Seiden predicts that Oracle’s next major application release will be a 64-bit Linux product. “We’re watching the market to see what the adoption is going to be, the price point of [commodity] 64-bit hardware, and so on,” he explains. He notes that a 64-bit set of Oracle’s applications would actually be a new build, not a migration, and says he thinks major business applications will not appear on 64-bit Linux and Itanium until 2005. “I don’t see anybody jumping into porting to 64-bit Linux,” he says, possibly because 32-bit Linux works well. “We’re very fond of Linux,” he adds. “The performance we have on the 32-bit Linux platform is fabulous.”
Unlike its competitors, SAP has decided to go full speed ahead on porting all its applications to 64-bit Linux on Itanium, but is awaiting interest from hardware partners IBM, HP, and Dell before committing to Opteron, according to Manfred Stein, the company’s Linux lab and Unix platform product manager. The development effort, which began three years ago, has resulted in a phased rollout of products for the new platform this year, starting with 64-bit R3 ERP, with customers currently in production, and the addition of products such as CRM, business warehouse, and SCM (supply-chain management) solutions this fall. “By the end of the year, we will have the whole product line available” for 64-bit Linux on Itanium, he says.
Stein says SAP sees key performance advantages to the 64-bit Linux platform, including simpler administration, because the SAP applications can take advantage of more physical memory. At most, 32-bit Linux applications can use 2GB to 3GB of memory, he explains, which means you can only give 10MB each to 300 or 400 users firing on one server. By contrast, the 64-bit Linux kernel can support up to 64GB of memory, which makes large batch jobs such as end-of-month invoicing and data analysis much more manageable. “You’re doing the work of thousands of users at the same time,” he explains. “This enables us to run much larger jobs ... you simply have no limitations there anymore.”
Stein says SAP hopes to make 64-bit Linux on Itanium a mainstream platform in two or three years. He notes that it only took three years from the time SAP introduced 64-bit apps on Unix in 1999 until it announced it was dropping 32-bit Unix support in 2002. If customers buy 64-bit Intel-based hardware in bigger batches next year, he says, 64-bit will be the only Intel Linux platform SAP will be supporting in three to four years.