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Don Burleson Blog 







Just for Fun. . .
Oracle - What's in a Name?

Oracle Tips by Burleson Consulting
July, 21, 2003
Don Burleson

Oracle announced last week that they are debuting a new "flagship" database OracleWorld Paris:

Oh boy, here we go again. Don?t you just love Oracle's habit of changing names with each new release? Oracle is confusing enough without the constant name changes! I have enough trouble remembering to call Oracle networking products SQL*Net with an Oracle7 client, Net8 with Oracle8 clients, and Oracle*Net with Oracleclients.

Now, I don?t like this announcement, but I understand it. As I see it, Oracle has no choice but to re-name their database after their name change for Oracle Apps, where some marketing genius decided to re-name Oracle Applications to Oracle11i e-Business Suite.

What were they thinking? Every week, I get at least two e-mails from Oracle neophytes who want to know how to upgrade their database from Oracleto Oracle11i.

So, how important is the name of the Oracle database, really?

It?s All in the Name

This is not the first time that Oracle has tried to re-name their database offerings. Many of you may remember back to 1996 when Oracle bundled the Oracle7.3 database with the ConText cartridge and called it the Oracle Universal Server (OUS). To many industry analysts, this re-naming appeared to be an attempt to compete with IBM, who had just launched their Universal Database (UDB) offering.

As we know, the OUS name was not very well-received. Pronounced "Owwwz", it sounded like a bad imitation of Fonzie from the "Happy Days" television sitcom. Eventually, Oracle changed the name of OUS to the equally catchy Oracle8, back in 1997. In case you think I?m making this up, here is Steve Roti?s article on Oracle Universal Server from OReview magazine back in 1996.

The next re-naming happened when the successor to Oracle 8.1.7 was developed. Instead of calling it Oracle 8.2, Oracle added the letter "i" to the end of Oracle8, so they could market Oracle8i as an "Internet" database. Excuse me, just what the heck is an "Internet" database, anyway? Silly me, I thought that the Internet was the network between the databases.

Interestingly, Oracle was not the first database vendor to add a letter to the end of their name in hopes of changing its? market persona. Back in the Pleistocene Era of database management (about 1987), Cullinet Software (makers of the IDMS database) was concerned about competition from the nascent relational databases. Rather than re-write IDMS as a relational database (IDMS is a CODASYL Network database), Cullinet added SQL functionality and changed the name to IDMS/R, in hopes that the Data Processing community would think of IDMS as a relational database.

Even though I worry that Oracle might choose a really dumb name for Oracle10x, I?m even more worried that Oracle may choose multiple names for Oracle10x. If you think that this is too crazy, just look at Oracle?s history of multiple names:

Name                             Aliases

Stored Outlines                 Optimizer Plan Stability

Virtual Private Databases   Row Level Security
                                        Oracle label security

Oracle Internet Directory    LDAP Server

Personally, I think Oracle Corporation should have a contest to get the new name for Oracle10x, just like the San Diego Zoo does when they need a name for a baby elephant. Think about the possibilities. Oracle could run a huge media blitz titled "Name that Binary Executable" and give out valuable prizes to the winner. Gosh, Larry Ellison could even participate; he could donate last-years yacht and throw-in one of those spiffy Oracle T-shirts.

But I doubt that Oracle would sponsor a naming contest. Oracle is a giant Corporation, and they probably have experts with MBAs in Software Naming Psychology to choose the new name. These experts will likely conduct extensive market surveys, carefully analyze the subliminal appeal of a new name, and choose the "best" new name for the Oracle database, just like they did back in 1996.

With Oracle?s history of creative naming, it is anybody's guess what Oracle10x might be called.

Personally, I think that Oracle was on the right track in 1996 with Oracle Universal Server name, but failed because OUS could not be easily pronounced as an acronym. Mish-mosh names like OracleAS are way too smushed-up and cryptic, and I think that Oracle will get more creative. What Oracle needs is an acronym that can be easily pronounced, and also includes descriptive words about the Oracle10x technology. The descriptive words for an acronym-based name are likely to include "relational", "Internet", "database", "warehouse", "engine" or "application". Hence, here are some guesses:

  1. Oracle?s Giant Relational Engine - OGRE
  2. Relational Oracle Internet Database System - ROIDS
  3. Warehouse Oracle Retrieval Engine - WHORE
  4. Oracle Dynamic Database - ODD
  5. A name to compete with Microsoft- SQL-Server10i
  6. Oracle Application Framework - OAF

However, I know that there is another school-of-thought about software naming. Many Oracle professionals think that it is way-cool to have numbers inside the name, like Windows-97, Lotus-123 and Catch-22. My guess is that the Oracle Marketing MBAs may try names with subliminal meanings to increase the appeal of Oracle. Here are my numerical name guesses:

  1. Make the name have sex appeal: Oracle69
  2. Introduce Oracle with a time-payment plan: Oracle10iou
  3. Appeal to the satanic cult market: Oracle666

Sadly, I?m not a highly-trained Marketing MBA, so I doubt that my guesses will be correct.


   Don Burleson



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