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Oracle now sanctions Veritas software

The company's newest version of its database software makes a formal place for storage software from Veritas, but the move could expose Veritas to tougher competition.

Oracle's newest version of its database software has made a formal place for storage software from Veritas, which will announce a new product Monday taking advantage of the feature. But Oracle's move could mean more competition for Veritas.

For about the past three years, Veritas' file system software, which governs how files are stored on collections of hard disks, could be used to store the data in an Oracle database. With Oracle 9i, though, the database company has officially sanctioned the method with a standard co-developed by Veritas.

The standard, though, could make it easier for competitors to follow Veritas' software strategy of working closely with Oracle software.

The change is a dramatic overhaul to the way database companies have treated storage since databases were developed, said IDC analyst Bill North. Database companies have sustained an "urban legend" that databases work best when they directly control how data is stored on disk systems--speaking directly to the "raw iron" rather than through a file system layer, he said.

But the performance concerns of using a file system now are obsolete, and "the urban legend is going to die over time," North said. "Over some reasonable period of time that I expect to be pretty short, people will begin to see benefits of file system management without sacrificing the performance of raw iron."

One major benefit of a file system is that the space used by a database can be increased more easily. With the "raw iron" approach, an Oracle database would have to be shut down to make that type of change, North said.

Veritas' new product, version 3 of Veritas Database Edition, takes advantage of a standardized way that Oracle can use a file system called Oracle Disk Manager (ODM). The new version has a starting price of $7,900

Having ODM means that Oracle sales personnel, as well as companies that build database systems for their customers, are more likely to use the Veritas software rather than perpetuate the raw iron tradition, North said.

The new standard, though, opens the door for competitors to work more closely with Oracle. Microsoft and Sun Microsystems, for example, both have file systems, but Veritas is in the lead, North said.

Veritas specializes in storage software, with products that govern backup operations and faster file-system recovery if a computer crashes. The company still projects growing revenue, though it's scaled back estimates. Veritas stock closed Friday at $23.04, well below its 52-week high of $166.87.