When should users upgrade to 10g?
My first answer is now -- 10g is shipping on all major platforms. My second answer is soon. Some people prefer to wait for the first patch set, which is scheduled for June. But it must be before support expires for 8i. It's not going to be extended past December. Will Oracle customers have problems upgrading directly from 8i to 10g?
It's fully supported. In fact, you can go straight to 10g from 8.0, 8i, 9i R1 or 9i R2. We are encouraging people to upgrade directly to 10g. How can users prepare for their upgrade to 10g, rather than react to problems when things go wrong?
There is a tremendous amount of information available online. They should take the time to learn about it. Oracle also has a two-day DBA class for people who are new and want to know what to expect. But preparing with education and sort of seeing the bigger picture helps. DBAs should rise above the day-to-day a little bit and get more of a strategic view. What are the most significant new features in 10g?
It depends on if you're looking at it from an application development point of view, deployment point of view or raw performance. For the first time, the database is able to run itself, and we've eliminated entire areas of responsibility for the DBA. For instance, there's the Automated Storage Management (ASM) feature. Whether you're interested in grid computing or not, DBAs spend a lot of time determining how tables are physically mapped to storage. All of that goes away with ASM and there's no need for a third party file manager and volume manager, eliminating cost and complexity.
Also, the HTML_DB is a very important element. It could be the hidden jewel of Oracle10g. Everybody I talk to has dozens, hundreds or thousands of Microsoft Access applications that they wish they could manage centrally, securely and be able to scale. That's what HTML_DB does. It's an easy way to build Oracle applications with nothing more than a browser. It's by far a better approach than having your most critical data sitting on a server underneath someone's desk.Can small and midsized companies benefit from grid computing and Oracle10g?
In the past, Oracle hasn't done an effective job of talking to the midmarket as much as it should have. Now it's made some recent initiatives to appeal to this group -- with Oracle Standard Edition, which now includes Real Application Clusters (RAC), Standard Edition One and the deal with Dell. We're really making a very big push to make 10g easier to manage, easier to buy, easier to develop on, easier to deploy -- all of those things. I'm very bullish about the adoption of 10g both small and medium businesses, as well as the enterprises.
From a grid point of view, it's very appropriate for a small company to start with an infrastructure that will grow with them. So instead of having to throw everything out and start over, at a big dollar cost, they can buy small clusters of Intel boxes and add on as their business requires it. Even as the economy improves, and people start spending more on IT, I think people will continue to focus on cost.