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Oracle Unveils 11g Database, R2

Release 2 of Oracle's flagship database seeks to consolidate departmental, smaller systems on a data center grid.

Oracle announced Tuesday that the second release of its Oracle 11g database system is available for download. The new release adds dozens of grid-oriented features and improves performance, the company said.

Mark Townsend, VP of database product management said in an interview that Release 2 "is a good consolidation platform. You can move smaller department databases onto the data center grid" and let one Oracle system replace several smaller systems, some of which are likely to be Microsoft's SQL Server.

By grid, Oracle means users should run its flagship product on a cluster of Intel or AMD-based servers and move away from more expensive, high end servers, where Oracle typically runs under Unix. Oracle cluster management software, Real Application Cluster, manages the grid for running databases and applications. RAC by definition is designed to run on multiple servers, but Oracle with Release 2 is offering an option to run it on a single server, called RAC One Node, where multiple databases on consolidated on the node and gain redundancy and high availability through the RAC One Node software.

In Release 2, Oracle has improved data compression and partitioning data to storage, allowing more granular assignment of data to lower cost storage. Both measures cut overall storage costs, Townsend said.

In addition, Release 2 can invoke Automatic Storage Management procedures used with data for the Oracle databases' own binary files, the code that makes it run in production. By using ASM procedures, the database itself requires less high priced storage to keep itself running, Townsend said.

Another grid feature is Release 2's ability to load data into the memory of multiple servers, and then execute high speed queries against it there. "Grid machines tend to have a lot memory. We can load a terabyte of data into memory" and treat it as a shared pool across multiple servers, he said. The feature is most likely to be utilitized in data warehousing operations, he added.

This release of 11g also allows a customer's database applications to be upgraded without taking the database system offline. This feature eliminates the need for a separate upgrade environment. As the upgraded application comes on line, it is guided to a redefined version of its database tables, and the old editions are then deleted, Townsend explained.

The system includes updated versions of automated, online technical support, such as DBA Productivity Advisor and High Availability Advisor, which provide wizard-like question and answer sessions with the DBA and make changes to the underlying system based on the responses.

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