Basic Architecture, Data Definition

An Oracle Database consists of at least one database instance and one database. The database instance handles memory and processes. The database consists of physical files called data files, and can be a non-container database or a multitenant container database. An Oracle Database also uses several database system files during its operation.

A single-instance database architecture consists of one database instance and one database. A one-to-one relationship exists between the database and the database instance. Multiple single-instance databases can be installed on the same server machine. There are separate database instances for each database. This configuration is useful to run different versions of Oracle Database on the same machine.

An Oracle Real Application Clusters (Oracle RAC) database architecture consists of multiple instances that run on separate server machines. All of them share the same database. The cluster of server machines appear as a single server on one end, and end users and applications on the other end. This configuration is designed for high availability, scalability, and high-end performance.

The listener is a database server process. It receives client requests, establishes a connection to the database instance, and then hands over the client connection to the server process. The listener can run locally on the database server or run remotely. Typical Oracle RAC environments are run remotely.


Oracle database (Oracle DB) is a relational database management system (RDBMS) from the Oracle Corporation. Originally developed in 1977 by Lawrence Ellison and other developers, Oracle DB is one of the most trusted and widely-used relational database engines.

The system is built around a relational database framework in which data objects may be directly accessed by users (or an application front end) through structured query language (SQL). Oracle is a fully scalable relational database architecture and is often used by global enterprises, which manage and process data across wide and local area networks. The Oracle database has its own network component to allow communications across networks.

Oracle DB is also known as Oracle RDBMS and, sometimes, just Oracle.

Oracle DB rivals Microsoft’s SQL Server in the enterprise database market. There are other database offerings, but most of these command a tiny market share compared to Oracle DB and SQL Server. Fortunately, the structures of Oracle DB and SQL Server are quite similar, which is a benefit when learning database administration.

Oracle DB runs on most major platforms, including Windows, UNIX, Linux and Mac OS. Different software versions are available, based on requirements and budget. Oracle DB editions are hierarchically broken down as follows:

  • Enterprise Edition: Offers all features, including superior performance and security, and is the most robust
  • Standard Edition: Contains base functionality for users that do not require Enterprise Edition’s robust package
  • Express Edition (XE): The lightweight, free and limited Windows and Linux edition
  • Oracle Lite: For mobile devices

A key feature of Oracle is that its architecture is split between the logical and the physical. This structure means that for large-scale distributed computing, also known as grid computing, the data location is irrelevant and transparent to the user, allowing for a more modular physical structure that can be added to and altered without affecting the activity of the database, its data or users.

The sharing of resources in this way allows for very flexible data networks whose capacity can be adjusted up or down to suit demand, without degradation of service. It also allows for a robust system to be devised as there is no single point at which a failure can bring down the database, as the networked schema of the storage resources means that any failure would be local only.

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