Heterogeneous data access is a problem that affects a lot of companies. A lot of companies run several different database systems. Each of these systems stores data and has a set of applications that run against it. Consolidation of this data in one database system is often hard -- in large part because many of the applications that run against one database may not have an equivalent that runs against another. Until migration to one consolidated database system is made feasible, it is necessary for the various heterogeneous database systems to interoperate.

Oracle Transparent Gateways provide the ability to transparently access data residing in a non-Oracle system from an Oracle environment. This transparency eliminates the need for application developers to customize their applications to access data from different non-Oracle systems, thus decreasing development efforts and increasing the mobility of the application. Applications can be developed using a consistent Oracle interface for both Oracle and IMS.

Gateway technology is composed of two parts: a component that has the generic technology to connect to a non-Oracle system, which is common to all the non-Oracle systems, called Heterogeneous Services, and a component that is specific to the non-Oracle system that the gateway connects to. Heterogeneous Services, in conjunction with the Transparent Gateway agent, enables transparent access to non-Oracle systems from an Oracle environment.