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This content is part of the Essential Guide: Guide to Oracle engineered systems and server appliances
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Oracle Sparc SuperCluster has features of Exadata and Exalogic

Oracle’s new Sparc server has up to 16 of the new eight-core Sparc T4 chips, but analysts wonder whether it will be enough to keep the Sparc install base interested.

Oracle introduced a new server on Monday that combines features of Exadata and Exalogic but runs on the new Sparc T4 processor and the Solaris operating system.

Analysts said the announcement of the Oracle Sparc SuperCluster T4-4 fell in line with Oracle’s desire to push integrated hardware-software appliances, but they’re unsure whether Oracle will be able to maintain its Sparc install base for long.

“They are talking about selling these things in half-rack increments, but I don’t know if that gets them to the place that they need to be to serve all of the market,” said Dan Olds, founder of Beaverton, Ore.-based Gabriel Consulting Group. “They need something that will not only keep the existing customer base in place, but also could help them grow.”

The SuperCluster comes in full- or half-rack formats, with up to 16 eight-core Sparc T4 processors. It also includes Oracle’s Exadata Storage Servers, allowing Sparc/Solaris shops to take advantage of the storage processing features that Oracle has been touting since the Intel-based Exadata V2 came out two years ago. The product also boasts Exalogic Elastic Cloud software that Oracle says improves Java performance exponentially.

Oracle CEO Larry Ellison said during the announcement that the product is targeted largely for customers currently running older Sparc systems and looking to upgrade. Analyst Rob Enderle isn’t sure how well that’s going to work.

“I think the problem with regard to the Sparc architecture isn’t the technology,” he said. “It’s giving very conservative buyers the sense that Sparc has legs.”

During the presentation, Oracle executive vice president of Systems John Fowler showed a Sparc roadmap stretching out for several years. Still, Enderle thinks that eventually Oracle “will reach the conclusion that they shouldn’t be in the microprocessor business.”

Oracle continued its message that IT shops can get the best price-performance by buying integrated appliances from Oracle. Fowler talked about how Oracle’s systems are engineered from the microprocessor on up to run Oracle workloads faster. Fowler expects the standard application environment on the Sparc SuperCluster T4-4 will be Oracle Database 11g.

“They have finally given the install base of Sparc something to talk about,” Olds added. “They’ve thrown some red meat to them, and I think that’s a positive thing from their standpoint.”

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