Oracle to tout database, app server at OpenWorld

At its annual OpenWorld show in San Francisco early next month, Oracle Corp. plans to evangelize its application server and database and make it easier for DBAs (database administrators) to become certified for Oracle products.

Oracle will apply some pressure to its archrivals in the application server market as it prepares to roll out the follow-up to its Oracle9i Application Server. Oracle is not considered a leader in the application server space by most analyst firm accounts. But the Redwood Shores, California-based company is looking to move up, said Jeremy Burton, Oracle's vice president of worldwide sales, in an interview on Tuesday at Comdex.

Oracle also plans to be at least as aggressive in the database market against its archrivals, most notably IBM Corp., by introducing the next version of its core database product. According to Burton, the upcoming version will contain a secret sauce technology that will represent a major technical advantage over IBM, called XDB.

"This one should have IBM scratching its head over what to do next," Burton said.

Although Burton declined to detail what will be new about XDB in the next iteration of the database, according to Oracle's Web site it stands for XML (Extensible Markup Language) database support. The Web site also includes XDB as a feature in the current 9i database.

In addition to Oracle, both IBM and Microsoft have been increasing the level of XML support within their databases during the last several months.

Mike Schiff, an analyst at Current Analysis, in Sterling, Virginia, said that natively supporting XML creates the potential to increase database performance because it won't have to transform the data and break it down into relational data.

"Oracle OpenWorld will definitely be a rah-rah type of event," Schiff said. "IBM calls its database 'universal,' and Oracle's challenge is to prove that its database is universal as well."

Schiff continued that he expects Oracle to use the event to encourage its installed base to move its technology forward.

One way that Oracle is hoping to further its cause is through enhancements to its Oracle University and OLN (Oracle Learning Network). At OpenWorld, the company will tout two new options in the DBA-certification program: Oracle Certified Master and Oracle Certified Associate, according to John L. Hall, senior vice president of Oracle University. The new tracks join OCP (Oracle Certified Professional) in the overall education program.

Also new to Oracle University and OLN is the ability for students to attend these classes online, remotely, rather than in a physical classroom as required in the past.

Oracle Certified Master requires OCP certification, physical or online attendance in a series of advanced classes, and a practicum in which candidates physically go to Oracle to demonstrate skills.

Oracle Certified Associate is the entry-level option, and Hall said that it can serve as a primer for DBAs currently versed in Microsoft, IBM, Sybase, Informix, or other databases to familiarize themselves with Oracle.

Oracle OpenWorld attendees also will be able to take certification exams at the show, free of charge.

Hall said that more than half of the students seek certification for Oracle's database. "The fastest growing part of the program is for our application server," Hall added.

Current Analysis' Schiff said that in the suffering economy where DBA skills are in great demand, companies are looking at hiring certified DBAs more than ever.

"In the days when the dot-coms were going crazy, they'd go after and hire anybody who could spell Oracle. That has changed. Now IT departments want people who walk the walk," Schiff said.

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