SWOT: Oracle Launches Oracle Database 11g

Here it comes: Oracle 11g is en route!

With the announcement of the upcoming release of Oracle Database 11g, Oracle continues to evolve its market-leading offering. Oracle is introducing or improving many features and capabilities; however, specific details on general availability, feature bundling, and packaging, and pricing have been lacking.

Strengths:

  • This is a major new release that promises to further enhance the overall performance, manageability, and availability of the Oracle Database while adding additional features that should increase its attractiveness in environments that may have previously required a specialized, rather than a general purpose, database.


  • As with prior versions, Oracle Database 11g will be available in several editions; however certain features and options (e.g., Data Guard, OLAP, Data Mining, Spatial, Partitioning) will only be available with the Enterprise Edition.


  • The Oracle Data Guard feature allows users to utilize hot standby databases for tasks such as reporting, and thus offload the demand on the production system.


  • Oracle Database 11g includes enhanced support for storing and accessing large objects (e.g., images, unstructured text, audio, video) as well as LOB encryption, XML performance enhancements, and new compression capabilities that should prove advantageous in a content management environment.


  • The Real Application Testing feature allows users to test a real-world snapshot of their existing production environment against proposed changes or upgrades and identify any potential bottlenecks or problems.

Weaknesses:

  • While general availability of the Linux version is planned for this calendar quarter (most likely August 2007), general availability dates for other operating systems has not been specified.


  • Many details concerning which features will be included in the core configurations and which will be available as extra-cost options were also lacking. Basic pricing was also not disclosed.


  • Not all of the heavily touted features are new with the Oracle Database 11g. While they have undoubtedly been improved or enhanced, several are already available in Oracle Database 10g.


  • Due to acquisitions and its own product development, Oracle has amassed a large cadre of business intelligence products and technology. However, the Oracle Database OLAP option (10g as well as 11g) potentially competes with the Essbase OLAP technology that Oracle secured when it acquired Hyperion. Oracle is claiming that the conflict is minimal. However, Oracle Express, an independent OLAP engine (and Essbase competitor) that Oracle acquired long before the OLAP option was first available in Oracle 10g, is no longer actively marketed by Oracle.


Opportunities:

  • The enhanced ability to efficiently work with unstructured data should augment the general-purpose nature of the Oracle Database and make it a more attractive choice in a wider variety of applications; including apps that may have previously required a more specialized database.


  • Improved integration with Oracle Database Vault (which restricts access) and Audit Vault (which monitors access) prevents unauthorized users (including highly privileged DBAs) from accessing and/or making unauthorized changes to data values while providing an audit trail of their actions. It should make Oracle Database 11g appealing in environments where the potential for “insider” fraud or privacy is a risk or concern.


  • Because many of the applications that Oracle has acquired run on other databases, Oracle has the opportunity to push the Oracle Database 11g by first releasing new versions of these applications on its own database.


  • Oracle Database 11g will help Oracle defend its market leadership while providing additional features that should enable Oracle to compete in environments in which it may have previously been less competitive.


Threats:

  • When a company announces a major new release of any product it tends to delay or even freeze the sale of the current release. Oracle may find that companies which are currently evaluating Oracle 10g may delay their decisions until the release of Oracle 11g and, in the interim, be vulnerable to competition from other database vendors.


  • While many innovative database features first appear in specialized database products (often from “start-up” database specialists), those features that receive widespread market acceptance usually make their way into the general-purpose database products of major database vendors such as Oracle. However, as specialized database products are not intended to be “all things to all applications,” they tend to be more streamlined and can represent a competitive threat to vendors like Oracle.


  • The open source movement is also a threat to database vendors. Organizations may use the threat of their potential open-source deployment as a negotiating tactic while third party developers may chose to use them as a cost-effective database engine for their applications.

About the Author

Michael A. Schiff is a principal consultant for MAS Strategies.