Oracle's 11g relational database, unveiled earlier this month, aims to help IT directors reduce operational costs by simplifying database administration.
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In the past, Oracle has been perceived as a complex database to manage, particularly compared with the rival Microsoft SQL Server, and the consequent requirement for highly skilled database administrators has pushed up operating costs.
With 11g, the company has begun addressing this complexity, incorporating more self-management and automation to help cut costs.
The release extends Oracle's database clustering, datacentre automation and workload management capabilities. Management tools include Automatic SQL and memory tuning, a new Partitioning Advisor -which automatically advises administrators on how to partition tables and indexes to improve performance - and enhanced performance diagnostics for database clusters.
In addition, a Support Workbench in 11g provides an easy-to-use interface that presents database health-related incidents to administrators along with information on how to manage the resolution of incidents quickly.
Another new feature, Oracle Total Recall, enables administrators to query an historical view of the database for regulatory compliance.
David Mitchell, software practice lead at analyst firm Ovum, has produced a report assessing the 11g database. Mitchell's view is that two key features, Workload Replay and Database Replay, could dramatically reduce administration time.
"According to users, these features could triple their administrator productivity. Application testing that used to take months can now be achieved in days," he said.
Previously, to test a new database configuration, the administrator would need to run a test script based on running sample queries from the production database. Workload Replay copies and records live transactions from the production database. An administrator can then use these transactions in the test environment, Mitchell said.
He said the tool would help administrators gauge how a new configuration would affect the production system, using live data.
Ronan Miles, chairman of the UK Oracle User Group, said, "It is good that Oracle is giving people tools to perform real workload testing on their systems. However, this is not a full test as they are not actually capturing the transactions and replaying them through application code."
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