Oracle 18c != Autonomous Database, But Autonomous needs 18c

When Oracle (yes, I work for the big O) announced that it was building out its Autonomous Database Platform – starting with the Autonomous Data Warehouse Cloud (ADWC) – I started hearing a lot of statements that Oracle 18c would be Autonomous in and of itself. This is not the case.

The very excellent Tim Hall “ranted” (not really) about this late last year after he got an early view of the Autonomous platform at OOW17. Read his view here -> Tim Hall – Oracle Autonomous Database and the Death of the DBA.

So what is 18c? Its the latest version of the Oracle Database – also known as That is its the 12.2 database with what Oracle used to call a patchset. As of 18c, Oracle has moved a “yearly” release cycle with quarterly release updates and release update revisions in between. I’ll write more on this another time.

As with releases of Oracle Database over the past 20-25 years (remember that 9i was the “Self Managing , 18c includes, adds and/or enhances a vast array of features that are designed to reduce the amount of time DBAs need to design and build the database and server infrastructure, keep the database up and running, make it perform, and keep it patched and upgraded. Features in this category include Automatic Storage Management, SQL Tuning Sets, SQL Plan Management, Automatic Memory Management, Automatic Data Optimisation and and and…

The issue with the above is that you had to choose to use almost all of them. Yes, part of the “choice” was that you had to choose to buy the license, such as Advanced Compression to get access to Automatic Data Optimisation, but putting that aside for a minute, you had to choose to use whatever feature might help you in a given situation.

Oracle Autonomous Database effectively takes the need to choose away from the user, by turning on all the automated features that Oracle have been building into Oracle Database, in favour of providing a standardised database platform that tunes, upgrades, patches and secures itself in an ongoing manner. Add into the mix an autonomous management engine to keep everything on track.

Oracle has stated that the Autonomous Database services will be available in Oracle Cloud and, over time, on the Cloud @ Customer platforms. 18c Database is the underlying database version for Autonomous.

18c will, as have past releases, be available for DBAs, devs and anyone else who is interested, to download and install on their own infrastructure. But the parts that make an Autonomous service will be cloud only offerings.

As Tim put it so succinctly,

Less time on boring shit. More time on important shit!

Hear, hear!! Stop doing the stuff you did as a junior DBA, and get stuck into the interesting stuff. Help devs write better SQL, learn features and tools you haven’t needed or didn’t have licenses to use in the past – features like Spatial & Graph, R, Database In-Memory – and apply what you discover to the problems in the context of your business and its unique needs.

BUT, this doesn’t mean that knowing how to build a database, when to choose to use a feature and when not to is not also still important. You can’t abdicate your responsibility as a consumer to ensure that you are using the right service for the right purpose at the right time. You’ll just have to do less of the grunt work over time.

In my view, Autonomous Databases are the next evolution of data management platforms and a welcome one. The less process work that needs to be done manually the better. Let’s get back to the interesting shit!