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Oracle Ready To (Continue) Linux Plunge 84

alphadogg writes "Rumors are swirling yet again that Oracle wants to get cozier with Linux and at least one financial analyst says customers can expect a tighter Linux-based appliance from the database and application vendor by the end of the month."
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Oracle Ready To (Continue) Linux Plunge

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  • Oracle World bus (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward
    They have at least one large bus at Oracle World with a giant Tux pained on the side of it. The text said something about Linux and stability.
  • by businessnerd ( 1009815 ) on Monday October 23, 2006 @12:27PM (#16548746)
    Ok so before this discussion gets out of control with claims like "DUPE!" or "we arleady discussed this here" let me set a little focus to generate some more original discusstion.

    Clearly Oracle is definitely going in the direction of creating a linux based appliance. Let's ignore the Oracle Linux Distro. debate and focus more one Appliances themselves. Does the greater slashdot community like the idea of an appliance or dislike. I remember in the MySQL interview last week, MySQL's CEO mentioned he did not like the idea of appliances because the company should focus on what they do best and allow the partners to do the same, thus creating a more robust stack.

    Discuss...

    Alternate topic: A peanut is neither a pea nor a nut
    • original discusstion
      Wow I think my fingers were intending a pun, whereas my brain was not.
    • by eln ( 21727 ) * on Monday October 23, 2006 @12:34PM (#16548846) Homepage
      Focusing on what you do best and letting the other people in the stack do what they do best works great for a one-product shop like MySQL, and in fact most other companies. Oracle, however, has been spending the past few years basically buying up the "best of breed" in each level of its application stack. Now that Oracle owns what it believes to be the best software at each level of the stack, they are working on the so-called "Oracle Fusion" product which will marry them all together. Integrating the OS layer, being the only layer they don't already own, is the next logical step in this process.
      • I don't see attainment of the OS layer being realistic, at least not on the level of being a viable contender with windows. I personally think that Oracle's stack is complete, they'll have to be happy with Linux, and that saturating the market would be their next goal. With that in mind it seems appliances, much as M$ has done, would be (at least to them) the logical next step. I would tend to agree.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by supersnail ( 106701 )
        Before I say my 2c worth first a confession I am a BAD BOY I have already moderated a comment in this
        discussion and I am not supposed to comment.

        However I would like to comment on the Oracle buying "Best of Breed" while this is strictly a true
        statement, a more correct statement would be:-
        "Oracle buys the best of the competition and ..... "

        If anti-trust legislation was interpreted even very loosly Oracle would be in breach for buying Siebel and Peoplesoft. Oracle would like to be Monopoly Capitalists, and, t
      • by Fred_A ( 10934 )
        Now that Oracle owns what it believes to be the best software at each level of the stack, they are working on the so-called "Oracle Fusion" product which will marry them all together.
        This kind of thing has been tried before and this usually the point when things start to get really ugly.
    • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      I know a lot of people would rather keep their heads in the sand (yeah, flamebait, whatever) but the prospect of this sort of "Linux appliance" makes me think that the threat of "tivoisation" is far more immediate than some people like to claim.
    • As long as this OS runs under Xen it can only be a good thing. We use Xen in production and treat domU OSes as appliances primarily for segretion at the binary level yielding a more secure and reliable implementation. This approach is symbiotic for the administrator and unprivileged guest OS.
    • by atomic777 ( 860023 ) on Monday October 23, 2006 @12:55PM (#16549170)
      Although I am no fan of Oracle, I must admit that this is a good idea, and one that is suprisingly overdue. Databases like Oracle and DB2 require a great depth of skills and experience to administer, and they are among the applications that stress operating system limits to the max, so integration between OS and DB is cruicial. A DBA or a DBA team has to bridge the wide gulf between sysadmin and business analyst. If you lessen the tedious task of tweaking and tuning a database to perform optimally on a given OS and hardware, you allow the DBA to focus on more important things, like deciding how to manage the data.

      While these appliances would never replace a skilled DBA for a performance-critical system, there are many small/medium-sized businesses with modest DB requirements that would benefit greatly from such a device, and put many a useless, lazy DBA out of work.

