Oracle officials last Friday revealed that development work has begun on version 9 of its database, to add Internet commerce functionality after the year 2000.
Oracle 8, which was released last year after a succession of delays, focuses on data warehousing and object support. The next version will focus on business to business communications and Internet commerce, Gary Bloom, Oracle's vice president of systems products, told US reporters.
Speaking at an Oracle user group conference in Florida last Friday, Bloom was unable to give a precise date for the product to ship, saying that it will come after the Year 2000 issue has passed, but said Oracle was currently working on the early design requirements for the new version of the database.
Officials at the conference also committed to supporting PL/SQL, Oracle's programming language, for at least the next several years despite the company's recent shift towards the Java programming language.
"Not all the current users of Oracle databases are going to want to upgrade to version 9 so they'll have to attract new users through genuine innovation and business benefits," said Mark Raphael, analyst at Meta Group.
Nick Gregory, data server marketing manager for Oracle in the UK, defended the two and a half year lag between Oracle versions 7 and 8.
"Oracle 8 was a major upgrade so we didn't want to rush into anything. Oracle 8 can handle different types of data and thousands more users. We're years ahead of our nearest competitor IBM," he said.
Oracle officials also announced two imminent product releases - the Oracle 8 version of Oracle Parallel Server for Windows NT, and Fail Safe 2.1 to provide fault tolerance on Oracle databases running on NT.
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