What's out there for Oracle third-party tools

Oracle products come with an array of integrated tools, but an ecosystem of third-party tools exists that can make an Oracle developer's life even easier.

Products from Oracle Corp. offer many impressive capabilities, ranging from application development to SQL construction to database optimization. But many administrators find that Oracle third-party tools can be more robust and offer more capabilities than Oracle's native toolset.

Those Oracle third-party tools fill an important gap in the Oracle ecosystem, where customized applications and specialized deployments need a little more than what Oracle can offer. There are literally hundreds of third-party tools. Some are specialized and offer only a limited feature set, while others are designed to replace or enhance the tools that come with Oracle already.

One of the most important Oracle third-party tools available is TOAD (Tool for Oracle Application Developers) from Quest Software, which was recently acquired by Dell. TOAD's complete suite of tools eases application development underneath Oracle platforms. It offers SQL optimization, database administration and object management. For those looking to leverage an Oracle platform to the fullest, TOAD gets it done. The product brings simplicity and automation to many of Oracle's complex processes involved with deploying, managing, maintaining and developing solutions.

In some cases, a third-party tool is required to perform a function not normally associated with an Oracle native tool set. An example is cross-platform data replication, which helps unify data across multiple database platforms. Quest Software's SharePlex for Oracle is one such tool. Quest (now part of Dell Inc.) touts SharePlex as a replacement for Oracle's GoldenGate. It has a simpler approach to advanced capacities, such as data replication, disaster recovery, and business continuity and cross-platform data sharing.

SQL optimization and database tuning are often serviced by Oracle third-party tools. The quest to uncover bottlenecks and remediate the underlying code has led many Oracle DBAs to seek out tools to simplify that task. Yet again Quest is in the mix, with its Spotlight on Oracle product.

However, Quest is not the only player in the world of Oracle third-party tools. Another example of a SQL optimization tool comes from Allround Automations, which offers PL/SQL Developer 10.0. Like TOAD, it has a full Integrated Development Environment (IDE) that supports all aspects of creating and deploying clean SQL code and debugging problems. The product also includes performance optimization capabilities and supports plug-ins to add more capabilities and features.

Software development tools veteran Embarcadero Technologies also has some skin in the Oracle third-party tools game, namely in its DB PowerStudio for Oracle. DB PowerStudio for Oracle features a highly intuitive tool set that is designed to complement Oracle's own Enterprise Manager. The product adds capabilities such as database change management and SQL optimization and tuning.

DB PowerStudio comes in two editions -- developer and DBA. The developer edition includes the company's "Rapid SQL" RAD (rapid application development) environment, which incorporates an IDE with a GUI-based development system. Rapid SQL streamlines the task of creating SQL code with visual tools that are used for ad hoc data editing and simple-to-complex query building. The DBA edition focuses more on administration and maintenance of databases and includes DBArtisan, which streamlines administration chores such as managing multiple databases across heterogeneous systems.

While there are many Oracle third-party tools available, those from Embarcadero, Quest and Allround Automations probably offer more than 90% of the extended capabilities that most developers and DBAs need for most any situation.

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