Oracle 10g could ease DBA tedium, users say

Oracle Corp. users took stock of the company’s new 10g database in Toronto last week, saying that the software’s automated management and self-tuning features could reduce the amount of drudge work they have to do.

With 10g, Oracle has made strides in developing a database that’s easier to manage, said Kimberly Floss, president of the International Oracle Users Group. Floss works as a database administration team leader at PepsiCo Inc.’s Beverages & Foods unit but noted that she was speaking only in her capacity as head of the Chicago-based IOUG, which was holding its IOUG Live 2004 conference here.

If users ran into a problem with a SQL statement in previous versions of Oracle’s database, “you would play with it and try to work your way through to figure out which solution was best,” Floss said. “These (new features) do the work for you, so you don’t have to spend the time trying all the different scenarios.”

Floss noted that the automated tools built into 10g still require IT staffers to make the final decisions on code changes and other modifications. Instead of replacing database administrators, the new technology frees them from tedious tasks and lets them focus on more strategic matters, she said.

At the IOUG show, Oracle executives touted the virtues of 10g in an attempt to sell users on upgrading to the new release. “There are two perceptions that are no longer true — that (the database) is expensive and complex,” said Ken Jacobs, vice-president of product strategy and server technologies at Oracle.

Jacobs declined to disclose the number of users who have bought 10g thus far, but he said hundreds participated in the beta-test program. He predicted that there will be a spike in installations this summer as applications such as Oracle’s E-Business Suite 11i start to be certified for use with 10g.

Rich Niemiec, CEO of TUSC, a Lombard, Ill.-based Oracle consulting and technical services firm, is testing 10g on Linux and Solaris systems as a stand-alone product and in grid computing configurations. He said improvements to Enterprise Manager, Oracle’s database administration tool, enable it to issue alerts and recommendations, as well as collect statistics on system and network performance.

The new database, which began shipping in January, includes expanded support for grid computing.

As leasing contracts on Unix systems expire, there likely will be an increased move toward 10g-based grid computing setups that use clusters of less-expensive servers, said William Burke, a database consultant in Plano, Tex, and the IOUG’s executive vice-president. He added that Oracle has improved the migration process with 10g, so any upgrade challenges should be “nominal.”

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