Oracle is getting ready to launch its 10g Application Server - but analysts warn the focus on grid computing could put off enterprise customers.
The 10g database product is available for download now and due to ship by the end of this year.
At the annual UK Oracle user group (UKOUG) conference, held in Birmingham, the company outlined its vision of 10g at the centre of grid-enabled IT infrastructure.
Pointing to the evolution from mainframe to client server environments and then onto the internet, Oracle's UK senior vice president, Ian Smith, predicted that grid computing would be the next "big disruptive technology".
Instead of operating a "just-in-case model" for computing resources, said Smith, 10g "allows you to move to a 'just-in-time model' where computer systems and their associated costs would be available whenever and wherever it is needed".
Features within the re-architected cornerstone of the Oracle portfolio that support this claim include policy-based resource management, metric-based workload management and centralised user provisioning.
These features are designed to provide more centralised, automated and secure management of servers, storage devices and applications, acting as a middleware layer between applications and hardware for the virtual control of both.
"The message loud and clear was grid, grid, grid," said Ken Hartley, UKOUG conference attendee from Manchester University's Centre for Research on Innovation and Competition.
Andy Cleverly, Oracle technical marketing director, said features in 10g would be of value to existing users that may not necessarily want an enterprise grid environment now.
"10g will run applications faster out of the box and offer greater manageability of their IT infrastructure," he said.
"It can enable the migration of data from other places automatically, seamlessly and have the existing Oracle platform manage it."
But Tim Jennings, research director at analyst Butler Group, warned that the force of the grid message might actually frighten people off buying 10g.
"Oracle's definition of grid is not what I call grid. When you drill down beneath the marketing speak they are talking about 'enterprise' grid within the firewall," he said.
"10g is more akin to a virtualisation in an IBM 'on-demand' or HP 'adaptive-enterprise' sense. Oracle hasn't got the whole answer for grid, but 10g is a good starting point."
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