Oracle Corp reckons release 8 of its database, due June 24, will offer performance and management features for datawarehousing vastly superior to those already available in release 7.3, and, of course to the competitor’s offerings. In eager anticipation of next month’s release, the company has been doing the rounds to highlight the amazing new features we can expect, both for Online Transaction Processing, and datawarehousing, but it will not talk about the two at the same time. It seems the downside of promoting a Universal server, a one database fits all philosophy, is that the company misses out on the chance to promote applications such as datawarehousing or Online Transaction Processing to their full extent. So it is making a point of holding separate preview talks leading up to the launch, to capitalize on the marketing of each application separately. Last month it outlined the additional benefits for transaction processing, and Friday was datawarehousing day. We will have to wait in eager anticipation for the low down on what it will do with objects. One of the major enhancements in Oracle 8 will be the addition of table partitions, which the company says will vastly improve both the performance of datawarehouse queries, and the maintenance and backup of the database. Partitions enable a table to be split logically over several disks, for example in an orders table, each month might be a partition. If a query is run for one month only, version 8’s query optimizer will eliminate the other month partitions completely from the query, thus speeding it up. Version 8 also offers parallel queries within a partition, so that if only one month were being looked at, the query for that one partition would run in parallel on multiple processors. The company claims that none of its competitors, IBM Corp or Informix Corp in particular, which claim to have data partitioning, has anything like this. Data loading, and bulk updates and deletions can also now be done in parallel, minimizing downtime. Partitioning also enables maintenance and backup to be carried out on one partition, while the others continue to be used. Incremental backup is also included, as is intelligent software that recommends what needs backing up and how. The new release also removes any of the constraints the old version had in terms of number of users, it now supports tens of thousands, and data capacity, its theoretical limit is 512 petabytes. Oracle has a patent pending on something it calls ‘parallel bitmap star joins’, which puts the relationships between tables in a star schema into bitmaps to further speed queries. Add automatic failover, which enables queries to carry on where they left off in the event of any outage, and providing the first release of Oracle 8 has no ‘unscheduled programming features’, datawarehousers everywhere should be rejoicing next month. Upgrades from 7.3 are, according to Oracle, both completely painless, and also importantly, free.