Oracle database users' interest in Linux grows

Despite the relative newness of corporate applications running on Linux, attendees at an Oracle database user conference last week said a growing number of companies are evaluating or moving into production with database servers running the open-source operating system.

"Linux is on fire," said Rich Niemiec, president of the Chicago-based International Oracle Users Group (IOUG). In a recent survey of about 100 IOUG members, roughly half indicated that they were interested in running mission-critical Oracle databases on Linux, Niemiec said at the independent user group's annual conference. That's up from only about 15 percent in a survey conducted a year ago, he added.

Niemiec, who is also CEO of Lombard, Ill.-based TUSC, an Oracle consulting and services firm, attributed the increase in user interest to Oracle Corp.'s alliance with Linux vendor Red Hat Inc. and its support for clustering Linux machines via its Real Application Clusters (RAC) technology.

Andrew Mendelsohn, senior vice president of database and application server technologies at Oracle, said as much as 15 percent of RAC users are running the clustering technology on Linux systems, up from almost none at this time last year.

Among the companies that are using Linux-based Oracle databases is Aventis Behring LLC, a maker of pharmaceuticals in King of Prussia, Pa. Jesse Crew, manager of global systems at Aventis Behring, said the subsidiary of Paris-based Aventis SA is running more than 10 Hewlett-Packard ProLiant servers equipped with Red Hat Linux and Oracle8i or Oracle9i databases.

For example, Aventis in February went live with a Linux system that supports accounts receivable and electronic data interchange applications. It's saving thousands of dollars in hardware, software and administration costs compared with using high-end Unix boxes, Crew said.

"We're not sacrificing reliability or availability," he noted. "We haven't had any issues with performance. It runs just as well as Unix."

However, the change did require some adjustments on the part of an IT staffer who was used to working with Windows systems, Crew said. More application vendors need to support Linux, he added.

Mendelsohn said Oracle is working "to get the ball roll-ing" on application support. For example, the company in March announced a program for providing funding to software vendors that agree to port their products to Linux.

William Maguire, CIO at Legato Systems Inc., a Mountain View, Calif.-based maker of data storage software, said he's currently testing Oracle9i on Linux. "The reliability and performance is proven now," said Maguire, although he has not set any rollout plans yet.

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