Eye on Oracle

August 15, 2007  10:05 AM

Oracle bigger than Microsoft?

Derek Kuhr Derek Kuhr Profile: Derek Kuhr

Oracle founder and CEO Larry Ellison had no shortage of things to talk about on his recent trip to Israel. Speaking to reporters, the outspoken head of industry said that open source software is no big threat, that Web 2.0 is more than just a passing fad and — now this one really got me — that he believes Oracle will be bigger than Microsoft one day.

Wow. Oracle bigger than Microsoft? Now there’s something that never occurred to me. Maybe it’s just human nature, or maybe it has to do with the fact that I’ve been working with Windows products since I was a young lad, but it’s hard to imagine any software company becoming bigger or more recognizable than Microsoft.

But on second thought, why not? Oracle has been on an acquisition tear in recent years. Isn’t it possible that one day they could purchase their way into being bigger than Microsoft? What do you think? Will Oracle become the biggest software company one day?   

— Mark

August 14, 2007  10:08 AM

The market battleground

Ken Cline Profile: Clinek

On its home page a few weeks ago, Oracle highlighted new Gartner data showing that its DBMS has a 47.1% market share — more than its two closest competitors combined and a healthy 15% increase in revenue from the previous year. In a $15.2 billion market, that’s a nice chunk of change.

The report reminded me of the “database wars” of old, which now almost seem like a quaint tussle compared to the current ferocious “apps wars.” For the past few years, the market appears to have settled into a semi-comfortable steady state, with Oracle #1, followed by DB2 and SQL Server, and Sybase and Teradata pulling up the rear in the single digits.

Or has it? A closer look reveals that Microsoft continues to have by far the highest growth rate: a whopping 28% increase compared with 2005. If present trends continue, SQL Server may even soon overtake DB2 and vault into second place. At an OpenWorld a few years ago, Larry Ellison jokingly mocked Microsoft as a “game manufacturer” — this was soon after the release of XBox — but he may have to put Microsoft back on his radar, especially in the small/medium-sized business market. It’ll be interesting to see how the new Database 11g will affect Oracle’s position in 2007/2008.

For the time being though, Larry is obviously preoccupied with SAP, who is leading Oracle in the apps market by roughly twenty percentage points. Our ace News Editor Mark Brunelli has written some interesting case studies recently describing what it’s like in the trenches of the apps wars:

If you’re a manager getting the hard sell from Oracle and SAP, let’s hear about it! I’d be very interested in hearing your experiences and how you will make your choice.


August 9, 2007  1:21 PM

Spam filters are dumb

Beth Pariseau Beth Pariseau Profile: Beth Pariseau

Several in the Oracle blogosphere (including Doug Burns, Niall Litchfield and Paul Vallee) note that the Oracle WTF blog has been hijacked. Theory is that the blog was first marked as a spam blog by Google and subsequently deleted. Litchfield quotes the criteria for spam blogs (they “can be recognized by their irrelevant, repetitive, or nonsensical text”) and wonders if “the whole purpose of blogging” isn’t irrelevant nonsense. Certainly posts full of SQL code might look repetitive and nonsensical to a dumb robot (or to me).

Ironically, according to a Computerworld article, Google recently mistook its own Custom Search Blog for a spam blog, allowing it to be similarly hijacked. Doh! Silly Blogger. . . .

And speaking of spam, our office is getting hammered with unusual amounts of it today – messages that are getting past our filters. Seems to be a global problem – Bob Sullivan at the Red Tape Chronicles describes how spammers have most recently gotten the best of all of us by hiding spam within Adobe Acrobat attachments. Doh! Those wily spammers. . . .


August 7, 2007  10:45 PM

Get your Oracle 11g white papers here

Derek Kuhr Derek Kuhr Profile: Derek Kuhr

Oracle has posted a bunch of technical information and white papers about Oracle Database 11g, which should become available for the Linux platform sometime this month.

Most of the Oracle 11g white papers can be found here on Oracle’s Web site. This collection covers a variety of topics, including Oracle Database 11g Manageability and Real Application Testing, the Oracle Database 11g Flashback Data Archive, Oracle Database 11g Real Application Clusters and Oracle Database 11g Security.

Blogger LewisC also suggests that people check out this Oracle 11g white paper from Oracle’s public relations team. It’s an overview of Oracle 11g’s new features and part of a press kit. 

Just a quick heads up.

— Mark

August 7, 2007  12:54 PM

Top five reasons to upgrade your database

Beth Pariseau Beth Pariseau Profile: Beth Pariseau

A DBA recently wrote in to our Ask the Experts section with the following question:

How can I convince my top management that the time to upgrade all our production Oracle 9i ( databases to Oracle 10g is now? They are looking for the top five reasons to upgrade. How can I prepare a convincing report?

