Oracle's latest release, Database 11g, has been four years in development. Many of the enhanced features contained in the new release -- such as a secure vault that can hold information for viewing only by specified parties -- are drawing plaudits. In all, Oracle has made more than 400 improvements to the product.
Oracle (Nasdaq: ORCL) has rolled out the next iteration of its core database product line. Oracle Database 11g, the company proudly claims, is the result of 15 million test hours and 36,000 person-months of development.
"Oracle Database 11g, built on 30 years of design experience, delivers the next generation of enterprise information management," said Andy Mendelsohn, senior vice president of database server technologies for Oracle.
The new database -- the company's first in four years -- is been packed with 400-plus new features. Users and consultants are highlighting their favorites as reasons to adopt 11g.
Particularly anticipated is 11g's improved integration of Oracle Audit Vault and Oracle Database Vault, said Ari Kaplan, president of the Independent Oracle Users Group. The feature puts confidential information in a locked vault, where only someone like the COO, CFO or an external audit company can view and modify the records.
No one else has that feature on the market, he claims.
Of the 480 features introduced in Oracle 11g, two in particular -- artificial intelligence for self-management and improved real application clusters -- appeal to clients, Donald Burleson, founder of Burleson Consulting and author of several books on Oracle, told CRM Buyer.
"Oracle is leading the pack in intelligent self-management for databases -- it is beating the daylights out of DB2 and SQL Server because it has incorporated artificial intelligence to take feedback from Oracle and adjust a configuration according to changes in the database load," he maintained.
Another example is the automation of SQL tuning in 11g, Burleson said. Oracle automated the memory and storage management functions in 10g.
These tools also could cut additional inroads into the small and medium-sized business (SMB) market. "A mom-and-pop grocery store can now install 11g without a high degree of technical knowledge," he pointed out.
Upgrades in the real application clusters also make database management easier for firms with fewer resources. No other database management system in the world offers rolling upgrades, said Burleson. "These allow you to upgrade the software while it is still running -- it is an amazing feature."
It remains to be seen, though, how fast companies will upgrade to 11g.
"There are two measures of success to any enterprise class software or hardware offering," said Charles King, founder of Pund-IT Research. "How well does it meet the essential needs of its base customers? And how quickly can the company migrate its base to the product?"
The first doesn't necessarily guarantee the second, he said. "All of the bells and whistles Oracle promised in 11g are there -- it was delivered on time. As a product, it is a good one."
However, moving to a new core database is never an inconsequential task and, in fact, is getting more difficult as databases grow larger and more complex.
"From what I have heard and read, I think a lot of the customers will appreciate 11g," King said, "but they won't be rushing to deploy it until it is time for an upgrade."
Other new features in Oracle 11g: