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Guide to Oracle 12c database features and upgrades

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Oracle Database 12c to be announced at OpenWorld

The first major upgrade to Oracle's flagship database product in three years will include features around the cloud, tuning and automation.

Oracle will announce Oracle Database 12c at OpenWorld this year, the first major upgrade of its flagship product since 11g R2 came out in 2009.

The database won't be generally available until late this year or early next, but company officials will release details about the features of Oracle Database 12c at OpenWorld, which runs Sept. 30 to Oct. 4. The new database has been in beta testing for about a year, and some features will be optimized for the cloud, to which the "c" in Oracle Database 12c refers.

Information on the new product has been sparse, as Oracle has kept tight reins on beta testers under non-disclosure agreements. Nonetheless, tidbits here and there have leaked out. Asif Momen, a database administrator (DBA) in Saudi Arabia, recently wrote about one feature called "Identity Clause," which was documented on the Oracle Support site.

More on Oracle Database 12c

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The goal of the feature, according to the Oracle Support document, is to create a table with a numeric primary key that "does not use an explicitly created sequence." It appears to allow the user to specify automatic numeric values for a column without having to use the Oracle SEQUENCE function.

The support document has since been taken down from the Oracle Support site. Typically, beta testers have access to a separate, private portal with dedicated resources for the product they're testing. Other databases, such as IBM DB2 and Microsoft SQL Server, have identity clauses and columns that perform a similar function as this new 12c feature.

Another feature set to be unveiled with Oracle Database 12c is more related to cloud computing and multi-tenant access to the database. CEO Larry Ellison briefly described it during an earnings call on Thursday.

"We have a thing called pluggable databases, which allow multiple tenants to securely coexist in the same database and, of course, submit [information to] them," he said.

Beyond that, DBAs and consultants have weighed in with their wishes and desires for Oracle Database 12c when it is released. Those wish lists include features on querying, tuning, columnar storage and multi-tenancy.

Debendra Panda, a senior DBA at Wipro Technologies in India, had a wish list eight items long. It included automating the plan evolution process under SQL Plan Management, automatic SQL tuning and intelligent parallelism on deep hierarchical and recursive queries. Some other suggestions by Panda:

  • Table and index shrinking and reorganization should be more fully automated when the system first finds fragmented data;
  • With Adaptive Cursor Sharing, the optimizer should treat the query as bind-aware on the very first run of similar SQL; and
  • The system should be able to automatically decide when to use the bulk feature and how many rows should be processed in bulk based on resource availability.

Curt Monash, president of Acton, Mass.-based Monash Research, recently wrote about what features he expects out of the next version of Oracle Database. For him, the "worst thing about Oracle is the ongoing DBA work for what should be automatic," a problem that Panda implies with her various wishes for more automation.

Monash also said that Oracle Real Application Clusters (RAC) still make scaling out too difficult, and that it should "build aggressively on recent steps in automating parallelism."

"I wonder whether Oracle will finally introduce a true columnar storage option, a year behind Teradata," Monash also wrote. "That would be the obvious enhancement on the data warehousing side, if they can pull it off. If they can't, it's a damning commentary on the core Oracle codebase."

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Essential Guide

Guide to Oracle 12c database features and upgrades

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