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Oracle Database

The Oracle Database (commonly referred to as Oracle RDBMS or simply as Oracle) is an object-relational database management system (ORDBMS) produced and marketed by Oracle Corporation.

Larry Ellison and his friends, former co-workers Bob Miner and Ed Oates, started the consultancy Software Development Laboratories (SDL) in 1977. SDL developed the original version of the Oracle software. The name Oracle comes from the code-name of a CIA-funded project Ellison had worked on while previously employed by Ampex

Physical and logical structures

An Oracle database system—identified by an alphanumeric system identifier or SID—comprises at least one instance of the application, along with data storage. An instance—identified persistently by an instantiation number (or activation id: SYS.V_$DATABASE.ACTIVATION#)—comprises a set of operating-system processes and memory-structures that interact with the storage. Typical processes include PMON (the process monitor) and SMON (the system monitor).

Users of the Oracle databases refer to the server-side memory-structure as the SGA (System Global Area). The SGA typically holds cache information such as data-buffers, SQL commands, and user information. In addition to storage, the database consists of online redo logs (or logs), which hold transactional history. Processes can in turn archive the online redo logs into archive logs (offline redo logs), which provide the basis (if necessary) for data recovery and for some forms of data replication.

If the Oracle database administrator has implemented Oracle RAC (Real Application Clusters), then multiple instances, usually on different servers, attach to a central storage array. This scenario offers advantages such as better performance, scalability and redundancy. However, support becomes more complex, and many sites do not use RAC. In version 10g, grid computing introduced shared resources where an instance can use (for example) CPU resources from another node (computer) in the grid.

The Oracle DBMS can store and execute stored procedures and functions within itself. PL/SQL (Oracle Corporation's proprietary procedural extension to SQL), or the object-oriented language Java can invoke such code objects and/or provide the programming structures for writing them.

Storage

The Oracle RDBMS stores data logically in the form of tablespaces and physically in the form of data files ("datafiles"). Tablespaces can contain various types of memory segments, such as Data Segments, Index Segments, etc. Segments in turn comprise one or more extents. Extents comprise groups of contiguous data blocks. Data blocks form the basic units of data storage.

There is also a partitioning feature available on newer versions of the database, which allows tables to be partitioned based on different set of keys. Specific partitions can then be easily added or dropped to help manage large data sets.

Oracle database management tracks its computer data storage with the help of information stored in the SYSTEM tablespace. The SYSTEM tablespace contains the data dictionary—and often (by default) indexes and clusters. A data dictionary consists of a special collection of tables that contains information about all user-objects in the database. Since version 8i, the Oracle RDBMS also supports "locally managed" tablespaces which can store space management information in bitmaps in their own headers rather than in the SYSTEM tablespace (as happens with the default "dictionary-managed" tablespaces). Version 10g and later introduced the SYSAUX tablespace which contains some of the tables formerly in the SYSTEM tablespace.

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