Oracle is out with version 12c of its flagship database product. The company described 12c, which features a new multi-tenant architecture, as "the first database designed for the cloud Relevant Products/Services."

The multi-tenant architecture is designed to simplify the consolidation of databases into the cloud, so that many databases can be managed in a unified way even while each application sees a standard Oracle database. Oracle said that this many-as-one management can increase server utilization and reduce the time needed for upgrades or backup Relevant Products/Services. Through "pluggable databases," one container Oracle database can hold many others, allowing for more efficient management, including a rapid provisioning of databases.

The company noted that, by supporting multi-tenancy in the database tier instead of the application tier, all independent software vendor applications that utilize the database are ready for Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) implementation. Version 12c, in multi-tenant mode, still offers such standard Oracle Database features as Real Application Clusters, Partitioning, Compression, Automatic Storage Management, Database Vault and others.

Automatic Data Optimization

Andrew Mendelsohn, senior vice president of Database Server Technologies at Oracle, said in a statement that the multi-tenant architecture "makes it easier for customers to consolidate their databases."

Typically, SaaS configurations involved various customers sharing a multi-tenant application but separate data Relevant Products/Services. Oracle said that, by flipping this model, it can achieve better security Relevant Products/Services, among other advantages. However, pluggable, multi-tenant database functionality will not be part of the regular maintenance fees, but, according to CEO Larry Ellison late last week, will come as a "separately priced option."

Additionally, 12c features 500 new or revised features, the result of what the company said was 2,500 person-years of development. One of the major new features is the introduction of Automatic Data Optimization. Read/write activity is monitored via a "heat map," which shows very active data as hot, read-only as warm and rarely-read as cold. Data is automatically compressed and tiered based on the activity and age of the data, using smart compression and storage tiering.

'Significant Improvements'

Other new capabilities include ones involving query optimization, partitioning, increased performance, and backup/recovery.

Charles King, an analyst with industry research firm Pund-IT, said that while "there are some pretty significant improvements" in 12c, the assertion that the new product is the first database designed for the cloud "is demonstrably false." He also pointed out the irony in Oracle, whose founder and CEO Ellison had in the past made comments bashing cloud computing, has now become its champion.

The cloud functionality, King said, is being added and emphasized "because customers are demanding it," and the issue at this point "is how, and how successfully, large enterprises can take advantage of hybrid Relevant Products/Services cloud technology." He pointed out that "no business Relevant Products/Services wants to run one part of its operations on an internal database and run another on a different database in the cloud."