08 July 2010

Oracle and 3rd Party Tools

We knew before we started to create Schema Compare for Oracle that we’d need to work hard. It is a different technology and a different market. Also, there is less interest amongst Oracle users for third-party tools.

Less interest in third-party tools? Why? Nobody we asked could explain, so we tried to find out.

We wondered whether it was because the tools Oracle provides are good enough, so we put out a survey to beta Schema Compare users, and asked them. The tone of some of the responses was overwhelming:

“Oracle tools are not as user-friendly as SQL Server tools”

“SQL Server seems more user-friendly”

“SQL Server is a lot less painful and has a lot better tools”

“Give me SQL Server tooling any day”

We got bucket-loads of similar feedback, and these were people who additionally bought our tools even when they used SQL Server.

Was it that Oracle users don’t look for third-party tools because they just don’t need them for their work? Evidently not; Oracle and SQL Server users who want to compare and synchronize their database schemas have the exactly the same problems – they want to migrate schema changes from multiple environments, and the process of manually creating a change script is slow and error-prone.

We were puzzled, but then wondered if Oracle users hadn’t warmed to the idea of third-party tools after their experience of existing ones? Quest’s TOAD environment, for example, is very popular (in our survey, 42% of respondents used it), yet seems to provoke very mixed responses from Oracle users.

Was it due to it being more difficult for Oracle people to buy tools? At the UKOUG conference, we noticed far more managers than developers, and that made us wonder if the process of getting permission to buy tools is more long-drawn-out and painful for Oracle users.

It hasn’t been easy to get familiar with the views of Oracle users, partly due to the relative lack of community resources. Apart from Oracle sites like AskTom and the official forums, there don’t seem to be many thriving user-communities. We’d be interested to know from Simple-Talk’s readers if they know the reason why there is less interest in third-party tools in the Oracle marketplace.



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