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Whether it’s company flaks, the media or users, everybody’s talking about the forthcoming 10g products from Oracle. With Oracle Application Server 10g already out and Oracle Database 10g on the threshold of release, I turned to the International Oracle Users Group to get an update on what early users like and don’t like in the new products.

For her part, IOUG President Kim Floss, a database expert who works in the food manufacturing industry, is a self-described tuning nut and is looking forward to diving into 10g’s automated SQL tuning. “[Tuning is] a personal passion of mine,” she said. “Any new tools and features Oracle comes out with to make my job easier, I’m excited to get out and play with.”

Normally, when Floss goes through a tuning exercise, she evaluates a boatload of alternatives using manual analysis to work through the proof output. With 10g’s new automated SQL tuning features, much of that will be delivered to her in a report.

Tuning aficionados will appreciate the significance of automating this work. In previous DBA jobs, Floss said, she has regularly been in situations where a business will try to close its books at month’s end or year’s end. The financial side of the house needs to analyze certain reports to get that work done, and it makes a big difference if those reports come out in three days or in 10, or even in 10 minutes versus one minute.

The lineup of sessions in the IOUG’s upcoming conference, IOUG Live! 2004, reflect the fact that the IOUG’s members share Floss’ preoccupation with tuning and code optimization.

Here’s the lineup of 10g sessions:

  • Welcome to the Oracle10g Data Dictionary and Initialization Parameters
  • Oracle 10g—New SQL Features and Demos
  • 10g Tuning: Tuning Oracle has Radically Changed
  • Quick Web Development using JDeveloper 10g
  • Getting Portal Working With Application Server 10g
  • Application Server 10g—New Features
  • Oracle 10g RAC on Linux—A Practical Perspective
  • Oracle 10g New Features for DBA’s
  • SQL Self Management Features in Oracle 10g
  • Discoverer 10g or BI Beans—Which Is Right for You?
  • New Floating Point Number Data Types in Oracle10g
  • Advanced SQL Tips Through Oracle 10g
  • SQL Optimization in Oracle 10g
  • New Features in Oracle 10g Real Application Clusters (RAC)
  • Performance Impact – Using Statistics and Database Features in Oracle8i, Oracle9i R2 & Oracle 10g
  • Feel the Power of Oracle9i and 10g PL/SQL Packages!
  • Expand to the PL/SQL Grid—New Oracle10g and 9iR2 PL/SQL Features
  • Oracle 10g Backup and Recovery New Features
  • Oracle Application Server 10g: Basic Administration
  • Key 10g Features that Oracle9i DBA’s Need to Know
  • Oracle 10g ASM vs. VxVM—A Scientific Comparison
  • Embracing the Grid—What Does This Really Mean?
  • Expand to the PL/SQL Grid—New Oracle10g and 9iR2 PL/SQL Features
  • Become a “Grid Aware DBA”—GADBA
  • Transitioning to Oracle Grid – An Architectural Roadmap

Application Server 10g’s thrilling ride.

For her part, Kelly Cox, an IOUG board member, has been putting Oracle Application Server 10g through its paces. Cox said she’s “thrilled” with the new version, which she installed in a fraction of the time she’s spent on prior releases.

“I was able to complete the install in about 5 hours, which is unheard of in prior releases,” she said. “I’ve never completed an install in less than two or three days.”

Cox, a consultant, said that the small to medium-sized businesses that form her client base will benefit both from the ease of installation and the vastly improved documentation with which 10g ships. Documentation in previous releases seemed to assume that a given user is familiar with Oracle prompts and has a general, pre-existing sense of the product, Cox said.

“For people who are new to the Oracle world, it hasn’t been that easy to contend with,” she said. “But Application Server 10g documentation really explains concepts well. It doesn’t let you get into the installation part before reviewing what you’re doing, and that’s just wonderful.”

In addition, Application Server organization has been streamlined, Cox said, and offers much more flexibility. She offered one example: In 9i Release 2, a repository of database structures that support Application Server had to be installed into the application’s own database and was very difficult to install into a customer’s own database.

Unfortunately, putting the metadata repository into their own database is exactly what most customers want, since it’s much easier to access one’s own data to display in a portal, for example.

Another reason a customer might want to install the metadata repository into another database is when deploying a clustered or grid environment. In such a case, metadata must be stored in whatever database has already been configured, Cox said.

With 10g, the choice of putting the repository into an external database is built-in and documented. That’s important not only because it’s easier to work with your own database but also because most shops have a defined set of databases that their DBAs are in charge of administering. Being powerless against having a new database introduced was not something such shops appreciated, to put it mildly.

Port number and host name control.

Another flexibility in Application Server 10g is the power to control port numbers and host names. In earlier releases, once installed, host names or port numbers couldn’t be changed. This becomes an important issue when moving from development to production.

Usually, when people install, they do so on a test set of systems, in order to work out how the application will be configured. Choice of port numbers is also an issue for those organizations that have standards regarding what port numbers to use for which types of applications. “Without that flexibility, you’re real limited and you can’t keep to your own standards,” Cox pointed out.

Enough of the accolades. Was there anything these IOUG members didn’t like about 10g? Anything that Oracle still needs to work on? Nope, they said. For now, Cox and Floss are happy with their 10g trials. “My wish list has been answered,” Cox said.

Merry Christmas, indeed.

Have you tinkered with 10g yet? Let me know what you think.

Database Center Editor Lisa Vaas has written about enterprise applications since 1997.