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Oracle RDB Tech/Cost Question [message #173852] Wed, 24 May 2006 17:27 Go to next message
Messages: 1
Registered: May 2006
Junior Member

My name is John Maines and I do database work for the Sun-Sentinel newspaper in Fort Lauderdale. I am not familiar with Oracle RDB (I use SQL and Access) and have a question for RDB users.

A state agency here keeps a public database of a certain type of license. We want to get a copy of the tables in that database. There are records for 400,000 people in a total of 10-12 tables. This is not complex information -- name, dob, address, registration date, license status, events, etc.

The agency is telling us that getting the database out of Oracle RDB is a complex and difficult process and will cost between $10,000 and $12,000 -- and that includes between 200 and 280 hours of labor and 10 hours of CPU time. They say the record layout alone will require 40 hours to produce. I understand it is a Hewlett-Packard Alpha VMS system, RDB version 7.3.

What's your opinion on that estimate? The same work in SQL would require less than a day. It's not a completely "clean" export -- there are Social Security numbers for unique identifiers that might need to be swapped out. And the home addresses of some people, like police officers and firefighters, are exempt from pubic records law and must be removed. But there's a flag in one of the tables that identifies those people.

Can anyone give us some advice? We just want the tables in the database in delimited text or some other format we can use, not any analysis.

Here are the cost estimates sent to us the state of Florida:

Cost Estimates:

1. With Social Security Number
Detailed Database Design Document $1560 (40 hours X $39)
Programming and Testing $6240 (160 hours X $39)
CPU Time to Run Programs $1940(10 hours X $194)

2. Without Social Security number
Detailed Database Design Document $1560 (40 hours X $39)
Programming and Testing $9360 (240 hours X $39)
CPU Time to Run Programs $1940(10 hours X $194)

Thank you,

John Maines
South Florida Sun-Sentinel

Re: Oracle RDB Tech/Cost Question [message #173891 is a reply to message #173852] Thu, 25 May 2006 02:39 Go to previous message
Messages: 18846
Registered: June 2005
Location: Croatia, Europe
Senior Member
Account Moderator
Not that long ago, I've had Oracle 7.1 which ran on Digital Alpha Server (their is Hewlett-Packard -> newer and better version, I presume) under OpenVMS 6.2.

In my opinion, 400.000 customers spread through 10 tables in Oracle 7.3 which runs on Alpha server is nothing much and, unless there are some special requirements, extracting their data shouldn't take long or cost (that) much.

I don't know how complex this query would be, but spending 30 working days x 8 hours (240 hours) to write it seems to be a little bit too much. One week to produce a record layout? It is their database, how come they need that long to know what's in there? Also, I don't know what should it do to spend 10 CPU hours ... even if you did a Cartesian product, I guess it wouldn't take that long.

As you are not familiar with Oracle SQL (and its procedural PL/SQL version), maybe just a hint: to extract data, you could write an SQL script and spool its result into a text file (using SPOOL command). If you'd need to use PL/SQL, from Oracle 7.3 (lucky you!) there's UTL_FILE package which enables you to read and write operating system files.

All of this can be done in Oracle - you don't even need to know anything about the DCL (Digital Command Language which is used for communication with the VMS operating system).

Just like you said, it's too long and costs too much. But, then again, I might be wrong about it.
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