Consolidating disparate databases for easier management and moving to Linux to save money are among the top issues for Oracle database users, according to a recent survey of members of the Independent Oracle Users Group (IOUG).Migrating to the latest Oracle 10g, consolidating servers and moving to a service-oriented architecture (SOA) are also top priorities for the 812 IOUG members who responded to the survey. The results were released this week in advance of the annual IOUG meeting, Collaborate 2006, which is set for later this month in Nashville. About half of the respondents are database administrators, with a fifth coming from the development and architecture community and 13 percent working as IT managers or executives.While commercial Unix still dominates as the platform for Oracle databases and applications, Linux is expected to become the leading platform by next year, with 44 percent of respondents expecting to run Linux. That would surpass Sun Microsystems Inc.?s Solaris OS, whose share is expected to drop by next year, despite Sun?s open-sourcing of Solaris 10 in 2005."There is still a good cost savings associated with moving to Linux, and companies are clearly putting their money where their mouths are," said Ari Kaplan, president of IOUG.Oracle has supported Linux since 1999 and its ability to run on farms of PC-based servers via built-in clustering and grid technologies make it a "compelling choice, since lashing groups of these processors together can provide the same scalability as more expensive Unix hardware," according to the survey.At LinuxWorld in Boston this week, Oracle offered up several announcements: Its cluster file system has been accepted into the mainline Linux kernel and it introduced a data center package of applications for users running Novell's SUSE Linux Enterprise Server.Oracle still has more users on Windows than Linux, though that is dropping. Some 60 percent of respondents run a database on Windows, a figure expected to fall to 48 percent by next year. Windows 2000 is the most popular platform, followed by Windows Server 2003.Heterogeneous environments dominate, with only 7 percent of respondents running pure Oracle shops; 70 percent also run Microsoft?s SQL Server, up from 41 percent who said that in a 2001 survey. More than half also run Microsoft Access, and more than a quarter run IBM's DB2, up from 18 percent who said they did so in 2001.MySQL, the fast-growing open-source database, is used by a quarter of Oracle users, mostly as a front-end caching database to support external queries, the survey found.Not only are environments heterogeneous, they?re also scattered. Almost of half of users reported that they run more than 20 Oracle databases at their sites. The median database is 50GB in size, and one in four is larger than 1TB.The expected migration of Oracle 9i, the five-year-old database still widely used by respondents, to Oracle 10g over the next year will give many users the chance to consolidate. Implementing grids and clusters is much easier in Oracle 10g, Kaplan said.The largest segment of Oracle shops (41 percent) use Oracle Development Suite to develop applications. But two environments are gaining ground: Oracle Application Express, formerly HTML DB, which has grown "from zero to 12 percent" in one year, Kaplan said, and Microsoft Visual Studio, which is used by a fifth of survey respondents. IBM WebSphere and the open-source Eclipse toolkit are also gaining popularity, while older toolkits such as PowerBuilder, ColdFusion, Borland and NetBeans are losing steam.The SQL and PL\/SQL languages are each still used by about three-quarters of respondents. Java is used by about four in 10 respondents, followed by Perl, Visual Basic and C\/C++.PeopleSoft (23 percent), Oracle (20 percent) and SAP (19 percent) are the most popular enterprise application suites for Oracle database users. Open-source ERP and CRM systems (16 percent) and custom-developed systems (12 percent) are catching up, though, the survey showed.