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Oracle Spices Up Database Appliance With Virtualization, Beefier Hardware

Oracle adds server virtualization in the first update to the Database Appliance it unveiled in September 2011, a move it hopes will attract more ISVs.

Oracle Tuesday rolled out an updated Oracle Database Appliance, called the X3-2, which adds virtualization to a product that combines database software with server, storage and networking, all in a relatively small footprint.

The Oracle Database Appliance X3-2, the latest iteration of a product that debuted in September 2011 as a much-heralded melding of Sun hardware with Oracle software, is aimed at small and midsize organizations and sold only through the channel.

The most important new addition to the X3-2 is a server virtualization platform that can be used to carve up a single box into multiple parts, allowing Web servers, application servers and homegrown apps to take advantage of the extra computing capacity.

[Related: Oracle's New Database Appliance Could Eat Into HP Server Sales ]

Sohan DeMel, vice president, product strategy and business development at Oracle, said the new virtualization option -- which is built on Oracle VM, its own Xen-based flavor of server virtualization -- can cut licensing costs for customers. Instead of licensing all the CPUs in a system, customers can license a subset of capacity of the total physical cores, DeMel said Tuesday in an interview.

"With Oracle VM technology, we treat each VM as a hard partition, as its own server, so you can only license that virtual server," DeMel said. "In the first version of Oracle Database Appliance, you had to power down cores, but with virtual server technology, you can keep them up and running."

The X3-2's virtualization capabilities make it suitable for deployment in branch offices, which typically don't have space for racks of hardware and prefer a converged footprint, according to DeMel.

Paul Jardin, vice president of technology at Emerald Associates, a Calgary, Alberta-based Oracle partner, told CRN that adding virtualization to the Oracle Database Appliance eliminates the technical complexities of implementing Oracle enterprise applications, such as Primavera P6, in combination with Emerald's own EP-dashboards.

"This will enable Emerald to provide a unique plug-and-play hardware/software solution to IT-resource-strapped clients, on a proven engineered platform," Jardin said. "Based on our test results, Emerald is actively moving forward with providing this solution to existing and new clients."

NEXT: Oracle Database Appliance X3-2 Gets Better Hardware

As for the hardware, Oracle Database Appliance X3-2 comes with 512 GB of memory, 18 TB of SAS disk storage and 800 GB of flash storage. Oracle said the X3-2 offers twice the performance speed of the previous model and more than four times the storage capacity, along with nearly three times the flash and memory.

Oracle isn't targeting the Web server or application server business with its updated X3-2. Rather, DeMel said the plan is to give ISVs a standard appliance that they can customize and ship to customers.

"ISVs can prepackage the X3-2 and drop the system into customer locations," DeMel said. "Web server, app server and database are running in a very compact form factor. You don’t need separate storage arrays, or networking."

The Oracle Database Appliance was touted at its debut as a combination of powerful, Linux-based, Intel Xeon-based Sun server and Oracle database software.

It's not cheap, however: Hardware starts at $50,000 and Oracle database software costs $47,000, bringing the total cost in the neighborhood of $100,000.

In a report last March, Jefferies & Co. said Oracle's engineered systems strategy was losing momentum, and that sales of the Oracle Database Appliance had not met expectations.

DeMel declined to comment on how sales of the Oracle Database Appliance have been faring since then, citing the Redwood Shores, Calif.-based company's quiet period in advance of its third-quarter earnings report, slated for an as-yet unspecified date this month.


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