Oracle has finally committed to a launch date for its next major release - appropriately enough, promising to ship Oracle Database 11g on 11 July.

Oracle began laying out the groundwork for 11g last October at its OpenWorld conference, where executives talked in general terms about the upcoming release, designed to keep it ahead of rivals IBM and Microsoft. The launch event will take place in New York and will be hosted by company president Charles Phillips and Andy Mendelsohn, Oracle's senior vice president of database and server technologies.

Oracle has promised the database will feature improvements in high availability, performance, scalability, manageability and what the vendor dubbed "diagnosability." In addition, the new version will have new compression technology that could potentially reduce customers' storage demands by two-thirds and have the ability to store unstructured data faster than traditional file systems, according to discussion at OpenWorld. The new database is also expected to include a variety of partitioning capabilities, and Oracle has promised a smooth upgrade path.

Oracle again talked up 11g in similar broad-brush terms at the Collaborate Oracle user group conference in April. With the new database, the vendor said it hoped to address customer issues that included management, security and data recovery.

In beta testing since September, Oracle Database 11g is the successor to 10g releases 1 and 2. The "g" following the number refers to grid computing. Oracle shipped the first release of 10g in February 2004.