7 things you probably didn’t know about Oracle’s Autonomous Database

Posted By: administrator
Posted On: 01 Dec 2019

Oracle has always been a database powerhouse. Several rich features that were available as add-ons are now available bundled along with ADB and its associated services. Oracle has done a great job of masking all the implementation complexity and making the service easy to use. Below are some of the features that make ADB a solid player in the blossoming cloud data warehousing market.

Autoscaling for Serverless Deployments: For a couple of decades, Oracle has invested heavily in its Real Application Cluster technology. Oracle has been unmatched in the market when it comes to the technology available in the market to address planned and unplanned downtime. RAC is one of the add-ons for the Oracle database that allows new nodes to be added or removed to an Oracle cluster and that too, without a service outage unlike Redshift, where you may experience some downtime during cluster resize. A simple setup allows the user to scale up or scale down the compute needed for ADB. This feature is beneficial not only for workloads that don’t require computing to be up and running at all times but also for workloads that have a seasonality associated with them, allowing uninterrupted operations despite a spike in workload. There are limits to what extent the instance can be scaled, and you can find those details here.

Automated Patching and Upgrades: Patches and Upgrades are a common feature of any software and databases are no different. Applying patches or upgrades to a relational database has long been an activity that demanded a lot of planning and coordination across various teams because of the potential downtime that is involved and the impact on the business caused by the code released in the patch. With ADB, Oracle has completely automated patches and alleviated the burden of patch management from the users of the service. Patches and upgrades are performed seamlessly without any interruption to the service. Over the last couple of years, there have also been changes made to how Oracle DB software patches are released. Patch releases occur more frequently now. As a result, less code gets changed with each patch, which automatically reduces the impact on the system.

Automated Tuning: ADB has features that auto-tune the queries that are being run on the service. For those of you familiar with the Oracle database, Oracle has had many add-on features in the past like AWR reports, diagnostics pack, and tuning pack. It appears that Oracle has combined the power of these services to provide automated tuning capabilities to the service wherein several tuning techniques get auto-applied on a query so that the users always get the best performance from the system. Performance tuning has been a time-consuming activity since the time databases have been introduced. By automating tuning, Oracle has managed to solve for one of the toughest challenges and, better yet, make that a feature in the ADB service. 

Oracle Application Express (APEX): This feature is one of the hidden gems of the Oracle database that, surprisingly, even many developers of Oracle database have limited exposure. ADB supports Oracle APEX, although with a few limitations that you can read about here. Users can quickly build web applications on the database without having to maintain any additional infrastructure or application servers and using an intuitive drag and drop interface. This feature allows for a traditional database developer to don the role of an application developer and cater to the application needs of various departments and automating reporting tasks.

Partition Management: Partitioning data plays a significant role in the performance of database queries as well as the cost of running the database infrastructure. Usage patterns of the tables have to be thoroughly understood before deciding on a partitioning strategy for the database. Oracle’s Information lifecycle management pack has many features that enable Oracle to detect hot, warm, and cold data based on access frequency of these data blocks. When combined with tiered storage, ILM can allow for hot data to be made available on tier 1 storage and least used data on the cheapest storage available to the database and so on. 

Partitioning also allows for different compression strategies to be applied to different partition types, thus saving businesses from having to buy extra storage prematurely. You can read more about ILM here. Fortunately, ADB has made partition management, autonomous. I.e., Oracle determines what partitions are right for your workload and moves your data around under the covers without any downtime and ensures you are always getting the best performance possible while keeping your storage costs low. If you are a power user who likes to take control of partition management, you have that flexibility as well.

Compression: For many years, Oracle offered advanced compression as an add-on to the Oracle database enterprise edition. Oracle’s advanced compression package offers a variety of compression techniques that applies to different types of data in the system. Compression is enabled in ADB by default. Autonomous Data Warehouse uses Hybrid Columnar Compression (HCC) for all tables by default. If you are a power user who likes to take control of compression management, you have that flexibility as well. By combining the power of automated partition management and compression management, Oracle ensures that you are not overpaying for storage, and you are getting the optimal read and write performance from your database service.

Security: Security has always been the hallmark of the Oracle database. Oracle offers unparalleled security features in its database, fulfilling the security demands of the organizations with the most stringent security standards. Oracle has bundled the various security options available within the enterprise edition database into a package called Oracle data safe. Oracle Datasafe works with ADB and offers 

  • Sensitive data discovery: Automatically scan the database for any sensitive data based on established patterns and mark them for review and further action.
  • Data Masking: Mask sensitive data from leaking to non-production environments like development, training, testing, and decrease the likelihood of a data breach. Data masking requires no coding and preserves all the data relationships. For example, masked customer emails won’t break any reports that rely on customer email.
  • User Activity Auditing and Reporting: Track user activity automatically and raise alerts on risky actions. Out-of-the-box audit reporting makes it easy not only to identify and mitigate issues posed by risky user activity but also reduces the costs of compliance.
  • User Risk Assessment: Identify users that present the highest risk, review privileges, and automatically capture activity performed by those users. Apply appropriate policies to ensure users with necessary privileges have secured access to strong passwords and are adhering to password policies. 
  • Database Security Assessment: This feature throws light on the security of the database. It presents timely recommendations on actions that can be taken to ensure that database security is not compromised.

Security is often an afterthought for many organizations, but in the day and age of increased cyber threats, companies must take data security more seriously. ADB, when combined with data safe, makes it easy for organizations to keep their data safe with hardly any overhead.

To summarize the whole, Oracle is bringing its enterprise-grade database technology and hardware together and making it available as a serverless and dedicated ADB offering. Oracle has created a genuinely compelling cloud data warehouse offering by combining the technologies that have only been available as extra-cost add-ons and adding a layer of machine learning on top of these technologies. Oracle’s autonomous data warehouse offers excellent value for money for customers, large and small. Try it for free here.

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