If Oracle has its way, the vast majority of database management functions will soon be fully automated. To find out more about those plans, SearchEnterpriseLinux.com recently spoke with Willie Hardie, Oracle senior director of database product marketing, and Monica Kumar, Oracle senior manager of Linux product marketing. We also talked about what Oracle is doing in the area of grid computing and Oracle's attitudes toward its open source competitors.
Can you tell me a little bit about the upcoming Oracle 10g Database release 2?
Willie Hardie: Oracle Database 10g has been out since January 2004. The release 2 that will come out in the summer is the next major [update] of that initial release. What we've put a lot of focus into -- with the initial 10g release and you'll see more of this with the subsequent release -- is this whole concept of self-managing databases and automating a lot of the traditional manual processes that have to take place to implement and maintain database applications. With Oracle Database 10g, we introduced a lot of automated self-managing features. For example, we automated the management of memory, we automated the management of storage and we automated the backup and recovery process.
A new features of Oracle Database 10g is something called Oracle HTML DB. Can you explain this addition?
Hardie: This is basically a power user tool to help users that traditionally manage information or data in spreadsheets or in desktop databases. We're giving them a browser interface so that if you've got a browser you can load data into your database, you can share that data with your colleagues, you can analyze that data and you can update that data. With a tool like HTML DB, you can consolidate all of those disparate spreadsheets.
You mentioned that Oracle has been conducting grid computing return on investment (ROI) studies with customers. What have you found?
Hardie: We've been doing a lot of work with customers [including the Chicago Stock Exchange and Ohio Savings Bank] on ROI studies around their adoption of grid computing. What you'll see is they're all basically looking at total cost of ownership. All of those customers with different types of applications were all making cost savings through consolidating their disparate applications, moving off proprietary platforms and consolidating onto clustered rack implementations using Linux.
There is a lot of confusion around different vendors' definitions of grid computing. So, just for the record, how does Oracle define grid computing?
Hardie: The simple definition of it is different computing resources acting as one single large computer.
What components of Oracle 10g are geared toward grid computing?
Hardie: From an infrastructure point of view, we offer storage management to manage all the data sitting on disks. And we offer Oracle Database 10g with features like real applications clusters to allow you to cluster database servers across a series of small modular servers like Intel/Linux boxes. We also offer Oracle Application Server 10g to handle that middleware layer in the overall infrastructure. So, [our grid computing offering] is basically comprised of three components, including storage grids, application server grids and the database server grid. Pulling all of that together, you have what we call Enterprise Manager Grid Control to manage your entire grid infrastructure, which is comprised of a series of modular units that link together.
What is Oracle's attitude to open source?
Monica Kumar: Oracle owns 50% of the Linux RDBMS market even though these open source databases have been around for a while now. I think there is an area for [open source database management systems] to be there at the really low end where people are using it for development purposes or whatnot. But really, Oracle is the leading database when it comes to Linux at this point.
An increasing number of traditionally proprietary vendors have been dabbling in open source lately. Would Oracle ever consider doing something like that?
Kumar: That's an area we don't have a comment on today.
How are some of your customers using Oracle on Linux?
Kumar: The big one that comes to mind is consolidation. We have many customers, big ones and midmarket ones, who are looking to consolidate either data or applications in the data center, are looking to automate or are looking to reduce the number of environments that they have running in the data center. Linux definitely is the platform of choice for many of our customers.