      • by gbjbaanb ( 229885 ) on Monday October 23, 2006 @01:28PM (#16549594)
        Hell, with Oracle, just having someone else install the damn thing and all the patches, would be worth having an appliance.

        For things like MySQL, sure I can see why they would prefer to be a installed db - they do it very well for one thing so they do not need to make an appliance, but Oracle is almost never installed on a server along with other things, you buy a server to run Oracle on. Given that, its a simple step to have the OS get installed with the DB, and keep it updated regularly with patches that have already been tested by Oracle support people.

        A skilled DBA would be able to tweak the system anyway once installed - just because its an appliance doesn't mean it has to be fixed in stone, so I can't really see a downside for Oracle on this one.
        • ...but Oracle is almost never installed on a server along with other things, you buy a server to run Oracle on.

          That depends on what you're using Oracle for. If your company has an Oracle enterprise license, a reasonable number of Oracle DBAs on staff, and a non-bargain basement hardware budget they'll probably have more than a few Oracle installs that resemble an "embedded" database that most people would use MySQL/Postgres for.

          As an example, we're running a custom built application on three servers where
          • True, lol. But if you can afford an Oracle enterprise licence, and more than 1 DBA.. you really don't need my advice :-)
    • I like appliances, or the idea of them anyway. I think that we'll only see more and more services moved to appliances - however, those might be virtual appliances and there will be an actual appliance that runs (whichever virtual machine software) so they have some place to run. No one is going to want to buy a bunch of PCs to perform tasks which could be handled by some percentage of a PC. Okay, I said "no one" but that's not really true, sometimes people who need a very quick solution will buy one. for ev
      • by Nutria ( 679911 )
        those might be virtual appliances and there will be an actual appliance that runs (whichever virtual machine software) so they have some place to run. No one is going to want to buy a bunch of PCs to perform tasks which could be handled by some percentage of a PC.

        The thing that really worries me about VMs (and big SANs, for that matter) is the old phrase

        Don't put all your eggs in one basket.

        Distributing resources across multiple systems reduces the risk that "a broken basket breaks all your eggs", and gets

        • I very much doubt it would work properly but my personal choice would be to run the virtual machines on top of a single system image cluster like OpenMOSIX :) But actually it works pretty well. If you have a distributed SAN it's generally pretty fault-tolerant, and you can put your virtual machine data on the SAN. Then, if a machine that's running a bunch of your virtual machines goes down, vmware can (with its own tools, or with your scripts) bring them up on other systems.
    • by Ayanami Rei ( 621112 ) * <rayanami@gma i l . com> on Monday October 23, 2006 @01:42PM (#16549772) Journal
      We've been down this path before. Oracle tried to put together an appliance solution for running 8i, but it never got off the ground. At the time, it was rumored that they were looking at Linux, BSD, and Solaris for the underlying OS.

      There was significant pushback from hardware vendors and users for this sort of integration. From users because it was felt that Oracle would abandon the idea of a database that ran on whatever platforms it could, reducing choice in IT departments. From hardware vendors because it meant that only one provider would benefit, and everyone else was afraid that they'd lose the ability to sell Oracle certified configurations.

      And Oracle had a hard time finding an easy platform to deploy it on. At the time, Linux and BSD were not as capable for scaling as they are now. And working with Sun would make integrating Solaris expensive.

      Now conditions have changed. Solaris is open and modular. BSD and Linux scale more easily, and on more mature N-way platforms. So it might be a good time to revisit the issue.

      However, one has to question the value of an Oracle appliance. Because while large companies are happy to dedicate machines to single tasks, smaller firms are more likely to want to have machines serving multiple roles, which may not come easily to an Oracle appliance (or may cost more if it is required to use Oracle-stack implementations of whatever the need is for).
      Yet larger companies have budgets to test, configure, and roll out their own database servers anyway. And Oracle is looking at the small to medium sized IT market.

