Can Sun shine running Oracle 11g?

Until the recent past, not many users would consider using a Sun server to run a departmental database. With the Oracle-Sun merger, that could change. Here are some Sun contenders worthy of consideration.

Read the other sections of this guide on servers for Oracle upgrades:

Comparing servers for Oracle database 11g upgrades

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Oracle database upgrades: the in-place vs. migration upgrade decision
Choosing the right server hardware is all about choosing the right software
The best of the Oracle 11g-ready servers
Can Sun shine running Oracle 11g?

Not too long ago, if anyone suggested using a Sun server for a departmental database, it would have been immediately dismissed as overkill. But, with an Oracle-Sun merger in the works, many assumptions about Sun's hardware and software are about to change.

For the most part, Sun has always been about big iron -- meaning multi-processor servers and large blade servers designed primarily for data centers. But recently Sun has dipped its toes into the entry-level market with its Sun Fire series of rack mount servers.

Although the Sun Fire series is aimed at the budget conscious, it is unlikely that any members of that series would prove a good fit for a department level database server.

Currently four server models make up the Sun Fire series: two Solaris/Linux UltraSPARC systems, and a pair of servers that use AMD Opteron CPUs, namely the Sun Fire X2100 M2 and the Sun Fire X2200 M2. The x2100 is a single CPU (1P) and has been recently discontinued. The X2200 is still available, retails for about $1,495 (base configuration) and features two AMD Opteron CPUs and can run Solaris 10, Red Hat Linux and Microsoft Windows Server.

The X2200 is best suited for data centers looking to build out racks of server class systems that can leverage virtualization and storage area network technologies. That said, an organization could use the X2200 for a multitude of server chores at the department level, including as an Oracle 11g database server.

With some fine tuning and selecting the proper options, the Sun Fire X2200 M2 is a worthy candidate for Oracle implementations, especially considering the unit's three-year warranty and next-business-day service. The X2200 is a little light however, when it comes to business continuity. The unit offers only a single power supply and can only house two hard drives, limiting disk fail over to RAID mirroring.

For most department-level IT administrators, it is probably better to consider a more traditional department-sized server, but don't count Sun out all together. There are new servers are on the horizon and the merger with Oracle is bound to create some interesting options.

This was first published in July 2009

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