Oracle is set to unveil plans for commercial grid computing at its user event next week, but analysts have warned that such visions will not become reality until 2006.
At the OracleWorld conference in San Francisco, the company will unveil details of its next-generation database and application server. The products, called 10G, are being positioned to take advantage of grid computing.
To date, grid computing has been found mainly in academic and research environments. But Oracle is promising that its 10G software will allow businesses to set up their own grids.
Grid computing allows IT resources from many computers in a network to address a single problem at the same time.
"We're looking at building low-cost architecture for a commercial grid, for driving commercial applications such as accounting systems," said Chris Ward, product marketing manager for Oracle UK.
Oracle has invested heavily in initiatives such as clustering and Linux, which have paved the way for grid computing, according to Philip Dawson, programme director at analyst firm Meta Group.
"That approach will work fine when the grid is heterogeneous and everything is integrated and trusted. But there are a whole number of issues to resolve before that can apply to a commercial system," he said.
One of the problems facing Oracle is how to define licensing for the use of its database across a grid, and how access will be monitored, explained Dawson.
"I don't expect to see commercial grids until at least 2006," he added.
Such problems have not been lost on Oracle. In positioning an application server product alongside its database, the company claims to be offering a way to reduce complexity and improve security.
"Grid [computing] is still a long way off, but we're making the first commercial systems possible," said Ward.
The continuing bad blood between Oracle and PeopleSoft will also be of interest to many conference attendees.
In court filings last week, PeopleSoft said that a number of customers had put deals on hold "until the Oracle cloud lifts", while others had gone to rivals or tried to back out of deals with PeopleSoft.
"Oracle has now made it clear that it intends to keep that cloud intact well into 2004, and repeatedly makes the ominous claim that 'time is on our side,'" the company said.
PeopleSoft claims that Oracle has never had any intention of making a realistic offer to buy it out.
Oracle has denied the accusations and said that it is unwavering in its commitment to acquire PeopleSoft, and will put its case for the bid in a question and answer session with OracleWorld delegates.
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