Database Battle Heats Up

New and updated features from Oracle, Microsoft hit at each other's strengths.

Oracle Corp. and Microsoft Corp. will ratchet up their ongoing database battle with each announcing new and upgraded features that hit at the others strengths.

At the OracleWorld conference in San Francisco this week, Oracle will introduce real-time features for its Collaboration Suite, ease-of-use enhancements to its EM (Enterprise Manager) database management software and a new tool for managing mobile databases, according to officials and sources familiar with their plans.

Meanwhile, Microsoft, of Redmond, Wash., will hit at Oracles claim to offer an "unbreakable" database when, in the next few months, it releases what it calls an Installer that automatically installs SQL Server database security patches. Officials said this will keep the systems up longer.

Also on the security front, by the end of this year, Microsoft will expand its Baseline Security Analyzer to support its Exchange Server messaging software. Analyzer is software that checks a customers SQL Server, Internet Information Services and Windows installations to see if they are configured with any potential security holes.

At its Professional Association for SQL Server Community Summit in Seattle next week, Microsoft and Unisys Corp. will announce a Center of Excellence, where customers can test configurations of the companies technologies.

But Oracle looks to get its word out sooner. At OracleWorld, it will unveil EM 4.0, which offers a feature called Knowledge Center. The feature is a central repository that gathers information to create an end-to-end view of an IT infrastructure. This allows Oracle database administrators to view and manage performance levels of routers, databases,Web and application servers, business applications, operating systems, and hardware platforms. EM 4.0 also adds an HTML-based console.

EM 4.0 will also replicate end-user performance levels, relieving IT managers of the need to diagnose servers to find how much space is being used and what number of users are active. Lastly, EM 4.0 will track patch levels.

Oracle will also introduce EM to Go, a version of EM for managing the size and types of data that the database feeds to mobile devices. The software will compete against Expand Beyond Corp.s PocketDBA software, which also will be announced at the show.

In addition, Oracle will announce Release 2 of Collaboration Suite. A key component of Release 2 is iMeeting, which enables Web conferencing, instant messaging, whiteboarding and other real-time collaboration capabilities. Collaboration Suite also supports meeting playback and voice streaming.

iMeeting is a foundation for integrating enterprise content, commerce and comprehensive business flows during and after online meetings, according to officials, in Redwood Shores, Calif. They declined to say when Collaboration Suite Release 2 will be available.

Although Oracle says 300 customers are implementing Collaboration Suite, the company will have a hard time persuading many enterprise customers to switch from Exchange or IBMs Lotus Software divisions Notes messaging software.

Rick Fletcher, director of database technology at Inc. and an Oracle9i customer, granted that the idea of Oracle Collaboration Suite running on an Oracle database is compelling.

But the scenario makes sense only if the front-end code is written right, Fletcher said. "I dont think Exchange has a better database, but [Microsoft has] a better front end," he said.