A number of Oracle Corp. users are showing interest in the recently shipped 10g database, citing the software's new manageability, usability and self-tuning features. In addition, because prices were recently slashed, some are suggesting that 10g could rival Microsoft Corp.'s SQL Server in the low end of the market.
That was the message from a number of users at the International Oracle User Group's annual IOUG Live 2004 conference here this week. At the show, Oracle executives made further pitches to sell users on the upgrade.
"There are two perceptions that are no longer true ... that it (the Oracle database) is expensive and complex," said Ken Jacobs, vice president of product strategy and server technologies and a keynote speaker at the event.
He pointed out that the company will discontinue support for the 8i database in January. Moreover, 10g can easily be installed from a CD, and the technology is easy for independent software vendors to embed in applications. The software also has self-tuning features that can alert a database administrator automatically if a given disk is running out of space and then recommend what to do.
Jacobs declined to offer adoption numbers but said that hundreds of customers participated in the beta program and that he's expecting to see a spike in uptake this summer.
Oracle has indeed made strides in making its database easier to manage, said Kimberly Floss, president of the IOUG and a database administration team leader. Speaking on behalf of the user group, she explained that in previous versions of the database, if you had a problem with a SQL statement, "you would play with it and try to work your way through to figure out which solution was best. These [new features] do the work for you, so you don't have to spend the time trying all the different scenarios."
She noted that the tools still require someone to make final decisions. Rather than replacing database administrators, it frees them from tedious tasks and lets them participate in more strategic business operations.
The low cost of 10g is also attractive, particularly in contrast to SQL Server, IOUG members argued. As companies see the leasing contracts on Sun Solaris or other Unix servers expire, there will be a greater move toward 10g-based grid computing, which uses cheaper servers clustered together, said William Burke, executive vice president of the IOUG and a consultant in Plano, Texas. He also said Oracle has improved the migration process for 10g so any challenges are "nominal."
"Some people think you need all the bells and whistles to run a simple Oracle database -- you don't," said Rich Niemic, CEO of TUSC, an Oracle support and service provider in Chicago. He is testing the 10g database and grid configuration on both the Linux and Sun Solaris hardware platforms.
Moreover, he said improvements to the Oracle Enterprise Manager database administration tool enable it to not only issue alerts and recommendations, but also collect statistics on things such as operating system or network performance, which can be presented to a company's CEO via a portal.