      So I don't know if this is going to get much traction. They're going to, at least, have to create a generic server appliance that maybe comes tuned for Oracle, yet can be used for anything.
      That might be a winner.
      • One word. Virtualization. Tis the wave of the future. Heck even virtualization+hosted solution. Especially for smaller orgs. Although why a small/midsize business would want Oracle is beyond me. Well the database anyway. The other stuff is pretty good (groupware and such).
        • Unless you mean the trend for virtualization is one thing NOT in Oracle's favor in terms of marketing an appliance.
          Maybe if the Oracle appliance itself supported virtualized hosts sharing the remainder of its capacity. That might be interesting...
          • Oracle lends itself to virtualization quite nicely. Many of the big shops do that. Don't know what your thinking or where you are coming from. Also seeing how this is aimed at small business the Oracle instance wouldn't be that taxed in theory. So running under a VM on the appliance would be ideal seeing as you prob have lots of spare capacity on decent hardware.
            • these big shops are using a SAN with volumes being forwarded into the instance so Oracle can use ASM on them? Otherwise you get that double-caching silliness (disk cache of host + Oracle's block cache).

              Also, until recently, I haven't been aware of any decent N-way virtualization implementations... ESX has only recently gotten support for it, and Xen is just breaking onto the scene what with Pacifica and Vandermode.

              Unless you go for a cluster configuration. But I understand that's expensive.

              It's a good fit f
  • by Anonymous Coward
    In certain sectors, we're beginning to really see competition arising from PostgreSQL and FreeBSD. This is especially true where reliability is a serious concern.

    With a proper data backup strategy, several Opteron-based servers running FreeBSD and using PostgreSQL as the database can often be used to replace hundreds of Sun servers running Oracle. Often times we see vast performance increases, as PostgreSQL is a leaner product in many respects. If you don't need some of the more advanced features of Oracle,
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Doctor Memory ( 6336 )

      several Opteron-based servers running FreeBSD and using PostgreSQL as the database can often be used to replace hundreds of Sun servers running Oracle

      FreeBSD's network stack and file system are so much faster than Solaris' that you can replace a dozen or so Sun boxes with a single Opteron-based FreeBSD box? Because I know that most of the large database systems I've seen are bandwith-limited at one end or the other, they're rarely CPU-bound. Maybe your old Sun systems are hooked to a 10base-T hub, and you

      • by xilet ( 741528 ) on Monday October 23, 2006 @01:29PM (#16549614)
        Nah it could well be true. He just is not saying what generation Sparc they are using. I have seen a number of shops scrapping e250's left and right, so I am sure many places have large database setups running on much older sun equipment. My desktop [p4] runs circles around many of our old Sun boxes, granted those sun boxes have been working near flawlessly for well over half a decade. Many places did their 3-5 year server replacement cycle and used that to migrate off of Sun due to the higher reliability of some of the newer x86_64 platforms, I could see a 10-50x increase in performance on it. Also I have seen some really ugly replication setups for distributed databases so condensing it all on one higher powered box can give a nice speed boost. But I see it as less to do with omg bsd 0wnz solaris then it is with Moore's law. Also postgres is far more lightweight then oracle. Oracle can be tuned (and often is) really poorly, it is the same thing that we have seen with some of the microsoft TCO reports against Linux. A fully tuned Windows server with a series of add-ons and hundreds of man hours to tweak it, vs an out of the box install of linspire on a off the shelf desktop. Apples and Oranges. Oh and Oracle sucks.
        • by xilet ( 741528 )
          Ok I need to learn to preview. Where did my line breaks go?
        • by Doctor Memory ( 6336 ) on Monday October 23, 2006 @03:55PM (#16551724)
          I can see your point about Moores law — a new Opteron box with a RAID controller and Gigabit ethernet should certainly outperform an older Sun server running 100base-T and U160 drives. However, the biggest obstacle to a wholesale move to a different DB & OS platform is the actual migration costs. Any shop that's so big it has dozens of Sun servers running Oracle is going to have Solaris admins and Oracle DBAs. These people are not going to shrug their shoulders and say "OK, I guess I'm going to do BSD/PostgreSQL now". These people are going to raise hell, provide Incontrovertible Proof that making the switch will lead to Inevitable Doom, and need to be replaced. So now you're going to have to hire new people who don't know your business, and the first thing they're going to have to do is migrate all your business-critical stuff over to the new platforms. Better hope those departing employees weren't too disgruntled to document everything thouroughly (or kept the docs up-to-date if they were concientious). And better hope your new PostgreSQL DBAs know Oracle real well (or be prepared to send your developers to PostgreSQL training), or they're not going to be able to port your thousands of lines of PL/SQL code. Unless, of course, you want to hire some consultants (who may know your industry, but probably not your business) to convert your legacy software to new, untested code and then turn it over to the staff who weren't involved in the conversion to support. Super happy fun time!

