Apple's appeal to enterprise and high-end computing grew yesterday when Oracle announced its support and use of Xserves internally.

Speaking at the company's annual Oracle OpenWorld event, the company confirmed its endorsement of Apple's Xserve RAID for its Resilient Low-Cost Storage initiative (RLCS). Xserve RAID is one of very few products recommended so far.

Apple's director of hardware storage Alex Grossman told MacObserver that Oracle has multiplied the number of users it is able to service on its internal storage network by a factor of four hundred per cent at a third of the cost the company originally expected. Oracle confirmed this in a white paper released yesterday.

Oracle defines RLCS as a form of network-based grid storage that can be deployed across multiple low-cost drives. The system specifics are intended for use with Oracle 10g.

Xserve performance 'incredulous' - Oracle

It appears Apple and Oracle have been working together for a year to ensure Xserves qualify under the enterprise software company's definition - and Oracle was "incredulous" at the performance seen from Apple's solution, which performed far better than traditional ATA drives in such use.

From macObserver: "We gave Oracle some performance numbers," Grossman said, "and they said 'No way.' We told them to test it themselves, and they came back to us and said 'We need to run these numbers again, because they're way too good.'"

Apple's claims held, and the company applied updates to its Xserve earlier this yeqar designed specifically to support 10g.

Oracle's decision to use Xserve RAID internally was a major feather in Apple's cap, Grossman said. Oracle describes Apple's price/performance equation as "excellent", with its $2.32 cost per GB, and capability to sustain multi-user sequential workloads of 266MBps read throughput.

So successful the plan expands

Oracle's white paper adds: "Low-cost storage has been successfully deployed within Oracle for the Oracle Collaboration Suite application for email, voicemail, and calendar. In the original configuration, a traditional Fibre-based array was used for both the database and Flash Recovery areas for a deployment that supported 1,000 users. A new configuration was required to support an additional 3000 users.

"Oracle maintained the data on the Fibre-based array, but implemented the Flash Recovery Area on a grid of Apple Xserve RAID arrays connected using QLogic SAN switches. The per mega-byte cost of this low-cost storage grid is about three times lower than that of the Fibre-based array that was originally considered. The time required for backing up the database onto the Flash Recovery Area has remained the same and the low-cost storage grid has been stable and easy to administer."

On its move to adopt Apple products, the company observes: "This low-cost storage implementation has been so successful, both in terms of manageability and performance, that Oracle is rapidly expanding its plans for deploying low-cost storage across multiple divisions and types of applications."