back to article Ellison's database customers slip slidin' to x86

When Oracle chief executive Larry Ellison doubled down on Unix with his $5.6bn acquisition of Sun Microsystems, his customers were moving away from RISC systems. Half of Oracle's customers are running their database instances on x86, while those who aren't will do so "shortly". A survey of Oracle customers found that while …


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  1. Captain Save-a-ho

    Please set me straight!

    "Cost savings associated with server hardware virtualization and an overall reduction in hardware costs"

    Is it even possible that these two could be different? Those both sounds like cost savings to me, but who's counting.

    Need more excuses? Repeat the same ones with similar language! Rinse. Repeat.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    This is quite interesting, I work for a _big_ oracle and unix shop and we've recently being discussing a new standards document which says that in future we'll be running the following:

    x86_64 Windows (virtualised, if poss)

    x86_64 Linux (virtualised, if poss)

    z Linux

    z z/OS

    We questioned replacing RISC/Itanium/Sparc with x86 and the cost makes it a no-brainer. The cost difference between similar PPC and Intel cores is something like 10k per core.

    We then questioned running linux on Z and again, the cost was far less than we expected. NB: It was pointed out that if we weren't an existing (very big) Z server shop it wouldn't work, but the extra cost of running zlinux was piddling because of this.

    My only concern is that linux is not as mature as existing 'big three' unix, but considering the cost difference and that we can use 'big unix' as an exception to policy if it's really needed, I can't say that I disagree... Much as I thought I did when I initially heard about it.

    Anon for reasons of not discussing details of a big company's IT strategy in public...

  3. Dr. P
    Thumb Down

    Is it just me that's well confused by this article?

    WTF does this mean?

    "A survey of Oracle customers found while just over two\-thirds run their database environments on Unix - with Solaris the single most popular flavor - x86 is catching up."

    Didn't you know that Unix runs on x86?

  4. Dr. P


    And here's another WTF.

    "IOUG also found that Microsoft 's SQL Server - which only runs on Windows and x86 - is by far the most popular database in use besides Oracle (91 per cent) followed by MySQL (44 per cent)."

    I'm not very bright I know but I'm pretty sure that 91 + 44 > 100.

    1. Lyle Dietz

      Makes sense to me

      Some people use more than one DB, so they get counted multiple times. For example, here we use MS SQL, MySQL and PostgreSQL.

    2. Mark Cathcart

      not if you're a server company

      To hide the bleed from RISC to X86 the server companies have deliberately bifurcated the UNIX market into UNIX that runs on RISC and Linux which runs on X86.

      I don't remember who started this, it may well have been a Gartner thing, but thats how they all measure market share these days. They can claim huge numbers of UNIX deployments, aka UNIX or Linux on RISC usually expressed as percentages, while at the same time not having to explain losses to Linux... ie their numbers in the UNIX space are holding steady(while the space is in terminal decline...)

  5. Eradicate all BB entrants

    they are seperate....

    when you consider oracle licensing. They license per core and not socket.

    Put 1 oracle DB on a 4 socket 16core server.......thats a big license cost vs 8 virtualised servers running an oracle db on each, still the same license cost (roughly) but 8 db's. Then you can consider the hardware savings.

    Although from the title I was expecting the story to be about people dumping Oracle for MySQL

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Economy of Scale on the Side of x86, as Intel can sell millions of CPUs, while the Server companies togehter might sell in the low millions (including the small x86 servers). RISC Servers alltogether are probably less than one million CPUs.

    Time for Larry to face reality and dump SPARC.

  7. LDS Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    DB virtualization? A nonsense

    WHy should I virtualize instances instead of letting the database itself take care of orchestating the hardware resources - and database can do it better than VMware because they have data about their load?

    THe only reason for virtualization are bad coded application you should not buy in the first place, and incompetent DBAs who are not able to manage a database properly and take the short road of segregating them thus it's easier to manage them with their little skills.

    And where's the cost saving? Unless you have an unlimited licenses, you pay for each installed server - virtual or not. Many instances each in its VM is more expensive than a single instance on the same hardware tuned to handle the load properly. Hardware is much cheaper the Oracle, today - and the hardware needed for virtualization is more or less the same you need to run the database.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I agree...

      First, most people who buy and use a DB like Oracle or DB2 won't be using something like vmware in an attempt to save costs. Any shop who's going to buy one of those products is more concerned about supporting a large DB and worried about scaling and performance. VMware, scaling, and performance don't go hand in hand.

  8. Anonymous Coward

    Hello McFly

    Oracle software costs over 10X the price of hardware.

    Anyone who puts Oracle on Linux on x86 is a stupid drone. The only stupider people are ones that put Oracle on SPARC CMT processors (T2/T2+)

    Save millions by putting Oracle on IBM Power7. The Oracle savings will be 4X the price of the hardware. Oh and Oracle actually supports PowerVM unlike VMWare.

    Matt B

  9. Tony Reeves 1

    Interesting Numbers Behind This Survey

    41% of sites surveyed are running Oracle database on x86. Assumption is that all/most sites are running Oracle databases. So 59% are running on UNIX/RISC near exclusively (there may be one or two on ZOS). As there will be some overlap of sites running UNIX/RISC and x86 there must be at least 60% of sites not running Linux/x86, and only 6% of pure UNIX shops thinking of moving to x86.

