This is the first overhaul of the database that Oracle first released in February 2004 and heralded as "the only database designed for grid computing."
"Oracle sets the bar for relational databases while our competitors struggle to deliver basic functionality in a timely manner," said Andy Mendelsohn, senior vice president of Database Server Technologies, in a release, taking a thinly veiled snipe at rival Microsoft Corp.s struggle with the oft-delayed release of its SQL Server 2005 next-generation database upgrade.
Oracle also announced that more than 100 companies, including ISVs, system integrators and hardware vendors, were involved in the beta program to develop and test the new release.
In addition, Oracle had a customer win to add to the buzz: Salesforce.com and Oracle announced that all of the on-demand CRM companys 15,500 customers and 267,000 subscribers worldwide will be plugged into the platform to support the companys applications and application services.
The added goodies in the new release include new sorting techniques designed to give better performance of all sorting operations, such as queries and index creation, and to eliminate the need for preloaded sort operations and related third-party software.
Oracle has also put new automated capabilities into Data Guard to enable failover to a standby database in seconds in scenarios where the database is unattended.
In addition, 10g R2 comes with new types of data encryption. It features Transparent Data Encryption for the encryption of database data on disk, such as credit card numbers or Social Security numbers, without the need for application rewrite.
Oracle claims that the feature is "completely application transparent," according to a news release, and that it will help customers thwart data theft and regulatory compliance issues.
Encryption of backed-up data on disk or tape also debuts in 10g R2. The new Oracle Secure Backup is an automated backup-to-tape management system thats designed to provide a less costly alternative to backup products. It can also be used with pre-10g database releases, such as Oracle 9i.
Oracles existing RMAN (Recovery Manager) backup-to-disk feature has also been beefed up with the ability to encrypt backup data.
As far as administration benefits go, 10g R2 improves the way performance statistics are collected from memory, enabling better diagnosis of slow or non-respondent instances. And Automatic Database Diagnostic Monitor is now more attuned to the overall systems performance, capable of detecting and diagnosing a wider range of performance problems.
In addition, 10g R2 features Automatic Workload Repository comparison reports for use in performance troubleshooting.
Application developers are getting some new toys, as well. Oracle claims that its new version is packing the first commercial support for the W3C XML Query standard, used in accessing XML data. XQuery has not yet been finalized, however, and both of Oracles largest database rivals—IBM and Microsoft—support XML in their databases.
A spokesperson for IBM, for example, said that, basically, Oracle provides the same type of storage IBM does today—in other words, it stores an entire XML document as a large object and shreds the XML content into columns. IBM uses SQL to query XML if its stored in columns and the W3Cs XPath if its stored in large objects.
10g R2 also features better support for Microsofts Windows, with stored procedures stored in the CLR (Common Language Runtime). And it offers improved development functionality for Oracle HTML DB, the rapid Web application development tool for Oracle Database.