Oracle CEO Ellison reveals most detail to date about 'multitenant' 12c database

The next-generation database is set for release next year

The next version of Oracle's database will feature support for multitenancy as a critical feature, providing superior security, control and efficiency for software services delivered from the cloud, CEO Larry Ellison said Sunday during the OpenWorld conference in San Francisco.

Ellison's comments Sunday provided the most detailed look to date at the new edition, 12c, which is several years in the making.

"It is the first multitenant database in the world," Ellison said of the product. Separate memory and processes are allocated to each database, according to a slide he presented.

It incorporates a "fundamentally new architecture," he said. With it, customers can take "one dedicated set of memory, one set of operating system processes and then plug multiple separate private databases into that single container."

The "c" in 12c stands for cloud. "Oracle 12c is the foundation for an expanding cloud business at Oracle," Ellison said.

While SaaS (software as a service) vendors have long incorporated multitenancy at the application layer, providing benefits such as the ability to update many customers at once, "there are problems with that," Ellison said. "I think it's a big mistake."

For one, certain security features, querying tools and other areas don't work correctly if the multitenancy is done at the application layer, he added.

He also made the pitch for multitenancy as a way to ease the burden on corporate IT departments.

"Typically companies have hundreds, even thousands of separate databases," he said. "This becomes very expensive. You have to back up these thousands of databases. You have to buy hardware."

The multitenant capabilities in 12c provide "huge efficiency gains," Ellison said.

Oracle database 12c will be released in "calendar year 2013," an announcer stated prior to Ellison's keynote.

That wording suggests a potential for some distancing from Ellison's previous statements about the launch, which he said would occur either this December or January and February of next year.

It also wasn't clear Sunday whether Oracle will soon launch a beta program for 12c, although an announcement on that front could come Monday during a keynote from database chief Andy Mendelsohn.

Another key question raised by the multitenant features in 12c is how they may impact Oracle database licensing, a thorny topic for many customers. Answers to this question as well could come during OpenWorld.

In a related announcement Sunday, Ellison unveiled Exadata version X3, the newest version of Oracle's database machine, which will presumably run 12c when it becomes available.

Chris Kanaracus covers enterprise software and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Chris' email address is Chris_Kanaracus@idg.com

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