Volume 3, Number 13 -- April 6, 2006

Linux Is Almost as Popular as Solaris for Oracle Databases

Published: April 6, 2006

by Timothy Prickett Morgan

Applications tend to drive platform choices when all other economic factors remain equal, but since 2000, all economic factors have not remained equal and that is why Wintel and Lintel platforms took off as RISC/Unix platforms were too pricey for some IT budgets. It is now six years since the bottom fell out of the worldwide dot-com economy and IT budgets felt the crunch, and Linux is so established that it is about ready to draw even with the darling of the dot-com era, the Solaris platform, among Oracle database customers.

If Sun Microsystems and Oracle are the poster children for the dot-com era, having been born at the dawn of the minicomputer era and helped define and commercialize the Unix and SQL standards that we all take for granted these days, then Linux and Windows have become the poster children of the budget-conscious CIO, who has been asked to do more with less money each year. With X86 and then X64 processors and Linux and Windows presenting a cost-effective alternative to RISC/Unix boxes, and RISC/Unix vendors using these machines to prop up their profits while continuing to be unwilling or unable to compete with Wintel and Lintel machines, it will come as no surprise that Linux has, according to a recent survey of Oracle shops, caught up to Linux.

In January, the Independent Oracle Users Group surveyed its 14,500 members on their installed platforms, databases, and development tools, and 812 companies responded to the survey (which is a 6 percent yield, and not too shabby). And while those companies are wrestling with massive numbers of databases running on lots of platforms, they are just as interested in platform consolidation as they are on database consolidation. According to the IOUG survey, 93 percent of those companies surveyed have multiple, non-Oracle databases and about 47 say that they have more than 20 Oracle databases deployed. Oracle 9i is still the dominant database deployed at these Oracle shops, with 84 percent of those polled saying they use it, compared to 50 percent for Oracle 9i, 49 percent for Oracle 8i, and 10 percent for Oracle 8. Almost all of those surveyed who use any Oracle database at all say that they will move to Oracle 10g for those databases, and most intend to make the jump within the next 12 months. Some 70 percent of those polled have Microsoft SQL Server and another 50 percent have Access, which seems to imply that Microsoft databases are almost as popular at Oracle shops as Oracle is. IBM's DB2 database is used by 27 percent of these shops, just barely edging out the open source MySQL database with its 25 percent and Sybase with its 18 percent. MySQL and Sybase can run on Linux, Unix, or Windows, but the Microsoft products are only supported on Windows.

As for supporting the Oracle platform, 73 percent of those polled say that they run Oracle on one of the three major commercial distributions--that would be Solaris, HP-UX, or AIX--but only 66 percent say that they will be doing it a year from now.

Based on this survey, Solaris is the most popular platform on which to deploy Oracle databases, with 49 percent of sites using Solaris compared to 37 percent for Linux, 40 percent for Windows 2000 Server, 37 percent for Windows Server 2003, 31 percent for HP-UX, 23 percent for AIX, and 19 percent for Windows NT (yes, Windows NT). However, those polled say they expect their Solaris usage to drop, with only 43 percent of those companies polled by IOUG expecting to be using Solaris as their Oracle database platform a year from now, compared to 44 percent for Linux. Windows 2000 is expected to slip to 21 percent, and Windows NT to fall to 7 percent, which stands to reason as companies consolidate both databases and server platforms as they modernize. Companies are expecting to hold steady on their Windows 2003 deployments, but AIX and HP-UX are expected to lose a few points of share. Across all Unix platforms (including Linux), today 74 percent of companies have at least one Unix or Linux platform running an Oracle database, compared to 60 percent for Windows. But Linux/Unix deployments are expected to contract to 67 percent, and Windows deployments are expected to contract to 48 percent. This contraction is the effect of the double-whammy of server platform and database consolidation.

And for all of the talk about clusters, most companies polled have not deployed the Real Application Clusters extensions for Oracle 8i and Oracle 9i databases, and even fewer companies have used the so-called grid extensions to Oracle 10g. (Technically, it is all the same RAC software, which was actually licensed from Compaq, which tore it out of the Tru64 clustering environment.) Only 23 percent of those polled who use Oracle 9i have RAC deployed, with another 18 percent saying they are working on it, and only 13 percent of those using Oracle 10g have gridded their databases, with another 23 percent looking at it.

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Editor: Timothy Prickett Morgan
Contributing Editors: Dan Burger, Joe Hertvik,
Shannon O'Donnell, Timothy Prickett Morgan
Publisher and Advertising Director: Jenny Thomas
Advertising Sales Representative: Kim Reed
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