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Review: Oracle Database 12c 147

Posted by samzenpus
from the check-it-out dept.
snydeq writes "InfoWorld's Riyaj Shamsudeen offers an in-depth look at Oracle Database 12c, which he calls a 'true cloud database,' bringing a new level of efficiency and ease to database consolidation. 'In development for roughly four years, Oracle Database 12c introduces so many important new capabilities in so many areas — database consolidation, query optimization, performance tuning, high availability, partitioning, backup and recovery — that even a lengthy review has to cut corners. Nevertheless, in addition to covering the big ticket items, I'll give a number of the lesser enhancements their due,' writes Riyaj Shamsudeen. 'Having worked with the beta for many months, I can tell you that the quality of software is also impressive, starting with a smooth RAC cluster installation. As with any new software release, I did encounter a few minor bugs. Hopefully these have been resolved in the production release that arrived yesterday.'"
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Review: Oracle Database 12c

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  • Abject Shillery (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Shouldn't shill articles be over on SlashBusinessCrap or whatever?

  • New features? (Score:2, Interesting)

    Backup and restore are new features in this latest version of the Oracle Database??

    How on earth did they manage before?! Seriously? Is it just me or am I the only person who writes programs from scratch with data security, portability and safety in mind? Gosh, My data has been separate from the program since I was loading out to 90-minute Type II's!

    I mean, seriously, from this article can we assume that mysqldump offered a more sensible backup than every version of the mega-expensive Oracle, until this vers

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by alen (225700)

      lots of third party backup programs support Oracle and SQL server to back up the databases online

      last i looked at mysql you had to shut down the database or dump it to another db and then backup the file. too expensive to do this on a 200Gb database sitting on a SAN

      • by segedunum (883035)

        last i looked at mysql you had to shut down the database or dump it to another db and then backup the file. too expensive to do this on a 200Gb database sitting on a SAN

        I cannot fathom where you've picked this up from.

        • by alen (225700)

          so which backup programs support mysql natively

          like i install an agent, set a policy on the backup server and have it backup to my tape library automatically without dumping the data to another storage device?

          • by F.Ultra (1673484)
            mysqldump? But what you are doing, i.e backup of the database files directly, is a very dangerous form of backup. Restoring such when the database has been corrupted for whatever reason is not something I would enjoy, so going by an ascii dump like mysqldump does is way more saner from that perspective, it's of course also way more slow.
            • Re:New features? (Score:5, Informative)

              by Gwala (309968) <adam&gwala,net> on Thursday June 27, 2013 @06:52AM (#44120593) Homepage

              mysqldump can and will lock tables during its backup - there's some tricks around this; but on a big production database, its really suboptimal.

              • by Anonymous Coward

                http://www.percona.com/doc/percona-xtrabackup/2.1/

                "Percona XtraBackup is an open-source hot backup utility for MySQL - based servers that doesn’t lock your database during the backup."

                http://www.mysql.com/products/enterprise/backup.html

                "MySQL Enterprise Backup performs online Hot, non-blocking backups of your MySQL databases."

              • by F.Ultra (1673484)
                Of course unless you use only InnoDB (which everyone does since it's the default for some years now) and use --single-transaction to do the dump via a transaction istead of locking the tables.
                • by Gwala (309968)

                  --single-transaction is one of the 'tricks around this' - but it blows out the production databases memory use if the table is updated while the export is occurring. (e.g.someone does an update all for some insane reason)

            • Re:New features? (Score:5, Informative)

              by alen (225700) on Thursday June 27, 2013 @07:20AM (#44120669)

              one of the selling points of sql server and oracle is you can backup the database directly while its running. you can backup the database, by separate files and file groups

              SQL server you can even have the database online during a restore. you restore the main file group and then the others. all the data may not be there, but the database will be able to server applications with some data. you can always move your tables around so that the most important ones get restored first

              with SQL server on decent hardware from the last 2-3 years you can backup a database during business hours and your users will never know. i do it all the time

              • Re:New features? (Score:5, Insightful)

                by h4rr4r (612664) on Thursday June 27, 2013 @08:31AM (#44120957)

                What modern SQL server does not have some method of doing this? Even if it requires outside programs running against it?

