Compaq Offers Windows Systems Based on Oracle Clustering

Windows server users eager to have a look at Oracle Corp.'s new database clustering technology in Oracle9i may have gotten the impression from the database giant's statements at Oracle OpenWorld this week that the technology is for anything but Windows.

Oracle announcements highlighted the database scalability and failover clustering technology on Sun Solaris, Compaq Tru64 Unix and Linux.

Compaq Computer Corp., however, quietly offered what appears to be the first packaging of the technology on Windows servers this week. Compaq Chairman and CEO Michael Capellas slipped the program announcement, including the word "Windows," into his OpenWorld keynote.

Oracle's new clustering technology is called Oracle9i Real Application Clusters (RAC). The approach represents a rebranding and reengineering of its existing Oracle Parallel Server product.

Oracle maintains that Real Application Clusters can transparently scale, so that existing applications designed to run on a single Oracle database can run on a cluster of database servers without recoding.

Compaq received certification two weeks ago from Oracle for two Parallel Database Cluster packages running Windows 2000 and Oracle9i Real Application Clusters, says Nigel Church, director of Oracle solutions marketing in Compaq's industry standard server group.

Compaq received certification from Oracle much earlier for a similar package running SuSE Linux Enterprise Server OS, but the Oracle9i database shipped months later for Windows than for Unix/Linux operating systems.

The Compaq-Oracle cluster packages for Windows are available in configurations of two to six nodes. Servers in the packages run from two-processor machines to eight-processor machines. Users can select the Windows 2000 Advanced Server or Windows 2000 Datacenter Server operating system.

The SuSE Linux package is available in configurations of two to four nodes and is only available on the four-processor-capable Compaq ProLiant DL580.

"We definitely think there's a market for it," Compaq's Church says of Real Application Clusters on Intel-based servers. "It's a little early to tell, but as you probably know, clustering has been hard up to this point. The Oracle Parallel Server [which Compaq also sold] was very difficult. We struggled with that. 9i RAC on Windows appears to be a lot easier to install."

In the Windows server world, Real Application Clusters compete with two distinct clustering technologies by combining their effects. The first is Microsoft Cluster Services (MSCS or Wolfpack) for failing over Windows 2000 Advanced Server and Windows 2000 Datacenter Server. The other is the federated database approach used by the SQL Server team and IBM's DB2 team (on IBM's industry-standard server side).

Applications must be specifically coded to run as federated databases, in which each database server controls a certain portion of the overall data set.

Both Oracle's Real Application Clusters and the Microsoft/IBM federated approaches need to be proven through widespread customer deployments. Microsoft and IBM both have a number of Transaction Processing Performance Council benchmarks backing up their scalability claims. Oracle said this week it is working on getting SAP to certify a scalability benchmark using Oracle9i Real Application Clusters and Compaq Tru64 Unix on the SAP Sales and Distribution test.

Details of the Compaq ProLiant-Oracle9i RAC packages can be found here

About the Author

Scott Bekker is editor in chief of Redmond Channel Partner magazine.

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