A look at Oracle 10g

After getting their hands on the latest Oracle database, DBAs and IT managers are raving about its newest features.

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With Oracle 10g's Unix and Linux versions now available, and the Windows version due out in several weeks, database administrators are clamoring to get their hands on its automated features and new manageability options.

For Oracle clients, migration to Oracle 10g is easy, said Don Burleson, owner of Kittrell, N.C.-based BEI Oracle Consulting. Burleson has two clients scheduled to move to 10g this month, and he'll migrate another client soon after.

Burleson said that Oracle 9i shops can migrate to Oracle 10g in less than an hour. (Yes, that's right -- less than an hour.)

The migration to 10g is most exciting for shops that are still using rule-based SQL optimization.
Don Burleson
founderBEI Oracle Consulting

"The migration to 10g is most exciting for shops that are still using rule-based SQL optimization," he said. "When migrating to [Oracle 10]g, the Automatic Database Diagnostic Monitor and the SQLAdvisor utility quickly identifies sub-optimal SQL statements."

Speaking to reporters during a press briefing Tuesday, Robert Shimp, Oracle's vice president of technology marketing, said that Oracle developers worked hard to ensure that the database is easy to get up and running. The latest version of the database comes on a single CD and takes about 10 minutes to install on a server, he said.

"We've been focusing on the ease of management and the ease of installation," he said. "We can compete with any database out there in terms of ease of use and manageability."

With the Oracle 10g grid computing concept, companies can use a group of low-cost servers to do the work of more expensive equipment. The 10g grid capabilities, which are an extension to clustering capabilities in the Oracle database, allow several instances of the database to work together and share the processing load with other machines.

"The impetus for moving to Oracle 10g is to take advantage of the vastly improved Real Application Clusters (RAC), Oracle Data Pump, Oracle Streams, and the improved manageability features," Burleson said.

OEM: Not for beginners anymore

Just a few years ago, many senior Oracle DBAs detested Oracle Enterprise Manager (OEM), Burleson said. It was viewed as a crutch for beginners who could not memorize the command syntax, and OEM was largely ignored by the veteran DBA, he said.

But OEM has undergone a major overhaul in Oracle 10g, and Oracle has invested millions of dollars in making 10g OEM a robust product, Burleson said.

OEM now offers far more than simple command generation and schema viewing. It also allows the DBA to manage every aspect of the 10g database, including nontraditional tasks like applying patches and scheduling jobs.

"I've been campaigning for years ... for developers to do something with architecture to cut down on management issues," said Thomas B. Cox, an Oracle DBA who works as an independent consultant in Portland, Ore. "For me, the space management automation is a big deal. Now, we'll not have to worry about space needs [kicking] out of control."

Marcel Davidson, head of data management at Salt Lake City-based pharmaceutical company Prolexys Pharmaceuticals Inc., has been tinkering with Oracle 10g for about six months. Prolexys has about 30 databases, and the company uses them to amass data about proteins and how they interact.

"I'd like to see it mature and become really robust with the next critical patch before we put it into the mainstream," Davidson said. "Eventually, we'll have a lot of things converted over to it."

One of the company's primary goals is to create a series of databases to support therapeutic drug discovery and diagnostics, Davidson said.

Davidson said his company uses Regular Expressions and Basic Local Alignment Search Tool (BLAST), two features built into the database for the first time.

Regular Expressions is a tool set that allows the company to dig down into a database and find patterns that almost match. The tool is also used in the banking and finance industries.

Davidson said that there are so many new features built into the database that it will take time for companies to sort through them. It will be a while before Oracle 10g is a proven product, he said.

"When it's been in production for six months and they say it's working, then we'll know that they've got it," he said. "They've got to prove it to me."

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