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Oracle upgrades data tool

The company is stretching its data repository to handle all elements of application development within a corporation.

    Oracle is stretching its data repository to handle all elements of application development within a corporation.

    The Redwood Shores, California-based software firm unveiled today its strategy to make the business information management system the central foundation of three key areas of data management: application development, packaged application customization and componentization, and data warehouse construction and management.

    Version 7 of Oracle's Repository is meant to allow users to reign in islands of metadata they have built around their company the past few years. That data consists of descriptive information about applications, development environments, business intelligence, and data warehouse systems.

    It is also one of the first steps in laying down a foundation for Oracle to redesign its applications package in components, which are recyclable chunks of code that handle specific functions or business processes. Fisher said Oracle is planning on using the repository as a key part of that strategy which has yet to be announced.

    The new repository will also play a primary role in Oracle chief executive Larry Ellison's vision of melding different parts of his vast business together. In this case, data warehousing, development tools, business analysis tools, and packaged applications will be more tightly sewn together with the repository as the thread.

    Since most companies build custom applications independently of their data warehouse and data mart construction efforts and projects to customize packaged applications, companies end up with a number of pools of data that all have to be managed separately, costing labor and money.

    The idea behind Repository7 is to pool that information into a central repository or at least establish an infrastructure that will allow users to collaborate better on specific projects or across the company on different projects.

    "We have quite a lot of the bare bones of this in place with Repository6, the development repository packaged as part of Designer 2000 which is here today. But it doesn't reach out into these other words," said Ian Fisher, vice president of development for Oracle's repository group.

    To open up the system to handle these other arenas, Oracle is adding a number of extensions and supporting a number of standard languages and protocols.

    For example, support for Java and the Unified Modeling Language (UML) object modeling technologies as well as warehouse extensions are being added so users can build applications using recyclable Java-based components. This will also allow users to access information in the repository from business analysis tools. The components are chunks of code, in this case code written in Java, that handle specific functions or business so that the entire piece can be reused in development rather than having to rewrite the code from scratch.

    Oracle is also developing Java and Common Object Request Broker Architecture (CORBA) application programming interfaces and using eXtensible Markup Language standards (XML) so that Oracle, its partners, and its customers can access data in the repository using a standard language and customize the repository contents and API to meet specific needs.

    Another significant enhancement coming with Repository7 is the ability to handle file-system held data. This feature along with software configuration management will allow users to more easily manage the metadata and use the repository as a means of managing efforts to customize packaged applications and their configurations.

    The first beta version of Repository7 will be available in late December. Oracle is planning to release a version for general use in the first half of next year with additional enhancements coming out after that.