A number of Oracle users are showing interest in its 10g database, citing the software's new manageability, usability and self-tuning features. Some also said that the recently slashed prices could rival Microsoft's SQL Server in the low-end of the market.
"There are two perceptions that are no longer true. That it [the Oracle database] is expensive and complex," said Ken Jacobs, vice-president of product strategy and server technologies and a keynote speaker at the International Oracle User Group's annual IOUG Live 2004 conference.
He pointed out that the company will discontinue support for the 8i database in January. Moreover, 10g can easily be installed from a CD, and the technology is easy for independent software suppliers to embed in applications. The software also has self-tuning features that can alert a database administrator automatically if a given disc is running out of space and then recommend what to do.
Jacobs declined to offer adoption numbers but said that hundreds of customers participated in the beta program and that he is expecting to see that number increase this summer.
Oracle has made strides in making its database easier to manage, said Kimberly Floss, president of the IOUG and a database administration team leader.
She said that in previous versions of the database, if you had a problem with a SQL statement, "you would play with it and try to work your way through to figure out which solution was best. These [new features] do the work for you, so you don't have to spend the time trying all the different scenarios".
She noted that the tools still require someone to make final decisions. Rather than replacing database administrators, it frees them from tedious tasks and lets them participate in more strategic business operations.
The low cost of 10g is also attractive, particularly in comparision with SQL Server. As companies see the leasing contracts on Sun Solaris or other Unix servers expire, there will be a greater move toward 10g-based grid computing, which uses cheaper servers clustered together, said William Burke, executive vice-president of the IOUG.
He added that Oracle has improved the migration process for 10g so any challenges are "nominal".
"Some people think you need all the bells and whistles to run a simple Oracle database - you don't," said Rich Niemic, chief executive officer of TUSC, an Oracle support and service provider. He is testing the 10g database and grid configuration on both the Linux and Sun Solaris hardware platforms.
He said improvements to the Oracle Enterprise Manager database administration tool enable it to not only issue alerts and recommendations, but also collect statistics on things such as operating system or network performance, which can be presented to a company's chief executive officer via a portal.
Marc L Songini writes for Computerworld