          So while it seems like a good idea, unless you're working under a mandate from the CIO to replace Oracle or Solaris, it's probably cheaper and less disruptive to just stick with what you've got. Just ask any of those people who still run OpenVMS — they'll tell you!
          • by xilet ( 741528 )
            The resistance to change cost/energy that goes into any migration should never be overlooked =).
        • by drsmithy ( 35869 )

          My desktop [p4] runs circles around many of our old Sun boxes [...]

          I seriously doubt your P4 runs circles around them under any sort of *server* workload (ie: in anything other than raw CPU power).

          • by xilet ( 741528 )
            Right it doesn't, but that was part of my point, in specific very narrow metrics yes a modern single intel/amd server could have a massive performance gain over a large number of sun boxes from the late 90's. It does not mean its even close to a fair comparison, and it definantly does not factor in all of the things that really matter with running a real server, but you can tweak the stats enough to claim it.
    • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Sorry, this post smells like bullshit to me. How about
      substantiating at least one of your claims with some
      evidence?

      Not to say that either FreeBSD or PostgreSQL are poor,
      but a "several" opterons replacing hundreds of Sun
      servers is a joke, even if the Opteron chip can perform
      as well as 10 sparc CPUs.

      Either the owner of the installation is incompetent,
      which doesn't seem likely given the money they'd have to
      blow on the licenses... or you're talking about 50MHz
      sparcs from 10 years ago, in which case you are usin
    • by LWATCDR ( 28044 )
      "In certain sectors, we're beginning to really see competition arising from PostgreSQL and FreeBSD. This is especially true where reliability is a serious concern."
      What sectors? FreeBSD has not done well in the Enterprise I would like to know what sector you are talking about.
      Yes PostgreSQL is fine database and yes it works well on FreeBSD, OpenBSD, NetBSD, Linux, and even Windows.
      I have not seen any surge in FreeBSD use.
  • if Oracle had the sense to cozy up to the two commercial Linux distributions, that is, Red Hat & SuSE, make their personal edition freeware for NonCommercial use & have it as part of the base install, or at least part of the distribution CD's.

    Rather than combine marketing & market penetration they're going to push 'Yet Another Distro'. What stupidity. The flavor of the month strikes again. Yet another example of Linux/Unix folks not having enough sense to unite in their fight against the dark si
    1. Use Xen with this. This makes it easy to migrate to upgraded versions.
    2. Offer up a free DB license for every company out there with one seat.
    3. Create a Linux desktop and offer the Business apps on it.
    4. Offer each company x free seats (say 6). Even the big ones need it.

    Why do the above? Simple. Small 1-6 ppl companies do not spend the money for Oracle or their apps. But if you offer it to them free, then an industry will sprout up around it. More importantly, once the company is on it, after 6 seats, they ha

    • by Vellmont ( 569020 ) on Monday October 23, 2006 @01:00PM (#16549230) Homepage

      Why do the above? Simple. Small 1-6 ppl companies do not spend the money for Oracle or their apps. But if you offer it to them free, then an industry will sprout up around it. More importantly, once the company is on it, after 6 seats, they have to pay. I would also guess that these companies will want support. At some point, they will pay. Finally, this shuts out MS.


      It's not a bad idea, but I think there's a few problems with it. If you were setting up a database for a small company with 1-6 seats would you pick heavyweight Oracle with it's higher costs to maintain, administer, etc, or would you pick PostgreSQL or MySQL which is cheaper to maintain, and doesn't have a mid-range expansion cost associated with it? I know I'd pick an open-source free DB way before I'd pick Oracle.

