Pythian Group: Oracle customers slow to adopt new database

Oracle claims "strong adoption" for 11g, but offers little data on adoption rates

Few Oracle customers are using the latest database software unveiled amid much hoopla last July, according to an analysis of the Pythian Group's remote database support customers.

Oracle has claimed "strong adoption" of Database 11g, but declined to release specific adoption numbers after being presented with statistics compiled by the Pythian Group, which manages 718 production databases for 56 Oracle customers.

Only three of those 718 databases, representing two out of the 56 customers, are running the latest Oracle software, according to Pythian CEO Paul Vallee. While Oracle promised hundreds of new features in 11g, including space savings and more efficient patching, it turns out that most customers are satisfied by the previous version, 10g, which began shipping in February 2004, Vallee says.

"What's happening in a meaningful sense is the database is feature-complete and maybe it has been for a while," he says.

Oracle's launch event last July featured James Burke, a science historian, author and BBC television host, who predicted 11g will "free up the massive potential of the brainpower in companies." Oracle named four organizations using 11g in a press release last month, but didn't say how many companies are using the software overall.

If adoption is slow, it's bound to pick up soon, according to figures provided by the Independent Oracle Users Group ([[xref:http://www.ioug.org/|IOUG).

"An IOUG membership survey conducted last year revealed that 35 per cent said they'd upgrade to 11g within a year, and 53 per cent said within the next year," IOUG president Ari Kaplan said in an e-mail Wednesday. "The number of people planning to upgrade within 12 to 18 months was higher than any previous release we surveyed over the years. First adopters will be those that have a pressing business need. Typically what I see is it's usually 18 months before you hit 33 per cent adoption."

IDC analyst Carl Olofson says his sources at Oracle told him that 10 per cent of users expressed intent to upgrade to 11g this year. If all follow through on their intent to upgrade, that would be an unusually high adoption rate for the first year, he says.

But Olofson noted that sources within Oracle tend to be optimistic.

Vallee, meanwhile, claims his numbers show 11g is being adopted at slower rates than previous Oracle databases.

Oracle licenses allow customers to adopt any supported version of the company's database, so low adoption alone won't hurt Oracle financially, Vallee says. But Oracle can lower its own expenses by consolidating customers onto fewer versions, because it costs money to have developers and support staff working on old platforms. "The more their customers have adopted multiple platforms, the more painful it is to support those customers," he says.

11g became available on Linux last August and on Windows last October. The three 11g databases in production and managed by Pythian are all on Linux. While two out of 56 Pythian customers are using 11g in production, another four have tested the database but not yet put it into production.

Citing his experience in statistical modeling, Vallee says he can say with 95 per cent confidence that no more than 3.66 per cent of Oracle databases are running 11g. With 50 per cent confidence, he says it's unlikely that even 1 per cent use 11g.

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