Mixed numbers over Oracle 11g database uptake

Oracle says deployments on track, while others see slower pace

In enterprise software, the closest thing to the dominance of Windows is the Oracle database.

Oracle had a 49 percent share of the global database market last year, with US$8.3 billion in revenue, according to Gartner.

That is more than double the share of its closest competitor, IBM, with whom Oracle exchanged the lead several times during the dot-com era, but has since pulled away.

So just as Windows Vista's uptake is closely watched to see if its hold is weakening or as a bellwether of the overall PC market, Oracle database momentum is dissected by competitors and partners for similar reasons.

Oracle says deployments of its latest 11g database are on track. The database has been downloaded 450,000 times since its release last July, Oracle president Chuck Phillips said during a first quarter 2009 earnings conference call Thursday.

Oracle is "seeing significant adoption of 11g, on pace with the 10g adoption curve," he said.

A survey this spring of members of the Independent Oracle Users Group found that 35 percent plan to upgrade some databases to 11g within a year, higher than previous surveys.

Another survey by database management provider The Pythian Group found that only 1.4 percent of the 756 databases it manages on behalf of corporate clients are running 11g today.

"Whoever tells you that is awesome is selling you a bill of goods," said Paul Vallee, Pythian's founder and president. The firm still sees plenty of Oracle 7 and 8 databases in use, which were first introduced in 1992 and 1997, he said.

Vallee said 11g upgrades are slow in part because there were fewer compelling new features offered at its launch last year than there were in prior upgrades.

It has "minimal feature pull," he said. Also, companies tend to be conservative about upgrading major pieces of infrastructure, such as databases.

"Our philosophy with Oracle is that it is too bleeding-edge to go with any first release," one DBA told Computerworld last July.

The good news from Pythian's study is that interest is rising. Twenty-five percent of Pythian's clients have tested or deployed some Oracle 11g databases, Vallee said.

Moreover, 11g R2 is expected to introduce major new features in the areas of storage and database performance that could finally compel organizations with aging databases to make the move, he said.

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