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The Future Of Database Automation

Is there a logical next step for database automation? The use of Oracle is limited only by the imagination of the system designer. Several distinct patterns have emerged in Oracle systems over the past few years.

  Data warehousing applications store tens of hundreds of gigabytes of data.
  Internet and intranet publishing has taken off through the use of Oracle WebServer, CGI, Java, Oracle's J/SQL, and JDBC.
  Financial and manufacturing systems using Oracle applications are growing both in number and in size.

Combinations of two or more of these patterns is not unusual for any given system.

Many large agencies and corporations throughout the world use Oracle for systems like the ones discussed in this text, including companies such as:

  AT&T
  British Petroleum
  Canada Post
  Conseil Européen pour la Recherche Nucléaire (CERN)
  Cisco Systems
  Hong Kong Public Works Management System
  Kredietbank Belgium
  Wells Fargo Bank
  United States government

With the end of the century and the millenium looming just around the corner, the push to convert legacy systems into more robust systems is continually forcing designers to come up with new and unusual applications for Oracle systems.

The Business Rules Engine

Currently, Oracle requires developers to code the logic to support business rules inside stored PL/SQL objects. While this is a tremendous advantage over the repeating logic inside multiple applications, a change in a business rule still requires the intervention of an application developer to change the code.

It’s possible to design an application that stores business rules and code applications that dynamically enforce business rules based on the current state of each rule within the database. While this is certainly not an easy task, the resulting system enables new rules to be implemented quickly and easily (typically through a GUI interface with the database).

In the future, developers can expect the Oracle database to evolve into a system more friendly to this type of application. Perhaps Oracle9 will incorporate a configurable rules engine that dynamically interprets data based on business rules stored in the engine!

Summary

Oracle is a database that is strong on automation features. The use of SQL and PL/SQL allows complex scripts to be developed to accomplish many tasks. The ability to enforce business rules through the use of database triggers and other stored PL/SQL objects allows systems to be created more quickly, at lower expense, and to be maintained more easily in the future.

Chapter 2 provides an overview of the Oracle7 architecture and introduces some basic concepts in SQL and PL/SQL. If you already have experience with Oracle, SQL, and PL/SQL, you’ll probably want to skim Chapter 2 and then move on to Chapter 3 for a detailed discussion of scripting.


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