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IBM, Oracle Lean on Open Source for Grid

April 6, 2005

SAN FRANCISCO -- Two of the largest investors in enterprise grid projects are using open source software to keep their competitive edge in the burgeoning technology.

Executives from IBM and Oracle were on hand at the Open Source Business Conference (OSBC) here today. Each company touted its unwavering support for open source on the grid as the future of distributed computing.

IBM's interest in both Linux and grid is legendary. The Armonk, N.Y.-based computer giant has invested billions of dollars in manpower and R&D to support both.

Irving Wladawsky-Berger, vice president of strategy and innovation at IBM, said the real value of open source software is that it creates communities that can come together and solve problems. That applies to both open source projects, he said, as the momentum in IT is moving to standards.

"Most of the complexity in the infrastructure is there because of distributed systems," Wladawsky-Berger said during a keynote address at the conference. "What you need is a layer above [that layer] that can manage those systems. The grid is providing that layer and IBM is banking on the future existence of the grid layers."

Wladawsky-Berger said IBM's support of Linux, Apache Web server, Eclipse, and Open Grid Services Architecture are helping reduce the value of proprietary offerings and make the overall infrastructure become more valuable.

To that end, IBM recently announced the expansion of grid computing projects for automotive and transportation industries. Big Blue said its Business Consulting Services are helping Land Rover and ZJ Transportation with product lifecycle management and design.

Oracle's love affair with Linux and the grid began back in 1998 on a few servers. Now, Edward Screven, Oracle's chief corporate architect, says 25 percent of Oracle deployments are on Linux and 31 percent of shipments going out are on Linux for Oracle E-Business suite including its latest iteration of Oracle 10g.

"Open source is fundamentally about development process," Screven said during his keynote address. "The only thing that makes a good choice or a bad choice is how it fits into your overall structure. As Mark Twain once said, 'When in doubt strike it out.'"

In addition to Linux, the database software vendor said it also supports open source projects like Apache, PHP , Mozilla and the Eclipse project, of which it is a founding member along with IBM.

Screven said Oracle's push for grid computing has evolved recently to focus on Service Oriented Architectures (SOA) and blade servers .

"When we look at open source, we note how the technology applies to a large market," Screven said. "It has to have strong technical project leadership. It has to support commercial vendor economics. There must be a very low opportunity for differentiation. For us, this applies to both Linux as well as the grid projects.

Earlier in the day, Oracle unveiled the results of its latest Oracle Grid Index research, which measures global adoption of grid computing technologies.

The research, independently conducted by research firm Quocirca, found there is growing progress toward global adoption of grid computing, but most have yet to act on this understanding.

Of the three regions measured, North America (Canada and United States) demonstrated the highest overall score on the Oracle Grid Index. North American companies scored particularly well on knowledge of grid computing (6.17) and understanding of grid computing benefits (4.86). North America also leads the other regions in Commitment (3.02) to the adoption of grid computing technologies.








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