Digital Equipment has become one of Oracle's closest allies in its battle to promote a server-centric computing model. The companies have set up two joint technology centres to accelerate roll-out of all Oracle's NT products for Digital's Alpha architecture, which Oracle sees as "ideally suited to our network computing approach".
By the end of next year, the technology centres will have achieved simultaneous release on Alpha and Intel NT platforms of all Oracle products. This can be seen as a blow in Oracle's war against the PC. "This takes away the time advantage that the Intel boxes had, and Alpha gives far greater power for high end NT applications," said a source at Oracle.
This also puts Oracle in a good position to take advantage of 64-bit NT, which will initially support only Alpha. This will be particularly targeted at users of data warehouses, Web servers and other large-server applications.
Among the products covered by the agreement are the Universal Server database, Web Server and Oracle Applications. The partnership will also address joint channel and marketing programmes in the bid to win a more significant portion of the NT market for Alpha.
The first fruits of the deal, which significantly expands Digital's existing porting relationship with Oracle, will be the release of Oracle7.3 and Enterprise Manager for Alpha/NT next month. Oracle products will continue to be ported to Digital's Intel platform, Prioris, too.
However, the push for channel partners and customer mindshare will focus on Alpha. While Oracle is interested in pushing non-PC platforms and large servers that suit its thin client approach to computing, Digital is desperate to increase Alpha's competitiveness against Intel in the NT market, which it now sees as its primary growth area. In recent months it has reduced Alpha prices and increased sales, but one of its major hurdles is that software houses tend to port to Intel before the less mainstream Alpha.
"This announcement means that customers and developers will have an even greater choice of Digital solutions on NT. Already Digital provides the industry's most robust NT cluster," said the company's vice president of worldwide systems marketing, Mike Gallup.
"Oracle's network computing architecture enables new multi-tier solutions combining Digital/Oracle products on NT with our successful products on Digital Unix and OpenVMS platforms," commented Gary Bloom, senior vice president at Oracle.
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