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Oracle database roadmap builds over Raw Iron

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OpenWorld Oracle has acknowledged past mistakes by laying out a database development roadmap intended to make high-end capabilities more generally available.

Having "done" grid in 10g, the database giant said Monday it's now working to "surround" the core database with additional features, such as automatic storage management, while also making underlying storage layers "more intelligent".

Oracle is making high-end features that are currently available for purchase separately accessible to a broader number of its applications customers, starting with the fast TimesTen In-Memory database system that was purchased in summer 2005.

The giant is also taking a second, more cautious, stab at delivering a database server appliance after its first effort - Raw Iron launched with flare by chief executive Larry Ellison at Comdex in 1998 - crashed amid slipping schedules and lack of interest from customers.

Oracle is now working with hardware partners IBM, Hewlett-Packard, Dell, EMC, and Sun Microsystems on the new strategy. The goal is for a hardware and software combo that combines power with relative simplicity and ease of set up.

Ahead of that, there's Oracle Optimized Warehouse, a set of reference implementations for Oracle's database and OEM's hardware. Oracle joined with Sun to announce their Optimized Warehouse at OpenWorld on Monday.

Andrew Mendelsohn, senior vice president of server technologies, told OpenWorld delegates Oracle is moving cautiously towards the "Tetadata experience".

"We tried it with Raw Iron five years ago. That was an out-of-the-box, pre-configured Oracle database. Customers didn't see the imperative, they said: 'I can buy that database myself, why do I need the box?'

"In data warehousing, there seems to be a segment where people like having the appliance. We are seeing whether you guys would like to buy Oracle in this fashion. If it's a success we'll be spending more time on it," Mendelsohn said.

Speed is another driver in Oracle's strategy, and the firm is working to improve performance times for data access to its applications by making TimesTen more available without the need for so much specialized, or costly, engineering and integration.

Next year will see TimesTen updated to support the Oracle Call Interface (OCI), Pro*C, and PL/SQL, a TimesTen ADO.NET data provider will be added for integration with Microsoft application and data environments. Also on the roadmap is integration with Oracle cluster server, automatic client connections, and integration with Oracle's management and monitoring software.

The changes follow a TimesTen plug-in to Oracle Enterprise Manager that was due to be made available from the Oracle Technology Network (OTN) on Monday, and release of a TimesTen extension for Oracle SQL that went live last week.

TimesTen is often deployed in customers' Oracle database infrastructures for things like real-time business analytics or in high-volume transaction processing. TimesTen underwent what Oracle called its largest update since purchase this February. The product is sold by Oracle for $12,000 per CPU, so improved integration won't just help customers, it'll also help Oracle's bottom line by selling more software on top of the basic database.

According to Mendelsohn, the story of databases is of high-end features moving into the general database. "The stuff that's considered leading edge today, in three to four years all of you are going to be doing," he said. ®

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