SAN FRANCISCO -- Dell Inc. chairman Michael Dell announced a long-term partnership between his company and other hardware and software vendors to develop best practices in deploying a grid computing infrastructure.
Dell took center stage Tuesday morning at Oracle's OpenWorld user conference, highlighting his company's partnership with Oracle over the last four years. Dell said his company has worked to commoditize the data center, flooding the market with low cost servers while working with Oracle to tout a grid architecture.
"Inside Oracle's labs development on platforms is all done on Dell servers," Dell said. "We're working to accomplish a great deal together and we'll tour with our partners to talk about the data center of the future."
Dell, EMC Corp., Intel Corp., and Oracle are partnering to form Project MegaGrid, focused on testing and documenting industry standard best practices for building a grid computing infrastructure. The four companies are also members of Oracle's Enterprise Grid Alliance, formed earlier this year to develop grid computing standards.
The MegaGrid project will be based in Oracle's giant data center in Austin, Texas. Dell is providing the network server infrastructure, EMC is providing the storage infrastructure and Intel is contributing the processor architectures and tools.
"We're putting together and testing an infrastructure capable of running the most sophisticated workloads," Dell said.
Establishing best practices and standards is a good start in creating momentum around Oracle's grid message, said J. Paul Kirby, a research director at Boston-based AMR Research Inc. But so far, companies are not completely signing on to Oracle's grid philosophy mainly because it's in its infancy, Kirby said.
"Oracle is trying to take a database and prove that it scales in a clustering fashion," Kirby said. "Grid itself is a lot larger and a lot less practical in the short term for companies."
Mark Smith, a DBA at a Minnesota-based online retailer, said his firm is considering a grid environment, but is waiting for more standards and best practices to develop over time. Reducing complexity by eliminating legacy hardware for low cost servers on Linux could save the company a lot of money, he said.
"Once you get past the marketing hype there may be something there," Smith said. "I like what they're saying, but we've got to investigate it more before we jump right in making major changes."
To appeal to customers like Smith, Oracle and Dell are bundling their products into a complete software, infrastructure and support package.
Dell teamed up with Oracle in April to offer the Oracle Database Standard Edition One, which is prepackaged on Dell PowerEdge 2600 or 2650 servers running on Linux and Microsoft Windows. The server-and-software bundle is available at a starting price of $4,995 per processor or $149 per user.
Dell said the product bundle is meant to allow small and medium-sized businesses to use a scaled-down version of Oracle's database software. As business grows over time, companies can easily upgrade to a more robust version of Oracle's DBMS, Dell said.