It's taken some time but Oracle has launched version 11g Release 2 of its database, two years after the initial version hit the streets.

The new release is the product of some 1,500 developers and 15 million hours of testing, according to Mark Townsend, vice president of database product management.

One major piece is Oracle's optional Real Application Clusters (RAC) technology, which allows database workloads to be deployed across a pool of commodity hardware. This increases reliability because other servers pick up the slack in the event one fails, and the system can be scaled by adding more servers.

Customers can use 11g R2 to more easily devote specific groups of server nodes to various application workloads, such as a "front office" resource pool which supports CRM implementations and websites, according to an Oracle whitepaper. When a particular pool needs additional horsepower, it can draw from unassigned nodes, or nodes can be drawn from pools with lower demands.

The new release also features a new option, Oracle RAC One Node, which is aimed at less mission-critical applications, according to the paper.

The database's Automated Storage Management feature also gets an upgrade in 11g R2. "Intelligent data placement" capabilities put rarely used data on disks' inner rings, while information needed more often is stored on the outer rings, boosting performance, according to Oracle.

Other improvements include advanced data partitioning capabilities for easier management of large data sets. Users can now perform online application upgrades.

Many new aspects of 11g R2 are included with an Enterprise Edition database licence, which lists for $47,500(£29,400) per processor licence. RAC One Node, like RAC itself, is optional, and pricing has not yet been finalised, Townsend said.

Overall, Oracle expects the new features to prompt widespread adoption of 11g, Townsend said. Many Oracle shops are still on older versions, such as 10g.

Tracking adoption is a "black art," Townsend said, but Oracle estimates between 10 percent and 20 percent of its database customers are using 11g Release 1.

Initially 11g R2 will support Linux, Townsend said. Support for "all major Unix platforms," which would include the Solaris operating system Oracle will acquire through its pending purchase of Sun Microsystems, will likely arrive this year, followed by Windows, he said. No timetable was available for Windows support.