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Oracle's database name game

Did you hear the one about 10G? Some IT pros are laughing about the name Oracle Corp. gave their newest database release, but Oracle says grid computing is no joke.

Did you hear the one about 10G? It's the price users will pay per seat for Oracle's new database. Get it? That's a joke. All right, it's not a gut-buster, but it does represent the sort of satire sometimes generated when IT companies attempt to convey new strategies and directions with catchy names.

In this case, the name of Oracle's newest database release, 10G, is getting attention from the global Oracle community, which expected the new database to be called Oracle 10i. That would have followed a logical progression from the company's last database release, Oracle 9i.

Although there will be some initial confusion, any confusion should be straightened out once the marketing campaign is in full swing, predicted Mike Schiff, vice president of e-business and business intelligence at Sterling, Va.-based Current Analysis.

"But they switch to 'G' and all of a sudden it's like, 'What the heck is this all about?'" Schiff said. "Some might think this is a super secure database for governments," said Schiff, who wasn't joking. "And other folks might wonder if there's also going to be a 10i database."

Then Schiff cracked the cost-per-seat joke, for which he deserves full credit.

At Oracle's annual U.S. user event, OracleWorld, slated to start Monday in San Francisco, the company will dedicate a lot of time and money to explaining grid computing to CEOs and DBAs alike.

Phil Brehm, who serves as treasurer of the Charlotte South Carolina Oracle Users Group, said he was among the Oracle DBAs who was expecting the newest release to be called 10i.

"Maybe it's '10, Gee!'," he said. "The name change is surprising." It also places a burden on Oracle to deliver, Brehm noted. "When this happens, you can expect some major functionality enhancements."

Brehm said Oracle users will be reluctant to upgrade to 10G until the company has thoroughly explained the grid computing concept.

"Many customers haven't moved to 9i," Brehm said. "Larger companies take a long time to upgrade their databases."

Customers easily get confused when companies change the names of flagship products, but broad marketing campaigns usually bring them back on board, said Karen Morton, owner of Tennessee-based Morton Consulting Inc. and a site expert.

Morton said she gets a lot of questions from customers confused about Oracle's E-Business suite. The most recent upgrade of that line was from version 10.7 to 11i.

"It seems like they want to make clear that 10G is their database offering," Morton said. "It tends to get a little bit confusing, but that's par for the course."

It was Robert Shimp, vice president of database marketing at Oracle, who kicked off the effort, begun more than a year ago, to find a new name for Oracle's database offering.

"We wanted to make it really clear that enterprise grid computing is a very real opportunity for them right now," said Shimp, who can smile about the version 10G-whiz jokes.

Explaining the importance of grid computing to Oracle users is "definitely going to be a very major effort on our part," Shimp said. However, he also described as 10G as the most significant database announcement Oracle has ever had.

And that's no joke.


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