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HP powers new database machine

HP announced a new database solution for enterprise customers yesterday, a product co-created with Oracle called the HP Oracle Database Machine. The product marries a Linux version of Oracle with a rack of HP ProLiant servers, along with HP-branded storage.

Oracle said it announced the product in a keynote before more than 40,000 users at the Oracle OpenWorld conference. The Oracle press release didn't mention the ProLiant by name, calling the servers the HP Oracle Database Server. But both hardware and storage servers are actually eight ProLiant DL180 G5 servers and 14 DL360 servers.

HP's press release on the product, a bundle designed for customers who need "extreme performance data warehouses," touted the Oracle Exadata storage part of the solution, for which HP is the exclusive supplier. HP's language says that the product combo of HP hardware and Oracle will be sold by Oracle, with software support coming from that vendor and hardware installation and supporting coming from HP.

A database machine of another variety was once sold by Hewlett-Packard, although the company never used that term in a product name. The HP 3000 made its breakthrough as the engine driving the IMAGE database beginning in 1976, when the company first grouped IMAGE and the HP 3000 as a package. History was on HP's mind during yesterday's announcement, too. The vendor noted that the ProLiant servers have 15 years of industry service, so long as you count early versions of Compaq products installed at places like General Motors during the 1990s.

HP said of its hardware driving the Oracle Database Machine

The HP ProLiant server was  introduced 15 years ago this month and has been the industry’s leading x86  server brand ever since... Oracle’s new HP Oracle Database Machine is a full 42U rack system that includes eight HP ProLiant DL360 servers running Oracle Database 11g and Oracle Real  Application Clusters on Oracle Enterprise Linux and 14 Oracle Exadata Storage Servers.

Of special note in this announcement is that neither the HP Itanium-based servers or the HP-UX Unix environment are part of this data warehouse solution. Data warehousing is a commonplace use for large HP 3000 installations, especially those serving the insurance and retail sectors.

The Oracle-HP announcement sparked the echoes of the earlier HP database initiative, powered on the 3000 by HP-only technology. Paul Edwards, the retired OpenMPE director who worked for Hewlett-Packard during that IMAGE breakthrough era, said the package took off because of its tight integration and a rich third party toolset.

HP had a "database machine" with the HP 3000 and IMAGE. The reasons for the success were the close coupling with MPE and the ease of use by users at various levels of technical expertise. There were also good third party tools such as DBGeneral, Adager, and Suprtool that completed the environment and made it very efficient.

Oracle users who have installed large data warehouses up to now will have to consider the value of an upgrade to the new Linux-based solution. Oracle CEO Larry Ellison said that "For the first time, customers can get smart performance storage designed for Oracle data warehouses, that is ten times faster.”

The product includes a grid of eight database servers with 64 Intel processor cores running Oracle Enterprise Linux; and a grid of 14 Oracle Exadata Storage Servers that can be configured to access up to 168 terabytes of raw storage with 14 GB/second data bandwidth to the servers. HP said it serves the largest installed base of Oracle customers in the industry. Much of that service is hosted on the ProLiant line, which HP reports has about a 34 percent market share among x86 servers.