Oracle user show focuses on 10g

Hundreds of International Oracle Users Group members recently gathered in Toronto for the group’s Live! 2004 education conference — its first ever held outside the U.S., and the first major customer event since the release of 10g.

The event, which opened Sunday and continues to Wednesday, offers more than 200 technical sessions, plus several keynote addresses, seminars and special interest meetings.

Kimberly Floss, IOUG president, used her opening remarks on Monday to address what she called “the first thing” members ask her. “What is IOUG’s relationship with Oracle? The answer is it’s better than it’s ever been,” she said.

Oracle’s relationship with its customers has at times been rocky, particularly during a 2002 licensing and pricing dispute that saw analysts, users and Oracle executives publicly at odds.

However, this year’s show includes the participation of Oracle executives, and partners such as Hewlett-Packard Co., SAP AG and Veritas Software.

Nanak Sawlani, lead DBA at pharmaceutical company Aventis Behring in King Of Prussia, Penn., said he is attending this year’s show to “see what others are doing in their environments…how they are making use of the new versions.”

Sawlani, who’s currently using Oracle 9i, also delivered a seminar on the affect a recent SAP AG upgrade to version 4.7 had on his IT infrastructure — one that led him to upgrade his database software.

Robert Corfman, analyst at Seattle-based The Boeing Company, said with 10 years of Oracle software experience, attending IOUG and leading a seminar would help him advance his IT career. “Plus, I’m a developer and Oracle-certified. There’s a lot of good stuff at the (conference).”

Oracle’s latest version of its database software, 10g which it released last November, and the concept of grid computing that supports it are the major themes of this year’s show. Ken Jacobs, Oracle’s vice-president of product strategy, server technologies, said he expects to see “more rapid adoption” of 10g than previous versions, owing to its ability to offer companies an introduction to grid computing, and related cost-savings.

While he conceded that “for years it was probably a reasonable conclusion that (Microsoft Corp.’s) SQL Server was easier to use than Oracle,” he said that is no longer true, as Oracle has made great strides to address usability as it appeals to small- and mid-sized companies. That includes its recent agreement with Dell Inc. to pre-bundle the Standard Edition of its database with PowerEdge servers, and the ability, under the grid computing scenario, to run multiple, low-level servers instead of larger and more expensive units.

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