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Sun, Oracle launch assault on NT

Sun is the first to sign up for Raw Iron - who'll be the first PC company?

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Sun has become the first company to sign up for Oracle's Raw Iron project, which is intended to run Oracle8 directly on top of an OS kernel. In a widely-predicted move (Earlier Story) the two companies yesterday announced a software cross-licensing deal. Oracle has already tested Sun's Solaris kernel for Raw Iron, alongside FreeBSD, NetBSD and the Linux kernel, and in November said that the first machines would ship early next year. The Sun deal brings this closer to reality - Solaris kernel-based systems are now promised for March. Raw Iron itself can variously be described as NC version 2 or the return of the mainframe. The general idea is that Oracle's database software can sit directly on top of a stripped-down microkernel type OS, so you kind a kind of dedicated database box. The software ought to run a lot faster without a general purpose OS like NT or indeed Unix in the way, and if the software and hardware is designed properly maintenance and support costs should be lower, because there's a lot less to break inside the system. You can see how some of the NC ideas come into it here, albeit at the server end of the spectrum, while if you've got high powered machines that are tailored just to do database, then maybe you've got a mainframe or similar. If Oracle can make the concept take off it stands a good chance of heading-off Microsoft's bid to get NT up into the nerve centres of the enterprise, and Sun's a pretty good partner for the company at this level. Sun is not however a totally plausible partner for the whole shebang - the company's relative weakness further down the scale is evidenced by its recent snuggling up to Linux, so really Oracle needs other partners here. Oracle keeps saying it's talking to Dell and Compaq about Raw Iron, but as yet neither of the two have twitched. Intel's server appliance group (Earlier Story) however looks like a useful vehicle for Oracle to get its ideas accepted in the PC space - as Dell and Oracle are both supporters of the Intel initiative, look to Dell coming out with systems around the middle of next year. And also look to Raw Iron and Intel server appliances merging. Intel has a vision of multiple limited task servers of different sizes being sprinkled around networks, so while Oracle itself has been coming from the database angle, they needn't be just about databases. ®

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