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8/6/2008
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Oracle Unveils Virtual Machine Templates, Plans For New Data Center

The VM Templates introduced at LinuxWorld are a fully configured software stack ready for production deployments on Oracle's VMs.

Oracle on Wednesday introduced what it calls VM Templates, a fully configured software stack ready for production deployments on the business software company's virtual machines.

Oracle unveiled the technology at the LinuxWorld conference in San Francisco, where the software maker also announced it would break ground this month on its largest data center to date. The first set of VM Templates are for the company's 11g database, Enterprise Manager, Siebel CRM 8 applications, and the Enterprise Linux operating system. More templates are planned in the future.

The templates are the latest addition to Oracle VM, which is the company's server virtualization software. VM supports Oracle and non-Oracle applications.

During Oracle's LinuxWorld keynote, chief corporate architect Edward Screven said the company certifies its software on its own VM, but not on VMware's product, which he said is too expensive and would increase Oracle's support cost. "It's easy for us to figure out what the problem is [with Oracle VM] and to fix the problem," he said.

In general, Oracle does not see virtual machines as a separate product. "Virtualization is not a product; it's a feature," Screven said.

Also during the keynote, Oracle CIO Mark Sunday said the company is set to begin construction this month on a data center in West Jordan, Utah. The facility, which will stretch a quarter mile from end to end, will be the company's largest data center and will centralize a lot of its software-as-a-service operations, its online training programs, and its internal business processes.

Oracle chose Utah because the cost of energy is lower than in other parts of the country, and the state in general is "very pro-business," Sunday said. "Bottom line, it turned out to be a good location for us."

The data center eventually will comprise four modules, or what Oracle calls "super cells," of from 20,000 to 30,000 square feet each. Because of the Utah climate, Oracle is able to reduce cost by sucking in outdoor air for cooling, Sunday said. The low humidity means Oracle can use outdoor air up to 85 degrees.

Oracle uses grid computing in its data centers. The grid is a supercomputer composed of a cluster of networked, loosely coupled commodity x86 servers. All the hardware is certified for Oracle software, but all the software in the servers is certified for the Oracle VM, since server virtualization is key to the data center's flexibility.

"We think of grids as being the next generation of mainframe," Screven said. "Virtualization is key to Oracle grids."

For example, the introduction of virtualization to the company's online training operation, called Oracle University, has doubled the capacity on a sixth of the hardware, increased processor utilization from 7% to 73%, and increased revenue per server fivefold, Sunday said. Oracle uses its own Real Application Clusters software, or RAC, to deploy a single database across server clusters.

For its on-demand operations, Oracle configures a Web server, middleware, and database into a "customer configuration template" that can be cloned if needed. The middleware is based on BEA's WebLogic application server. Oracle acquired BEA in April; it's one of 50 companies the company has acquired in the last four years.

The template is then applied against the grid, where it is assigned the needed CPUs and memory. If not all the assigned resources are being used at a given time, then they can be redirected to other parts of the grids until they are needed again.

Oracle's own Enterprise Linux distribution is the operating system for much of its grid. For customers, Oracle also supports Red Hat Linux.

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