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Don Burleson Blog 







Understanding Oracle Features and Options

Don Burleson

Last Updated June 12, 2016

Note:  Oracle features and options constantly change, so please call your CSR or check MOSC for the latest Oracle features and options packages.

Oracle is one of the world's most powerful and complex software packages, and Oracle professionals often struggle to understand its wealth of features and options.

The savvy Oracle professional must carefully evaluate the available options and choose the appropriate implementation of Oracle that provides all of the features that they require without buying features that they will not use.

When downgrading from Oracle EE to SE you must carefully test to ensure that you are not using any EE features and many shops will hire an Oracle licensing expert to certify a new database for SE.  Oracle licensing is quite complex.

List of features by release

The allowed features within each release change, so please refer to these Oracle documents:

    - Oracle 12c matrix of features by edition

   - Oracle 11g product family

   - Oracle 10g product family and features by database edition

Oracle Editions

Oracle currently has three main "editions" of the Oracle database, each with different features and prices:

  • Enterprise Edition (EE) - The flagship Oracle offering with a vast array of tools and features for the large corporation.
  • Standard Edition (SE) - Oracle SE contains the basic database management functions for small- and medium-sized shops at a far lower cost than the EE. Standard edition also has RMAN.
  • Standard Edition One (SEO) - Oracle SEO is specially-priced for single CPU servers used by small businesses.
  • Oracle Express (XE) - Oracle Express contain some DBA features, including basic read-only replication.

Oracle Enterprise Edition

When choosing the appropriate Oracle edition for your shop you must recognize those database features that you really need. There are many features of EE that are not available in SE, for example.

Many companies that choose to forgo the advanced features of the Enterprise Edition may save thousands of dollars per year in licensing fees. The features available in Oracle Enterprise Edition that are not available in Oracle SE and SEO include many features that your application may not require.  Note:  This article was first written in 2005 and things change, so please re-verify this information.

  • Advanced Replication - This tool provides one-way and multi-master replication (via database links) for distributed systems using the dbms_repcat package.
  • Transparent Application Failover (TAF) - Used to re-direct in-flight transactions to a failover database in the case of a server crash.   This is available in Oracle SEO as of release 10.1.
  • Fast-start fault recovery - This is a method for quickly recover and synchronize the Oracle database in cases of hardware failure.
  • Oracle Data Guard - Data Guard is a semi-automated standby/failover database for database replication.
  • Advanced Queuing - A software scheduling package for advanced scheduling the serialization using the dbms_aqadm package. This is available in Oracle SEO as of release 10.1.
  • SQL Optimizer Plan Stability (Stored Outlines) - This is a tool to freeze Oracle execution plans during software upgrades and change vendor SQL when you cannot touch the source SQL.
  • Online index rebuilds - The ability to rebuild an Oracle index while it is being updated.
  • Export transportable tablespaces - This provides the ability to transfer encapsulated tablespaces between databases.
  • Materialized Views - This is a powerful tool to allow for the pre-summarization of aggregate data (averages, counts, sums) and pre-join tables together. Materialized views are especially useful in low-update databases and data warehouses.  This is available in Oracle SEO as of release 10.1.
  • Bitmap indexes - Bitmaps are a unique indexing structure for fast combinations of low-cardinality data columns. Bitmap indexes are especially powerful for data warehouses and low-update databases.  Bitmap index can only be used with Oracle Enterprise Edition (EE), not Standard Edition.  Hence, STAR transformation queries are impossible on Oracle SE and SEO.
  • Oracle Parallel Query (OPQ) - Parallel query is a divide-and conquer approach whereby Symmetric Multiprocessing (SMP) and Massively Parallel Processors (MPP) can get super-fast response time for large-table full-table scans
  • Parallel DML - This is the ability to perform database changes (inserts, updates, deletes) in parallel.
  • Parallel index rebuilding - This allows large Oracle indexes to be rebuilt in a fraction of the time required by a single CPU system.
  • Parallel index scans - This feature allows for parallel fast full-index scans and multi-block reads of index data blocks.
  • Parallel backup & recovery - This allows Oracle RMAN backups to be parallelized for super-fast backups of large databases.
  • Incremental backup & recovery - This feature tracks database changes and only backs-up those components that have been changed since the last backup.
  • Oracle connection manager (CMAN) - Thos tool is used for Oracle databases that must support large volumes of concurrent user connections.
  • Oracle Streams - Oracle offers many different methods for database failover including standby database, Oracle Data Guard, Oracle RAC and Oracle Streams. Oracle Streams provides high-speed system replication and failover software for mission-critical systems.

