Oracle Exadata gains certification for SAP applications

The announcement comes as SAP looks to migrate customers away from Oracle's database products

Oracle's Exadata X2 machines are now certified to run applications from rival SAP, following recent steps by SAP to move its customers off Oracle database platforms.

Exadata X2 is the second generation of Oracle's data-processing machines for both transactional and analytic workloads. The systems, which include specialized hardware and software and use Oracle's database, have been a major focus for the company in recent years.

The SAP certification was valid as of Friday and applies to products that are based on NetWeaver 7.x and certified for Oracle database 11g Release 2, according to SAP's website.

SAP and Oracle first announced they were working together on Exadata certification in June 2010. That occurred shortly after SAP's launch of its HANA (High Performance Analytic Appliance) product, an in-memory computing platform that is being supported by a number of hardware vendors.

During its Sapphire conference in May, SAP officials discussed HANA's ability to support transaction processing as well as analytics, although it will be some time before it is ready to replace Oracle for running SAP applications like Business Suite.

In the nearer term, SAP has moved to certify the Sybase ASE (Adaptive Server Enterprise) database for Business Suite, and plans to offer it as a migration option for the many SAP shops running Oracle now. SAP gained ASE through last year's acquisition of Sybase, which is now run as an independent subsidiary.

A FAQ document on Oracle's website paints Exadata as a must-have for the SAP installed base.

"Virtually, all relevant SAP customers run several Oracle databases with several SAP application solutions," it states. "All of these 'SAP databases' can be consolidated into an Oracle Exadata Database Machine that results in benefits and efficient operation."

Moreover, "it can be assumed that between 70 and 80 percent of all SAP customers also use Oracle database servers for non-SAP purposes," the document adds. "Exadata can be considered as a consolidation platform for any kind of Oracle database, regardless of the application."

Oracle has maintained that it is fairly pain-free for current database customers to move those workloads to Exadata. If so, that gives Oracle a potential advantage over SAP as far as Sybase ASE goes, since full-blown database migrations can be difficult, depending on how the original application was written.

Sybase is "very committed" to providing services for database migration projects, CEO John Chen said in an interview with IDG News Service last month. A number of large companies are already running pilot ASE migration projects, Chen added at the time.

It's not surprising that Oracle and SAP would cooperate on Exadata support despite their rivalries, according to analyst Curt Monash of Monash Research.

"Coopetition works great in the engineering trenches," he said. "They couldn't certify overnight, and they don't hate each so much that they don't work together."

There are also some points to consider regarding SAP's intentions to migrate Oracle customers to its own database platforms, according to Monash.

"For most enterprises, there won't be much reason to use Oracle over Sybase ASE to run Business Suite itself," he said. "But maybe they're using non-SAP apps in conjunction with SAP that don't support Sybase yet. And maybe their Oracle licenses are priced so that there's no reason to switch to Sybase ASE either."

For those SAP customers who do choose Exadata, the process of moving over should be fairly straightforward, according to Forrester Research analyst James Kobielus.

"We've spoken to a lot of Exadata users," he said. "For the most part they haven't expressed any difficulty migrating the Oracle stack and making it run well on Exadata."

Chris Kanaracus covers enterprise software and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Chris's e-mail address is Chris_Kanaracus@idg.com

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