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Oracle World 2010: When hardware met software

If the JavaOne folks were salving their pride this week, feeling both packed tight and scattered in a bunch of hotels on the other side of San Francisco’s Market Street – kicked out, if you will, of the Moscone Center that used to be the sole home for JavaOne – then how did the OracleWorld people feel?

Well, if the OracleWorld people read the tea leaves right when Oracle rolled out the ExaData data warehouse in a box a couple of years ago, then they weren’t surprised by the heavy dose of hardware at the first day of this year’s OracleWorld. But if they didn’t read those tea leaves, they wandered into a big bundle of surprise at this year’s event. Oracle’s purchase of Sun is shaping up as a sea change for the company led by yachtsman Larry Ellison.

Center stage at Oracle World was the ExaLogic cloud in a box. It puts together Oracle VMs on Solaris or Linux, clustered WebLogic servers, the Coherence data cache, as well as Oracle JRockit and HotSpot Java Virtual Machines (destined to be combined, oh Java faithful), all optimized and running in a 386-architeced box with racks connected by InfiniBand , and employing a clustering scheme that works nicely with ExaData.  Oracle spokepeople repeatedly called it a “Middleware Machine.” Their middleware story is suddenly a hardware story, which may take a while for some to digest. What ExaData did to data, ExaLogic is intended to do to logic. “We are making Java sing on hardware,” said one Oracle technologist, citing recent benchmarks.

While it is an extraordinary box – a blinking edition was standing next to several replicas of IronMan in the Moscone lobby – claims that this is the first middleware machine are slightly inflated. Solace and Tibco have put messaging middleware on specialized hardware chips. Earlier this year IBM added data caching to its DataPower appliance. Oracle’s machine is truly an impressive piece of hardware, however, looking a bit like…well… a mainframe.

While the JavaOne crew across Market might be wondering what parts of the JRockit VM would stay and which parts of the HotSpot VM would go, and what Oracle would eventually do with Java, the Java developer ranks had yet another question to ponder: What would things be like if it had ever occurred to Sun Microsystems to ‘make Java sing on hardware?’

Keep an eye out for more OracleWorld and JavaOne coverage at TechTarget sites such as, and, of course,

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