                Please stop calling MS SQL server, sql server it makes it sound like it is the only one.

              • The syntax is:

                alter database recover datafile '/path/to/restored/file.dat';

                alter datafile '/path/to/restored/file.dat' online;

                I used that on an Oracle 7 database about 2 months ago.

              • by F.Ultra (1673484)

                Yes, but I'm talking about the corner cases where the SQL Server has completely trashed the database files due to some bug in the SQL Server, if you then have the dump as a number of INSERT statements in a text file you have a much higher chance of recovering the data, or atleast partial amounts of it.

                And yes I write this because I have seen MS SQL Server corrupt datafiles in this way before.

            • mysqldump? But what you are doing, i.e backup of the database files directly, is a very dangerous form of backup. Restoring such when the database has been corrupted for whatever reason

              Actually no, it is not dangerous provided that you use a backup agent or an operating system that supports this. Windows does, Linux and Unix do not.

              On Windows the Volume Shadow Copy Service (VSS) [microsoft.com] will interact with registered processes to coordinate *when* they should ensure persistent consistency - which is reserved as a fraction of a second. It requires the processes to register as VSS writers - which database servers generally do (Oracle and SQL Server do - I do not know if MySQL does).

              On Windows in a v

              • The correct one:

                http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/windows/desktop/aa384649(v=vs.85).aspx [microsoft.com]

                For a list of in-box (Windows' own internal VSS writers that ensure disk consistency) see here: http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/windows/desktop/bb968827(v=vs.85).aspx [microsoft.com]

                Oracle is an external VSS writer. Has supported VSS for many years.

              • by jedidiah (1196)

                >> mysqldump? But what you are doing, i.e backup of the database files directly, is a very dangerous form of backup. Restoring such when the database has been corrupted for whatever reason
                >
                > Actually no, it is not dangerous provided that you use a backup agent or an operating system that supports this. Windows does, Linux and Unix do not.

                Lemming propaganda nonsense.

                The database ensures integrity. It does this with things like transaction logging and transaction isolation. It doesn't require any

              • by F.Ultra (1673484)
                So you believe that only the filesystem can corrupt the datafiles, I sense that you have never encountered that nice feeling when the MS SQL Server have corrupted the binary files so that restore is simply ignored due to "corrupt database". VSS won't rescue you there.
            • by jedidiah (1196)

              > mysqldump? But what you are doing, i.e backup of the database files directly, is a very dangerous form of backup.

              mysqldump you must be joking. That is kiddie stuff.

              Oracle has been able to do online hot backups of individual datafiles since at least version 7 in the 90s. Hot backups and point and time recovery for serious relational databases has been the bare minimum acceptable standard since before anyone ever heard of mysql.

              Comments like yours is why people get the impression that mysql isn't ready

              • It may be simple, but it works, and I can take my SQL (pardon the pun) anywhere from there.

                Don't underestimate simple, reliable data formats and methods. Look where all this commercially-driven proprietary crap, and the attitudes that have come with it which now prevail in other industries, I.e. software patents, waste, the environment is taking us...

          • commvault, zmanda, tivoli?

      • by andawyr (212118)

        You can do log shipping with mysql to have multiple sync'd databases - I've set this up in a small environment, and have not tested this feature with a high-capacity database, but the capability *is* there.

    • Re:New features? (Score:5, Informative)

      by hamster_nz (656572) on Thursday June 27, 2013 @06:11AM (#44120511)

      I didn't read that from TFA - just that object level restores have been improved, as has some compression features.

