Col. John Garmany
Despite predictions of waning attendance, Oracle World 2002 was extremely well attended, with over 23,000 paid participants. Although the premier Oracle conference didn’t cover any of the newest enhancements of the highly anticipated Oracle10i database, Oracle wasn’t short of new technologies for the database community. The two main themes at this year's Oracle World conference were Collaboration and Unbreakable Linux.
Oracle unveiled its new Collaboration Suite during the conference’s keynote address. As stated in the address, Oracle’s new Collaboration Suite allows a company to transform data into business intelligence. The Collaboration Suite consolidates e-mail, voicemail, calendaring, file storage, and other collaboration tools into one application that safely stores all data in an Oracle9i database. It’s designed to interface with most front-end tools, including Microsoft Outlook (See Figure 1). This integrated communications tool brings enterprise-level capabilities like reliability and scalability to team collaboration. Consolidating information in a single location and interfacing with almost any communication device, including wireless and voice, helps Oracle achieves its “Anytime, Anywhere, Any Device” goal.
A key benefit of maintaining all communication data in a database is a tool called Ultra Search, which allows a user to search across all the separate, stored data types with one tool. For example, to search for all information related to Oracle World in your Collaboration Suite database, one command would search through all e-mails, voicemails, attached files, calendars, stored files, and other products stored in the database. Ultra Search is also capable of searches across other Oracle databases, Web pages, and file servers, producing results ordered by relevance. Another advantage of Collaboration Suite is that attached e-mail files are stored once, in the database, and linked to all the e-mail recipients. This reduces the proliferation of files that may soon be out of date throughout the corporate network.
Oracle World 2002 also showcased Oracle’s commitment to Linux. Oracle makes Linux unbreakable by using redundant, low-cost, Intel-based servers to build a fault-tolerant information system. Michael Winner detailed building fault-tolerant systems during his presentation on rapid application development (Figure 2). Using Linux servers, a company can produce a fully redundant, highly reliable application server that includes multiple Web servers, load balanced to multiple application servers, load balanced to a database running Real Application Clusters—running Linux—on low-cost, Intel-based servers, all at a fraction of the cost of a comparable UNIX system. Oracle CEO Larry Ellison illustrated this point about clustering these databases together in his keynote address: “If one of these Linux systems fails, who cares? We have a fault-tolerant system…. Your users never see an interruption.” Redundant, low-cost Linux servers make Linux “unbreakable.”
During Ellison’s address, he discussed the idea of consolidating databases to improve business access to information. Ellison's point is that large companies have too many databases spread over too many locations, which results in information being distributed and isolated. With today's ability to instantly communicate around the world, there’s no longer a need to separate information by location. By consolidating information into large, centralized databases, a company's information is more secure and easier to work with and maintain.
Companies can realize significant cost savings by consolidating databases and IT functions. This would include everything from e-mail to a company's customer/supplier information. As Ellison stated, “You have to be willing to spend less” to realize the gains from consolidation. Of course, the aim of Oracle’s Real Application Clusters is to provide a highly reliable and fault-tolerant platform for the consolidated centralized database.
Java was also pervasive at Oracle World. Presentations focused on integrating Java into Oracle's database, the new capabilities of Oracle's Application Server, and the latest release of Oracle's JDeveloper. For the Java beginner, there were presentations on using JDeveloper to produce both applications and Enterprise Java Beans (EJB), such as Peter Koletzke’s presentation on J2EE and Oracle9i JDeveloper (Figure 3).
For the more advanced programmer, a number of presentations focused on developing enterprise applications using J2EE. From building clients using Oracle's JClient to developing classes that are loaded into the database itself, there were presentations for all levels of Java programming.
While Oracle continues to struggle with competitors in the large system marketplace, the Oracle World conference reinforced Oracle’s clout as a market leader and visionary in new technologies. With an impending resurgence in IT spending, Oracle appears to be well positioned to increase its market share in 2003.
Colonel John Garmany is a graduate of West Point, an Airborne Ranger, and a retired lieutenant colonel with 20+ years of IT experience. John is an OCP Certified Oracle DBA with a master's degree in information systems, a graduate certificate in software engineering, and a bachelor of science degree in electrical engineering from West Point. A respected Oracle expert and author, John serves as a writer for Oracle Internals and is the author of Logical Database Design - Principles & Practices by CRC Press. John can be reached at email@example.com.