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Oracle Database to Get a Dust Up in 11g

Oracle is heading to New York to formally introduce 11g, the company's first major database refresh since the launch of 10g nearly four years ago.

Forrester Research analyst Noel Yuhanna said 11g, which will be unveiled at a event in the city Wednesday, is an extension of Oracle's drive to boost availability, performance, security and manageability in its popular data-serving product.

11g is designed to help Oracle extend its lead as the dominant database software provider. IDC said Oracle held 44 percent of the relational database management systems (RDBMS) market. IBM commanded 21 percent of the market while Microsoft placed third with 18.6 percent.

Yuhanna said 11g, whose beta the company introduced at Oracle OpenWorld in October, will include more self-tuning capabilities for SQL statements and applications as well as new advisors for partitioning, space management and buffer management.

Manageability and automation are also important for Oracle because its database has traditionally been considered the most complex product in the industry, the analyst remarked to internetnews.com.

"With 10g, that was changed, and with 11g, we continue to see further enhancements. Although, SQL Server continues to still have the advantage over Oracle when it comes to manageability and ease-of-use, the gap has further narrowed with 11g."

Accordingly, expect storage management and online patching as big steps forward in 11g. Oracle also added SecureFiles, which improves the performance, compression, encryption and management of files and other types of unstructured data.

While Oracle's database has long been the moneymaker for the Redwood Shores, Calif., vendor, the company has come to rely on applications and other middleware pieces, acquired largely through various and sundry acquisitions.

As recently as the company's fourth quarter conference call, Oracle officials pledged to continue down that path to focus on "vertical penetration."

Cowen and Company said in a research note that it has compiled a list of 48 application vendors from around the world with annual sales between $50 million and $1 billion that might appeal to the software giant, which is trying to fend off competition from SAP , Microsoft, IBM and others on many fronts.

Cowen securities analyst Peter Goldmacher said targets are most likely to come in financial services and communications fields and comprise two segments: those that represent incremental breadth within existing Oracle verticals and those that represent functionality overlap and an installed base.

Vendors on the list include mobile communications vendor Openwave Systems Inc. , supply chain management provider i2 Technologies customer relationship management enabler Chordiant Software .

"While many names on this list are in verticals where Oracle already has depth, acquiring many of these entities could offer additional breadth and/or better account control," Goldmacher said.

Despite some speculation, the analyst said Business Objects , Cognos , and BEA Systems are unlikely merger targets for Oracle due to functional overlap in their products.