      Just so everybody is aware Oracle has always had kick-ass restore and recovery features, way ahead of other database - such things as Flashback [oracle.com], it has been shipping transaction logs since Noah was a boy, and the good ol' "ALERT TABLESPACE BEGIN BACKUP" to allow you to copy files online. It can perform change block tracking on database datafiles to allow increment backups "ALTER DATABASE ENABLE BLOCK CHANGE TRACKING USING FILE ;". All of this is platform independent too.

      Recovery is also awesome. "ALTER DATABASE RECOVER UNTIL [timestamp]", "ALTER DATABASE RECOVERY UNTIL CANCEL", "ALTER DATABASE UNTIL CHANGE [transaction number]" and so on. If you accidentally loose you control files (somewhat like your MS-SQL master database being trashed) you can recreate them using SQL.

      The big problem is that you have to be doing a lot of it to be good at it, many very think books have been written on Oracle backup and restore. So tools like Oracle's RMAN have been created to manage the process for DBAs...

      • Re:New features? (Score:5, Informative)

        by NoNonAlphaCharsHere (2201864) on Thursday June 27, 2013 @06:57AM (#44120603)
        I see you're a dedicated full-time Oracle support guy. I don't know of a lot of other products that require a full-time support person to do (conceptually) simple stuff. My biggest complaint about Oracle has always been that to even take it out of the box and install it required guru-level Oracle knowledge, much less keeping it running well. I absolutely hate all things Microsoft, but at least you can install Squeel Server and set up backups without two days effort and an overwhelming desire to stick a gun in your mouth.
        • Re:New features? (Score:5, Insightful)

          by war4peace (1628283) on Thursday June 27, 2013 @07:32AM (#44120729)

          It's a complex product. of course it has a point-and-grunt installer, but anything else requires configuring the product, and it doesn't have an "easy mode", simply because it's not targeting "simple people".

          You're thinking from a tiny point of view (small company or personal). And yes, in this case, oracle DB might not be for you. But a company which makes arguably billions off data located in an oracle DB Cluster doesn't care whether the DB needs 0, 1, or 25 people who manage it. Whatever the costs are, they represent a tiny fraction of the profits.

          if your monthly profit is $10K then your DB costs might need to be below $200. However, make your monthly profit $500M, then you can afford spending anywhere between $200K and $1M a month on the DB and its support (licensed or in-house) and even more.

          • Re:New features? (Score:5, Insightful)

            by Vanderhoth (1582661) on Thursday June 27, 2013 @07:53AM (#44120795)
            This is all very true. For a small website MySQL or MariaDB are fine. I work in government and we collect, process and create terrabytes of ocean data a month for weather, sea ice, waves, salinity, temperature, oxygen, species migration, satellite imagery, and tons of other things. I hate Oracle because of their business practices and general asshatery as much as the next techie, but for large databases that require the kind of collection, processing and modeling we do, Oracle is all there is.

            You're especially right that there's no "easy mode". I think it'd be silly to include such a thing and dumb down such a hugely complex product to a level that you might as well be using MySQL or MariaDB. And for the amount of data we deal with and the number of database instances we have, yes it's a full time DB admin job. God forbid the someone was to pull a Bobby tables [xkcd.com] because we didn't have someone qualified creating and maintaining the databases at all times.
            • by Anonymous Coward

              process and create terrabytes of ocean data

              A real dba would never make such a typo. I smell something fishy here.

              • My keyboard is old and has had a lot of coffee spilled on it. Lately the keys stick a bit. Had I spelled it tarriebytes I might be able to see your concern, but one extra 'r' doesn't really count as a serious typo.

                I'm not a DBA and I never made that claim, I'm a developer. Some of the applications I write are front ends for researchers to access data stored in Oracle databases. Some applications are for modeling data and comparing models against hindcasts. There is a lot of data.
            • God forbid the someone was to pull a Bobby tables [xkcd.com] because we didn't have someone qualified creating and maintaining the databases at all times.

