Oracle8: It's all 'about bigness'

Oracle Corp. last week began shipping Oracle8 the latest generation of the company's flagship database management technology.

Oracle is positioning the product as a database manager that can take on larger databases handle more complicated queries and serve as the hub for network computing environments. "Oracle8 is really about bigness " said Tim Hoechst chief technologist at Oracle Government Bethesda Md. The database he said can support thousands of users and tens of terabytes of data in a networked environment.

Oracle chairman Lawrence Ellison speaking at the satellite-broadcast announcement in New York said Oracle8 is 10 times faster than previous versions. He said Transaction Processing Council benchmark tests on Oracle8 have certified it as the industry's fastest database. Oracle submitted a TPC-C benchmark of 31 147.04 transactions per minute.

Robert Craig director of data warehousing and business intelligence services at Hurwitz Consulting said Oracle8 has "fixed a number of scalabilty problems" associated with Oracle7 which he said encountered difficulties with databases around 1 terabyte. He said Oracle8's ability to handle multiple terabytes of data is important for data warehousing a large database typically used in decision support. "It's not uncommon to find terabyte-plus data warehouses " Craig said.

Hitting GSA Sked Soon

Some federal agencies received an early taste of Oracle8. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency was one of the 260 evaluators involved in Oracle's 10-month beta test of Oracle8. Agencies are expected to be able to purchase Oracle8 next month off the General Services Administration schedule.

Commercial pricing starts at $2 360 for an eight-user database. Oracle7 customers with an Oraclemetals support contract can receive a free upgrade to Oracle8. The product initially is available for Microsoft Corp.'s Windows NT Sun Microsystems Inc.'s Solaris Hewlett-Packard Co.'s HP-UX IBM Corp.'s AIX and SP2 Sequent Computer Systems Corp.'s PTC and Digital Equipment Corp.'s Alpha AXP.

Ned Miller vice president and general manager of DLT Solutions Inc. Oracle's largest GSA reseller said he expects DLT to have Oracle8 on its GSA schedule in early July. "We think there is a significant opportunity to upgrade customers " he said.

Scalability Is Critical

Like other industry executives Miller said he believes scalability is a salient feature for Oracle8. "Performance is critical and the ability to scale and add users will be key to the success of the product " Miller said. Oracle8's performance-boosting features include support for multiple query technologies such as bitmap indexes star queries and star joins. Oracle calls this technology parallel bitmap star query. Hoechst said star queries are important for handling complex data warehousing queries. He said the query method was available in earlier versions of Oracle but has been "performance-tuned" in Oracle8.

Oracle8 also offers data partitioning which allows database administrators to separate large databases into more manageable subsets. Partitioning speeds queries because data scans can be restricted to the relevant partitions analysts said. In addition the release bridges object and relational technology according to industry executives.

"Oracle8 is the basic foundation for integrating object and relational data " said William Wynn president of Savant Inc. which markets Oracle database administration tools in the federal market. He said Oracle8 enables users to perform the same transactions on objects - such as images and video - as they can on relational data.

Oracle is also positioning Oracle8 as the database for network computing. "Oracle8 is focused on being the repository for network information " Hoechst said. Oracle executives envision Oracle8 as the engine for powerful data servers from which users will access information via inexpensive network computers (NCs).

Along with the Oracle8 debut Oracle's Network Computer Inc. subsidiary announced general availability of its NC Server software which includes Java-based productivity and groupware applications. NC Server runs under NCI's NCOS operating system which is designed for Intel Corp.-based NC devices.

DLT's Miller said his company is teaming with NCI to create an NC offering for the GSA schedule. The companies would offer a product suite including NC software smart card technology and NC hardware from San Jose Calif.-based Funai. Miller said he expects the suite to be available on the schedule by early August.

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