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Oracle announces Unbreakable Enterprise Linux kernel
Sep. 21, 2010

Oracle has spun a new version of RHEL called Oracle's Unbreakable Enterprise Kernel, claimed to be more than 75 percent faster at OLTP tasks. The Oracle-optimized Linux kernel was announced at Oracle World, which also debuted Oracle Fusion Applications, MySQL 5.5, new Java enhancements, and a Linux-ready Exalogic Elastic Cloud.

Oracle continues to resell Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) in the form of its own RHEL-based Oracle Linux, which has been previously called Unbreakable Linux. Oracle Linux will still be supported, but the similarly RHEL-based Unbreakable Enterprise Kernel is now "the only Linux kernel Oracle recommends for use with Oracle software," says the software giant.

According to Oracle, which made the announcement yesterday at Oracle World in San Francisco, Unbreakable Enterprise Kernel is more than 75 percent faster than a RHEL kernel in OLTP performance, and 200 percent faster than Infiniband messaging. It is also 137 percent faster in solid-state disk (SSD) access when used with Oracle software and hardware, claims the company.

The new kernel provides optimizations for large NUMA (Non-Uniform Memory Access) servers, and improved power management and energy efficiency, says Oracle. Other touted improvements include fine-grained CPU and memory resource control.

Reliability is said to be increased via support for Data Integrity Extensions and the T10 Protection Information Model, which combine to stop corrupt data from being written to storage, says Oracle. Other touted reliability features include hardware fault management and low overhead performance counters for tracing.

Derived from the stable 2.6.32 Linux kernel, the distribution will continue to track with the mainline Linux kernel, says Oracle. Existing Oracle Linux 5 and Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5 customers can upgrade without a reinstall, and third-party applications that run on RHEL 5 should run unchanged, says the company.

Unbreakable Enterprise Kernel underlies a newly announced version of Oracle Exadata Database Machine and the new Oracle Exalogic Elastic Cloud, a hardware/software cloud-in-a-box system (see farther below).

RHEL by any other name

The new "Unbreakable" kernel is essentially just another version of RHEL that is primarily optimized to support the Exalogic Elastic Cloud, as well as NUMA servers, writes Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols in a Computerworld blog on the announcement. The self-proclaimed "Cyber Cynic" openly doubts the Oracle performance claims for the kernel, and says he is "totally unimpressed" with the new offering, which he says is more about corporate politics than technology.

"[CEO Larry] Ellison hasn't been able to damage Red Hat nearly as much as he wanted to," writes Vaughan-Nichols. "So, now he's resorting to an announcement that's more noise than news."

Will VMware buy Novell's SUSE?

The announcement comes at an interesting time for enterprise Linux, as Red Hat continues to dominate and thrive in a fast growing Linux server and cloud market. Meanwhile, rival Novell, which sells SUSE Enterprise Linux for both the server and desktop, is once again being rumored to be up for sale, or at least the SUSE Linux part of its business. This time the rumored suitor is virtualization firm VMware.

Other smaller players, including Canonical (Ubuntu), are also staking claims in the Linux cloud market.

With Oracle's acquisition of Sun last year, the company is now a much larger player in the Linux world, and appears to be taking on its old "coopetition" partner Red Hat more directly. Oracle purchased Sun Microsystems and renamed it Oracle America in January.

Oracle tips Java directions, including Java on Devices upgrades

Last month, Oracle made a stir when it sued Google over Android's use of Java. Now, it has tipped plans for Java that include some device-oriented enhancements, such as optimizations for smartphones.

During the opening keynote of JavaOne 2010 today, which is part of Oracle World, Thomas Kurian, executive vice president, Oracle Product Development, outlined plans for the future of the Java platform. Highlights include:
  • Java on Devices -- Oracle is modernizing the Java mobile platform with "Java with Web" support for consumer devices. Planned enhancements include new language features, small-footprint CPU-efficient capabilities for cards, phones, and TVs, as well as "consistent tooling and emulation across hardware platforms," says Oracle.

  • Java Platform, Standard Edition (Java SE) -- Java SE is being optimized for new application models and hardware, including extended support for scripting languages, increased developer productivity, and lower operational costs.

  • Java on the Client -- Oracle is planning an enhanced programming model that combines "the power of Java with the ease of JavaFX." Java Client enhancements include advanced graphics and high-fidelity media, as well as HTML 5, JavaScript, and CSS Web capabilities, plus native Java platform support.

  • Java Platform, Enterprise Edition (Java EE) -- Java EE is evolving, making application servers more modular, with improvements including dependency injection and reduced configuration requirements.
Oracle World announcements: Fusion Applications, Java, and the cloud

Oracle has spun out a flurry of enterprise-related announcements during Oracle World this week, with many touching upon Linux. Below are brief summaries, more or less in chronological order. Each title offers a link to full stories by our more enterprise-focused sister publication, eWEEK:
  • Oracle's Ellison Introduces Exalogic: New cloud-in-a-box system -- Oracle CEO Larry Ellison moves Oracle's cloud strategy into a new phase, announcing a Linux-ready Exalogic Elastic Compute Cloud package that features hardware and software to run public and private clouds.

  • Oracle introduces MySQL 5.5 release candidate -- Oracle announced the availability of the release candidate for the Linux-compatible MySQL 5.5, billed as the world's most popular open source database. MySQL 5.5 improves performance and scalability when running on the latest multi-CPU and multicore hardware and operating systems, says Oracle. Meanwhile, InnoDB is now the default storage engine for MySQL Server, delivering ACID transactions, referential integrity, and crash recovery.

  • Oracle OpenWorld 2010 largest, greenest Oracle Event ever -- Oracle OpenWorld attendees take San Francisco by storm, but some JavaOne folks feel slighted about accommodations despite this being a "green" conference.

  • Oracle introduces Oracle Fusion Applications Oracle announced a suite of modular business applications called Oracle Fusion Applications. Spanning 100 modules in seven product families, the applications include financial management, procurement and sourcing, project and portfolio management, human capital management, customer relationship management, supply chain management, and governance risk and compliance software.

  • Oracle outlines road map for Solaris 2011, promises Express release -- Oracle sheds light on the upcoming Solaris 10 OS, and pledges to deliver an Express version of the OS by the end of 2010.

  • Oracle now caching more data, BI in storage arrays -- Oracle executive vice president John Fowler tells OOworld attendees that having in-house engineers working together on storage and databases has made a big difference in new-product performance.

  • Oracle, Amazon Web Services certify Oracle products on EC2 -- A day after Oracle CEO Larry Ellison praised Amazon Web Services for getting it right in the area of cloud computing, Oracle and AWS agree to certify and support Oracle products on the Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud.

  • Oracle Agile PLM 9.3.1 targets pharmaceutical industry -- Agile Product Lifecycle Management 9.3.1 debuts at Oracle OpenWorld, with claims that the health care IT software will allow pharmaceutical companies to better manage the drug development process from end to end.

  • Oracle pushes partner specialization, value-add opportunity -- Oracle's product portfolio isn't the only thing that has grown in the past year -- its partner Specialization program is growing as well.

Yesterday's announcement by Oracle on Unbreakable Enterprise Kernel may be found here, and today's announcement on Oracle's Java plans may be found here.

The Computerworld blog on Unbreakable Enterprise Kernel may be found here.

-- Eric Brown

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