Oracle Database Lite lets workers go mobile

Oracle Database Lite is now offering the mobile workforce automatic synchronization capabilities and support for Microsoft development environments.

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Oracle is aiming the newest version of Oracle Database Lite squarely at the mobile workforce.

Unveiled this week, Oracle Database Lite 10g Release 3 is an embeddable database geared toward mobile workers who need to exchange data with enterprise databases and run mobile applications even when they're disconnected from their organizations' networks. For example, Oracle executives say a company in Japan has installed the technology inside vending machines so that mobile workers can use handhelds to learn how much product is needed or whether the machines are in need of maintenance.

Database Lite 10g Release 3, which is priced at $20,000 per processor, is made up of Oracle's Mobile Server and a mobile relational database. It features new automatic synchronization capabilities that allow it to sync up with Oracle Databases without user intervention. That synchronization is two-way, says Oracle, meaning that it can be initiated by either the corporate database or the mobile device being used. The new release also enables application, device and user provisioning and includes centralized management tools, according to Oracle.

"[Database Lite is] a mobile self-contained database, but it also connects to back-end enterprise database servers," said Carl W. Olofson, research vice president of application development and deployment with Framingham, Mass.-based analyst firm IDC. "It's for mobile workers who want to carry part of their enterprise database with them on the road when they need to access it without the benefit of network communications."

More on Oracle's embeddable database portfolio

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Oracle unveils new version of open source Berkeley DB

Database Lite 10g Release 3 is part of Oracle's portfolio of embeddable databases, which includes the open source Berkeley DB, a product Oracle acquired when it bought Sleepycat Software Inc. early last year; and Oracle TimesTen In-Memory Database, which Oracle acquired with the purchase of TimesTen Inc. in 2005.

Sizing up the mobile competition

According to Olofson, Database Lite's closest competitor is SQL Anywhere from Sybase Inc.

But historically speaking, he said, the SQL Anywhere product has been more conducive to multi-vendor database environments than Oracle Database Lite. That's because SQL Anywhere's replication functionality works with both Sybase and non-Sybase databases.

SQL Anywhere is also frequently used as a standalone database, he added.

"The Sybase product would be attractive to someone who has a heterogeneous database," Olofson said.

Embedded market gaining strength

The market for embeddable, virtually self-managing databases is growing fast -- a trend that indicates database administrators are busier than ever, according to Olofson.

"If the database can be contained within the application so that the application manages the database and the user doesn't really need to, that makes it easier to sell and deploy the application," the analyst said. "That's been a selling feature, particularly as IT environments have been getting more complex and IT organizations have resisted installing another [standalone] database -- even another instance of a database that they may already have."

More new features

In addition to automatic synchronization, the new version of Oracle Database Lite is now offering support for additional development platforms and languages for stored procedures. The idea, said Philip Stephenson, Oracle's director of mobile architects, is to give mobile application developers more options than they've had in the past.

Specifically, Database Lite now provides client database platform support for Windows Mobile 5 and Windows CE Standard SDK 5.0 as well as Java Database Connectivity support for the Symbian platform.

The system also offers client database support for Oracle Containers for Java for the WebToGo Java development environment; and support for C++ and C#/.NET stored procedures.

"I think a lot of our customers are using the .NET and Visual Studio development environments, so we want to be sure they're able to do that," Stephenson said. "We're sort of agnostic about development tools."

Database Lite Release 3 also comes with newly enhanced developer tools, including the Mobile Server Repository Diagnostics Tool and Mobile Database Workbench Wizards.

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