              Wouldn't preventing a "Bobby tables" incident be more on the application developers plate than the DBA's?

              • Yes, as I'm an application developer that is why it came to mind. My reason for pointing it out is because the DBA would be responsible for cleaning up the mess of some bad application developer if that situation was to arise. I'm not the only application dev in my group and am far more knowledgeable than some of my coworkers, and far less knowledgeable than others.

                That being said, my understanding is if a DBA does a good job setting up permissions and uses DBA terms, such as materialized view, they can r
                • by jedidiah (1196)

                  That only goes so far. Any application needs to be able to shoot the user in the foot. Otherwise it's not powerful enough to do anything useful.

                  You may not be able to drop a table but you certainly can wipe it.

          • I suppose I should have pointed out that I'm speaking as a developer of an independant application who has to (transparently) support multple database types. Oracle is the one that consistantly makes me want to tear my hair out.
          • Based on what you are saying, Oracle is essentially a niche product for huge data consumers. Why is it so aggressively marketed to businesses of nearly any size? They buy in and then the administration expenses, coupled with licensing, eat their lunch. Oracle's sales are marketing-driven, that's why we see it in so many businesses.

            • by greg1104 (461138)

              Marketing will try to sell things to anyone that will buy them. The only companies who can easily demonstrate a real need for Oracle are larger installations. My job involves getting a lower total cost of ownership out of PostgreSQL for the sizes it can handle, rough practical limit is around 5TB right now, and that's easy to pull off in most cases. For a fraction of what an Oracle license costs, you can get support from a company that does source code level contributor to one of the open-source database

            • Define "huge data consumers".
              There are small (in terms of employee size) companies which handle enormous amounts of data. Think a genome sequencing lab. It can have as little as 5 employees, but works with huge data and handles big sums of money. I can think of a few situations where a single person needs to handle very large datasets and handle enough money to justify an Oracle Database.

        • Re:New features? (Score:5, Insightful)

          by malkavian (9512) on Thursday June 27, 2013 @07:40AM (#44120755) Homepage

          The complexity often sets the ceiling.
          SQL Server is pretty simple out of the box, and with a reasonable toolset to let you administer it. I trust it to a level. However, cost 'savings' being what they are, a lot of companies who do not understand exactly what it is they're asking, will hire someone who can click the SQL Server buttons on the GUI and change a tape.
          They're cheaper than an in depth DBA that groks the environment by a long shot. However, when it comes emergency time, I really don't trust that things will go smoothly.

          Oracle has the starting point that you need to know a few of the bits under the hood, so you actually start to understand what's really going on (it tries not to hide the messy details from you), seems to come with the kitchen sink (though occasionally with a fair mortgage as well), and requires staff that actually know what they're about; it actively encourages you to go deeper all the time.

          I don't have a problem with a product that's geared for high end enterprise requiring a guru level knowledge to actually get going. At that level, you really should have the skills to back your actions up with.

        • Re:New features? (Score:5, Insightful)

          by jbolden (176878) on Thursday June 27, 2013 @07:41AM (#44120759) Homepage

          First off installing Oracle does not require guru knowledge. They write pretty good installation guides. Developers install Oracle for themselves all the time. I will agree it is much harder than SQLServer to install but that's a SQLServer strength.

          Oracle is a professional product. It exists at the top end for people who want to be able to manually configure and tweak the database to get the most out of it. It also allows for complex configurations that the other systems don't. It the database server hardware cost is in 4 or 5 figures, and the configuration isn't extremely complex don't use Oracle. When you compare Oracle to SQLServer compare a setup of a database distributed over 4 continents involving $20m in server hardware because that's where all that complexity really shines.

          • by Tailhook (98486)

            install [...] a SQLServer strength.

            Microsoft has accomplished easy installation on a single platform. 12 c is fully supported [oracle.com] on many versions of 5 major operating systems. The installation GUI (yes, the whining is about a system with a GUI/wizard installer you can blast through banging on 'next'...) is pretty consistent across platforms.

