September 24, 2008

Oracle Stakes Cloud, XTP Ground; IT Didn’t Fail Wall Street

Derrick Harris

Oracle’s Big News

I must say, I am impressed with some of the news coming out of Oracle OpenWorld. Specfically, two of Oracle’s myriad announcements yesterday caught my eye: Oracle’s foray into cloud computing and the availability of WebLogic Application Grid.

First, I think it is wise for Oracle (for the time being, at least) to neither call itself a cloud component provider nor label any of its products with “cloud.” Instead, the software giant is simply allowing some of its most popular products to run on Amazon EC2 without additional licensing fees. This strategy lets Oracle customers take advantage of cloud computing without Oracle having to invest heavily in cloud-specific problems or risk customer confusion over what the company means by “cloud.” What’s more, this strategy allows Oracle to avoid the accusations levied at it a few years ago, when critics averred Oracle was bending the definition of “grid computing” to fit Oracle’s vision (as if it was the only one to do it).

Speaking of grid computing, I also like the announcement of Oracle’s WebLogic Application Grid. The company got a foot into the extreme transaction-processing (XTP) door by acquiring Tangosol and its Coherence data grid product in 2007, and now Oracle has leveraged its acquisition of BEA Systems to create a complete XTP solution. IBM and GigaSpaces are two notable companies who have combined dynamic application platforms with in-memory data solutions to heavily target the XTP space, and now Oracle can truly compete. The quality of its individual components aside, a particular bright spot for Oracle’s WebLogic Application Grid is the inclusion of JRockit Real-Time, which enables even Java apps to experience high performance in an XTP environment.

Update: Shortly after this post, the following announcement hit the wire: It’s light on details, but indicates a more dedicated cloud computing stance than the news surrounding EC2. Not that it’s a bad thing, but some industry analysts and insiders have proclaimed the wise move is to focus on the shared, utility nature of so-called clouds rather than the fact that they’re clouds. On the other hand, the notion of hybrid public-private cloud infrastructures has been declared the future of IT by some, and the Oracle-Intel announcement does note a focus on this area.

IT and the Financial Nightmare

We’ll have more on this later in the week, but I’ve spoken with several individuals over the past week who say IT had precious little to do with last week’s Wall Street debacle, and will do little to avoid similar situations in the future. Essentially, they say, it wasn’t poor risk management systems or electronic trading algorithms that caused such widespread failure, but rather poor decision making on the part of the banks involved.

However, these analysts and service providers all noted that IT decisions will gain even more importance going forward. Uncertainty about budgets could lead banks to invest in hosted trading platforms rather than spend big bucks building or upgrading their own datacenters, and the desire to avoid future problems caused by IT failures could mean increased investments in disaster recovery, fault tolerance, etc. Additionally, grid computing vendors like Platform and DataSynapse both noted to me months ago that the credit crisis could be a boon to them because financial customers need to compute smarter and receive maximum ROI — both of which are selling points of grid-based financial solutions.

As I mentioned above, we’ll have a feature on the financial hosting market later this week, so do keep an eye out for it. Also, Dennis Barker touches on this topic in his coverage from High Performance on Wall Street. His coverage began yesterday and will continue throughout the week. HPCwire has dedicated coverage from this event on its home page.