Good morning,

It has been much too long since I last wrote to the blog.   Things here have been busy, but that's no excuse. I hope to get back on track with writing regularly to the blog.  I will be continuing the series on the WiE community and will be presenting some of the concepts from WiE at the upcoming PASS conference in November.

I just returned from two weeks of travel, the first week was spent visiting customers in Michigan and I spent last week at the Oracle Open World conference.   Many of our customers run both Oracle and Microsoft products together and it was really valuable to hear directly from them on the strengths and weaknesses that they found in each product offering and the areas for improvement around integration of the two stacks.

On the subject of Oracle Open World: Microsoft had a great location at this year's show. Our booth was located right next to the Oracle "Demo Grounds" where Oracle demoed their database wares including Spatial, new Modeling tools, and Oracle Enterprise Manager.   The Oracle folks wore black and red polo shirts and the Microsoft folks wore blue dressed shirts, so it was pretty noticeable when I would go into the Oracle demo grounds area to learn more about the new offerings from Oracle.   That said, the Oracle team members were very nice and it was great to have discussions with our counterparts.

Oracle made several announcements at last week's show, but the "biggest" announcement was made by Larry Ellison and that was that Oracle was entering the hardware market by shipping a "database appliance" in partnership with HP.   This an interesting announcement, and the box did look cool.   The approach Oracle is taking is pretty interesting, by moving the database query processing "closer" to the disk storage they expect to achieve significant improvements in query processing time.   I wonder how and if that decision will impact Oracle's partnerships with SAN vendors, other server manufacturers and their customers who have already made investments in storage infrastructure.   Microsoft had exciting news of its own in this space a few weeks earlier with the acquisition of DATAllegro.     I'd love to hear if any of you have started investigating either of these solutions, please share your experiences around these products and get your thoughts about buying "Oracle Hardware".

Oracle also announced a new collaboration and messaging server named "Beehive".  Of course they played off that name for most of the show, dressing their engineers in yellow and black striped shirts and calling the management tool beekeeper.   I did not get a chance to take a look at the product, but it appeared to have good integration with Microsoft Outlook, Microsoft Exchange as well as integration with digital rights management. 

Oracle demonstrated an upcoming modeling tool targeted at Database Architects and Developers.  The tool lets architects model at the conceptual level and then hand off the conceptual models to developers and DBAs to develop the relational and the physical models.   The tools seemed well thought out and enabled DDL generation to target different environments (i.e. different physical models), including SQL Server.     We have some exciting technologies of our own related to conceptual modeling with our Entity Data Model and Entity Framework.   If you have not checked these out I strongly recommend that you do so.    Also check out ADO.Net Data Services which will turn your Entity Data Model into a RESTful web service with just a few clicks of a mouse.

I spent some time learning more about Oracle Enterprise Manager at the conference as it is the main tool used by DBAs running Oracle environments.  There were no major new announcements about OEM at the show but there were some interesting things and hints about OEM and OEM Grid Control.  OEM Grid Control is Oracle's offering for end to end management: from the application to the bare metal (they called it the "red stack") of multiple servers.  This is an area where have gotten feedback from customers but I could definitely use more of it.  

I am curious if any of you are currently using OEM and OEM Grid Control.  Have you used it in conjunction with SQL Server (Oracle offers a plug in for managing SQL Server through OEM) and what has your experience been?  What features would you like to see in SQL Server's own management tools based on your experience?  Let me know how can we better support DBAs that manage both environments.

I genuinely enjoyed attending the show and the customer visits from the previous week.  It provided a fuller picture of the heterogeneous environments our customers and their DBAs have to manage and the tools and options they have to choose from, manage and integrate together.  

Have a great week.

Olivier