Big Ideas

Inside Oracle Database 11g

Getting Business Value from Your Database

By David Baum

May 2008

As Oracle's senior vice president of database server technologies, Andy Mendelsohn is responsible for development and product management of the Oracle Database product line. Profit spoke with Mendelsohn about new capabilities in Oracle Database 11g and how they affect Oracle Applications customers.

PROFIT: What business drivers motivated the advances we see in Oracle Database 11g?

MENDELSOHN: Business leaders deal with three core issues in IT: rate of change, escalating costs, and a perennial need for high quality of service. Confronting these issues gets more and more complicated as corporate information becomes more diverse. There are XML documents. There is multimedia and Web content. There are [Microsoft] Office documents. This unstructured information is extremely valuable, and it needs to be managed with the same secure, scalable, and available kind of infrastructure that a database provides.

PROFIT: What has Oracle done to help customers with this?

MENDELSOHN: For starters, Oracle Database 11g can manage all types of data—from traditional business information to XML and 3-D spatial information. Secondly, Oracle grid technologies lower costs by enabling you to use commodity servers and storage. PG&E, California's largest utility, has seen huge cost savings since it switched to an Oracle grid environment. PG&E is rolling out its SmartMeter program for automated meter reading that will gather energy usage information for more than 10 million customers. They predict their data storage requirements will go up 700-fold, so they switched to an Oracle database in a grid environment to handle the increase in volume, and they say that they're enjoying the same high-quality service that they used to get on their mainframe.

PROFIT: What is Oracle doing to lower costs?

MENDELSOHN: For most companies, storage requirements are tripling in size every two years. They need more power and capacity. We've done a tremendous amount of work over the years to lower the cost of owning and operating the database. We've addressed labor costs by automating common administrative tasks and making the database more self-managing. For example, in Oracle Database 11g, we've made it easier for database administrators to turn a large database into multiple partitions. We have also developed compression technologies that let people store data more efficiently.

These technologies are appealing to eHarmony, the internet's No. 1 trusted relationship service. eHarmony now has 18 million members, and its data has grown 16-fold in three years. According to Mark Douglas, vice president of technology, they abandoned their former database management system and adopted Oracle Database and [Oracle] Real Application Clusters, along with Oracle Partitioning, to seamlessly scale business demand and data growth.

Finally, we've devised new ILM [information lifecycle management] strategies that yield order-of-magnitude reductions in database storage costs. For example, you can put your most commonly used data on high-end storage platforms, and put your less frequently used data on lower-cost platforms.

PROFIT: How does Oracle simplify IT changes and upgrades?

MENDELSOHN: One of the biggest challenges for business is dealing with rapid change. How can you keep changing things while delivering 24/7 availability? For example, if you want to move to a new operating system or hardware platform, there is significant testing to verify that the applications are going to work with the same reliability and performance as before. In Oracle Database 11g we did a lot of work to lower the cost of changes and updates and minimize the potential for error. We have a feature called database workload capture that lets you capture a production workload and move it to a test environment, where you can experiment with new capabilities. Arup Nanda of Starwood Hotels says these new capabilities will help them manage changes in a controlled manner—minimizing the risk of new projects and the potential for error. This gives everybody a much higher degree of confidence in what IT is doing.

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