A month after its grand unveiling in New York, Oracle’s 11g database has hit general release.
Although, as with each new major Oracle rollout, the list of enhancements could fill a book, there are several standout upgrades in 11g.
The general theme is making the database simpler and less costly to maintain and deploy, even as data volumes continue rising.
One feature, Real Application Testing adapts automated QA robots from the software development world and applies them to testing new database configurations. In other words, you can record all the interactions with the database over a specific period, then play them back with whatever new configuration you want to test. It’s a technology that Oracle subsequently plans to extend to its packaged applications portfolio.
11g also upgrades XML storage with the capability to store such otherwise bulky Unicode data in compressed binary form, a feature that will not only reduce storage requirements but make it possible to store web service definitions or requests in the same way that you would have managed stored procedures in the past.
Oracle is also adapting a feature form the OLAP world called materialized data views that provide composite slices of data in OLAP cubes that are accessible by plain old SQL, a move that fellow Datamonitor analyst Madan Sheina equated to commoditizing OLAP.
Related to enhanced analytic processing with new policy-based partitioning capabilities that provide more flexibility with regard to indexing, not to mention faster throughput for highly specialized queries in highly complex, and very large databases.
In turn, Oracle 11g has added integrated compression, which applies processes utilized with information lifecycle management (where older, less used data is gradually archived in lower cost media.
Additionally, new capabilities to store materialized data views, which are composite slices of data, in OLAP cubes that are accessible by SQL commands represents yet another step in the commoditization of BI – but that’s an area where Oracle is playing catch-up to Microsoft which has spread BI to the masses through SQL Server’s OLAP Services.
Overall, matter-of-fact mood reflects the fact that databases are yet another enterprise platform. That is, in some organizations, databases are the center of software architecture, against which other software must be compatible (in other orgs, that role might be played by the OS or ERP system).
But back to the point, when it comes to platforms, customers want as few surprises or disruptions as possible. Watching Larry Ellison has always been entertaining, but in today’s more matter-of-fact IT marketplace, customers are likely to sleep more soundly after (if not through) Phillips’ more boring pronouncements.