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Oracle lands deal with FAA

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration chose Oracle Corp.'s 10g for its quickly changing IT landscape.

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has selected Oracle Corp.'s 10g and Oracle 10g Spatial as part of its geographic information systems. Data stored in 10g and the spatial software will be used to automate new versions of flight procedures and flight routes across America.

Aviation System Standards, a department within the FAA, produces more than 10 million individual national airspace charting products per year for use by military, commercial and private aviators.

Pilots use the flight procedures to safely navigate airspace. To keep up with new cell phone towers and tall buildings that translate to changes in flight patterns, the department publishes new flight procedures every 56 days -- and issues change notices every 28 days.

Now the agency is getting away from all that paperwork by trying to automate the work with the help of Oracle software.

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Oracle has a five-year enterprise procurement contract with the FAA, said Rick Jordan, a spokesman for the FAA's IT Policy and Requirements Program. Jordan said the license with Oracle runs through May 2005.

"The whole agency is using Oracle," Jordan said. "There's an enterprise license for it and procurements are based on that license."

The special software will manage large volumes of geospatial data and produce charts that evolves with the changing terrain.

The FAA also chose Oracle Application Server 10g for its Web services capabilities, the ability to integrate numerous data sources. The agency will also be able to share data with other applications and organizations that require spatial information.

While a large government agency is a big win for Oracle, customers have been relatively slow to adopt the 10g DBMS, said Noel Yuhanna, a senior industry analyst with Cambridge, Mass.-based Forrester Research Inc. Oracle 9i has been popular among enterprises since its features and functionality are so robust, Yuhanna said.

"It typically takes about a year to stabilize a new release like 10g and so far it's been out for only about six months," Yuhanna said. "Many companies are taking a wait-and-see attitude."

Yuhanna said many enterprises will eventually be lured by the ability to create a grid architecture, a theme that is constantly raised by Oracle.

Oracle promises that grid computing will help customers build large-scale computing capacity from inexpensive, standardized components, such as clusters of server blades and rack-mounted storage. Instead of adding nodes to the existing cluster as the workload increases, Oracle 10g will allocate system resources based on need.

"10g has some good features and scalability and performance in high-end database deployments," Yuhanna said. "We're definitely going to see some large terabyte size deployments."

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