Reader comment on Oracle Streams:  "I have found contradictory information about Oracle Streams… appears to be available with 10.1 SE/SEO, at least as far as AQ requires… The matrix on MOSC for "Differences Between Different Editions of Oracle Database 10G Release 1" says that Oracle Streams is not available; but, AQ uses Oracle Streams, and AQ is available, therefore, some aspect of Oracle Streams is available. "  - David Russell, 3E Company, 5./12/2009

  • Function-based in indexes: - Function based indexing is only available in the Enterprise Edition and is not available in the Standard Edition until 9.2.x and higher. Prior to 9.2.x, an ORA-00439 error "function not enabled" would result if its use was attempted in the Standard Edition  

  • Tablespace point in time recovery (TSPITR) - This feature will give the error RMAN-06455: Tablespace Point-in-Time Recovery requires Enterprise Edition if tablespace point in time recovery is attempted to be used in SE.

  • Flashback Data Archive - Starting with Total Recall ( now named the Flashback Data Archive) no longer needs additional licensing In Oracle standard edition SE.

Extra-cost Oracle Options

In addition, Oracle offers many extra-cost database features that you can buy independently from the edition. These include:

  • Oracle Partitioning Option - Oracle divide-and-conquer approach for super-large databases. Partitioning is generally used for databases over 100 gigabytes.
  • Oracle Real Application Clusters (RAC) - RAC is the Oracle flagship software for scalability and high availability. Free with Oracle Standard Edition and extra-cost with Enterprise Edition, RAC is an integral part of Oracle10g Grid computing, Oracle RAC is an extra-cost option for systems that require continuous availability and super-high scalability.
  • Oracle OLAP - Oracle is a leader in data warehouse technology and has Online Analytical Processing (OLAP) tools for advanced decision support and multi-terabyte data warehouses.
  • Oracle Data Mining - Advanced data warehouse systems require tools to locate hidden trends and correlations. Oracle offers a tool with advanced artificial intelligence for finding hidden data correlations in super-large databases.
  • Oracle Database Diagnostic Pack - This covers access to the Oracle10g AWR and ADDM components:
    • AWR - Automatic Workload Repository
      • dbms_workload_repository package
      • awrrpt.sql and awrrpti.sql reports
      • dba_hist_* and v$active_session_history views
    • ADDM - Automatic Database Diagnostic Monitor
      • All dbms_advisor package with "ADDM" as the value to the "advisor_name" parameter.
      • The addmrpt.sql, addmrpti.sql reports
      • Views starting with dba_advisor_* of all tasks generated by ADDM (i.e. tasks with "ADDM" as the "advisor_name" column in dba_advisor_tasks view)
  • Oracle advanced Security - Oracle advanced Security provides sophisticated security control for confidential and secure data systems.
  • Oracle Tuning Pack - Oracle provides a full-suite of online tools for tuning the Oracle database. Integrated with the Oracle Enterprise Manager, Oracle tuning pack competes with many 3rd-party vendor tuning products.
  • Oracle Change Management Pack - The change management pack provides complete version control and database change auditing.

Auditing use of Oracle features

Oracle10g has auditing to tell if you have been querying the Oracle10g Automated Session History views, an extra-cost option according to sources at Oracle. The DBA_FEATURE_USAGE_STATISTICS  and DBA_HIGH_WATER_MARK_STATISTICS views tell if you have been using specific Oracle features.

Enterprise features that are not available in Standard Edition

This matrix shows Enterprise Edition features that are not available in Standard Edition.  This includes features for 10g, 11g and 12c.  The detect? column indicates that this feature can be detected with a script.  See the Oracle Script Collection for a copy of the features.sql and survey.sql script:

