Oracle Updates Database

Oracle Monday released details of the next version of its flagship database, dubbed Oracle 9i, at the company's annual user conference.

When it ships sometime during the first half of 2001, Oracle 9i will include a technology Oracle calls "cache fusion." It allows an IS department to create a cluster of computers running Oracle 9i and related applications, and then add additional computers without making any changes to the data or the applications. The new cache fusion code automatically shares administrative information among all the computers in the cluster and configures the cluster to handle increased workloads and users.

The cache fusion code also insulates the cluster from a failure of one or more nodes. According to Oracle, the cluster-based application keeps running even if a computer crashes, and it can recover in 17 seconds or less.

Also new is a program called Oracle Personalization, which will be included in the 9i database. This program analyses the current and past interactions of a user. On the basis of preferences, interests and so on, it recommends to the database what related data to serve up. According to Oracle, this work can be done without affecting database performance.

A scheduling feature lets administrators set up different recommendation schemes for different time periods or different marketing campaigns.

The intent of the personalisation program is to target users, such as e-commerce customers, with information and resources specifically suited to their interests and needs.

The 9i database also has a single sign-on feature, which authenticates users just once to access applications and data across different Oracle databases and applications.

For service providers hosting applications, Oracle has added the ability to let concurrent users securely access a single large database. The service provider now can label data so only authorised users can access the data. A related feature can encrypt selected data, such as customer credit-card numbers, so that even systems administrators cannot see it.

A series of other features give the 9i database greater intelligence, so it can tune its use of memory, CPUs, and disk storage, easing the workload of database administrators.

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