HP, EMC cozy up to Oracle
It's an OpenWorld, after all
It's Oracle OpenWorld, and everybody wants to be Larry Ellison's frienemy. That's only fitting considering that Oracle's chief executive officer and co-founder is certainly the IT industry's poster boy for frienemism. Hewlett-Packard and EMC have professed their loyalty to various Oracle products at the event, as many others will do in front of the 35,000 attendees to the show this week.
According to Doug Small - director of marketing for HP's Enterprise Storage and Servers group, which makes and markets all of HP's servers and storage - more Oracle software is deployed on HP iron than on any other brand of systems, and HP is "significantly ahead" of any other IT platform vendor when it comes to pushing Oracle wares. (Even Sun Microsystems, soon to be part of Oracle). Small added that HP and Oracle have some 140,000 common customers in the enterprise, but did not know how many HP enterprise customers there were or how many Oracle customers were out there in the world so El Reg could draw the Venn diagram for you.
At Oracle OpenWorld, HP is talking up some templates it has created for deploying the PeopleSoft ERP stack from Oracle atop its BladeSystem Matrix commercial clusters, which were announced  on April 20 in the shadow of Oracle's $7.4bn acquisition of Sun Microsystems that same day. The Matrix setup combines HP's blade servers, storage, and various system management tools that were either designed in house or came to HP through acquisitions to create what the company has called "a push-button data center."
The secret sauce is a graphical templating environment that allows system admins to point and click to tell a Matrix cluster the basic topology of an application setup, and then the Matrix Orchestration Environment does all the configuration work to actually provision the hardware (servers, networks, and storage) and software for the application and install it according to the best practices in the template.
HP has already delivered templates for the SAP ERP software stack as well as for Microsoft Exchange messaging servers, and today, it is rolling out PeopleSoft templates (running atop Oracle's 11g database) for Matrix in a three-tier architecture (that's database, application, and presentation tiers).
The PeopleSoft implementation does not make use of the Real Application Clusters extensions to the Oracle database to cluster for performance or high availability, but rather uses the replication software inside HP's EVA disk arrays to allow for failover and restarting of databases and applications running on the blades. (Scaling is horizontal on the Matrix, unless customers want to layer on RAC).
According to Nick van der Zweep, director of virtualization and product management for the Insight management tool software, HP is working on Matrix templates for Oracle's Siebel and Oracle Enterprise application stacks as well. No word on when these will be delivered. All of these templates are free, by the way, although the application, middleware, and database software licenses are not bundled into the Matrix box.
Van der Zweep was not able to talk about how well the Matrix blade setups have been selling, but did give some background stats on how some of the underlying technologies that went into the Matrix system. HP has sold over 1.6 million blade servers, and has over 1 million ports sold of its VirtualConnect I/O virtualization switches for the BladeSystem machines. In the past couple of years, over 1 million licenses to Insight Dynamics Virtual Server Environment (VSE), the x64 and Itanium virtualization hypervisor management tool, have been sold. Van de Zweep added that virtualization has really taken off on the HP-UX platform, and that the VSE tools are now deployed on about half of the Integrity boxes that HP currently sells.
Exadata Second Coming
With HP being the big news at Oracle OpenWorld last year, when the Exadata V1 data warehousing cluster appliance was first announced  and even bore the name HP Oracle Database Machine, you might be thinking that the ghosts of Hewlett and Packard as well as current HP employees might be a little miffed at Oracle for dropping HP iron with the launch  of the Exadata V2 cluster, now for online transaction processing as well as for data warehousing, back in mid-September. The Exadata V2 rig is based on Sun iron, and Oracle is not offering hardware upgrades to the V1 machines so current customers can move to faster HP iron.
"There are a lot of industry shifts going on right now, and this is one of them," explains Small, referring to Oracle's pending acquisition of Sun and its change to Sun iron. "With Oracle buying Sun, this kind of move is to be expected." Small added that the original Exadata product line was "a very small portion" of the business that HP and Oracle do together. He also said that HP viewed Exadata as a kind of single-function appliance, while Matrix was more about creating a single pool of resources that many applications could share, and that the two products don't really compete.
In addition to the Matrix templates for PeopleSoft, HP is kicking out a reference architecture for a ProLiant DL785 running Oracle 11g, which shows linear scalability on the box using four-core Opteron processors, scaling up to a 32-core, eight-socket configuration. This reference architecture makes use of Oracle's database data compression technology, and Van der Zweep says that HP has been able to compress databases by a factor of 75 per cent with only taking a few per cent hit on server performance on an eight-socket DL785. That is a lot of storage savings, obviously.
HP has also validated Oracle VM Server to run on ProLiant DL380 G6 servers, which are based on Intel's Xeon 5500 processors, in conjunction with its LeftHand P4000 storage area networks. HP already supports Oracle Enterprise Linux (a knock-off of Red Hat Enterprise Linux) on selected ProLiant machines, but neither Oracle VM Server nor Oracle Enterprise Linux are preloaded on ProLiants. You have to pay extra to get factory installation by HP. (HP does preload RHEL and Novell's SUSE Linux on its ProLiants as well as VMware's ESX Server hypervisor.)
EMC said that it realizes that many customers run VMware's ESX Server hypervisor in the same IT shops where Oracle VM Server, Oracle's implementation of the open source Xen hypervisor, is also used. Although there is no way that the penetration of Oracle VM is as high as for ESX Server, in Oracle shops, the Oracle software stack always has a bit more traction, and in some cases, a lot more traction.
Particularly among customers who want to run virtualized database, middleware, and application software stacks and who are just taking the entire Oracle stack--including Oracle Enterprise Linux and Oracle VM Server--and deploying it. Knowing this, EMC says that it can now support virtualized Oracle environments alongside the vSphere 4 stack on Symmetrix, Clariion, and Celera storage, including disk and flash storage.
EMC also said that it has optimized the use of tiered disk and flash storage in Oracle virtual environments with virtual provisioning and non-disruptive virtual LUN migration. This allows multiple Oracle databases to share a stack of flash storage, thereby boosting their performance.
EMC also said that its vCenter Site Recovery Manager software, which was href="http://www.theregister.co.uk/2009/10/06/vmware_vcenter_srm4/">just added to the vSphere stack last week and which allows for failover of VMs across a network of servers in the event of an impending or actual crash of a server or a VM stack, has been tweaked so virtualized Oracle environments running on ESX Server 4.0 can be made more resilient with the SRM feature. ®