            It's not hipster software. Oracle has the conceit to expect sufficient experience to follow some basic instructions. Nevertheless developers get it done every day without drama.

            • by jbolden (176878)

              (yes, the whining is about a system with a GUI/wizard installer you can blast through banging on 'next'

              In all fairness to the critics, except on Windows, I've never been able to get an install to work out of the box using the GUI. It has always required I do the "pre prep" and unfortunately often some post prep work. On Windows wow is Oracle is easy to install, uninstall is really hard however.

        • I work at a fortune 100 company.. Where else do we have dedicated support personnel?

          Mainframe operators/programmers
          Storage (HDS & netapp) admins
          DBAs
          Network (L2/L3) and another team that handles L4-7 and security like firewalls
          VMware admins
          Aix admins

          Damn. You must work at one awesome company since your DBA can do all of that. He or she should get a raise.

      • by advid.net (595837)

        It can perform change block tracking on database datafiles to allow increment backups "ALTER DATABASE ENABLE BLOCK CHANGE TRACKING USING FILE ;".

        Note: block change tracking is used to reduce reads in case of incremental backup. It is not required to allow incremental backup.

      • by greg1104 (461138)

        Recovery is also awesome. "ALTER DATABASE RECOVER UNTIL [timestamp]", "ALTER DATABASE RECOVERY UNTIL CANCEL", "ALTER DATABASE UNTIL CHANGE [transaction number]" and so on.

        PostgreSQL has had this sort of feature for a few years now, see recovery target [postgresql.org]. The main thing Oracle is better at is giving a simpler UI to this work. This sort of ALTER DATABASE interface is easier to use than the config file approach Postgres uses. Similarly, Oracle Flashback is a slicker interface to look at old data than you get out of the box with Postgres, but the same under the hood look is possible in both databases.

        The differences in the backup/recovery area are pretty small now though, espec

    • by jbolden (176878)

      I'm not sure what line you are talking about. There are a few references in the article to backup and recovery like, "In addition, you can back up and recover pluggable databases independently of the container database" which say nothing remotely like Oracle didn't have backup and recovery. The backup strategies that MySQL uses were developed by Oracle usually a decade or two before.

    • by nairnr (314138)

      Backup and restore are new features in this latest version of the Oracle Database??

      How on earth did they manage before?! Seriously? Is it just me or am I the only person who writes programs from scratch with data security, portability and safety in mind? Gosh, My data has been separate from the program since I was loading out to 90-minute Type II's!

      I mean, seriously, from this article can we assume that mysqldump offered a more sensible backup than every version of the mega-expensive Oracle, until this version?

      No, it says that it has new capabilities - not that backing up is new to Oracle...

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Wow. What a blatant advertisement. Slashdot has really sunk.

  • by Njovich (553857) on Thursday June 27, 2013 @05:57AM (#44120485)

    Wait what. He wrote a review about Oracle, gave an 8 for value, and didn't mention pricing? Is this some kind of shill or such?

    Even for a shill I would at least expect a line like
    'Yes, a license for a normal octocore setup costs more than your home, but...'
    or 'After going through the 2 hour cost calculation matrix, the resulting price seemed a tad steep, but'

    • maybe they have some sort of hobbyest program, like mysql or something?

      • by ReallyEvilCanine (991886) on Thursday June 27, 2013 @06:46AM (#44120581) Homepage
        It's free for personal use (edelivery.oracle.com) just like all Oracle software. You only need paid licenses and support for commercial use. For that you need a lot of money.
        • by L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) on Thursday June 27, 2013 @07:08AM (#44120643)
          Nobody, not one single person is using Oracle databases in a personal capacity. It is always in connection with business. Therefore, I expect there to be a mention of pricing.
          • Oracle uses a tiered system for licensing and the prices are usually depended on what features you need for your business. I've installed and use Oracle DB for personal use. It was mostly a training excise, but I use it to keep track of my beer brewing recipes, cost of supplies, quality checks, temperature, specific gravity, alcohol by volume, taste, etc... I could have used MySQL, but I wanted to learn and practice with Oracle because that's the industry standard for large database applications.

