Oracle 11g: Expanding the Definition of Database - InformationWeek

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8/14/2007
10:28 AM
Mark Smith
Mark Smith
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Oracle 11g: Expanding the Definition of Database

Oracle continues to push the envelope of what a database is and can deliver for transactional and analytical processing, while adding utility capabilities in areas such as content management and search. Oracle has positioned 11g well against its traditional database competitors; beyond that, it will have to ensure its product is not seen as too complex for specific uses in data warehousing, content management, search and analytics.

The Oracle 11g database, released today in its Linux version, differs from earlier releases in that it contains significant advancements pushing the leading enterprise database further ahead of the competition. But is it a database anymore?

In addition to improvements in performance, scalability and ease of administration that any major new version should have, Oracle has expanded the capabilities in information management for items such as documents, text, files and other unstructured data, including XML, and by doing so, it continues to encroach on the territory of content management systems.

In reality, though, what has caught the attention of OLAP and BI insiders is that in release 11g, Oracle completes the embedding of multidimensional access and storage capabilities from the Express technology it acquired 12 years ago. It's an interesting bit of timing - Oracle now has to decide what to do with recently acquired Hyperion Essbase, a long-time rival of Express. This adds more OLAP to the Oracle portfolio that yet needs to be formalized. Oracle appears to look to further implant this database as part of their global BI effort and differentiate it as a database-level OLAP option.In 11g, analytical improvements in data mining and management of data warehouses give Oracle the potential to regain some traction taken away by data warehouse appliance vendors such as Netezza, not to mention Teradata, which NCR is spinning off as an independent company (one that continues to gain new business and extend existing customer relationships). Oracle has longed to diminish Teradata's role in the market, but it has yet to significantly blunt its success.

Further crowding this landscape are Oracle partners HP and Sun, which recently have decided to support alternatives to Oracle on their hardware platform. HP recently released NeoView, a next-generation appliance that it hopes will provide more robust solutions in data warehousing to compete against conventional options including Oracle's software. Sun is now marketing with Greenplum, an open-source data warehouse database and also an alternative to Oracle.

Not to be left behind, Oracle has started its own program to work with appliance vendors - in some cases, little-known hardware providers - in hopes it can provide more integrated systems and alternatives to perceived competitors.

Oracle overall continues to face competition from IBM, Microsoft and SAP. Over the last decade (before the Siebel and PeopleSoft acquisitions), SAP was an active reseller and promoter of Oracle database licenses to support its enterprise applications and middleware. Now Oracle has a significant opportunity to place its new database with a large number of customers pulled in through its many acquisitions over the last five years. Moving beyond applications and transactions, Oracle 11g is capable of managing very large volumes of data by incorporating capabilities from Oracle Data Guard, Oracle Total Recall and Oracle Files.

Once again, Oracle continues to push the envelope of what a database is and can deliver for transactional and analytical processing, while adding utility capabilities in areas such as search. Oracle has positioned 11g well against its traditional database competitors; beyond that, it will have to ensure its product is not seen as too complex for specific uses in data warehousing, content management and search, and analytics.

The question for most organizations will be whether you are ready to use all of these capabilities and whether you have the resources that need to be trained on how to utilize it efficiently.

Let me know your thoughts.Oracle continues to push the envelope of what a database is and can deliver for transactional and analytical processing, while adding utility capabilities in areas such as content management and search. Oracle has positioned 11g well against its traditional database competitors; beyond that, it will have to ensure its product is not seen as too complex for specific uses in data warehousing, content management, search and analytics.

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