Oracle Database Server Now Shipping

The industry is finally getting a good look at the much-delayed Oracle8i Appliance, a database server previously code-named Raw Iron. The server appliance, now shipping through hardware OEMs and valued-added distributors, allows for deployment of the Oracle8i database independent of Windows NT or UNIX operating systems. Oracle is targeting the product at small and mid-size businesses.

The Oracle 8i Appliance is a complete system, featuring a database, processors and parts of Sun's Solaris operating system. It also includes Oracle software that allows for remote management of the appliance over the Internet, and Oracle's WebDB, a tool that enables businesses to develop and run their own Web-based software.

Approximately 50 percent of Oracle customers run their Oracle databases on dedicated servers, so it makes sense for Oracle to have pared down the operating system, limiting it to the functions required to run an Oracle database. With the server appliance, Oracle aims to reduce the cost of software administration and enhance the performance of the database by allowing software operations to be more closely tuned for specific hardware.

Oracle's new offering has met with an enthusiastic response from hardware and software vendors. Hardware vendors signing up to ship the product include HP, Compaq, Dell, and Fujitsu Siemens. Hall-Mark Global Solutions and Pioneer/Keylink have agreed to manufacture and distribute the product on non-branded Intel systems.

The Oracle 8i Appliance has been shipping on HP systems since March 1. Siemens has just recently announced shipment of the product, while Compaq and Dell will make similar announcements in May and June, respectively.

One HP customer found no problems in installing the database server. "We recently installed the Oracle8i Appliance on an HP LH4 NetServer … and we were operational in a very short time," reported Dr. Lawrence Turner, principal of the Horace Mann Elementary School in Chicago.

About 50 ISVs, including J.D. Edwards, Legato, Macromedia and TIBCO, also announced support for new product. ISVs supporting the Oracle8i Appliance have validated their applications against the appliance at four newly created Application Solution Centers, established to test third-party applications with the database server.