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Oracle alone vetoes OLE DB

Market leader Oracle is the only major database software maker not officially endorsing Microsoft's OLE DB technology.

Mike Ricciuti Staff writer, CNET News
Mike Ricciuti joined CNET in 1996. He is now CNET News' Boston-based executive editor and east coast bureau chief, serving as department editor for business technology and software covered by CNET News, Reviews, and Download.com. E-mail Mike.
Mike Ricciuti
3 min read
Microsoft (MSFT) this week said a new specification, intended to speed up access to corporate databases while simplifying programming, has been warmly embraced by every major database software maker?save one. Database market leader Oracle (ORCL) said it won?t officially endorse Microsoft?s OLE DB technology.

For the record, Oracle said it will supply support in its tools for OLE DB, which Microsoft has devised as a single API (Application Programming Interface) for accessing multiple data types from a client application. Oracle will also ship an OLE DB driver to its database server.

But, Oracle officials said that OLE DB is too generic to support the more interesting features of its database server software, and therefore won?t invest any additional time in OLE DB support.

OLE DB is Microsoft?s evolving technology for accessing multiple data types, including text, video, audio, and data stored in relational database management systems. It does so through a standard interface from any desktop, either across corporate networks, or the Internet. It also includes Microsoft's existing ODBC API, which provides access to databases via SQL (Structured Query Language).

Oracle didn?t even make an actual official available for comment. Instead, Oracle issued a statement, through a representative, which read: "Microsoft?s strategy with regard to OLE DB ensures that Microsoft?s tools, by using OLE DB to access the database, will never be best of breed for taking advantage of advanced database features and applications. In addition OLE DB will always be slower than a native interface because it provides an additional layer on top of the database which is never equal to accessing the database directly. Finally, it will lock users into the Windows environment."

Microsoft officials seem unaffected by the Oracle cold shoulder, and write it off as competitive differences. "Oracle is focused on connectivity to Oracle databases. We are focused on connectivity to a broad spectrum of databases," said David Lazar, a product manager at Microsoft. "As a database and tools vendor, they feel they have an end-to-end solution."

But the reluctant support from Oracle may mean that programmers will have a harder time linking Oracle databases into a larger application. And, until Oracle ships the promised OLE DB driver, programmers will have to use slower, and more difficult to program, ODBC interfaces or Oracle?s native interface.

Oracle's declaration comes just a day after Microsoft bragged of winning endorsements for OLE DB from IBM, Sybase, Informix Software, Computer Associates, Intersolv, Tandem, and Object Design.

All of the vendors announced projects to incorporate the technology. IBM has shipped a beta version of a OLE DB Provider to its AS/400 midrange system. Sybase is linking OLE DB to its Adaptive Server database and middleware. Informix plans to link its Dynamic Server database to OLE DB. Computer Associates is building an OLE DB Provider to its Jasmine database. Tandem is doing the same for its Non-Stop SQL database. And Object Design plans an OLE DB Provider to access its ObjectStore database.

Intersolv has inked a deal with Microsoft to promote Microsoft?s Universal Data Access strategy and to develop products that use OLE DB, including an OLE DB Provider to Lotus Notes. Intersolv already sells data access tools for developers that use ODBC, an application programming interface for database access. The company will develop new OLE DB products, and will port OLE DB to non-Windows operating systems, the companies said.