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June 25, 1997updated 05 Sep 2016 1:09pm

ORACLE8, AN OBJECT FOUNDATION; SERVICES STILL TO COME

By CBR Staff Writer

Despite all of the hype, it turns out the long-delayed Oracle8 object-relational database which Oracle Corp will ship on June 30 should, according to its server technology people, be regarded as a basic foundation for integrating object and relational data in the same store. Oracle8 is what the company previously called its Workgroup Server – there’s an Oracle8 Enterprise Edition too. A slew of items such as an integrated Java Virtual Machine to support Java stored procedures, methods and triggers; as well as an integrated, home-grown Corba Object Request Broker enabling applications to communicate with the database – and the database to call out – using IIOP, will be delivered in future revs of the software. Extracting details from Oracle – apart from 30% faster, ten times more data and ten times more users than Oracle7 – was like pulling teeth, as yesterday’s Q&A session with Larry Ellison proved, but some executives were keen to explain what’s there and what’s not. In addition to a home-grown ORB, which as far as we can tell will be swapped out for the Visigenics Software Inc VisiBroker technology currently supported as the inter-cartridge exchange mechanism, Oracle8 also lacks such fundamental object-oriented functions such as inheritance, polymorphism and extensible APIs which will be added in future. Of course the missing Sedona object-oriented development suite – the original a client/server Basic language tool is being re-written in Java as an application server environment – means developers have to use third party object- oriented programming tools, which doesn’t help Oracle to explain its case. Beyond the extended data types supported in Oracle7.3, Oracle has extended SQL to enable users to define data types for representing their own business objects. They can be manipulated using methods implemented as stored procedures written in Oracle’s proprietary PL/SQL language or other 3GLs. It enables Oracle8 users to perform the same transactions on objects as they can on relational data. Large objects – up to 4Gb – can be created to store text, graphic images, video and sounds in the database or as operating system files. Where Oracle7.3 tables could only accommodate a single column of such data, an Oracle8 table can support multiple objects. Rather than define their own object to define multimedia data, users can alternatively buy cartridges from Oracle and third parties – with pre-defined object types, methods and data blocks – enabling developers to stores and access specific types of data off-the-shelf. Oracle8 cartridges include ConText, Image, Visual Image Retrieval, Spatial, Time Series, Documents, Messaging, Workflow and Video. The majority will be available when Oracle8 ships. A key feature is an Object Type Translator which maps objects in the database to applications, while a users can fetch objects from the server into a local object cache, operated on them as entities, and send them back to the server, minimising round trips between the client and server.

Object Views

A key advantage over other object-relational offerings such as Informix Software Inc’s Universal Server is the ability to create a new objects from data stored in relational tables or as object types using a mechanism called Object Views. It is one of the enabling technologies supplied with Oracle8 Object Option, one of six add-on modules required to make the database’s enterprise, management and object functionality useful. the others – most of which were also available for Oracle7.3, are Advanced Networking Option, Express Server, Parallel Server, Enterprise Manager Performance Pack and Partitioning Option. It does include two JDBC drivers and will later include a JSQL query tool once the SQL in Java specification being written by Oracle, Sun, IBM and Tandem is complete. Oracle says it offers a single platform, Oracle8 – albeit with extensions and add-ons – while Informix offers three completely different platforms – DSA for OLTP on SMP hardware; XPS for data warehousing on clusters and MPP hardware;

and Universal Server for multimedia applications. Meantime, Microsoft Corp, it claims, requires specialized SQL Server databases to handle specialized types of data, making it difficult to partition applications. Oracle8 is up on Sun, HP, IBM, Sequent and DEC Unixes, plus NT-on-Intel. Support for Data General, Fujitsu, Intel, NCR, NEC, SCO, SGI, Siemens and Tandem Unixes is due within three months. An NT-on-DEC Alpha version is due in August and support for OpenVMS in November. Pricing starts at $1,500 for a five-user licence.

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