Our expert’s response reminded me of the Doug Burns post I pointed to last week on workload metrics — wherein he wrote, “The reason you want the metrics will define your approach to gathering them.”

Michael Hillenbrand gets at the same thing when he writes, “In order to write a good business case for an upgrade, you need to know yourself why you want to upgrade.”

In other words, there is no definitive list of the top five reasons to upgrade your Oracle databases, because (all together now) it depends.

But Michael does supply a framework for building a business case to management, starting with the fact that managers want to see benefits weighed against cost in all cases. He also names support as a great reason to upgrade, since 9i will be desupported soon.

Here are a few questions to ask yourself before you go to management with your own list of reasons to upgrade:

  • Are there bugs in 9i that are causing outages and/or business impacts?
  • Are there features in 10g that would improve the bottom line of the business?
  • Do you need to keep up with security patches for compliancy issues, such as SOX or HIPAA?

Sorry guys . . . no answers without more questions. Read Michael’s full response here.

August 1, 2007  9:09 AM

Does Oracle 11g have a shot with SMBs?

Derek Kuhr Derek Kuhr Profile: Derek Kuhr

It’s no secret that Oracle’s flagship database management system isn’t hugely popular among small to medium sized businesses (SMBs), but when Oracle Database 11g finally arrives, that could start to change, according to one database market expert.

Noel Yuhanna, an analyst with Forrester Research and a frequent source of mine, says that Oracle’s efforts to increase database automation and ease database management will hit a stride with 11g, and that may be enough to start turning some SMB heads away from Microsoft SQL Server.
Yuhanna says that about 70% of the SMB market currently runs SQL Server because it’s seen as less complex and less expensive than Oracle.

“Oracle, obviously, doesn’t have a very strong hold in SMB, but with 11g onward, you’re going to see a lot of automation and making it simpler to use, which is certainly going to draft some SMB people,” Yuhanna said.

But Noel, what about the price? Can SMBs afford to pay for Oracle?

“Oracle does offer discounts and they now offer Standard Edition One, which is very comparable to SQL Server,” Yuhanna answered. “Oracle is making headway, but it’s a matter of convincing the SMB that Oracle Database is easier to use and simple. I think there is a perception issue there and I think that will take some time to clear out.”

What do you think? Does Oracle have a chance with SMBs? Or do you think that Noel has lost his mind? Let us know.

— Mark

August 1, 2007  8:10 AM

Wednesday wrap-up: Low-cost database tuning tips

Beth Pariseau Beth Pariseau Profile: Beth Pariseau

Following up on Mark’s post from last week (“Do Oracle Database innovations really matter?”), check out this article from Computerworld on how DBAs solve problems cheaply. It seems to support the assertion that new features aren’t all that:

Experienced DBAs know that new versions usually pack in more features, meaning that any performance boost is more likely to come from the expensive hardware upgrade accompanying a database upgrade, not the database upgrade itself. And those gains can be limited, if underlying design flaws or operational problems remain.

The article goes on to list some ways you can improve database performance with elbow grease instead of throwing money at the problem, such as fixing bad SQL code (duh) and implementing “intelligent balancing of traffic” for database-backed Web sites.

More links of interest from around the Web . . . Nishant Kaushik of Talking Identity offers an overview of what the Bharosa acquisition adds to Oracle’s access management capabilities, including the addition of contextual and software-based authentication to Oracle Access Manager and improved fraud detection and identity theft protection.

Doug Burns goes over some questions to ask if your manager asks you for workload metrics:

  • What do you mean by “workload”?
  • How much detail are you looking for?
  • Over what time intervals?

And, mostly importantly he says, “Why?” The reason you want the metrics will define your approach to gathering them. (Open questions like this, according to Doug, are what make being a DBA fun.)

Finally, catering to my obsession with all things Google, Andy C charts out which companies have most embraced Facebook. (I’ve started collecting Facebook invitations in lieu of Facebook “friends” . . . I just can’t bring myself to join any social networking sites. Don’t they exist solely so people can waste time at work? IM is bad enough . . . ) Google leads the pack, with almost 52% of employees on Facebook, followed by Yahoo at 34% and Microsoft at 25%. Oracle’s Facebook factor is much lower, just under 6% — only 4,280 Oracle employees out of 74,674. What, Larry Ellison figures he has enough friends already?

Have a good week everybody,

July 25, 2007  10:03 AM

Grid computing: Are you chicken?

