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Commentary

Oracle's Phillips Sees Grid Computing For The Masses

Looking past a limited audience of advanced users to a much broader market, Oracle plans to release this summer a new version of its Real Application Clusters (RAC) technology featuring "significant ease-of-use enhancements" that will make possible "grid computing for the masses." Whether the masses are hungry for grid computing is another matter.
Looking past a limited audience of advanced users to a much broader market, Oracle plans to release this summer a new version of its Real Application Clusters (RAC) technology featuring "significant ease-of-use enhancements" that will make possible "grid computing for the masses." Whether the masses are hungry for grid computing is another matter.Noting that RAC is Oracle's most-popular database option as well as being the underlying technology for grid computing, Oracle co-president Charles Philips recently told financial analysts that Oracle's sales efforts to date for these technologies have been limited to advanced users because of the complexity of clustering technology. But with new release of the company's 11G database that's expected during the summer, Oracle is betting that a less-complex version will appeal to a significantly larger market.

It will be interesting to see if, in the middle of what is certain to be a very challenging year, CIOs have the appetite -- let alone the budget - for investing in a new computing architecture that has historically been limited almost exclusively to scientific rather than commercial applications. And while Oracle will no doubt be able to demonstrate the theoretical advantages of the grid approach, the gap CIOs are facing between theory and practice is wider and deeper here in 2009 than it's been in a long, long time.

Oracle will need to showcase some early, tangible, and dramatic customer wins with mainstream commercial applications if it's going to be able to convince CIOs to evaluate this impressive but commercially untested approach. And Oracle will also have to have a comprehensive set of proof-points showing that the 11g Release 2 database will not require extensive retrofitting of applications, middleware, integration and other costly and time-consuming requirements.

If Oracle can do that, it stands a pretty good chance of gaining traction among CIOs desperately seeking ways to alter or even invert the 80/20 ratio that currently requires far too much of the IT budget to be spent on internal requirements. If not, though, Oracle might well find that the masses have other, more-pressing issues to deal with.

P.S. - I wasn't able to find much/any information on commercial applications for grid computing. But to get an idea of the types of non-commercial projects now running on grid technology, click here and here.