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Oracle to Emphasize E-Business Availability

Oracle Corp. next week will unveil a push to associate its name with e-business high availability by launching new services, introducing some products and repositioning other products. Several of the initiatives focus on Windows NT.

“High availability used to be all about high-end customers who had a few critical business processes,” says Robert Shimp, Oracle’s senior director of product marketing for the Internet platform. Now the parts of the enterprise and even small business that handle online transactions have an even greater need for application and database availability, and Oracle wants to provide that availability, Shimp says.

The Oracle (www.oracle.com) announcements will include Oracle E-Business Continuity, a program of consulting, services, and partnerships to assist in e-business high-availability.

Oracle will also announce a new high-availability configuration called Oracle Parallel Fail Safe to allow for recovery of failed Web sites in as little as 30 seconds. That solution is currently available only for Hewlett-Packard’s Unix platform, although Oracle will make it available for Windows NT or Windows 2000 later this year, Shimp says.

Aiming to push high availability into the middle tier, or application tier, of Windows NT e-commerce environments, Oracle is extending its Oracle Fail Safe product to Oracle Application Server.

Previously a component only of the Oracle8i database server, Oracle Fail Safe works on top of Microsoft Wolfpack 2-node clusters. It allows a standby server to recognize when an active server goes offline, start up, and take over the services the failed server was providing.

Oracle expects customers to use the technology in application server farms where a master application server provides load balancing to a number of slave application servers. Customers would install Oracle Fail Safe on a duplicate master server.

A new version of Oracle Fail Safe, 3.0, provides better management capabilities than previous versions through integration with Oracle Enterprise Manager.

On Windows NT, the major database vendor is trying to muscle its way into a greater share of the availability sales and mindshare that Microsoft obtains with SQL Server 7.0 and Wolfpack.

“Oracle is the only vendor out there that really has good solutions for [availability] in the Windows NT space,” Shimp claims.

Oracle is repositioning some of its current products for those goals. For example, Oracle Parallel Server is generally thought of as a scalability product because it allows database servers to be ganged together to work on a single image of a database. Oracle will begin to emphasize the availability implications of having four or six database servers working on a single image of the database – when one server goes down, the database is still running.

The company also bundles a standby database feature with Oracle8i that allows users to have a second, separate instance of the database at a remote location. The production database regularly replicates its data to the standby database, and in case of disaster, the standby database can stand in, Shimp says. “That is an area that is just now taking off,” according to Shimp. “We’re seeing customers beginning to adopt that strategy.”

As part of the availability push, Oracle will also emphasize some of the database server management and maintenance tasks database administrators can do with an Oracle database online that they must take a SQL Server database down for. Those include indexing tables, repartitioning, and rebuilding logs. -- Scott Bekker

About the Author

Scott Bekker is editor in chief of Redmond Channel Partner magazine.

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