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Oracle users leery of grid strategy

Oracle has spent much of the week detailing its grid computing strategy to OracleWorld attendees, but even the company's most committed users say it's too good to be true. That's one reason why Oracle yesterday announced a new consortium to build support for enterprise grid computing.

SAN FRANCISCO -- Jorge Batista's smiling face is featured on plenty of OracleWorld literature. A database architect at Horsham, Pa.-based Scirex Corp., Batista is one of the attendees from years past whom Oracle Corp. chose to feature this year as a happy customer. But Batista isn't ready to gush over Oracle's grid.

"I think it's going to be a while before grid [computing] actually catches on -- or is even feasible," Batista said. "It's in the early stages, and a lot more needs to be said before I think a lot of people are going to jump on it."

With that, Batista echoed the sentiments of many OracleWorld attendees, who spent five days hearing all about Oracle's new line of grid products.

Yesterday, Oracle announced its intention to form a commercial consortium to shift the industry's focus from scientific grid computing to enterprise grid computing. Company executives have said they are fully aware of the challenges they face in educating customers and partners about the potential of grids, and the consortium is one way to bring customers like Batista on board.

Charles Rozwat, Oracle's executive vice president for server technologies, announced the consortium at an afternoon keynote session. Rozwat said the group would not compete with the scientific Global Grid Forum, but will instead focus on commercial aspects of grid computing.

"It would define some of the standards of grid computing and be a sounding board to open up a dialogue with some major customers," Rozwat said. "We want contributors from both the user standpoint and the component companies.

"Most commercial companies are very concerned about security, and the scientific community is just the opposite," Rozwat added. "We want to shift the focus on the needs of commercial users."

Security is a big concern for Ian Evans, an application developer with the UK-based Air Warfare Center, which works closely with British defense forces. Commercial grid computing is in its infancy and too new to even be considered right now, he said.

"I don't think we'll be taking this on for a long time," he said. "It's an excellent vision, but whether the world is ready for it, I'm not getting warm feelings, despite all the fireworks here."

Bart Trickey, an IT manager at Little Rock, Ark.-based Acxiom Corp., said Oracle's new database, 10g, still needs to prove itself before the company takes jumps into grid.

"It sounds like the perfect solution in theory," he said. "It sounds almost too good to be true."

Batista, who was thrilled to see his photo in OracleWorld handouts, will keep a wait-and-see approach to grid technology.

"We can't just jump into any new release just because Larry said it's the future," he said.


Read more of's special coverage of OracleWorld '03.

To provide your feedback on this article, contact Robert Westervelt.

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