Beth Pariseau Beth Pariseau Profile: Beth Pariseau

According to a recent survey of Independent Oracle Users Group (IOUG) members, adoption of RAC (Real Application Clusters) and other clustering products is widespread, but grid lags behind. As I reported in my recent story “Grid computing adoption slow amid fears of complexity,” the main reason for this is that users are concerned about the cost and difficulty involved in deploying grid. Are these fears founded?

According to our resident RAC and availability expert, Bill Cullen, these fears aren’t surprising, founded or not:

That doesn’t surprise me at all. Tech managers are always leery of wasting money on the five-dollar solution for the five-cent problem. I’m not saying that’s what Grid is, but that’s what decision makers are fearful of. There is definitely a sense of “If it isn’t broke, don’t fix it,” and in many cases I agree. Because there is such a low availability of grid database expertise, I think many managers are scared of the complexity, training costs, and “mucking up” of existing production applications that are working well.

RAC alleviated a lot of existing issues, especially in the arena of higher availability,
and it also was the second generation of a problematic product (Parallel Server) that many people were anxious to get off of. So in this sense it cured the headaches of a lot of managers.

By contrast Grid allows additional scalability at more attractive costs but unless you are faced with specific challenges the natural inclination is to leave well enough alone.

Isn’t [complexity] always the concern? I remember when managers worried about the complexity of the 7.3 database. I may not go as far as to say “unfounded” but it is certainly missing the forest for the trees because the reality is Grid reduces complexity, makes larger environments more manageable, and lowers cost in the long run.

Fess up — how many of you are putting off grid indefinitely because you fear the effort of implementation? Or are you just afraid of change in general? 😉

If your company already has RAC in place, does it serve your purposes just fine? Are you seeing benefits? Do you have any plans to increase the number of nodes? Are plans to take the plunge into grid in the works? Let us know your position.


July 25, 2007  10:00 AM

Do Oracle Database innovations really matter?

Derek Kuhr Derek Kuhr Profile: Derek Kuhr

Database 11g will boast a host of new, innovative features — such as Database Replay and its new Real Application Testing-related capabilities — but do these new fangled gadgets really matter to DBAs in the trenches?

I recently talked to one of my longtime sources, Forrester Research Inc. analyst Noel Yuhanna, at length about Database 11g. Yuhanna, a true DBMS expert who is extremely knowledgeable about the database marketplace, said there’s no question that Oracle is the leader when it comes to innovation.

“Database 11g shows Oracle’s leadership with innovations and advancements in the database technologies,” Yuhanna said. “Basically, it is continuing to extend the database features and functionality around key areas. They are availability, performance, security and unstructured data.”

Some of the innovations or enhancements that Oracle rolls out are a direct response to customer demand. According to Yuhanna, improvements in manageability features since Oracle 9i definitely fall into that category.

“I know that there are customers who are concerned about Oracle’s manageability in version 9, and 10 has improved quite a bit on manageability features,” the analyst explained. “In 11g, the trend is continuing where Oracle is going to extend upon automation and manageability, making it much easier to manage databases.”

I can see DBAs taking advantage of new manageability features, but what about some of the other bells and whistles. Sometimes when I talk to DBAs I get the feeling that they’re happy leaving well enough alone, and aren’t necessarily eager to try out new features and functionality — essentially for fear that they might break something.

What do you folks think? What is the process like for rolling out new features in your organization, and how long does that process take? Also, is Oracle helpful on that front? 

Let me know what you think and hopefully we can get a news story going on this topic.

— Mark

July 23, 2007  1:21 PM

Talking about Oracle

Ken Cline Profile: Clinek

I’m happy to announce the debut of Oracle Talk.

Oracle Talk is our new biweekly podcast series all about Oracle database and applications management designed for DBAs, developers and managers of Oracle shops. Each half-hour episode focuses on a specific topic and features recent SearchOracle.com content, interviews with experts and authors and a round-up of Oracle-related news, hosted by yours truly, Tim DiChiara, editor of SearchOracle.com.

In the inaugural episode of Oracle Talk, we explore why database administrators are in such a tizzy about their career choice and what can they do to improve their lot. We also answer some career and certification questions submitted to our experts, as well as rounding up the latest news from the Oracle community and beyond. In future episodes, we’ll be focusing on topics such as the impending release of Database 11g, Oracle security, Oracle vs. SAP and surviving the patching and upgrading treadmill.

Besides Oracle Talk, we have a growing collection of over a dozen podcasts about other topics, which are listed in our podcast library. If you have any comments or suggestions about our podcasting efforts, let us know!

Thanks and have a great week,

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