Oracle touts grid computing to open show

Oracle rang in the first day of its OpenWorld European conference series on Monday by touting the growth of grid computing in Europe, followed with the main news of the day: the release of E-Business Suite Version 11i.10.

The company launched its Grid Index Report, a study that will henceforth be released every six months, as a way to track the understanding, acceptance and uptake of grid computing-related technologies in Europe, said Tim Payne, senior director of technology and marketing for Oracle Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA).

On an ascending scale of 0 to 10, the first Oracle Grid Index came in at 3.1.

"The study shows that grid computing is following the same adoption patterns as the Internet did," Payne said. "We also found that there is a strong correlation between people's understanding of the technology and their commitment to adopting grid computing. In short, people who understand it, are doing it."

The Oracle Grid Index Report will be highlighted in the morning's first keynote speech by Sergio Giacoletto, Oracle's executive vice president for EMEA, while Oracle President Charles Phillips will follow that up with a speech about the release of E-Business Suite Version 11i.10.

Oracle has already been releasing 11i.10 in piecemeal fashion, for example launching on Aug. 13 Oracle CRM 11i.10, which includes updated sales, marketing and partner relationship management modules.

As for the Grid Index Report, Oracle commissioned the Windsor, England, business analysis company, Quocirca to interview 603 senior corporate IT managers from the U.K., France, Germany, Italy, Spain, the Benelux countries and countries in the Nordic region. The survey was carried out in June and July, Payne said.

For the survey, companies were split into two classifications: companies with turnover of Euro 1 billion (AUD$1.7 billion) or 10,000 employees and companies with turnover of Euro 100 million or 1,000 employees. The larger companies had a higher overall Grid Index, of 3.2, compared to 2.9 for the smaller companies, Payne said.

Companies in the retail, financial services and utility sectors showed the highest commitment to grid computing, as did companies in France, Germany, the U.K. and Benelux, according to the survey results.

Fifty-one percent of survey respondents cited the primary benefit of grid technology as being its ability to reduce overall IT capital expenditure and operational costs. But the study also found that the lack of awareness of how grid technology works and the benefits it could provide is a major factor affecting adoption rates.

"The main objective is to raise the awareness of grid computing, because as research shows, this market could generate a lot of revenue in the long term," Payne said.

A study published by IDC in March, "The Role of Grid Computing in the Coming Innovation Wave," forecasted that the grid computing market would exceed $12 billion worldwide by 2007.

According to Payne, the growing acceptance of grid computing-related technologies generally will have a positive translation for Oracle's bottom line in particular as, he said, it is the company with the best off-the-shelf offerings.

"Oracle works right out of the box, while IBM's grid computing technology is based around its consultancy business. It is unclear what Microsoft's grid computing strategy is, and though it is emerging, it's still several years behind in the market," Payne said.

Oracle sees its RAC (Real Application Clusters) technology as the main stepping stone for its customers toward grid computing and with 4,200 RAC customers worldwide (1,500 of which are in Europe), Payne said the company believes it is well on the road toward further raising grid computing awareness. "RAC is the best indication we have of how many customers are beginning to implement on the grid," he said.

Oracle will take every opportunity to sell its customers on the benefits of grid computing at OpenWorld London as well as at the other two OpenWorld European conferences being held this month, in Amsterdam (Sept 22-24) and Milan (Sept. 28-30), Payne said.

OracleWorld London marks a change in strategy for the conference series in Europe, which has traditionally be held in Paris and Copenhagen.

"OracleWorld Paris last year had 6,000 attendees, but that event was focused purely on technology products such as the database and application server," said Oracle spokesman Cairbre Sugrue in an e-mail response to questions. "This year's events combine the technology platform with the applications products, so will therefore attract more of a cross section of Oracle customers."

Oracle OpenWorld London will run though Sept. 8.

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