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Oracle’s 10g Release 2 Adds Features for Storage, Security and Management

Oracle is set to ship the latest version of its Database 10g software. Oracle 10g Release 2 is a high-quality, robust maintenance release for the company’s installed base, says Andy Mendelsohn, Oracle’s SVP of data server technologies. But, he adds, “we did include a small number of new features that we felt were critical to get out to market, fast.”

Those new features include new and improved capabilities in three key areas: storage, security and infrastructure management.

One of the key innovations in 10g R1, Mendelsohn says, was Oracle’s Automated Storage Management system, which automated the tedious process of managing files and drives individually. The ASM made it possible to create disk groups consisting of disks and their assigned files. That capability is being extended in 10g R2 to work with multiple databases using Oracle’s hallmark grid technology, Real Application Clusters.

“Now with R2, you can put a single instance of the ASM service on a hardware cluster, and all the databases that sit on the same physical hardware cluster can share the same ASM instance,” Mendelsohn explains. “What you get is sort of a load balancing of data, not just under one database, but under a small grid.”

Oracle has also enhanced the scalability of its RAC technology; in 10g R2 it can support clusters of up to 100 nodes.

With 10g R1, Oracle encouraged nightly backups to disk, and included a fast incremental backup capability. In R2, the company adds new automated backup-to-tape capabilities for customers who create complete weekly backups that are stored off site.

The company has also made it more practical to encrypt data stored onsite by including so-called Transparent Data Encryption capabilities in 10g R2. TDE allows users to encrypt sensitive data without having to manage the encryption key. “It’s opaque to the disk, but not to the database,” Mendelsohn explains. “We have the decryption key, so it’s not frozen; Oracle can interpret the bits and apply SQL operations.”

Rounding out the security features: a new disaster-recovery system called Data Guard, which includes a Faststart Standby feature for system failover “in seconds instead of minutes,” Mendelsohn says.

In 9i, Oracle introduced its first XML capability, called XML DB. In 9i R2, the company made it possible to store XML data structures natively in the database server. Then came support for the W3C’s XML Schema. In 10g R2, the company adds support for a W3C standard for accessing XML data, XML Query.

Oracle 10g R2 will also run Microsoft’s Common Language Runtime, which allows the database to run programs written with C# or Visual Basic.

Oracle first began shipping its grid-oriented 10g database in January. More than 15 percent of the company’s installed customer base (about 30,000) is now on that first release; the rest are still on a previous 9i version. 10g R2 now becomes the next upgrade point for the entire installed base, Mendelsohn says.

Oracle bills 10g as “the first relational database designed for grid computing.” Grid computing is a hardware networking arrangement that coordinates the use of large numbers of servers and storage acting as one computer.

Oracle appears to be neck-and-neck with IBM in the race for database market share. According to industry watchers at Gartner, each company accounted for about a third of the $7.8 billion worldwide relational database market in 2004 (IBM had 34.1 percent and Oracle had 33.7 percent). Microsoft’s share of that market was approximately 20 precent, and growing, Gartner concluded.

Oracle Database 10g Release 2 is scheduled to be generally available in mid-2005.

About the Author

John K. Waters is a freelance writer based in Silicon Valley. He can be reached at john@watersworks.com.

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