The state of Dell Toad: Oracle DBAs and how they can still benefit

Since Dell acquired Quest Software, maker of the Toad tool for Oracle databases and applications, some questions have arisen about what would happen.

The majority of Oracle database administrators (DBAs) are familiar with Toad, but don't really use it. That silent majority tends to see Toad as just an application development tool and little else. However, nothing could be further from the truth. Since Dell acquired Quest Software, Toad has become Dell Toad. And Toad Oracle includes much more than development tools. The product also incorporates database administration, database security and a plethora of other tools, all designed to make an Oracle DBA's life a little easier.

Dell is looking to stress that extra functionality to entice more developers into Dell Toad, whose primary market competitor is Oracle's own SQL Developer toolkit. What's more, Dell has extended Toad's Oracle functionality into other database systems, including products such as Toad for SQL Server, Toad for Sybase and Toad for DB2. That proves important since DBAs today often have to work with more than one database vendor, and having tool sets that are similar between database platforms can be a boon to productivity and can sharply reduce learning curves.

A closer look at Dell Toad for Oracle

Dell Toad comes in multiple versions (or editions), and the respective feature sets vary based upon which one is selected. Currently, Dell offers seven different editions of Toad, which is probably best described by Dell's own product sheet.

Serious developers and senior Oracle DBAs will most likely be interested in Toad DBA Suite for Oracle (or the more robust RAC Edition). Now in version 11.6, Toad Oracle offers additional functionality. Included with the package is a collaboration module, which allows users to share scripts, files and documents with each other. That takes place in the Toad World Repository. The repository can be directly accessed via the Dell Toad application.

With hundreds of other features, it becomes clear that Dell Toad is meant to replace multiple other products and combine and unify the management and development of enterprise-level databases. Many of the administration tools, as well as most of the development tools, are designed with speed in mind, turning what was once dozens of manual steps into a few carefully executed mouse clicks.

Perhaps one of the biggest challenges facing Dell Toad is the fact that the primary competitor, Oracle SQL Developer, is a free product. That in turn can wreak havoc with total cost of ownership calculations, making it seem that Toad Oracle is nothing more than an expensive luxury. However, there are several reasons why Toad is still a valid choice for those looking to enhance productivity and streamline application development.

First and foremost is the quality of code created by Toad's rapid application development environment. Here, Dell Toad offers code analysis, which is an automated function that can review generated code based upon rules. The advantage here is that coding rules can be applied and created code can be quickly judged to see if it falls within quality guidelines. That process can save countless debugging and analysis hours and can prevent security or other problems before they occur.

Another benefit offered by Dell Toad comes in the form of application performance -- Toad Oracle includes a comprehensive suite of tools that identifies and "tunes" PL/SQL and SQL statements using a very simple interface or a comprehensive optimization environment. That ensures development can take care of application performance issues rather than passing the buck over to DBAs.

Toad also makes it much easier to maintain code; the included Code Analysis feature ensures that coding changes are more simplified than manual tasks, offer improvements to consistency, and reduces the introduction of errors.

Perhaps one of the most important benefits offered by Toad comes in the form of collaboration. Dell Toad makes it easy to collaborate settings, database connections, templates, and code-review standards among team members. That improves code consistency, minimizes errors and enhances productivity. The team work ideology also introduces project management concepts into the development environment, resulting in more professional-looking applications and consistency in development tasks.

The benefits offered by Toad all add up to one specific element: productivity, which in turn demonstrates the value of Toad. With Toad Oracle, organizations can have more resilient applications, much faster than with SQL Developer, and those applications will prove easier to maintain and modify over time.

About the author:
Frank J. Ohlhorst is an award-winning technology journalist, professional speaker and IT business consultant with more than 25 years of experience. He served as a network administrator and applications programmer at the U.S. Department of Energy before forming his own computer consulting firm, which can be found at ohlhorst.net.

This was first published in June 2013
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