The Oracle 11g R2 database upgrade has received a warm response from beta customers, analysts and end user organisations.

"With every major release of Oracle, the second is the most important one," said Paul Vallée, executive chairman and founder of the Pythian Group, a database administration outsourcing company. "It doesn't matter how far back you go. This is where the software comes into its own."

Alex De Vergori, database architect, onlime gambling giant Betfair, which was a beta customer for Oracle said, "Betfair operates a truly 24/7 global business where minutes of downtime can have extremely high costs. Until now certain database upgrades have been almost impossible to perform online.

“Our testing as part of the Oracle Database 11g Release 2 beta programme has demonstrated that Edition Based Redefinition provides the tools we've been waiting for. We look forward to using it in production," said.

Ian Abramson, president of the US-based Independent Oracle Users Group said, "I felt that Oracle 11g R1 was a reasonably solid project. [But] people will now feel more confident with this release as it has had time to mature and gain stability."

The new features are "all at the heart of what customers need," said Forrester Research analyst James Kobielus.

"A great many Oracle customers have already migrated to 11g or are on 10g and making heavy use of RAC. Every single one of them ... will undoubtedly be avidly adopted by core enterprise customers for the most demanding apps. ... I wouldn't say any of these are bells and whistles."

It remains to be seen how the pending Oracle deal to buy Sun Microsystems will alter its overall database strategy, since the deal would include the popular open-source MySQL database.

The Sun deal could also affect the Oracle Exadata data warehousing product line, which was announced to much fanfare at last year's OpenWorld conference. The line employs Hewlett-Packard ProLiant servers and Oracle software.

It's not inconceivable that Oracle will break with HP and revamp Exadata using Sun servers, in Vallée's view.

"Oracle will be able to recreate the [Exadata] roadmap on their own hardware," he said.