Oracle’s flagship release shows off ‘converged database’ capabilities

The database system comes packed with over 200 upgrades over the previous version.
20 January 2021

The 2021 Oracle database system comes packed with 200+ updates over the previous version. Source: Shutterstock

  • Postponed in 2020, Oracle Database 21c handles broad tasks spanning transaction processing and data analytics, machine learning, blockchain, data streaming, and more

Mega enterprise software firm Oracle has debuted a new edition of the company’s flagship database system nearly two years after its last major release, with a new update that is stuffed with vast new technology advances that include new automated machine learning (AutoML), blockchain, and persistent memory capabilities.

In an interview with CRN, Oracle vice president of database product management, Jenny Tsai-Smith, touted the ability of the new Oracle Database 21c to handle a broad range of tasks spanning transaction processing and data analytics, as well as machine learning, blockchain, data streaming and Internet of Things jobs.

The database, she noted, can handle multiple types of data including relational, JSON, graph, spatial, text, XML, and blockchain data – its wide data abilities have caused Oracle to refer to Oracle Database 21c as a “converged database”: “It’s not just about relational data. The bottom line is productivity,” Tsai-Smith said of the enhancements in the latest software.

For the legions of Oracle channel partners, she said the new release makes it possible to digitize business processes more quickly, process and manage more data, and better inject data into decision-making tasks.

The new release could not come at a better time, as Oracle’s market-leading database products are facing significant competition from big and small vendors alike. Amazon Web Services, for example, offers a host of cloud-based database products, while on the analytics front Oracle is facing the likes of AWS Redshift, Snowflake, Azure Synapse, and Google Big Query.

Over 200 updates including blockchain

Oracle Database 21c incorporates capabilities the company built into a planned 2020 release of the software but was postponed as the COVID-19 pandemic rolled over most countries. Tsai-Smith said customers, wrestling with sudden changing circumstances including the nearly-overnight need to support employees working from home, did not seem willing to undertake a database upgrade at the time.

Instead, last year’s functionality and features updates were rolled into Oracle Database 21c, causing 21c to be packed to the brim with over 200 enhancements and new capabilities, according to the enterprise leader. Topping the list is the use of blockchain tables to add the security and traceability benefits of immutable blockchain tech to database applications. The 21c edition also provides AutoML for in-database machine learning, automatically building and comparing machine learning models at scale.

The new blockchain capabilities are of particular interest to Oracle partners that support businesses in an extensive variety of industries. For example, supply chain platform Retraced is already using the blockchain functionality to develop SaaS supply chain management solutions for the fashion apparel industry.

“We at Retraced used database blockchain tables together with distributed blockchain platforms to have a decentralized consortium for data validity and immutability, but now also tamper-proof, off-chain storage within the Oracle Database,” said Peter Merkert, co-founder and CTO at Dusseldorf, Germany-based Retraced, in a statement.

Meanwhile, Italy-based consulting partner XView plans to use the blockchain tables functionality to help clients in healthcare and industrial manufacturing to track certification documents and approval processes.

“Our customers can use blockchain tables for tamper-proof tracking of who-what-when approved specific actions, as well as any update to an existing approval,” XView general manager Allessandro Volponi was quoted as saying in a statement.