Larry Ellison, Oracle's chief executive, has bet that firms that swap IBM's DB2 or Microsoft's SQL server for Oracle 9i will see websites run three times faster or be awarded $1m.
Oracle claims that 9i improves the clustering capabilities of the Oracle 8i Parallel Server, launched two years ago, using its new cache fusion architecture.
According to the company, 9i, shipping next year, offers new features including integrated data mining capabilities, the ability to partition data, and private domains for individuals and individual companies in a single database.
In addition, 9i introduces the concept of 'dynamic services' which will enable users to source websites and connect them to their own. The new product also offers an enhanced 'L-search' function, allowing users to search within databases, over the internet and across storage systems.
Charles Rozwat, executive vice president at Oracle, said 9i is a big step forward in creating a software grid that also functions as a telephone and power utility.
"Real application clustering is the key," said Rozwat. "The Oracle 9i provides a level of service that ebusinesses need to have, and a level of availability to make sure systems are running 24 hours a day."
He claimed that 9i is the internet infrastructure software to addresses these needs. The product will also feature a new data guard feature for preventing catastrophic system failures, and a flashback query capability that allows self-service users to make changes and fix errors quickly.
Industry analysts praised the database vendor's attempt to improve the clustering technology currently featured in Oracle 8i.
Analysts the Giga Information Group said that 8i is too complex and a "turn-off" for many potential users. "There was a concern about the Parallel Server because it suffered too much of an overhead to be highly scalable," said Giga analyst Terilyn Palanca.
If the new product works, she said, it will be a significant breakthrough for the company. "There is a huge market for database systems to handle millions of transactions," said Palanca. "True linear scalability has previously eluded Oracle."
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