Oracle to support Itanium platform

Oracle says it will certify some of its software to run on servers powered by Intel's Itanium server line.

Oracle will soon begin certification of its database software to run on Itanium 2 computing processor platforms.

Oracle joined with officials of the Itanium Solutions Alliance (ISA) in making the announcement Monday at the first ever Itanium Solutions Summit in San Francisco. The move is a further endorsement by Oracle of the beleaguered Itanium processor family which has been slow to gain traction in the server marketplace, though it has shown some recent momentum.

"This seems like an 'attaboy' announcement," said industry analyst Charles King.

The Itanium microprocessor family was developed by Intel and Hewlett-Packard, but even with the backing of these tech industry giants, relatively few software programs were initially available to run on Itanium.

In announcing Oracle's support, Alliance members said Monday there are now 10,000 software applications from 2,000 independent software vendors certified on the Itanium 2 dual-core processor, code-named "Montecito," the latest iteration of Itanium introduced this summer. When ISA was founded in September 2005, it counted only 5,000 Itanium-compatible applications.

Oracle is "reiterating" its support of Itanium with Monday's announcement, said Oracle spokesman Eloy Ontiveros, planning to certify the next major releases of its Oracle Database and Oracle Fusion Middleware products across various operating systems.

Oracle's decision is "in keeping with our longstanding tradition of presenting customers with many choices in deployment platforms," said Prem Kumar, vice president of the Oracle's Server Technologies division.

Of Oracle's support of Itanium, industry analyst Joe Clabby said, "They kind of have to." Oracle is one of the largest of HP's technology partners and HP is the biggest supporter of Itanium, said Clabby, president of Clabby Analytics, citing industry reports that as many as 80 percent of the Itanium servers on the market are HP-branded servers.

Oracle has made several announcements in recent years about software applications that run on Itanium-powered servers and this is just the latest effort to promote Itanium, said King, president of Pund-IT Research.

"Now that Montecito has hit the market, Itanium is gaining success among HP users," King said. But he still doesn't see Itanium taking business from its main processor competitors, the Power architecture from IBM, or the Sparc from Sun Microsystems.

However, ISA cited IDC Research data showing Itanium building momentum. Sales of Itanium-based systems generated US$740 million in revenue in the second quarter, up 36.4 percent from the year ago quarter. IDC reported in February that the market for Itanium servers may reach US$6.6 billion by 2009, up from US$2.4 billion in 2005.

Other server makers supporting Itanium 2 include Unisys, Fujitsu, and Silicon Graphics.

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