Apps Ease Database Management

A host of developers, including Oracle and Expand Beyond, roll out software designed to make the job of a DBA easier.

Database administrators can look forward to getting some help managing databases from Oracle Corp. and other developers with the release of new tools announced by Oracle, Expand Beyond Corp., DataMirror Corp. and Quest Software Inc. at OracleWorld in San Francisco on Monday.

Oracle, of Redwood Shores, Calif., set the tone with the release of Enterprise Manager 4.0 , database management software that provides a user-centric, end-to-end system view. EM 4.0 does this through an HTML-based console lets DBAs view and manage performance levels on every infrastructure component that affects end-user experience, from URLs down to desktops. One goal is to reduce end user calls to the help desk by keeping the DBA better informed on the health of corporate applications, Oracle officials said.

"The end user will never have to call the help desk," said Rene Bonvanie, vice president of Oracle9i marketing. "IT will know their experience is bad."

Separately, Chicago-based Expand Beyond promised more manageability from PocketDBA 2.0. The new version may interest heterogeneous shops running a mix of databases, since the mobile software for real-time database administration now supports Microsoft Corp.s SQL Server and IBMs DB2 databases, in addition to Oracles namesake database, which it had supported in earlier versions.

PocketDBA runs on wireless laptops, tablets or PDAs, in addition to the desktop. It allows for monitoring and managing of an unlimited number of supported databases. Besides real-time access, new features include the capability to tweak the interface so that it shows only those features that relate to the database versions to which users devices are connected.

Entertainment Earth Inc., a wholesaler and retailer of action figures, toys and collectibles, beta tested PocketDBA. CTO Aaron Lipman said the software recently helped ensure that the companys Web site accurately reflected stock levels for this holiday seasons expected hot toy: action figures from The Simpsons TV show. Lipman accessed its SQL Server database over his PDA to remotely tweak it so that the toys showed up as in-stock to online viewers.

"Thats when it hit home that [this capability] was really crucial," said Lipman, in North Hollywood, Calif. "Thats a lot of bottom line."

Meanwhile, DataMirror, of Markham, Ontario, rolled out a new version of iReflect, a log-based replication tool that mirrors Oracle database transactions from the primary system to the recovery system in real time. New features include e-mail and messaging alarms and alerts, along with automation of actions based on conditional events, such as when mirroring latency exceeds threshold. An enhanced graphical workflow monitor provides operational control over all iReflect mirroring processes in one screen, enabling DBAs to spot and resolve network issues before they cause latency, officials said. Also, automated checkpoint processing simplifies administrative tasks such as offline tape backups on recovery systems.

Finally, Quest Software, of Irvine, Calif., updated Quest Central for Oracle, a database management tool set. Release 2.5, due this month, records database processes as they occur, enabling playback on demand and context-sensitive advice for resolution. It will be available at the end of the month, with pricing starting at $2,400 per server.

Raymond Lefebvre, manager of database administration at Stride Rite Corp., in Lexington, Mass., said that the snapshot and replay capability of the beta version of Quest Central for Oracle 2.5 will save the company the equivalent of employing three DBAs.

"Previously, you had to catch a problem as it was happening," Lefebvre said. "[The snapshot capability] allows you to see who was in there and how it was affecting performance of a database. Without tools [like this], wed probably need twice as many [DBAs] to do the same amount of work."