Oracle 11g New Features

November 17, 2007

A friend asked me what are the significant new features of Oracle 11g. Here is what I wrote up for him.

Datafile compression

This is simple to understand so it may drive a lot of upgrades even if it isn’t so significant. Disk is cheap these days but compression may be virtually free. I believe the compression shrinks the datafiles to 1/4 – 1/3 of their original size. The compression is biased to low cost rather than max size savings so the CPU load is low.
With the performance of today’s CPU’s the cost to compress can be outweighed but the i/o time savings so compression can even be faster. Rumour is that compression will become standard in future releases.

SQL & PL/SQL results cache

The database will now cache results of queries and PL/SQL code blocks in the SGA much as it caches SQL parses now. If the same query is executed on an unchanged result set, the set is returned immediately without execution. The runtime then becomes essentially zero. This is a huge win for apps that frequently re-run the same queries. The SQL cache is free, the database figures it out by itself. The PL/SQL cache requires some minor re-coding in the headers. PL/SQL does take advantage of the SQL cache as well.

Flashback Forever

The flashback query facility has been extended to use the archive logs, like merging it with Logminer. A flashback query can now be executed as far back as archive logs exist. If you can get 6 months of logs online, you can query your data 6 months ago. A big hit with anyone with auditing needs. Accidentally delete something last week? Load up a week of logs and get it back, rather than crawl through a bunch of backups

Automatic Memory and Parameter Management

The 10g automatic diagnostic facility has been extended to automatically implement its recommendations. You can now largely set and forget the database, let it tune itself. With the new Grid Control, it even auto tunes across instances. 10g already has automatic storage management so we are now finally well on our way to the self managing database. Some DBAs feel threatened by this.

Built-in connection pooling

Connection pooling is now built into the database without relying on the app servers to manage the pools. I don’t quite see how this works, there must be an enhanced protocol to the app server client software. Mostly this just allows the DBA and/or the Grid Control to manage the pools directly.

Partitioning

Partitioning is now enhanced to partition a parent table and its children as a set, even if the children don’t have the parent’s partition key. This will be a big win both for performance and manageability for data warehouses. Oracle is now targetting data warehousing and announced some pre-packaged DW configurations with Sun this week.

Database Replay

It is now possible to capture a workload at the SQL engine level and save it for replay later. Run your big regression test once, capture the load and then it can be replayed later over and over directly from the database. Very useful for testing database patches and upgrades.

Security

Several new security enhancements

  • Passwords can now be case-sensitive for PCI compliance.
  • Entire tablespaces can be encrypted, which can be simpler to manage than the table and row level encryption in 10g. When an entire tablespace is encrypted, the indexes work on the encrypted data so performance is better. This is also can be more secure as a user without the encryption key cannot even see what objects are in the tablespace.
  • DataPump files can be encrypted.
  • The database automatically idenfies users default passwords that should be changed.
  • The password checking algorithms have been enhanced to be able to enforce more secure passwords.

Leapfrogging

Not quite a feature but the consensus is that 11gR1 is best first release Oracle has done. So good in fact that many9iR2 shops are going to leapfrog 10gR2 and go straight to 11gR1. 11gR1 most likely has more bugs than 10gR2 but it also has features like rolling upgrades and database replay that make handling those bugs much easier. And saving the cost of a whole upgrade cycle can be worth a few bugs.

More…

I’ll be updating this post as Oracle adds new info at OTN.

OTN’s list of 11g New Features

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Thin client this time?

November 10, 2007

We’ve heard the thin client promise for years, remember X terminals and JavaStations? Remember how Netscape scared Microsoft into giving IE away to drive Netscape out of busness? In every case, the thick client, essentially MS Office, has prevailed.

The thin client has failed so many times before, why might this time be different?

  • Companies like Google (and even MS) are spending big bucks to build the necessary backend infrastructure, like those infamous Google datacentres and Google Apps
  • With mobile devices, we are no longer tied to our PCs so a PC-centric solution is less appealing, Instead of a PC, why not just attach a keyboard and monitor to my cellphone?
  • The cost of maintaining a network of PCs is now seen as onerous. Leave all that upgrading and virus scanning to Google.
  • A lot of business in-house apps have already moved to an web based model on Java or MS.Net.

Let’s all read about it in Nick Carr’s new book “The Big Switch”. I’ve already pre-ordered my copy.


Server Huggers

November 9, 2007

Server huggers are people who won’t give up there own private servers, even when a more centralized model makes more sense. They may be department level people who won’t move to the corporate data centre. Or data centre people who won’t move to the Google Cloud.

The fact that we have a derogatory term like server hugger tells me something is going on here. Back in the client/server days, those departmental types would have been called leading edge, now they’re legacy holdouts.

Note also that server hugger means a whole different thing at Hooters.