Oracle cuts 8i adrift

Australian Oracle customers are staring down the barrel of forced upgrades as the vendor strips support from under the Oracle 8i database, with discontinuation of error correction support as early as December.

The move put local Oracle's vice-president of product strategy, server technologies, Ken Jacobs, on the spot at the launch of Oracle's grid computing strategy, where Jacobs was launching the Oracle 10g database and application server software.

Jacobs was visibly surprised at the number of users who were sticking to 8i.

Oracle is not releasing figures on the proportion of 8i users, however, NSW president of the Australian Oracle Users Group (AOUG), Subhash Parui, said the Oracle 8i and 8o user base was significant.

"Oracle won't be producing any new bug fixes for 8i if a new bug is discovered," Parui. said

Oracle had been trying to migrate users to 9i, he said.

Oracle Australia and New Zealand director of business and technology solutions, Roland Slee, said there was a "large percentage" running 8i, but "extended support" would run until 2006, including assistance with migration planning, workarounds and access to fixes or patches.

"We will help our 8i customers, but just not fix any new problems that come to light. So for that reason, we encourage users to upgrade to 9i or 10g.

“8i first shipped in mid-1998, so by the time we cease error correction support, we've been supporting it for five-and-a-half years," Slee said.

Despite the hard line, Slee said larger users would have some support for 8i, namely those running 8i under the Oracle 11i e-business suite, who retain error correction support until December 2004.

Meanwhile, some users are bypassing "upgrade syndrome", heading straight to Oracle 10g, which has around 18 beta tests in Australia. One business doing this is the National Electricity Market Management Company (NEMMCO). Technical manager of market systems operations, John MacAskill, has been testing 10g beta for five months.

MacAskill said the company would test for another two months, expecting a transparent upgrade with "few or no changes" if 10g was approved.

"The beta product of 10g has been very robust, and a pleasing experience," he said. "My recommendation will be to go for full implementation barring any new issues we might discover."

MacAskill will look into the investment required for 10g in the coming months.

Pricing is set for release in December.

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