The new version of Oracle GoldenGate, a database replication technology the company acquired in 2009, enjoys the benefits of some in-house integration with other Oracle software.

The new Oracle GoldenGate 11g Release 2, now available, can pull data directly from the Oracle database engine, rather than by using external logs. Also, administrators for the first time can control GoldenGate operations through the Oracle Enterprise Manager.

"For an Oracle customer who is considering the product, the integrated capture with the Oracle database is a huge win," said Brad Adelberg, Oracle vice president of development, of the new version of GoldenGate.

GoldenGate software replicates the contents of a relational database onto another database system, updating the copied database with changes as they occur in the original dataset, a process known as change data capture (CDC). The software is tuned to keep up with heavily used, mission-critical databases, OLTP (online transactional processing databases) in particular.

The replicated database can then be used for a variety of purposes. It can be used as a backup in a disaster recovery plan, or be mined for near-real-time business analysis or richer operational reporting, minimizing the impact such reporting would have on the original database. The duplicated database can be a staging area for bulk data moves to a data warehouse by way of ETL (extract transform and load) software, again minimizing the operational load against source database.

GoldenGate could also be used to facilitate load balancing, where two or more identical databases can share the workload. GoldenGate can also post database changes on a messaging system, where it can be ingested by third-party software.

Customers tend to use GoldenGate in all these ways, with no one use being predominant, Adelberg said, noting that once the technology is deployed for one function, the organization may then find other uses as well. "It doesn't solve just one problem, it is a very flexible technology," Adelberg said.

A number of large corporations and transaction-intensive Web services, including Bank of America, Sabre Holdings, Travelocity and Overstock.com, use GoldenGate.

GoldenGate 11g Release 2 benefits from some in-house engineering. This is the first version of the product that can grab data changes directly from the Oracle database engine, the software underlying a database management system (DBMS) that updates the data in a database. Previously, the software monitored the Oracle database redo log, which documented database changes after they occurred.

Talking directly with the Oracle databases, a feature Adelberg called "integrated capture," offers GoldenGate some advantages, he said.

For instance, it allows GoldenGate to work with an additional data type, compressed objects, allowing compressed data to be copied from one database to the next. It also shortens the time to find and transfer new data, since it eliminates the time the database engine takes to write changes to the log (though GoldenGate carried a reputation for being pretty speedy even in previous versions).

Over time, integrated capture will also pave the way for new data-capturing features in future editions of the software, Adelberg said.

In addition to working more closely with the Oracle database, GoldenGate has also been more tightly connected to Oracle Enterprise Manager, Oracle's tool for provisioning and monitoring Oracle software.

A new GoldenGate plug-in for Enterprise Manager can provide key performance metrics -- such as the time it takes to write data to the secondary source -- and automated notifications, as well as some start-up and shutdown functions. "For a shop that already uses Oracle Enterprise Manager for [managing] its Oracle databases and WebLogic servers, GoldenGate can be in the same console," Adelberg said.

Oracle has also done work on expanding GoldenGate's reach to non-Oracle products as well. The current version can capture data from an IBM iSeries DB2, adding to the existing capability of delivering data to that platform. It can also deliver changes to Postgres. Support has been improved for conversing with MySQL, Microsoft SQL Server, Sybase, Teradata and IBM DB2 z/OS as well. "We remain very committed to GoldenGate as a heterogenous product," Adelberg said.

Other improvements come with this release as well. The new version improves the process around resolving conflicts, Adelberg said. Conflicts can occur when two databases try to each make a change on a single piece of data. The software requires administrators to define what kind of a conflict it is and how it should be resolved, and the new version simplifies this process, minimizing the amount of code an administrator would have to write.

Also, this is the first version that can use the Federal Information Protection Standard (FIPS) algorithms for encrypting data in transit -- previous versions only offered Blowfish encryption. Many government agencies require that data in transit be encrypted with FIPS. The version is also the first to support multibyte Unicode character sets, allowing deployments capturing data in non-ASCII-based languages to use the software for the first time.

Oracle also offers another database replication application, one built in-house called Streams. Streams, however, is geared more toward shops using only Oracle databases and related software, whereas GoldenGate is more suited to working with a heterogenous mixture. Observers predict that, over time, Oracle may phase out Streams in favor of GoldenGate, given that Oracle marketing literature emphasizes GoldenGate as its strategic replication technology.

Joab Jackson covers enterprise software and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Joab on Twitter at @Joab_Jackson. Joab's e-mail address is [email protected]