If you’re thinking of moving to Oracle Database 12c, “the first database designed for the cloud,” one of the most compelling reasons could be the Oracle Multitenant Architecture option. In this revolutionary new architecture, you can “plug” many Oracle databases into a single container database—no application changes required.

Let’s quickly head off any potential confusion around the term “multitenant.” That word has been used for awhile in relation to sharing data elements (records) across databases, especially in contexts like Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) delivery. This scenario is now best referred to as tenant striped database. With Oracle’s multitenancy, you can run many databases within one container, with several databases potentially sharing a common set of metadata.

The advantages of Oracle’s multitenant architecture are sweeping, driving economies of scale across both capital and operating expenses. First, plugging multiple databases into a single, multitenant container creates the highest density yet possible, with shared memory and background processes to further enhance hardware utilization. The advantages over the schema-based consolidation possible with Oracle 11 are 1) no application changes required; and 2) pluggable databases are isolated for improved reliability and security.

Next, multitenancy enables rapid provisioning and cloning. Creating, moving and cloning pluggable databases takes just seconds with new SQL commands. Patching and upgrades are also simplified and accelerated—just unplug/plug to an upgraded container! (What will you do with all the time that will save?) The overall theme is “manage many as one” across tasks like backup and recovery. You even get new capabilities in the Resource Manager to optimize allocation of resources among pluggable databases.

What are the best use cases for Oracle Multitenant? There are quite a few but these four stand out:

  1. Application development/testing
    Multitenant makes it very quick, simple, safe and efficient for individual engineers to rapidly provision and recycle private copies of a few “master test databases.” Just the productivity benefits of this one use case might be sufficient to justify implementing multitenancy.
  2. Infrastructure consolidation
    Multitenancy supports the use of fewer, more powerful physical servers.
  3. Delivering and supporting SaaS applications
    Multitenancy is ideal for deploying separate instances of identical applications to individual “tenants.” This model is predicted to be popular among cloud vendors in particular.
  4. Enabling Database-as-a-Service (DBaaS) in a private or hybrid cloud.
    Multitenancy has a built-in self-service provisioning mechanism that makes it straightforward to enable self-service provisioning of databases; e.g., in development test environments.

Can you upgrade to Oracle Database 12c and not deploy the multitenant option? Yes… but why would you want to? You can even dip a toe in the water by plugging just one database into a container, which requires no additional license.

If you’re considering upgrading to Oracle Database 12c and want to talk over the architecture and design considerations, I invite you to contact Buda Consulting for guidance on analyzing your requirements and architecting an optimal solution.