Last month I wrote about the forthcoming turf wars over the OLAP/data warehouse market, but really they're only skirmishes in the major database war between Microsoft and Oracle. Clearly, Microsoft can expect to capture enormous market share with SQL Server 7.0. Not only does SQL Server 7.0 represent an extremely significant upgrade, it's also the first version of SQL Server that can run on a Win 9x system--something that Oracle has been able to do for years (although one doesn't hear of many people using it). Oracle8i, of course, will offer another incremental step towards Oracle's vision of a Java-enabled object/relational database. And both vendors are offering new versions of their incompatible repositories as well. Microsoft's playbook seems to be to flood the market and ship Microsoft Repository 2.0 with SQL Server 7.0, all versions of Windows NT BackOffice and the new Visual Studio 6.0 (VS6) Enterprise Edition. Oracle isn't likely to give its repository away, but will undoubtedly include Oracle Repository 7.0 as part of Oracle Designer 2.1 (formerly Oracle Designer/2000).

Developer Programs

As an aside, Oracle developers should take advantage of Oracle's spiffed up Oracle Developer Program (ODT) at http://technet.oracle.com. It's not as extensive as Microsoft's on-line and subscription MSDN (Microsoft Developer Network, http://msdn.microsoft.com/ developer), and Oracle doesn't offer free on-line access to its equivalent of the incredible Microsoft Knowledge Base (http://support.microsoft.com), but it's getting better. I think Oracle's Conversion/Migration guides are particularly useful. When I checked in August, for example, you could download conversion guides for any of the following: HP ALLBASE/SQL, IBM AS/400, Pervasive Software (formerly Btrieve), c-tree plus, Centura (formerly Gupta), DataFlex, IBM DB2, Informix, Ingres, InterBase, Microsoft Access, Microsoft FoxPro, Microsoft SQL Server, M (formerly MUMPS), ODBC (including Clipper and Paradox), Oracle Rdb, Progress, Raima, Sybase, Unify, Watcom, XDB and ZIM.

While we're on the topic of Oracle, I'd like to alert you to a fantastic book from Osborne/Oracle Press: Oracle Certified Professional DBA Certification Exam Guide (ISBN 0-07-882549-0, $99.95). OCP-certified author James Couchman has done a fine job on the massive 1200+ page tome which includes a CD with 300 review questions for each of the 25 chapters. It's a great way to learn or review DBA tasks for both Oracle7 and Oracle8.

Robert Muller, the respected author of so many Oracle titles, has a new book that I think any DBA coming from a relational, ER background will find extremely useful. It's called Designing Databases: An Object-Oriented Approach to Database Design and it's from Morgan Kaufmann Publishers, ISBN 1-558-60515-0.

IBM, as you would expect, has a superb IBM Developer Connection program (www.developer.ibm.com/devcon) that includes, like Microsoft's MSDN subscription service, developer licenses for all its products augmented by on-line content. I'm also heartened to see Informix extend its reach into the NT community with NT-specific developer forums at www.informix.com/nt.

VS6

As I write, Microsoft has just shipped a new version of Visual Studio, its multi-tool suite for developers. The basic VS6 Professional Edition ($1079) includes Visual Basic 6.0, Visual C++ 6.0, Visual FoxPro 6.0, Visual InterDev 6.0. The Enterprise Edition ($1619) adds Visual Database Tools (including a stored procedure editor to create Oracle or SQL Server stored procedures and debug the latter), Visual SourceSafe 6.0, Visual Modeler 2.0 (basically a subset of Rational Rose for creating UML-based object models), Microsoft Repository 2.0 and Visual Component Manager (a UI for accessing the Repository) and developer licenses for Microsoft Windows BackOffice Server 4.5 server products (which includes SQL Server 6.5). VS6 includes coupons for post-release versions of Visual J++ and SQL Server 7.0. (To appreciate the growing importance of Visual Studio and ActiveX/COM, consider the fact that Oracle promised special Oracle8 Wizards for Visual Studio and Oracle8 COM Cartridge for its much-anticipated Q4 release of Oracle 8i).

VS6 also played a prominent role at Microsoft's new Business Applications '98 conference organized by Microsoft's Application Development Customer Unit (ADCU) which took place in Las Vegas Sept. 9-11 at the MGM Grand's new conference center. You can download all the presentations (each track about 4MB zipped) from www.microsoft.com/ industry/bizapps.

Good Reads

Charles Murray's Supermen: The Story of Seymour Cray and the Technical Wizards behind the Supercomputer (ISBN 0-471-04885-2). I can't understand why this book hasn't been more widely reviewed. It reminds me a lot of Tracy Kidder's Soul of a New Machine. And Robert Glass's Software Runaways: Lessons Learned from Massive Software Project Failures (ISBN 0-13-673443-X) may help you keep things in perspective.

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