Oracle Delays Internet Database

Oracle Corp. added a new feature to its Oracle8i database -- tardiness.

The Redwood Shores, Calif.-based database vendor acknowledged last month that the release date for the upgrade to its flagship Oracle8 database will slip by 60 to 90 days. Since unveiling Oracle8i in September, Oracle had been promising a release before the end of 1998. Now, Oracle8i may ship as late as March.

The delay by Oracle raises the question about throwing stones and glass houses. Oracle CEO Larry Ellison and the company’s publicity machine often criticize Microsoft Corp. for failing to deliver on its release promises, especially when it comes to enterprise databases. Analysts, however, are being gracious. Merv Adrian with Giga Information Group ( says the delay is no big deal.

"The bottom line is that large, complex database engines are enormous engineering projects and that building reliable enterprise-class software is still an art, not a science," Adrian says. "Given that this is not an enormous delay, it’s more a positive sign about the quality of Oracle’s process than it is a negative one about the quality of the product."

Oracle officials say the code is frozen for the database, which has been in beta testing since August. Current testing focuses on integrating some of the more advanced features of the database set. Oracle is pitching the database as part of an "Internet platform," which includes Oracle8i, Oracle Application Server and JDeveloper 2.0, a new Java development tool. Developers are making sure Oracle8i is compatible with the application server, applications and JDeveloper.

At its core, Oracle8i is intended to allow any type of data to be managed from a centralized server and accessed from any client across any network. Some of the ongoing tests involve WebDB, a new tool built into the database that makes it easier to put Oracle databases on the Web and allows users full access from a browser.

Oracle has been announcing new elements of the increasingly complex database platform a few at a time for months. Some of the elements unveiled since the original announcement, which focused on the Internet File System (iFS) and the database-resident Java Virtual Machine, include Parallel Server with Cache Fusion, Oracle Enterprise Manager 2.0, and Support for eXtensible Markup Language (XML).

With Parallel Server with Cache Fusion clustering architecture and cluster load balancing, high-speed interconnects pass data directly between nodes, and cluster load balancing connects users to less used system nodes.

Oracle Enterprise Manager 2.0 provides Java-based tools that tune the database performance and dispatch day-to-day tasks. Oracle is also launching ExpertOnline subscription services, which provide remote database administration for organizations without professional database administrators.

Support for XML, the emerging standard for data transfer over the Internet, will include an XML parser within Oracle8i and automated parsing and rendering of data between XML and the database in the iFS. Support for XML was also expected in Oracle Application Server 4.0 in the first half of 1999, in Oracle JDeveloper in the first quarter of 1999 and in Oracle WebDB and Oracle Developer in the second half of 1999.