      The reason is that the guys that have 1-6 seat needs are a long ways from actually needing Oracle. The expansion stage from dinky buisiness with very small DB needs to small-medium size is a lot more important (at least initially) than the medium-> large scale transition you'll need when you need the heavyweight stuff from Oracle (and some would even argue that PostgreSQL and MySQL are well used in large-scale businesses as well).
      • But if you are Oracle, you want the lock-in. The place to lock them in is when they are tiny and not able to spend money on you. Keep in mind that Oracle gets very little revenue from that market and it is unlikely that will do so. OTH, if they start small companies with their DB and their suite of apps for free, then the end-users are kind of stuck. MS used this approach very successfully. They wiped out competitor by denying them a starting point (you are a single developer; just use out compiler for free
      • i think it is a very interesting idea. one thing to keep in mind is that a company with 1-10 people is not going to need an end to end enterprise application. most of the companies of that size that i have worked with are more likely to use an ugly cobbling of proprietary apps designed for their vertical market (software for running a vet's office for example, or one of the various travel agency applications) and off the shelf accounting/bookkeeping.

        i think if they could make a lightweight (as in costs

        • most of the companies of that size that i have worked with are more likely to use an ugly cobbling of proprietary apps designed for their vertical market

          Why are you assuming that the target for an Oracle appliance is the companies themselves? Sure, they will be the ones who will eventually use it... but they are not necessarily (nor likely) the ones who will be assembling it, testing it, selling it or supporting it.

          An Oracle appliance has a whole lot of value if you're someone selling into a vertical m

          • Sure, but why wouldn't you just use PostgreSQL at that point? It offers lower costs for the midrange server when Oracle wants you to pony up some cash, and if you really need a feature for it you can code it yourself and either try to get it included in the main development branch, or maintain your own custom version.

            Having the entire stack is arguably more of an advantage to the application designers than it is to Oracle. Of course Oracle is getting into that themselves with the aquasition of Peoplesoft,
  • Let's see if they actually do something about it that's more impressive than just making their software compatible, this time. Frankly, I hope so.

    I've seen Linux as a strategic platform for years. In 1998, using the initial release of "the slash" code base, I had a blog called "ontopofit.com". Before Pythian [pythian.com] became successful in the dba managed services space, I used to write on there.

    I posted on The Pythian Group Blog [pythian.com] earlier this year, reprising and linking to an article that I originally wrote about Orac
  • by porkThreeWays ( 895269 ) on Monday October 23, 2006 @12:55PM (#16549164)
    The article cites one of the reasons for the appliance would be for SMB's that want something that just works really well out of the box. That's fine and dandy for a lot of software products. However, I don't think Oracle falls into this category. Sometimes people seem to forget that Oracle doesn't really do much by itself. Users don't directly type in SQL queries. It needs an application to be used with. Say the business wrote the application in house. I can almost guarantee that application was written for windows. If the programmer is smart enough to know how to port it to Linux, they are probably smart enough to configure Oracle themselves. If they don't posess the technical skills to port it, the appliance is useless to them. At the same time, most ISV type applications usually aren't written for Linux either. It would defeat the whole purpose anyway because you just bought the Oracle appliance pre-configured, and now you have to make adjustments for this application and install the app. You buy appliances so you don't have to do that sort of thing

    There are only two scenarios I could see this actually being practical. One is if there's a seperate dedicated DB server and an application server. However, the loads that occour in the SMB environment rarely warrant this. Most of the time the database and application run on the same server. The second would be to pass the appliance off to ISV's whom install and configure their software and resell it. That doesn't really make a whole lot of sense either because then they are just paying an Oracle tax for something they could do themselves.

    Really, the only reason I could see them doing this is to stick it to Red Hat and make PHB's get a boner.
    • you make an excellent point. one scenario where i think an oracle appliance might work well is with businesses that are just getting started and little or no existing data/apps to port over to linux. at that stage of the game, they probably can't afford a DBA of either the in-house or consultant variety, nor the many hours of installing and tweaking necessary to produce a well built enterprise app with oracle at it's heart.

      i think that what they could afford is a windows client that is easily customized

    • If they don't posess the technical skills to port it, the appliance is useless to them

