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Oracle readies second grid database

The database heavyweight builds in better security, management and support for XML for updated Oracle 10g database.

Oracle later this month will release the second version of its so-called grid database, which it expects to be installed by over half of its customers within a year.

The company said that Oracle 10g release 2 will build on the features in its existing edition, which it launched in February of last year. The database is designed to allow corporate customers to combine the processing muscle of several relatively inexpensive hardware servers, offering a cheaper alternative to high-end servers, according to Oracle.

Major enhancements to Oracle 10g are focused on improving the security, reliability of the database and making management of large database installations easier, said Mark Townsend, senior director of database product management.

The new version will support the XQuery, a new standard for developers to write applications that retrieve XML documents from a database. As part of a partnership with Microsoft, Oracle 10g will run Microsoft's Common Language Runtime. That will allow the database to run programs written with Microsoft languages such as C# or Visual Basic.

Oracle has also added enhancements designed to make database administrators more productive and able to run several databases at once. Oracle 10g release 2 will feature better diagnostics and more automated tools for optimizing queries and backing up encrypted data, Townsend said.

Database sales have helped fuel strong sales over the past several months at Oracle.

About 16 percent of Oracle's customers have upgraded to 10g since it was launched. Over the next 12 months, the company expects that between 45 and 55 percent will convert, said Willie Hardie, senior director of database product marketing.

The company has not yet announced pricing and packaging details, but Townsend said Oracle does not expect any major changes from its current structure.

Oracle and IBM had a "virtual tie" for the overall database market lead in 2004, according to research firm Gartner. Oracle saw rapid growth of its database on Linux, where relatively cheap servers are common, while IBM's growth was best on mainframe systems, Gartner said.