Oracle Database 11g beta testers speak up

Mark Brunelli, News Director
Oracle Database 11g beta testers are speaking out about the database management system's new Real Application Testing and XML-related features.

major DBMS update since Database 10g debuted about four years ago. The new release is expected to become commercially available for the Linux platform sometime in August. Release dates for Database 11g on Microsoft Windows and other platforms have not been announced.

At least one 11g beta tester with close ties to Oracle believes that Database 11g will be the most bug-free initial release of an Oracle DBMS in some time.

"In previous releases [like] Oracle 6, Oracle 7 and Oracle 8, there were definitely a lot of early bugs in the releases, so it kind of became a standard thing for Oracle DBAs to say, 'You know what, we're going to wait for the second release,'" said George Trujillo Jr., president and CEO of Trubix Inc. and a board member of the Independent Oracle Users Group. "[But] I will tell you that in all of the releases of Oracle that I've worked with for 20 years, Oracle 10g and Oracle 11g are by far the most stable releases that Oracle has ever come out with."

More on Oracle Database 11g:

Special report: Oracle 11g

Oracle Database 11g questions answered

Database 11g debut raises Oracle security, patching questions

Trujillo and another Database 11g beta tester, Arup Nanda, the senior director of database engineering and architecture for Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide, said they're particularly impressed with 11g's Real Application Testing functionality, which includes new features like Database Replay and SQL Performance Optimizer.

Database Replay and SQL Performance Optimizer essentially give users a better understanding of how database changes affect performance by allowing them to replay and identify individual transactions that occur within the database.

"Database Replay actually captures the transactions and everything that happens on some database somewhere, and then it can replay transactions in a different database or on the same database," said Nanda, who tested the functionality of Database 11g on his company's handful of Linux servers. "It's like a tape recorder or a camcorder -- you just capture every movement and everything that happens."

Nanda said this type of transaction replay feature is currently available to Starwood Hotels through third parties, but the process of making it work requires significant manual labor.

"Database Replay is different in that you don't have to create anything as it happens," Nanda said. "You don't have to create any synthetic transactions."

Trujillo said Database Replay represents a big step forward in Oracle's testing capabilities.

"You're getting probably the best testing that you can possibly do, because it's really running transactions that you've run in your database the way you use the database," he said. "Change assurance and feeling comfortable with the migration to a new database is critical, and Database Replay really addresses that."

According to Nanda, the SQL Performance Analyzer is similar to Database Replay in that the user captures a transaction and replays it. The key difference between the two is that in Database Replay, transactions are replayed as if they're happening in real time, while in SQL Performance Optimizer, transactions are looked at one by one.

"Let's say I'm changing my memory from 300 to 600 or something," Nanda explained. "Does it help me or not? I can know that impact by replaying the SQL Performance Analyzer and seeing what used to be the bang for the buck."

Trujillo said that he speaks with a lot of company executives and that XML is playing a larger and larger role in their organizations.

"If you start storing XML in the database, and it starts being a key factor in everything that you're doing, then basically XML has to be incredibly fast," he said. "And XML gets significantly faster with the new features that they've added in Oracle 11g."

For one example, he said, Oracle has added some new XML indexing capabilities, and for another, Oracle XSLT, which transforms XML in an Oracle system, has added some significant performance enhancements.

"I think Oracle has added not only a lot of performance enhancements but also a lot of flexibility to XML inside the database server," Trujillo said.

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