Oracle Shoots For Database Lead

Oracle 10g Release 2.0 includes features designed to help companies more easily manage data and comply with data-protection regulations.
As horror stories about lost or stolen data abound, Oracle is gearing up to debut Oracle 10g Release 2.0, the latest version of its flagship database with improved data-management and backup capabilities. Some of the new features are also designed to help companies comply with the data-protection requirements mandated by the Sarbanes-Oxley Act and other regulations.

Oracle began selling 10g (the "g" stands for grid computing) in February 2004, and some 30,000 customers--15% of Oracle's customer base--have upgraded to it. The company hopes 10g 2.0 will get more Oracle 9i customers to upgrade.

“I think it’s a more stable release,” says Forrester Research analyst Noel Yuhanna, speaking about 2.0. “Typically, customers shy away from the first release of any major upgrade.”

Oracle is in a dogfight with IBM in the database market--recent Gartner numbers gave IBM a 34.1% share of the $7.8 billion worldwide relational database market in 2004, with Oracle holding a 33.7% share. Microsoft, meanwhile, has been steadily increasing its market share, reaching 20% last year.

Oracle 10g 2.0 changes are meant to help companies manage and safeguard data. Features include:

  • Extended Automated Storage Management

  • Failover in seconds, not minutes

  • Encrypted backups to disk and tape

  • RAC supports 100 servers

  • XML query support

  • More self-tuning mechanisms

    In 10g 2.0, the Automated Storage Management system first built into 1.0 is being extended to work with multiple databases using Oracle's Real Application Clusters clustering technology. The updated RAC can manage up to 100 servers, compared with the 32-server limit of 10g 1.0. Oracle also has added to the database's Data Guard disaster-recovery system "fast start standby," which executes a system failover "in seconds instead of minutes," says Andy Mendelsohn, senior VP of database server technologies. The system also can encrypt specific columns in data tables.

    The automated Oracle Secure Backup utility makes encrypted backup copies of databases to tapes, "in case the tapes are lost off the back of the UPS truck," Mendelsohn says, referring to last month's incident in which UPS Inc. lost unencrypted backup tapes with information on 3.9 million Citigroup customers. The new software offers more self-tuning mechanisms and supports the nascent XML query standard known as Xquery that lets a database query and update XML documents and other forms of XML messages.

    Yuhanna says the most significant enhancements to 10g, and 2.0 in particular, are its self-managing and self-tuning capabilities. Yuhanna says Oracle has lagged IBM’s DB2 and Microsoft SQL Server databases with such capabilities.

    Release 2.0 will begin shipping for Linux servers by month's end. Versions for other operating systems will ship throughout the summer.

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