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Analysts: Oracle's grid technology not all that

As Oracle continues its grid computing campaign, some analysts are warning customers to clear away the confetti and balloons and see what's behind the hype.

Two months after OracleWorld attendees were introduced to Oracle's new line of grid products, some analysts are criticizing the company for defining "grid technology" too loosely and using the term for peripheral products.

The company is using the term "grid" inaccurately, said Dwight B. Davis, vice president of Boston-based research firm Summit Strategies.

"Oracle's application of the term 'grid' can mean the broad swipe of the technologies it offers, and I would advise people to look beneath the label and at the functionality," said Davis, who has kept a close watch on the emergence of grid computing, which he calls "dynamic computing."

Oracle is advising customers to start accessing grid technology by consolidating servers, standardizing on low-cost platforms and automating processes. The company is also targeting small and midsized customers, saying that advances in processor and network speeds, the availability of low-cost components and virtualized data storage make grid computing possible for anyone.

But grid technology is immature outside the scientific community, and software vendors are hyping the technology too much, said analyst Carl Claunch, a vice president at Stamford-based Gartner Inc. Expectations in the commercial world are currently set too high, mainly because of Oracle's hyping of the technology, he said.

Claunch advises companies to beware of marketers applying the "grid" label to products and services that only touch upon true grid computing.

"What Oracle talks about when they describe their 10g strategy and technology is mostly not grid and it just isn't appropriate," Claunch said. "I would describe it as a lower-cost, potentially more efficient way of developing and deploying applications using their clustering technology."

George Demarest, senior director of Oracle database marketing, responded to critics by saying the company has been careful to inform customers that they don't "automatically get grid if they buy 10g."

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