Quest consolidates Oracle database tools

Quest Software Inc. has consolidated several of its Oracle Corp. database management tools into a unified product called Quest Central for Oracle, a move that one analyst said could make life easier for database administrators.

The company is pitching the product as an integrated package that includes all the tools an administrator needs for daily tasks such as tuning and monitoring. The move also simplifies the company’s broad and potentially confusing product line-up, making it easier for customers to pick the tools they need.

Combining the tools in a unified package and making them accessible from a central console could save some time and effort for database administrators (DBAs) because they won’t need to flip back and forth between separate tools, said Carl Olofson, a program director with International Data Corp.

“As everybody knows, DBAs are getting harder and harder to find, so the more you can simplify their work, the more productivity you can get from a DBA,” he said.

The product is composed of three “modules” for storage, performance and availability management. Each module includes Quest tools related to those areas, such as Spotlight, SQLab Vision and StorageXpert, said Azeem Mohamed, Quest product marketing manager.

Pricing per server ranges from US$11,000 to US$110,000 for the performance module and US$5,000 to US$105,000 for the storage pack. The availability pack won’t ship until late in the second quarter, and pricing will be announced then.

The broad price ranges reflect the tools included. For example, for US$11,000, the performance pack includes only SQLab Vision and Spotlight. That represents a 25 per cent discount on buying the tools separately, according to Quest. Each module also includes an administration console, and the performance module comes with an advice tool that answers commonly posed queries.

One Quest customer who beta-tested the product said having access to all the tools from a single console made life easier.

“The other thing I like a lot is that whatever object you’ve got open, like a table or a database index, it gives you a list of all the tools and commands you might want to use against it,” said Tom Cox, a principal consultant with PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP.

Quest Central appears to include all the tools a DBA would need for basic maintenance tasks, although some users will still want additional tools for more advanced tasks, he said. For example, Cox prefers to use Oracle’s own Oracle Designer because “it’s a richer modelling tool.”

Quest will continue to offer the stand-alone tools as long as there’s demand for them, according to Mohamed.

The company already offers a similar console product for the Unix version of IBM Corp.’s DB2 database. It plans to start developing a Quest Central for IBM’s mainframe database in the second quarter, Azeem said, although he declined to offer a shipping date.

As well as Oracle and IBM, Quest competes with other tools vendors such as Bradmark Inc.

Quest, in Irvine, Calif., can be contacted at