By Doug Bartholomew Oracle Corp. earlier this month unveiled its powerful new database, Oracle9 i, which the database and applications giant is positioning as a total e-business platform. The new database includes a variety of features tailored for e-commerce, including built-in online analytical processing, database management for Web sites, and Web portal capability. One of the most interesting e-business features of Oracle9 i is its "personalization" technology, which produces individual recommendations -- based on historical and realtime interaction data -- simultaneously to thousands of users. Oracle Personalization analyzes large volumes of customer data while preserving the uniqueness of individual customer relationships. The system employs both explicit information, such as purchases, ratings, and demographics, as well as implicit data, including mouse clicks and pages visited, to create individual recommendations. Oracle also announced its new "clustering" technology, which ties together multiple servers in such a way that each computer boosts the performance of the overall system, while adding reliability in case one or more computers fail. "We have linear scalability, so that as you add computers with clustering, you are adding a computer to speed processing, something we call Oracle 'magic,'" says Larry Ellison, Oracle chairman and CEO. On the reliability issue, Ellison faulted today's computer systems as "incredibly expensive and more unreliable than even a toaster." With the Oracle system, he says, "You have continuous availability -- it never goes down." Some analysts agreed that the Oracle clustering technology is a breakthrough for databases used to support e-commerce. "What Oracle is delivering with Oracle9 i Real Application Clusters and Cache Fusion may prove to profoundly alter the database landscape, especially for applications that are integrated into the Internet environment," says Car Olofson, program director for information and data management software research at IDC, an IT research firm in Framingham, Mass. "Oracle's flexible scalability is critical to meet the demands of the Internet economy for nearly instantaneous responses to business events, based on data that is exploding in volume."