Ellison touts Oracle Linux clustering

Oracle's Linux embrace includes running Oracle.com and its internal mail system on the open systems platform, but don't expect the company to make its database open source anytime soon.

The Redwood Shores, Calif.-based company's chairman and CEO Larry Ellison said during his keynote speech on Wednesday at the LinuxWorld Expo and Conference that he supports Linux because it is "cheaper, faster and more reliable than any other environment around."

"Linux is making its way into the enterprise and more and more companies are going to be relying on it for processing mission-critical data," Ellison said. "I don't think we've had a single technology take off as rapidly as our clustering on Linux."

Internally at Oracle, "We're moving aggressively not just to jump on the Linux hype bandwagon but we're actually using Linux to run our own business," he said.

Oracle is practicing what it preaches, according to Ellison. "By the end of this calendar year, literally all of Oracle's mid-tier [internal production] machines will be running Linux," for applications such as payroll, accounting, CRM, sales force automation, marketing and human resources, said Ellison.

However, Ellison said the Oracle database will not be offered in an open source format like Linux because it is the one application that cannot falter.

"It's the last thing that will go open source," said Ellison.

"If your OS goes down, you reboot it. If your database goes down, you type in all the data again, which takes longer," Ellison said, in response to a question from the audience.

Linux, Ellison said, is ready for deployment in enterprise applications via use of Oracle's RAC (Real Application Clusters) technology, which provides reliability, scalability and security. Oracle, via its clustering technology, wants Linux to be faster, cheaper, more reliable and more secure than IBM mainframes, said Ellison.

"We let you build your own Linux mainframe out of a cluster of small Linux PCs," Ellison said.

He showed a slide that said a 32-processor Linux cluster running Intel machines costs about US$350,000 while an IBM mainframe with comparable performance costs $14.8 million.

Any application that runs on the Oracle database can be deployed in a Linux cluster, he said. "You can take any of these applications and that application will run on a cluster of Linux machines totally unchanged. What will change is that application will run faster than it ran before," and more reliably, Ellison stressed.

"I'm going to assert Oracle's [clustering] technology really works while IBM's and Microsoft's don't work," he said.

Ellison said SAP has certified its software to run on Oracle clusters but not on IBM's. This, he said, "is strange because SAP hates us and SAP's number one technology partner in the world is IBM."

RAC technology currently can handle 16 network nodes easily, but it will be improved during the next year or so to handle clusters of 64 and 128 network nodes, Ellison said.

An IBM representative, in an email sent prior to Ellison's speech, said IBM was the first database vendor to support Linux, back in 1999, and also was the first to support clustered Linux. The representative also said IBM provides the industry's broadest support for Linux via the DB2 database. Ellison in his speech said Oracle was the first to port its database to Linux.

During a question and answer session with the audience following his speech, Ellison said:

-- Oracle is on track to meet its quarterly financial expectations.

-- That, following the Sept. 11 attacks, he never called for a national ID card, but did advocate the establishment of a national directory to keep track of potential risks such as people with terrorist backgrounds.

"The 9/11 terrorists, more than half of them were wanted by police or the FBI or CIA. Yet they were able to buy airplane tickets, walk into the airport and board the airplane," because information was not being shared, Ellison said.

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