Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Oracle Appliances

Earlier today there was a conversation on the Cloud Computing group where Christopher Steel wrote, "I also [see] a play for Oracle to get into the Database appliance space. With the Sun acquisition, they now have the hardware, OS, and support pieces to delivery out-of-the-box
enterprise Database solution."

I got a tickle out of this because back in 2002, I was Chief Architect for Sun's Enterprise Engineering group where we designed appliances. Ted Persky and I published a Sun BluePrint Online article describing our Oracle - Veritas - Sun (VOS) designed appliance for running Oracle RAC. Technically, this was a challenge because none of the major products used (Solaris, VxVM, Oracle RAC, and required patches) were suited for installation in a factory. So we had to make the glue to put them together for a factory process. Anyone who has ever done this by hand will understand the difficulty of the task, and would have appreciated seeing how well the system worked out of the box -- you could go from out-of-the-box to fully operational RAC cluster in about 30 minutes!

Introducing such a product in 2002 was challenging enough for an appliance built with major components from multiple companies. But the biggest barrier to market acceptance was that nothing was happening in 2002. Nothing. Nada. Nil. Nichts. The dot-com boom had busted and nobody was buying anything. The product never went anywhere and was ultimately shelved.

So what is different today? Oracle is buying Sun and getting into the hardware business. Veritas was bought by Semantic and technologies like ZFS, ASM, and QFS are putting the squeeze on VxVM. The recession means that nothing is happening again. What can I say, but it is just the circle of life...

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