            I'm not a
            • I could have used MySQL, but I wanted to learn and practice with Oracle because that's the industry standard for large database applications.

              QED.

          • by Anonymous Coward

            I am.... I have a 2 node RAC cluster running at home for fun. Only 1 app using right now, but it is for personal use.

        • In education they like to send you a quote for a unreasonable amount of money with stupid discounts.

          I think our quote was a few million for the license with 98.5% discount.

        • A processor license for Oracle Enterprise database is $47,500.

          http://www.oracle.com/us/corporate/pricing/technology-price-list-070617.pdf [oracle.com]

          Currently, this lets you run on a dual-core x86, or a single core RISC/Itanium. The SPARC Niagra line had some real discount wierdness, since they present 64 cores to the OS.

        • by fatp (1171151)
          No, it's not free for personal use. It's free for single person development / prototype use.

          There is a personal edition for production use, pricing at USD460 + around 20% per year for support.
    • by roman_mir (125474)

      'Yes, a license for a normal octocore setup costs more than your home, but...'
      or 'After going through the 2 hour cost calculation matrix, the resulting price seemed a tad steep, but'

      but, but... but you don't realise, look at the title of TFA, it says: Finally, a true cloud database.

      Do you understand that? They finally have managed to install their database on an actual freaking CLOUD! How cool is that? I imagine it's pretty cool, maybe -50 Centigrade or so.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Price is pretty much the same - $25K per core for basic, $50K per core for enterprise, $75K for RAC. Things like containers are extra, so figure a typical 8 core at being only $.5M license (14% annual maintenance). Around here, that only buys a small house.

    • by jbolden (176878)

      That is kinda weird since DB2 has now used pricing as a strategy, "buy our hardware (Netezza) and get your DB2 licenses included". Which means AFAIK Oracle is now the most expensive product per CPU.

      In terms of value... Oracle saves people a lot of money on hardware and telco at the high end. There just isn't any easy way to do a value computation because their just aren't the right kinds of competitors.

  • "smooth RAC cluster installation". That would make a pleasant change.
  • by JDG1980 (2438906) on Thursday June 27, 2013 @09:46AM (#44121421)

    99% of database users have no need at all to give money to One Rich Asshole Called Larry Ellison.

    Yes, there are a tiny handful of applications where Oracle outshines the alternatives. Yours probably isn't one of them. If you're running a small website, MySQL/MariaDB will almost certainly work just fine. (Or the free version of MS SQL Server, if you're developing in ASP.NET.) For larger applications, PostgreSQL can do the vast majority of what Oracle can do at no cost. If you're not working with absolutely massive datasets, and don't need the specific enterprise features the system offers, Oracle is probably a waste of your money.

    Too many companies throw their money away just because it's "standard", even though it really isn't – other databases are more widely used as well as being cheaper and easier to administer. Anyone who wants to buy Oracle should have to justify with clear and specific reasons (not just marketing buzzwords) why they need it and how the massive expense is going to benefit the company compared to the alternatives.

    • PostgreSQL can do the vast majority of what Oracle can do at no cost

      And PG year after year is much, MUCH easier to install,backup,and maintain.

      • by Shados (741919)

        People use Oracle because either they use something that depends on it (some other Oracle product, like their ERP, which has some value for certain high end segments of retail), or because they're extremely high end, where a support contract and the license cost is irrelevent compared to a very specific feature they need.

        Its niche, but its a big buck niche with enough customers to prevent Oracle from dying...

        Now there's all the medium sized companies that got suckered into using Oracle for no good reason. I

  • I read it as "Oracle Database : price 12 cents".
    You'd get two for a quarter and a penny change!

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