Short Summary from the Introduction to Oracle Database

A database management system (DBMS) is software that controls the storage, organization, and retrieval of data. Typically, a DBMS has the following elements:

  • Kernel code

    This code manages memory and storage for the DBMS.

  • Repository of metadata

    This repository is usually called a data dictionary.

  • Query language

    This language enables applications to access the data.

The relational model is the basis for a relational database management system (RDBMS). Essentially, an RDBMS moves data into a database, stores the data, and retrieves it so that applications can manipulate it.

Data Concurrency

A requirement of a multiuser RDBMS is the control of data concurrency, which is the simultaneous access of the same data by multiple users. Without concurrency controls, users could change data improperly, compromising data integrity. For example, one user could update a row while a different user simultaneously updates it.

If multiple users access the same data, then one way of managing concurrency is to make users wait. However, the goal of a DBMS is to reduce wait time so it is either nonexistent or negligible. All SQL statements that modify data must proceed with as little interference as possible. Destructive interactions, which are interactions that incorrectly update data or alter underlying data structures, must be avoided.

Oracle Database uses locks to control concurrent access to data. A lock is a mechanism that prevents destructive interaction between transactions accessing a shared resource. Locks help ensure data integrity while allowing maximum concurrent access to data.

Data Consistency

In Oracle Database, each user must see a consistent view of the data, including visible changes made by a user’s own transactions and committed transactions of other users. For example, the database must prevent dirty reads, which occur when one transaction sees uncommitted changes made by another concurrent transaction.

Oracle Database always enforces statement-level read consistency, which guarantees that the data that a single query returns is committed and consistent for a single point in time. Depending on the transaction isolation level, this point is the time at which the statement was opened or the time the transaction began. The Flashback Query feature enables you to specify this point in time explicitly.

The database can also provide read consistency to all queries in a transaction, known as transaction-level read consistency. In this case, each statement in a transaction sees data from the same point in time, which is the time at which the transaction began.

Description of Figure 1-1 follows

Physical Storage Structures

The physical database structures are the files that store the data. When you execute the SQL command CREATE DATABASE, the following files are created:

  • Data files

    Every Oracle database has one or more physical data files, which contain all the database data. The data of logical database structures, such as tables and indexes, is physically stored in the data files.

  • Control files

    Every Oracle database has a control file. A control file contains metadata specifying the physical structure of the database, including the database name and the names and locations of the database files.

  • Online redo log files

    Every Oracle Database has an online redo log, which is a set of two or more online redo log files. An online redo log is made up of redo entries (also called redo records), which record all changes made to data.

Many other files are important for the functioning of an Oracle database server. These include parameter files and networking files. Backup files and archived redo log files are offline files important for backup and recovery.

Logical Storage Structures

This section discusses logical storage structures. The following logical storage structures enable Oracle Database to have fine-grained control of disk space use:

  • Data blocks

    At the finest level of granularity, Oracle Database data is stored in data blocks. One data block corresponds to a specific number of bytes on disk.

  • Extents

    An extent is a specific number of logically contiguous data blocks, obtained in a single allocation, used to store a specific type of information.

  • Segments

    A segment is a set of extents allocated for a user object (for example, a table or index), undo data, or temporary data.

  • Tablespaces

    A database is divided into logical storage units called tablespaces. A tablespace is the logical container for a segment. Each tablespace consists of at least one data file.

Instance Memory Structures

Oracle Database creates and uses memory structures for program code, data shared among users, and private data areas for each connected user. The following memory structures are associated with an instance:

  • System Global Area (SGA)

    The SGA is a group of shared memory structures that contain data and control information for one database instance. Examples of SGA components include the database buffer cache and shared SQL areas. Starting in Oracle Database 12c Release 1 (, the SGA can contain an optional In-Memory Column Store (IM column store), which enables data to be populated in memory in a columnar format.

  • Program Global Areas (PGA)

    A PGA is a memory region that contain data and control information for a server or background process. Access to the PGA is exclusive to the process. Each server process and background process has its own PGA.

Multitenant Architecture

Oracle Database 12c supports the multitenant architecture, which enables an Oracle database to be a multitenant container database (CDB). A CDB is a single physical database that contains zero, one, or many user-created pluggable databases. A pluggable database (PDB) is a portable collection of schemas, schema objects, and nonschema objects that appears to an Oracle Net client as a non-CDB. A non-CDB is a traditional Oracle database that cannot contain PDBs.

Starting in Oracle Database 12c, you must create a database as either a CDB or non-CDB. You can plug a non-CDB into a CDB as a PDB. To move a PDB to a non-CDB, you must use Oracle Data Pump.

Description of Figure 1-2 follows

shows the same data after being consolidated into the CDB named MYCDB.

Description of Figure 1-3 follows

Physically, MYCDB is an Oracle database. MYCDB has one database instance (although multiple instances are possible in Oracle Real Application Clusters) and one set of database files, just like a non-CDB.

MYCDB contains two PDBs: hrpdb and salespdb. As shown in Figure 1-3, these PDBs appear to their respective applications just as they did before database consolidation. To administer the CDB itself or any PDB within it, a CDB administrator can connect to the root container, which is a collection of schemas, schema objects, and nonschema objects to which all PDBs belong.

CDBs and non-CDBs have architectural differences. This manual assumes the architecture of a non-CDB unless otherwise indicated.