Revisiting the Oracle 11g upgrade decision (and 400 potential ROI cases)

Posted by Larry Dignan @ 8:47 am Categories: General, Software Infrastructure, Oracle Tags: Database Administrator, Oracle Corp., ROI, Oracle, Larry Dignan

Oracle has officially launched its 11g database and the software giant has taken an interesting approach with positioning–most features can be aligned to an ROI case.

Earlier today I asked the question that everyone is asking in relation to new software upgrades these days: When will customers upgrade? I also pointed out the MO for enterprise managers is to take their time upgrading.

In response to this IT manager positioning vendors hit you with a ton of features (and some ridiculously far fetched ROI cases). Oracle clearly delivered the first part: 11g (see statement) has more than 400 features and supports new data types such as RFID data and medical images. Oracle 11g rolls out on Linux this quarter. Pricing wasn’t disclosed, but executives noted it will be roughly on par with the 10g pricing schedule.

But the ROI cases aren’t all that ridiculous. Oracle president Charles Phillips didn’t dish out some big ROI percentage during Oracle’s New York City powwow. But he did outline 11g’s features and some common sense. In fact it’s one of the few times I listened to a product pitch and said: “Yeah, I can see that ROI case.” Disclosure: My default setting for vendor ROI cases is “Yeah, right.”

As mentioned earlier, Ari Kaplan, president of the Independent Oracle User Group, said 11g’s audit vault, which would make it easier to thwart DBAs (database administrators) with their hands in the till. He also cited better security. All of that’s true, but the ROI case for regulatory requirements and security is generally dicey.

Other features have better ROI cases. Here’s a look at some of the more interesting features of 11g and how they may line up with your CFO’s expectations.

Data Guard: A feature that offloads inactive data to standby systems automatically. Why is this notable? It could give you more return on disaster recovery sites, which for many companies just site there until disaster strikes. I’ve done countless disaster recovery case studies and this gear gets a workout once a quarter (assuming companies keep up with testing).

Flashback and Total Recall: Flashback helps companies correct bad transactions. Total Recall gives administrators the ability to go back to an as of date. The ROI case here would be time and labor closing

Better compression technology: That means companies can buy less disk space. Online upgrades and patching can cut patch management labor.

Other features–transparent encryption in 11g, which allows you to encrypt tables and indexes individually, and query caching, which improves application performance–can be lined up with ROI cases. And these ROI cases aren’t a big stretch. “Each one of these features has a business benefit,” said Phillips.

Bottom line: Oracle has provided customers multiple avenues to build ROI cases with 11g–and the cases are quite logical (compared to other products I’ve seen).

Now the question about how quickly Oracle customers will upgrade to 11g remains. Phillips outlined the upgrade process: Pundits doubt new release, IT executives file away for future reference and then DBAs download the new database and eventually say they can solve problems with 11g. In other words, it’s a bottoms-up upgrade process. “It’s hard for us to predict the upgrade cycle,” said Phillips. “10g went faster than most thought.”

Given that these potential ROI cases seem fairly obvious perhaps the upgrade process will move more quickly. For his part, Phillips is banking on Oracle’s army of DBAs.

“It may not be the CEO (CFO) that says I need that, but it may be the DBA that can translate these features to savings,” said Phillips. “Our DBAs will be our evangelists.”

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