Oracle9i Update to Take Advantage of XML

Oracle Corp. early next year will release an updated version of its Oracle9i Database that will use XML to bring much of the relational work now done outside of 9i into the company's database.

LAS VEGAS—Oracle Corp. early next year will release an updated version of its Oracle9i Database that will use XML to bring much of the relational work now done outside of 9i into the companys database.

The initiative, code-named XDB, will enable businesses to map XML-based documents directly into their 9i databases, Jeremy Burton, senior vice president for product and service marketing for Oracle, said in an interview Tuesday here at Comdex. The result will be that less work will have to be done through relational databases to map the data into 9i, saving enterprises time and money in administration costs.

Oracle9i Database Release 2, which will be previewed at next months Oracle OpenWorld conference, takes advantage of object technology that the Redwood Shores, Calif., company incorporated into its Oracle database four years ago.

At the time, Burton said, there was a push—led by Informix—among major database vendors to put this technology into databases, even though most customers were more interested in using object technology in their middleware and in application development tools.

"It was a technology in search of a problem," he said. "In the 90s, it was technology for technologys sake."

The object technology pretty much laid fallow inside the database for four years. But with the rapid growth of XML, Oracle has found a way to take advantage of that technology.

"XML, really, is a series of nested structures," Burton said. "It maps perfectly to the object technology inside the database."

By combining XML with object technology in the database, businesses can remove much of the work that now is done outside the database by relational technology. An expense document in XML can be sent directly from a hotel to a companys database without much reconfiguration done before reaching the database, Burton said.

"What do you want to do with any XML document?" he asked. "You want to store it, to search it, all the things that relational databases do. Now you will be able to do all that without relational databases."

The move continues the push by Oracle and other vendors to add functionality and capabilities to their database products. A key part of Oracle9i was its clustering capabilities that enables businesses to use more than one low-cost server to manage the database, so that if one server goes down, the database and the applications built on it will keep running. Its this clustering function that Oracle Chairman and CEO Larry Ellison trumpeted during his keynote Monday when urging businesses using Microsoft Corp.s Outlook e-mail system to use the Oracle9i Database in place of Microsofts Exchange server.

Burton said a lesser known feature of 9i, which was released earlier this year, was that Oracle moved OLAP (online analytic processing) capabilities inside the database, rather than keeping it outside. Now complex data analytic and compilation work can be done inside Oracle9i rather than having to remove the data to OLAP products outside the database.

At OpenWorld, Oracle also will release an upgraded version of its 9i Application Server, Burton said. He declined to give a lot of details, but did say it would focus a lot on Web services.

Oracle is pushing businesses to view the 9i application server as a tool that not only can handle their Java applications, but also wireless applications, portals, messaging and caching applications.