Databases Target Ease of Use

Oracle, CA, Vision Solutions and Expand Beyond unwrap enhancements.

Oracle Corp. was joined by several other software vendors last week in introducing enhancements to their respective data management products.

The goal for each was to make databases easier to manage.

At the International Oracle Users Group conference here, Oracle outlined a range of manageability improvements slated for Version 9i Release 2 of its namesake database, which is due for release next month. Among them are the introduction of additional "advisories" that analyze and chart the effect of database tuning changes on performance. The advisories may, for example, analyze what would happen to the performance of SQL statements or set various database recovery times.

Separately, Computer Associates International Inc. last week introduced upgrades to five software tools in its Unicenter Database Management lineup. Each is now integrated with a common interface for simpler and more efficient management and boasts added support for Oracle9i, said company officials in Islandia, N.Y.

CAs announcement includes the following releases of Unicenter tools: DBA 5.2, Enterprise DBA 5.2, Database Analyzer 2.2, TSreorg 3.1 and Fast Unload 4.1. They can be implemented individually or as a suite, and all use a common Unicenter Database Management console.

Meanwhile, Vision Solutions Inc., based here, introduced Symbiator 4.0, a tool for integrating data across databases from Oracle, Microsoft Corp., IBM and Sybase Inc. The newest release adds monitoring capabilities, a new central UI (user interface) and formal professional services.

On the mobile front, startup Expand Beyond Corp., of Chicago, released Version 1.4 of its PocketDBA tool for Oracle, which lets database administrators connect to management tools through a Palm Inc. or Pocket PC handheld. The latest version adds more security with support for VPNs (virtual private networks) and RSA Security Inc.s SecurID authentication technology, said Ari Kaplan, CEO and co-founder. In the fall, Expand Beyond plans to add support for Microsofts SQL Server and IBMs DB2 in PocketDBA, Kaplan said.

Although users at the conference remained skeptical about the functionality of the enhancements until they try the features for themselves, the focus on manageability struck a chord with many. Of particular interest to Gregg Houghton, database manager at Inland Paperboard and Packaging Inc., were Oracle9is additional abilities to tune itself while staying online. "Its extremely important for us," Houghton said. "We have to beg [our management] for outages. If the database goes down, people stop working."

The Indianapolis-based manufacturer is running Oracle8i but plans to upgrade to 9i later this year.

Andy Mendelsohn, Oracle senior vice president of database and application server technologies, said his companys goal has been to cut the cost of managing Oracle9i in half. Oracle, of Redwood Shores, Calif., is also trying to shake the reputation of its databases as being hard to manage.