Three industry leaders are joining forces to bring clustering to the masses, but one analyst isn’t sure they can handle it.

Oracle Corp. launched Release 2 of Oracle 9i, its database software, with improved Linux support on

Wednesday. According to the Redwood Shores, Calif.-based company, 9i can run across multiple servers running the open source operating system.

“”We have co-developed with Red Hat over the Linux Advanced Server allowing us to run clustered databases on the Linux operating system,”” said Mark Jarvis, chief marketing officer at Oracle. Jarvis added the configuration is available pre-installed from Dell Computer Corp. Clustering is the ability to share a workload over multiple servers.

Oracle CEO Larry Ellison said offering has a number of benefits compared to mainframe computing. It eliminates single point of failure, for example, and costs less. The performance is also better, he said.

“”Clustering is not just to meet the needs of the extreme high-end of the market looking for more performance,”” Ellison said. “”Clustering is to deliver economies along with reliability of people who want to take advantage of commodity computers.””

Ellison went so far as to say clustering will eventually represent half of Oracle’s database business.

While this may come to pass, Warren Shiau said it probably won’t be driven by smaller businesses.

“”It’s not something that’s suitable in that sort of environment,”” said the IDC Canada software analyst.

“”This type of configuration is mostly meant to address applications where you need to go really big. I don’t know why you’d have a server cluster in small business environment.””

Nor does Shiau expect the union of the three partners to allow Dell to make a big dent in the server market, at least in the short term.

“”I don’t know how much they’re going to benefit from Linux clustering because Dell servers are still not perceived as big iron servers,”” Shiau said.

“”But certainly if you extend this whole Linux initiative a year or two or three down the road, if Oracle comes out with a budget product, a budget Linux database at a very low cost to compete head-to-head with Microsoft, then I think there are going to be a lot of Dell servers.””


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