Oracle Corp. is touting real Application Clusters as one of the key enhancements in the companys 9i database software, which is being readied for release in the next few months. But even this feature may not be enough to persuade users—some of whom are still implementing Oracle8i—to upgrade.
Real Application Clusters enables nodes to simultaneously access disk drives, which gives businesses greater scalability in their database operations.
But some database administrators at the independent International Oracle Users Group-Americas conference here earlier this month said the Real Application Clusters feature may not be compelling enough to persuade them to upgrade to Oracle9i any time soon.
"For our shop, [the cluster] probably is not [that important]," said Gary Murphy, a database administrator at Newfoundland Power, in St. Johns. "I dont think we need the scalability you get with clusters. I come from a utility company, so our customer base does not grow a lot."
Verizon Communications Inc., in Tampa, Fla., generally waits a few months to allow most of the bugs to be shaken out of new software before jumping in. "Oracle9i is too new, and we just recently went to production for one database with Oracle8i [Version 7]," said Mike Morley, lead database administrator for Oracle projects at Verizon. "Unless there is some feature that you can take right out of the box without a design change, we wouldnt try it. Plus, a lot of our upgrades are driven by support staff, such as the business units."
As for the other special features in Oracle9i, Murphy said, "I think we will upgrade eventually, but there is nothing I want right now. There are some disaster recovery features we might take advantage of."
However, another Verizon database administrator finds Oracles methodology appealing. Building clusters through software may be a lot easier than constructing them through hardware, he said. "Oracle is trying to build a cluster solution that does not depend on the kind of power solution you have," said the database manager, who requested anonymity. "It does seem like a good idea. Usually the hardware solution is difficult to implement, although it is more robust. But software is easier to implement."
Oracle9i is aimed at companies that depend on e-commerce, such as Amazon.com Inc. and financial institutions. Oracle executives said they will announce availability dates in a few weeks.