Oracle has shipped Oracle Database Lite 10g, an upgrade to its cut-down database that the company says will extend grid computing to mobile devices.

Built to run on laptops and PDAs, Oracle argues that the product fits into the company’s grid computing scheme because of a new feature that enables users to update data and applications simultaneously when synchronizing with the back-end server. Previously, these were separate operations.

The concept of grid applies to the database because it involves distributing data to increase its availability, said Oracle’s Jacob Christfort, CTO and vice president of mobile and wireless products at Oracle. "The difference is that the applications are all in the database just like data components, and that means as you synchronize your data, you also physically synchronize your application," Christfort said. Oracle’s mobile database can work in a disconnected mode, getting updates when necessary.

Also new in the database is a feature called Mobile Manager, providing a Web-based console for application, system, security, and device management. As an example, a sysadmin can reduce data on the server side and that is automatically fed back to the device.

Mobile Manager also offers application life cycle management for mobile apps, as well as diagnostics, configuration, and lockdown.

Support for Microsoft’s ADO.Net, which aids development of Microsoft-based applications, is also included in the database, as well as Java and .Net tools.

An analyst noted Oracle considers the mobile database an extension of the larger, server database, also known as 10g. "This is extending the features and functions of 10g to that mobile environment," said analyst Carl Olofson, research director for information management and data integration software at IDC.

As far as Oracle’s grid positioning of the product, Olofson said it is Oracle’s prerogative on what to call the product. "Obviously there’s nothing grid about a mobile computer. It’s a discrete device, but from Oracle’s perspective it’s extending the grid environment," Olofson said. The database will compete IBM's DB2 and Sybase's SQL Anywhere. The seamless synchronization of data and applications provides Oracle with an advantage over rivals, according to Christfort.

Requiring an Oracle database on the back-end server, Oracle Database Lite 10g costs $100 per named user licence. The database runs on Linux, Windows CE, Palm OS, and Pocket PC.