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A Closer Look at Oracle's 11g Database Release

Last week's announcement of Oracle's soon-to-be released 11g database highlighted a bevy of new features and options promising improved performance, accelerated change management, higher scalability, easier administration and reduced cost. The market leader is pioneering on some fronts and following on others, but the one thing that's clear is that the still-fast-growing database market is far from commoditized. Here's a closer look at the stand-out enhancements.

"It's a big deal for Oracle and for the IT industry." That's how Oracle President, Charles Phillips, described last week's launch of Oracle 11g, the firm's first major database release in four years. It was no overstatement, as Oracle's market-leading database serves at the heart of tens of thousands of data warehouses and the locus of information management for more than two hundred thousand customers.

Oracle 11g Launch Images

Underscoring his firm's database dominance, Phillips cited Gartner figures that put Oracle's market share at 47.1 percent, "more than IBM and Microsoft combined," he asserted. But Phillip's higher calling was to dispel the idea that database management systems have been commoditized in a mature market, so he and fellow Oracle executives focused on a bevy of new features and functions, highlighting benefits including improved performance, accelerated change management, increased scalability, easier administration and reduced cost.

The short list of upgrades includes:

An enhanced data mirroring feature designed to boost performance and enable "rolling" upgrades without taking the database down,

A Real Application Testing feature said to dramatically shorten test and deployment cycles,

A Total Recall capability designed to meet compliance and audit demands,

Partitioning and materialized view enhancements aimed at data warehouse deployments,

A Fast Files capability said to efficiently manage documents, images, e-mail and other unstructured data within the database.

For DBAs and CIOs

Oracle's Data Guard data mirroring feature, which exists in the current 10g database, maintains a hot standby server that takes over if the production server fails. It's an important reliability and availability feature available in most databases, yet some customers find it hard to justify the cost of licensing a separate server that's typically idle. Data Guard upgrades in 11g change these economics by letting you shift production reporting and I/O-intensive backup activities to the standby server.

"Now Data Guard is not just a protection against disaster, it's an assurance of performance because it offloads resource-intensive workloads from the production system," explained Andy Mendelsohn, senior vice president of the Oracle Database Group.

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