Users of Oracle 9i and 10g database products have been promised a pain-free upgrade to the next generation, 11g, due for release in the second half of 2007.
Oracle's vice president of database product management and server technologies, Mark Townsend, said there are few ways customers can upgrade to 11g by using testing and development infrastructure.
"If you have a production environment you probably have a test and development environment, so you can upgrade to 11g, which can capture workloads, on that," Townsend said. "Having verified no major problems from the upgrade you can switch production environments over."
For mission-critical environments, Townsend said, the two databases can run in parallel and when the user is ready switch to 11g it can be done with "only a few seconds downtime".
Upgrading part of a 10g cluster to 11g is not an option, however.
Townsend, a 15-year veteran of Oracle responsible for the development of the 9i, 10g, and 11g products, said a key area of concern today is about ILM and compliance.
"Compliance is driving requirements for data online and that means additional storage requirements [and] customers are looking at ways to apply grid computing for storage," he said. "We're seeing more customers build multi-tier data clusters and Oracle has the software to drive that."
Among 11g's new features is data partitioning capabilities to move data, "auditvault" functionality for central storage of all audit information, and automated "phone home" incident response.
"Change itself can be a pain if you're changing storage or moving from SMP to clusters," Townsend said. "11g is about change assurance to prove performance has improved from one release to another."
On the recent announcement of Unbreakable Linux, which puts Oracle in competition with Linux distributors Red Hat and Novell, Townsend said customers are looking at Oracle now the company has a lot of business applications, and they see value in having "a small number of throats to choke" for the database, middleware, and now operating system.
"I don't think we will have to go out there and market the hell out of it - although I'm sure we will," he said.
"We do have a [Linux] support infrastructure and are offering support to improve support for large-scale enterprises. It's not an 'us or them'. if you look at what makes Linux successful it's support from companies like Oracle."
Customers do not have to be using any Oracle products to get support for Unbreakable Linux.
On support for older products, Townsend said the support lifecycle for 9i goes into extended support in July next year, but it's "in customers' best interest to move to 10g".
Oracle's acquisition of Sleepycat Software, maker of the open source Berkeley DB, was not because of some technology, according to Townsend, but more about expanding the footprint.
Regarding other open source products Like MySQL, Townsend said a lot of people are "kicking the tyres of MySQL" but in terms of enterprise systems "we are not seeing them at all".
"Are people running SAP, PeopleSoft or their business on MySQL - not by any stretch of the imagination," he said.