Oracle sticks to grid strategy


6 Sep 2004

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LONDON – Almost a year after launching its first grid-based database, 10g (g standing for grid), Oracle restated its commitment to grid computing at Oracle OpenWorld, its European customer and partner think-in which began in London today.

“We strongly believe that enterprise computing is very important to continue to improve efficiency and effectiveness of IT infrastructure. I think grid computing has the same potential to change the way you run your infrastructure as the internet,” said Sergio Giacoletto, executive vice-president, Oracle EMEA.

On the issue of sluggish demand for grid computing, he compared the level of uptake to that of the intranet in 1998, when many IT professionals were doubtful about the value of the intranet and how it would fit in with their organisations’ existing web strategy. Just as debate about intranets has ceased and most organisations have them now, most businesses are also gradually moving towards grid computing, Giacoletto claimed.

To bolster its case, Oracle launched the Oracle Grid Index at the event. The index, independently compiled by research house Quocirca, is based on a survey of over 600 organisations across Europe and measures their adoption of grid-based technologies on a scale of one to 10.

European businesses a scored 3.1, which Giacaletto interpreted as meaning that 31pc of European organisations were on the way to grid computing. “Even if the number of implementations are small, customers are already seeing early benefits,” he asserted. Oracle intends to update the index every six months to provide an insight into the progress or otherwise of grid computing.

In his presentation, Oracle president Charles Phillips focused on the changes in the IT marketplace that are driving forward grid technologies. A combination of factors, from the growing amount of data being created, to the advent of computer clusters, requires a means by which computing power can be shared across a number of servers. Grid computing is what enables a “lot of commodity devices to act as one machine,” he said.

He also noted how storage area networks had allowed data to be shared across storage systems and said that the same process of “virtualisation” was now being successfully applied by Oracle to applications and database servers.

The other big theme of Oracle OpenWorld this week is likely to be the application of Oracle technology to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). Giacoletto claimed that 40pc of Oracle EMEA’s customers are SMEs, a direct result, he said, of a strategy to target this segment with trimmed-down versions of heavyweight enterprise products. E-business Suite Special Edition and Oracle Database Standard Edition One are two such ‘lite’ products.

Stein Surlien, vice-president, Alliances and Channels, Oracle EMEA, claimed that there is “a clear move towards enterprise solutions among SMEs in Europe” and said that Oracle is gaining a strong foothold in the SME market. “In our last financial year, we sold 3,500 of our Standard Edition One databases and E-Business Suite Special Edition solutions to small and mid-sized companies in our region. Through FY04, our database sales in this sector rose by 300pc quarter on quarter and our applications sales increased 150pc quarter on quarter,” he revealed.

Like other enterprise software vendors, Oracle is targeting smaller organisations as the top of the market gets ever more saturated and competitive. Speaking earlier, Phillips alluded to this when he said: “The bad news for the software industry is that there aren’t many new customers and so we need to focus on our existing customer base a lot more and ensure that we are serving their needs.”

The opening day of Oracle OpenWorld also saw the company preview the upcoming Oracle E-Business Suite 11i.10, which is due to launch in two months. The company said the suite would include enhanced business intelligence capability plus better integration capabilities with third-party applications. In addition, the suite will incorporate new management tools that allow the suite to be integrated more closely with Oracle’s 10g technology and enable the full range of e-business applications to be monitored and managed through a single web portal.

The suite will also include two new procurement applications for contracts and services. Oracle Procurement Contracts and Oracle Services Procurement are the latest additions to Oracle Advanced Procurement, a family of applications for supply management within Oracle E-Business Suite 11i.10.

By Brian Skelly