      Are you kidding? I wrote Windows apps that connected Oracle DBs running on Solaris, VMS, and MVS. It's called ODBC, and it doesn't care where your database is, you just configure the parameters and away it goes. So an appliance would still be very handy, even if your hypothetical programmer couldn't port it to Linux (or more likely wouldn't port it, since you'd then require your users to switch, and probably get signifi

  • This is ultimately going to have a negative, and dumbing-down effect on their business. Suddenly experienced DBAs will be fighting for their lives against PHBs who think that they can buy an appliance, and have it just work. Since there was a 'create DB wizard' in the PHP-based GUI, the PHB will suddenly consider himself a DBA, and immediately begin figuring out how he can dump the 'deadwood' on his DBA team, i.e. all of them. Then the false economy of hiring 30K a year 'admins' will set in. The final s
  • One useful thing they could do would be to put the old sleepycat.com content back up somewhere. There was quite a bit of useful information there about dealing with older versions of Berkeley DB, but now you just get redirected to Oracle's index page. While commercial vendors tend to think in "push the new, deny the old" mode, a lot of us have to deal with what's out there. For example, when you come across software written to an older API, it's nice to be able to go back and read the changelogs and rele

  • "If the only thing you're going to run on a computer is an Oracle database, you don't need an operating system," Ellison told reporters - November 16, 1998 [com.com]
    Presumably this is the same Oracle and the same Ellison. Does anyone know when he changed his mind and decided that you do need an operating system after all?
    • wasn't ellison the guy in the 90's that tried to sell the world a $199 linux computer that ran off a CD and was called a thinknic? oracle and sun have always fantasized about non-windows powered thin clients that plugged in to their enterprise servers for call centers and hospitals and whatnot, but they really have yet to seal the deal with corporate IT.
  • Oracle still doesn't support linux on the client side worth a shit.
    As of the 11.5.10 ERP applications, Linux as client still isn't supported. It works for the most part if you spoof your USER-AGENT as OSX safari and use the Sun JVM for applet plugin support.

    The death of jinitiator on the client is waaaay overdue. Their isn't anything that the apps are doing that necessitates a custom JVM. Heck, most of what the apps do can be handled with AJAX.

  • Sorry but is anyone running that company anymore? Is there any vision or is it just about what everyone else dabbles in. Oracle database appliances that run Linux? Are they serious? And who is going to buy this? The 10 million customers who already have sweat blood and tears invested in running mission critical Oracle applications on big assed Unix server clusters? And after they buy it, who are they going to hire to admin yet one more OS? Because we weren't having enough fun juggling AIX, SUN, HPUX, Tandem
    • I agree with you. I don't think this is something most customers want.
      And why would they want another distribution of Linux. It would be better if they continued to work closely with a linux vendor and then could work out a slightly modified version for Oracle.
      I would feel more comfortable with Oracle on RH or Suse where the engineers there have tweaked the OS or can tell me exactly what to tweak on their flavor of linux.
      And why would I want another flavor of linux in house. How many companies woul
  • I can see Oracle delivering an appliance a la Google, whereby your $40k db license includes a 1U box that slides into the rack, and through the web page you start creating databases. Add scalability by getting another box (discount after 5). Throw in a second nic that would be SAN ready and you've got a no-muss, no fuss database platform.

    I think, though, the real key to something like this, and make its appeal greater is if Oracle supported the box themselves, remotely. Let *them* deal with patches, upgrade
    • ...and through the web page you start creating databases.

      They already have something similar, called Application Express (Apex for bonus marks), used to be HTMLDB. As for the 1U box... Yeah, I could see that.

      ...or shops where they don't want to invest in dba cost...

      Ew. Oracle without a DBA? That's just asking for trouble.
      • Ew. Oracle without a DBA? That's just asking for trouble.

        I agree with you, but I've seen a number of small shops that buy Oracle because some specialized software they really need uses it. They typically follow the software developer's specs to the letter, buying slightly-above minimum specs, get a consultant (ahem) to install Oracle and then the app, then throw the box in a closet. They completely forget about it, not caring a whit about performance or tuning because it "does what they need it to do" and t
  • So guys, That is 100% true. I have some internal information. Right now Oracle has decided to move to Linux. They are seriously considering "Ubuntu" Linux distro. I do not why though. They should have chosen a better distribution. Cheers

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