Todd Ryder, a senior Oracle DBA at the Northrop Grumman Corp. in Helena, Mont., is beginning to tinker with 10g, but Ryder admits he's not interested in building a grid architecture -- at least not yet.
Instead, he's setting up Oracle 10g instances on both Linux and Windows platforms, and is hoping that Oracle's newly automated features will simplify his job.
"In the long term, grid is inevitable in the industry, but it's a situation where Oracle is on the bleeding edge in terms of the technology," Ryder said. But, he said, "I'm interested because so far it seems like it [10g] will make my life easier by improving my efficiency."
Analysts and beta testers agree that it's not the grid technology in Oracle 10g, but the list of new capabilities, such as HTML DB, that will encourage companies to migrate to Oracle's latest DBMS. While analysts say grid architectures can deliver big benefits in the future, improved manageability and performance will win over customers before then.
To date, the challenge for Oracle has been to convince customers that its DBMS is not too complex to maintain without a knowledgeable team of database administrators, said Noel Yuhanna, a senior industry analyst with Cambridge, Mass-based Forrester Research.
"Oracle has heard the perception that they're too complex, and in 10g they implemented easier management of not only the RAC (Real Application Clusters) but also the administration, by focusing on self-managing and self-tuning," Yuhanna said.
A program that has many 10g beta testers happy is HTML DB, an end-user application development tool that allows users with little or no programming experience to create applications on the fly. Users won't have to rely on developers to build applications, Yuhanna said.
Marcel Davidson, head of data management at Salt Lake City-based pharmaceutical company Prolexys Pharmaceuticals Inc., has been beta testing 10g for about six months. Prolexys has about 30 databases, and the company uses them to amass data about proteins and how they interact.
"My suspicions are that 10g will catch on for reasons other than grid," Davidson said.
Davidson is happy about 10g's new support of regular expressions to simplify search strings in the database, something Sybase and other DBMS venders have had for years, he said. Prolexys likes the feature so much that Davidson is using it in a production environment in a limited capacity to support reporting for non-mission-critical data.
"In my mind, it's been long overdue," he said. "There are so many things that one can do with regular expressions that are hard to do with your more simple comparison operators."
Claude Grondin, a senior DBA who works for systems development services for the government of Ontario, Canada, said he has plans to help implement 10g in his division in early 2005.
"It will not be able to take advantage of the grid technology, as we are a fairly small shop, but rather to hopefully get a more stable environment," he said. "It does look similar to 9iAS, but it seems that it's easier to start," Grondin said. "And end components and more functionality from OEM (Oracle Enterprise Manager) will also be good."
Calling 10g only an incremental improvement over 9i, Ryder said the new features leverage Oracle's clustering technology. Companies that will be losing their 8i support with Oracle at the end of the year should consider skipping over 9i and going directly to 10g once an update is released, he said.
"Oracle is a very expensive product and one of the ways to make it less expensive is to deploy it on commodity hardware," Ryder said. "But it's not the grid that's initially going to win customers over. With features that make partition extensions and moving tables easier, some of the things they're doing with their clustered file system looks awfully promising."
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