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Embracing Autonomous: Oracle Autonomous Database 18c


By Michelle Malcher, SELECT Volunteer Leader | Edited by Kristin Fields, SELECT Editor

Oracle introduced the autonomous database in the Oracle Cloud this past March of 2018. It is set up for data warehouse-type workloads and not yet for heavy transactional systems or even hybrid-type applications. As a Database Administrator (DBA), we know that most of our applications have hybrid to heavy transaction workloads, and of course a few data lakes or warehouses. Well, good news — on August 7, 2018, Oracle announced and made immediately available Oracle 18c autonomous database in the Oracle Cloud for transaction processing.

Oracle Autonomous Transaction Processing (ATP) and Autonomous Data Ware (ADW) provide several benefits for customers of the Oracle Cloud, including database platforms that are optimized for all workloads and automated for:

  • Provisioning
  • Scaling
  • Tuning
  • Security
  • Fault Tolerant
  • Backup and Recovery
  • And more…

Even DBAs should embrace this autonomous migration, as the need for installations and security patching no longer fall in the hands of the DBA. This means clicking through install screens, running a create DB script or coordinating maintenance windows every quarter can all be left out of their responsibilities. I know I am very excited to have the database’s security patches complete without having to work weekends, only to start over again with the next set of patches. That’s definitely not sustainable in a large environment, and other automated tools for the infrastructure were not always adequate for the database environment. Now, this environment is optimized for the database and can even perform regression testing. Before asking what that leaves for DBAs to do, let’s discuss a few other advantages that come with the Oracle ATP.

The Oracle Cloud provides a database environment that is elastic and can even go down to no servers if not being used. This pay-for-what-you-use method allows for the elasticity you hope for when quick growth is needed, as well as during quiet periods. This removes under-utilized hardware, saves costs and optimizes resources for the environment.

Security is another area to focus on. As mentioned previously, the Oracle ATP will help with security patching and be able to patch as threat mitigation. Data is also encrypted at rest and in-transit in the Oracle Cloud, providing additional data protection. However, there are plenty of opportunities with security, auditing, compliance and even security intelligence (analytics on security logs). With the shortage of cybersecurity professionals and all of the security patching off your plate, this is a great opportunity to work in the area of data protection and security.

Along with the announcement, the Oracle ATP database can learn and optimize. This learning and ability to automatically adjust for performance allows the transactional database to perform very well in the Oracle Cloud. The workloads can either be given additional resources or tuned to run optimally. The autonomous database also offers 99.995 percent availability, which means no downtime for patching, upgrades or workload issues to add resources. This ties into the elasticity of the Oracle Cloud too and failover to other servers and resources provide this resiliency and fault tolerance.

Backups, performance, patching — what’s left for the DBA? Another thought that I mentioned at the start of the article, you don’t need to know anything about the Oracle database to use the ATP database, and there is nothing to do to keep it running. So, why did I call this article “Embracing Autonomous?” Because the tasks that are now automatic are jobs or things we have been scripting and trying to automate, in order to free the DBA for other activities. The data knowledge and ability to integrate data is a key skillset of the DBA that can be utilized in the business and help harness the data. There are plenty of skills that DBAs can leverage to provide development and application teams knowledge of the data and databases to shorten development cycles and make efficiently run applications. Security and more security, leveraging user functionality for proper privileges and access. That might be the fifth time I mentioned security, but I do see the opportunities here and I tend to be very passionate about it.

Coming soon is 19c. You might be wondering, “Didn’t we just get 18c?” — but another advantage of having an environment is being able to roll out releases and new features, just in an autonomous Oracle Cloud environment. With 19c, the Oracle Cloud can be put into your data center with these features, or a request for a dedicated server in the Oracle Cloud. Understand with the dedicated servers, the resources that are not being used but reserved might not take advantage of cost elasticity. The exciting part is that when 19c is rolled out, the best query plans are going to be used, meaning there will not be a performance hit, just better results, and of course, no downtime as the database upgrades itself. The planning that happens is how to use the new features of the database and other areas that the applications will benefit.

DBAs have opportunities to work more with data, security, and development. There might be other areas of interest with the Internet of Things and big data that can be used to provide value to businesses. Embrace Autonomous, leverage your skills to expand into the other areas and let the Oracle ATP database take care of the small stuff.

About the Author


Michelle Malcher is a data and security professional with several years of experience in database development, design, and administration. She has expertise in security, performance tuning, data modeling, and database architecture of very large database environments. As an Oracle ACE Director, she enjoys sharing knowledge about best practices involving database environments. She has held several positions on the IOUG Board of Directors. She has authored several articles for Profit, Oracle Magazine, DBTA, and IOUG Select. She has written several books, from security and new features to DBA Transformations.

Embracing Autonomous: Oracle Autonomous Database 18c