    While Sun is 3rd behind Windows and Linux, above figures would suggest that UNIX/RISC is still doing the heavy lifting and Solaris is 25% ahead of the next UNIX platform (AIX).

    (Some of the above data is from the full report).

    Is it any wonder Larry bought Sun?

  10. foxyshadis

    An understatement of the week

    "These included resistance from DBAs who'd had bad experiences with earlier versions of the technology," how about current versions included? MS SQL and MySQL are both getting larger, but at least they keep getting faster, more reliable, and more useful. Oracle just keeps getting more expensive, in hardware and software costs.

    (We're in the final stages of migrating a half-terabyte Oracle to MS SQL. Our production is still on Sybase, but they aren't so bad.)

  11. Anonymous Coward

    Bad Move By Big Larry

    The point is that as an Orasuncle systems reseller we have seen our fulfilment business based on x86 (which in turn drives the bigger business) slip away because big Larry said that he was not interested in that segment of the market and priced the product accordingly, and we have then had to watch the " Delboys" picking up the incremental business



      Oracle user indeed.

      Clearly someone that doesn't "get it" in general about Enterprise RDBMS platforms.

      Oracle is for the data you care about. Integrity is first and everything else is secondary. This includes cost and performance. This is why companies tend to run Oracle on the reference platform. It doesn't matter if that happens to be Solaris Sparc or Linux x86. You end up with something that is much less buggy.

      Whenever <insert favorite platform here> becomes the reference platform, then it will be time

      for everyone else to drop their old platform for your personal favorite.

      It all boils down to that 6 figure annual support contract. Otherwise you could just run mysql or that other product that was mentioned.

      ...and I do agree that the idea of Oracle in VMWARE is terribly silly.

    2. Matt Bryant Silver badge

      RE: Hello McFly

      ".....Anyone who puts Oracle on Linux on x86 is a stupid drone....." Buzz buzz, then! We have some x64 Linux apps that come with Oracle specified as the database required, so we do use Oracle on Linux on x64. In those cases it is the software vendor that specified which database to use with their app, not us. Please update your assumptive prejudices to a more realistic World view.

      ".....Save millions by putting Oracle on IBM Power7....." Then spend those millions saved on the AIX licence fees, additional support costs, IBM Global Scewup tax, and set aside more money for when you have to upgrade and recertify your stack with AIX7.x if you want the best performance on Power7.

      "....Oracle actually supports PowerVM unlike VMWare...." Strange, but we do have Windows and Linux apps using Oracle databases and sitting quite comfortably in VMware instances, and Oracle (who have audited us before) never complained. Maybe you need to ask the IBM marketting department to spoonfeed you some more ideas, your current ones seem very outdated.


  12. Anonymous Coward


    On of the most important financial institutions here in Germany will soon switch from the biggest possible VMS cluster to Linux for their core system.

    From my personal experience I do not at all expect reliability issues with Linux, but there could be problems of scalability and real-time responsiveness. My guess is that the future of IT will look very much like Google's system: lots of cheap x86 boxes conntected with 10Gbit ethernet. Automatic load balancing and failover.

    From a dollar point of view this solution is very attractive. Whether operations and developers can handle it is another question.

  13. Warren96

    Title should have been: RISC chips VS. x86 chips for Oracle Future ?

    Title should have been: RISC chips VS. x86 chips for Oracle Future ?

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    apples and orages

    "Solaris" and "x86" are not mutually exclusive.

    1. Matt Piechota

      @AC, apples and oranges

      Thanks, I was about to post that. I do wonder how many people are moving to Solaris on x86, I think that would have been an interesting question to ask.

  15. Rytis
    Dead Vulture

    "VMware sponsored the study"

    What surprising findings! Put all eggs in one basket and let the vmware drop them.

    And by the way, AIX, Solaris and even linux is doing virtualization as well.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Dead Vulture

      Re: VMware sponsored the study

      Yep. The writer seemed to fail to point out that VMware sponsored it and left out things like other OS's being able to already virtualize. But, it's not in their interest to point out that Solaris, Linux, and even Windows can do it for free... They also left out that Solaris can run on x86. Just another attempt to get the clueless to throw money at them.

  16. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

    @Please set me straight

    Hardware savings from buying one server instead of 3 lightly-loaded servers for different databases.

    All the extra savings for network infrastructure, rack space, HVAC

    License savings if you discover that your 3virtual DBs on one CPU only count as one install.

    But the article reads like somebody took a Gartner report and cut it down to fit on a page - I think that's called tech journalism these days.

  17. Rob Moss.
    Thumb Down

    Figures not adding up

    "IOUG also found that Microsoft 's SQL Server - which only runs on Windows and x86 - is by far the most popular database in use besides Oracle (91 per cent) followed by MySQL (44 per cent)."

    Where are these figures coming from? Are we talking about PerCent, as in 100% or are we talking about made up figures which don't represent anything...

    If SQL Server is 91%, and MySQL is 44%, then the total must be 135%

    Gavin, I've always enjoyed your articles... however this looks like it might have been a bit rushed

    1. pan2008


      The guy says that more than 91% have SQL Server, at the same time people may have another database, so another 44% use mySQL. Makes good sense to me...

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