CODE: Programming project required

From: James Rogers (
Date: Thu Jan 25 2001 - 14:11:59 MST

At 10:35 PM 1/23/2001 -0800, Samantha wrote:
>James Rogers wrote:
> > While lowest common denominator solutions may be wonderful for a broad
> > class of applications, some require tighter integration than you'll find
> > with a standards based environment. Business types don't care; Oracle is
> > a de-facto standard to them, unless they have a religious objection. If
> > Oracle isn't an excellent tool for the job, I won't use it or recommend
> > it. Fortunately, it is quite adequate as an enterprise database and is
> > usually the preferred database for many managers.

I should mention that I don't want to sound like an Oracle cheerleader,
because I am not. In fact, I have had a lot of reservations about certain
features (or lack thereof) in Oracle for some time. Fortunately, the
recent incarnation of Oracle (8i) is substantially better than previous
versions in many important aspects, including most of the areas I had
reservations in, so it is much easier for me to like it today than it was
five years ago when obviously superior alternative products existed. While
I have used Oracle a lot over the past five years or so, I have worked on a
lot of other things as well; virtually every company I've worked in uses
Oracle to some extent or another and knowing how to work with Oracle
systems in detail is a useful skill.

In truth, I would be just as happy or happier if I never had to work with
Oracle, it just so happens that I frequently do. It isn't THE core
competency for me, it is just one of the many things I am very competent
at, and once you know it, it takes very little effort to stay current with
it. I work on enough different projects that I am constantly exposed to it

>I have made a quite comfortable living writing OO persistence middleware
>to alleviate having to depend on an particular flavor or vendor of
>database. Business types certainly do care when they need to support
>various types of database solution over time on heterogeneous

One of the strong selling points of Oracle is that it runs on a few dozen
platforms and that applications are seamlessly portable between them. This
is one of its strengths, and I have used Oracle in heavily mixed
shops. Having done these types of ports (usually NT to Unix or mainframe),
I can say that it really is a trivial platform to do migrations on for the
most part.

>Many real-world business people do not want to be married to
>Oracle or any other single vendor. More than a few of them have tried
>to make that relationship work for them and have decided to try
>something different.

Most real-world business people like the warm-fuzzy feeling they get from
hearing words like "Oracle" or "Cisco" or "Microsoft" or "IBM". In many
ways it is a deal with the devil, though. Non-corporate solutions have to
move much more slowly to get management mind share, something that there
isn't time for over the span of relatively short contracts. For many
companies, a small open solution holds far more risk than a well-known
proprietary solution, particularly for complex software. Most of the
long-term problems I've seen for complex applications has more to do with
the number of people who understand the application code rather than the
support of the platform that the application runs on. Once something
works, it doesn't really matter where the solution came from.

Every business should pick and choose the components of their system;
interoperability between components is what is important. Oracle
interoperates pretty well, and when it is my decision, the only Oracle
application that I actually use is the core engine. All the surrounding
applications are typically the usual open source tools -- I know them well
and they work great. When an open source database exists that is truly
comparable to Oracle, then I will consider that as well.

>PL/SQL is not a 4GL.

Granted, but like many companies, they like to think that it is. I was
using it in the sense of common usage, not by definition (a bad thing perhaps).

>De-facto standards are meant to be toppled and should be as soon as they
>get lazy. The argument from the other side is quite strong. Standard
>solutions in a world that re-invents itself every other Monday are not

I don't follow. So you are arguing against standards? How would this
decrease the risk to the company?

-James Rogers

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