Oracle plans to ‘grow the grid’ with 11g

Oracle’s Database 11g is all about “growing the grid” through customer-driven innovation, the company said during the product release in New York City Wednesday.

With no fewer than 482 new features compared to its predecessor, 10g released in 2003, the version is the “highest quality release we’ve ever done”, according to the Redwood Shores, Calif.-based company’s president, Charles Phillips. The company plans to ship the Linux version of 11g this August. It won’t comment on other platform versions at this point.

Growing that grid – or supporting data expansion, making it easy to move data to the grid, automating grid processes – is what the new version continues to do, said the company’s Chuck Rozwat, executive vice-president.

Oracle 11g seeks to help companies combat the continuous barrage of morphing challenges as the business expands, while giving them flexibility and adaptability for change management, Phillips said. In particular, issues like dealing with complex data, real-time data accessibility and analysis, user provisioning, security and compliance, rate of change, to name some.

“The bar just keeps getting higher every year [for customers],” he said.

That said, Phillips envisioned the partitioning and advanced compression features being “worth the upgrade for a lot of customers”.

Partitioning, or managing data across different dimensions (month, geography), can get complicated when thousands of partitions are involved. The new feature allows users to automatically generate and manage these partitions.

The advanced compression feature, designed to counter space and power consumption issues “compresses data on the fly automatically” – to as much as one-third of the disk space – by monitoring data, managing its lifecycle and, if necessary, moving it to less costly storage. “Everyone wants a greener data centre,” said Phillips.

The online upgrade and patching feature will allow customers to uptake new functionality while the database is running, therefore sharply reducing system downtime.

The real application testing feature will let users change and test systems quickly by capturing database operations and replaying them in a test environment. “There’s no need for any complex middle-tier load drivers, no end-users at keyboards, it’s all done at the database tier,” said Oracle’s senior vice-president, Andy Mendelsohn.

The data guard feature will allow customers to offload processes (reporting and backup, for instance) during peak data load times from the main production server to a standby database and, say, run reports from there. “So the idea is to take advantage of these different kinds of storage to implement a multi-tier strategy,” said Mendelsohn.

NPD Group, a provider of product development and marketing strategy services for manufacturers and retailers, anticipates 11g’s data guard feature will grant it more data accessibility and capability to process that data in a more customized fashion. “We expect to see significant performance improvements,” said the company’s George Ziegler, vice-president of technology.

The performance tuning feature is enhanced to allow the technology to make performance and tuning recommendations across the real application cluster (RAC) structure, throughout several clusters, said Mendelsohn.

Oracle 11g also supports a variety of data types useful for diverse industries including RFID (shipping, retail), DICOM media (medical), and 3D spatial. It also supports binary XML format (along with SQL XML standard and XML Query standard).

“We’ve focused on a number of customers in different industries and tried to be responsive to their needs,” said Rozwat.

PB, a New York City-based provider of engineering services, anticipates 11g will help them present a variety of data sets to stakeholders by allowing them to easily pull that data together (surveys, laser scans, e-mails, drawings) to perform real-time queries and real-time interaction. In particular, the company’s CIO, Mike Williams, said 11g’s ability to handle 3D spatial data will be useful “because we work in a 3D world.”

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