After years of anticipation, Oracle will unveil the Oracle8 object-relational database on June 24, although object support will cost extra and other features will arrive later.
The database, with its speed, object support, and capacity, will be positioned as a network-computing platform, says Mark Jarvis, Oracle vice-president of server marketing.
The most talked-about new feature is the capability to incorporate objects and new data types into the database via Data Cartridges. Cartridges extend the database with geospatial and other nontraditional data types.
Other features, such as inclusion of a Java virtual machine to enable execution of Java-stored procedures, will appear in the subsequent release, now called Oracle 8.1.
Oracle8's object support, which Jarvis says will be optional, includes functions such as Object Types, in which users can store items such as a purchase order with its component logic in the database. Another feature, Object Views, extends object functionality to existing relational data.
"I think you have to consider that not everybody wants an object-relational database, as Informix's mistakes of the past six to 12 months have shown," Jarvis says, referring to the rival vendor's problems after releasing its Informix Universal Server object-relational database.
But a user at Chase Manhattan Bank, which is eyeing Oracle8 for its multimedia potential, says he will not welcome having to pay extra for object support.
"We're looking for complete packages coming from all our vendors as far as object-relational is concerned, not an add-on," says Bill Rykowsky, vice-president of database administration at the New York bank.
Another user says he expects a slow migration to Oracle8.
"I don't think there will be much market penetration with Oracle8 until well into 1998," says Michael Abbey, a vice-president of the International Oracle Users Group in Ottawa.
Originally slated for release in 1994 and then pushed to 1995, Oracle8 will ship on Windows NT and Sun Solaris. Unix versions for Hewlett-Packard, IBM, and Digital platforms will follow shortly afterward, according to Oracle, and versions for other operating systems are planned for release in August. A parallel version will be among Oracle8 products.
The database also features new partitioning functions to improve data warehousing and support for tens of thousands of users and terabytes of data. Such upsizing of Oracle's database makes it a better match for competing against mainframe databases, according to one analyst.