to a new platform. During the early nineties, Oracle's developers were moved from VMS to Solaris.
"This kind of process can be very intrusive, because it can hold up production. But we're doing it now because we want to send a message to our customers that we believe Linux is here for the long-term," according to Coekaerts.
Although Oracle ran its 32-way SMP benchmark on SUSE, the database vendor actually supports a total of four Linux distributions right now: Miracle and Red Flag in Asia; SUSE in North America, Europe, and Latin America; and Red Hat "mostly in North America and Europe, but also some in Latin America," he maintained.
"We want to see some competition out there, because competition is good. But on the other hand, we don't want to have to support 50 different distributions."
Miracle and Red Flag are both based on Asianux, a platform Coekaerts equates with the former UnitedLinux. Oracle is working with customers on both these distributions at the LEAP development center, recently co-created with Red Hat in Singapore.
"Miracle is more optimized for the Japanese language, and Red Flag for the Chinese language," he explained. Coekaerts also cited "cosmetic differences" between the two Asianux-based distros.
"The Japanese might have different preferences for the look and feel of the installer, for instance. Or, folks in one country or the other might want to include an Internet server or database server as an option," he illustrated.
Oracle was also a strong backer of UnitedLinux during its glory days. "But UnitedLinux went away," he acknowledged. Oracle is still supporting customers of Conectiva--one of UnitedLinux's four co-founders--in Latin America. "But this is because the Conectiva release was based on UnitedLinux. I think some of Conectiva's business might start going to other players, especially SUSE/Novell."
Other than that, Oracle has no "specific relationships" right now with either Conectiva or TurboLinux, the Asian-based UnitedLinux co-founder. "But whether we start to support them will depend on what happens with these companies and what kinds of customers they have," Coekaerts said.
On the other hand, Oracle now supports both of the Asianux-based distros through "Unbreakable Linux," a tech support program that previously supported only Red Hat and SUSE Linux.
Meanwhile, at the the LEAP center in Singapore, Asian-based ISVs and customers are testing their applications running with Oracle on Red Hat.
"A lot of customers want to know which versions of Oracle and Red Hat they should be using. They're also testing third-party components, because moving to Linux means they must port those, as well," according to Coekaerts.
Coekaerts added that Oracle runs similar customer/ISV centers in various parts of the world with a number of other partners, including Sun, Hewlett-Packard, and EMC.