The panel discussion was closely moderated by an Oracle executive, which offered insights into the features in Oracle's 10g family of products intended to make it easier to manage groups of connected servers.
Cern, the European Organisation for Nuclear Research, was drawn to Oracle 10g partly because it supports "ultralarge" databases, said Jamie Shiers, who works with the group's database team in Geneva.
Cern is building a particle accelerator which will require scientists to store as much as 10 petabytes of data each year when it starts operating in 2007. The organisation wants to store "a few petabytes" of that data in its Oracle databases, and support for larger volumes of data in 10g will make that possible, he said.
Shier added that he is interested in Oracle 10g's "machine independent transportable databases" function, which will allow it to transport an enormous amount of data - as much as 10 terabytes - from one database and "plug it into" another database elsewhere.
The New Mexico Department of Transportation is looking at Oracle 10g to help it meet new requirements for federal funding. The agency has to create a detailed inventory of its assets over the next five years that involves storing millions of digital images of highway equipment, said Jeremy Foreman, the sole administrator for the agency's 24 databases.
His tests have shown that Oracle 10g self-tunes itself in a way that makes it faster to store and retrieve images, he said. The feature, called automated segment management, is available in existing versions of the database but does not yet work in conjunction with Oracle's Partitioning and InterMedia software.
Another beta tester, ENST Bretagne, is one of three related telecoms engineering schools located around Paris. Its Oracle databases hold only a few megabytes of data, but it needs research reports kept in the databases to be kept in sync at the three schools. The schools thinks Oracle 10g will make it easier to do that, according to ENST representative Christophe Guychard.
Chip manufacturer Qualcomm has also been testing the Oracle 10g database. New functions for automating database management have particularly appealed to the company during its six-month trial, said Arvind Gidwani, a Qualcomm IT manager. One feature it has been testing is "flashback database", which allows it to recover an image of its database from an earlier time without some of the manual steps it had to go through with its existing database, Oracle 8i.
Qualcomm also has its eye on a feature that automatically manages data across multiple storage discs running against a database. The idea is to reduce "hot spots" in the storage infrastructure, where a disc becomes overloaded and creates a performance bottleneck while other discs sit idle. "We were able to manage raw disc partitions without using Veritas software," Gidwani said.
Qualcomm has 110 databases and four people assigned to manage them.
None of the panelists said they were migrating from Unix servers to Intel-based servers as part of their move to Oracle 10g - something Oracle has been advising its customers to do to cut the cost of using its software. Cern and ENST Bretagne both switched to Linux systems some time ago.James Niccolai writes for IDG News Service