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Oracle Database 11g gets early use at Burlington Coat Factory

The CTO of Burlington Coat Factory talks about his experience running Oracle Database 11g.

Mike Prince could be considered the Michael Jordan of Oracle OpenWorld conferences. As the CTO for clothing maker Burlington Coat Factory in New Jersey, Prince has a close relationship with Oracle and speaks regularly to conferences attendees about trying out the latest Oracle technologies -- like Oracle Database 11g -- to much fanfare. In this two-part interview from the most recent Oracle OpenWorld conference, Prince talks about his experience testing out Oracle Database 11g, his company's IT setup, and the features of Database 11g that enable data compression and data center failover. Here's what he had to say:

Tell me about your experience with Oracle Database 11g?

Mike Prince: We have it up and running. We put a push on getting it up because we wanted to kick the tires before OpenWorld [because we had a DBA presenting sessions there.] And it came up easily. It was one of these things where we have a gazillion critical projects going on all at once, and it was hard to steal resources to do something forward-looking. But we put one of our top guys on it and he got it up very quickly. There weren't any major obstacles. We're pretty good at installing Oracle and bringing up data now, having gone from [version] 8 to 9 to 10 in the last three years. We've gotten pretty adroit at it.

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What are some of the 11g features you've tested?

Prince: We did test a couple of the key features that we were most interested in. Now, I had limited insight into what was in the release when we got it. I had been briefed a year ago about it as part of a [Customer Advisory Board] for Oracle's database group, but the features weren't really nailed down yet. One of the features we picked to exercise was [data] compression because we think that's going to be a money-saver. We're looking to put a tactical improvement to the infrastructure in place in the midst of a lot of critical business re-engineering projects and we're going to have to justify it. A six figure justification in storage savings probably would get us enough traction that we wouldn't have to bring in a lot of non-technical people along to [explain the business benefits].

Could you tell how Burlington Coat Factory's IT operations are set up?

Prince: We have two data centers. They're ten kilometers apart, they're both in New Jersey, and they're both near the major distribution centers in the Delaware Valley. We basically have half of our assets in one data center and half in the other. And our in [Oracle Database 10g] implementations -- which make up almost all of the database implementations right now although there are a couple of stragglers that are application constrained to older versions -- we have half the databases in one location and half in the other. We have two clusters, and on each cluster we run the Oracle Data Guard copies for the other cluster. So basically all the data is always in both data centers in real time.

If you had to failover from one data center to the other, how would that play out?

Prince: The way we're configured right now is we really don't have as many nodes on the Data Guard as we have on the production side and if we had to failover rapidly we'd have a lot of reconfiguration to do. But we don't want to spend the money on the assets to have the thing sitting there half utilized. So we know that we're protected from disaster and we could certainly operate well enough on one data center once we got it running. And there's a lot more things Oracle has that would help automate that switchover, but we haven't gotten to putting that all in place yet. I think we'll end up doing it in the [Oracle Database 11g] context.

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