Enterprise Edition Features
                        11g new feature not in SE
                        12c new feature not in SE
Consolidation Detect? SE 10g SE 11g SE 12c
Multitenant Y     N
Storage snapshot optimization       N
High Availability Detect? SE 10g SE 11g SE 12c
Application Continuity       N
RAC One Node Y     N
Data Guard - redo apply (physical standby) Y N N N
Data Guard - SQL apply (logical standby) Y N N N
Data Guard - Snapshot Standby Y   N N
Active Data Guard Y   N N
Data guard network compression     N  
Rolling Upgrades   N N N
Rolling upgrades - using active data guard       N
Fast start selectable recovery time   N    
Fast start fault recovery     N N
Online index rebuild     N N
IOT reorganization     N N
Duplexed backup sets       N
Block change tracking for fast incremental backup       N
Unused block compression in backups       N
Block level media recovery       N
Lost write protection       N
Automatic block repair       N
dbms_redefinition   N N  
Flashback table   N N N
Flashback Database Y N N N
Flashback transaction       N N
Optimization for Flashback Data Archive       N
Flashback transaction query   N N N
Flashback Data Archive (total recall)     N  
Online datafile move       N
Transaction guard       N
Cross platform backup and recovery       N
Global Data Services       N
Block-level Media Recovery   N N N
Unused block compression in backups     N N
Parallel backup & recovery   N N N
Fast RMAN Compression (ZLIB)     N N
Point-in-time tablespace recovery   N N N
Trial recovery   N N N
Recovering tables from RMAN backups       N
Scalability Detect? SE 10g SE 11g SE 12c
Real Application Clusters (RAC) Y Y Y Y
Quality of service management       N
Support for Exadata storage server     N N
In memory database cache     N  
Concurrent execution of UNION branches       N
In memory column store Y     N
Fault tolerant in memory column store       N
In memory aggregation       N
Attribute clustering       N
Zone maps Y     N
Adaptive execution plans Y     N
Security Detect? SE 10g SE 11g SE 12c
Advanced Security option Y N N N 
Database vault Y     N
Oracle Label Security Y N N N
Enterprise security Y     N
Data Masking Pack Y   N  
Virtual Private Database Y N N N
Fine Grained Auditing Y N N N
Privilege analysis       N
Real Application Security       N
Redaction       N
Transparent sensitive data protection       N
Secure Application Role     N  
Performance Detect? SE 10g SE 11g SE 12c
PL/SQL function result cache     N N
Times Ten application-tier database cache       N
Database smart flash cache Y     N
Client-side query cache Y   N N
Query result cache Y     N
Manageability Detect? SE 10g SE 11g SE 12c
Change Management Pack Y N N  
Configuration Management Pack Y N N  
Cloud management pack Y     N
Data Masking Pack and sub-setting Y     N
Lifecycle management pack Y     N
Diagnostic Pack Y N N N
Tuning Pack Y N N N
Provisioning and Patch automation pack Y   N  
Duplexed backup sets   N N  
Database Resource Manager   N N N
Instance caging Y     N
SQL Plan management Y   N N
Rapid Home provisioning       N
VLDB, Data Warehousing, BI Detect? SE 10g SE 11g SE 12c
Partitioning option Y N N N
OLAP option Y N N N
Advanced analytics Y   N N
Advanced compression Y     N
Advanced index compression Y     N
Prefix compression (key compression)       N
Hybrid columnar compression       N
Exadata flash cache compression       N
Heat maps       N
automatic data optimization       N
basic table compression Y     N
Deferred segment creation       N
Direct Load data compression     N  
OLTP compression     N  
Data Mining Option   N    
Data Compression Y N    
Bitmap index & bitmap join index Y N N N
Parallel query/ DML Y (partial) N N N
Parallel CBO statistics gathering   N N N
Parallel index builds/scans   N N N
Parallel data pump export/import   N N N
In-memory parallel execution       N
Parallel statement queueing       N
Parallel capture and apply via Xstream       N
Data Pump Compression     N  
Export transportable tablespaces  Y   N  
Transportable tablespaces Y N   N
Materialized views - query rewrite Y N N N
Asynchronous Data Change Capture   N N  
Query rewrite cache     N  
Integration Detect? SE 10g SE 11g SE 12c
Oracle Streams Y N Y Y
Messaging gateway   N N N
Sharded queues Y     N
Advanced Replication Y N N N
Distributed queries Y N Y  
Networking Detect? SE 10g SE 11g SE 12c
Connection Manager (CMAN)   N N N
infiniband Support   N N N
Spatial and Graph Data Detect? SE 10g SE 11g SE 12c
Oracle Spatial Y N N N
Semantic Technologies (RDF/OWL)     N N
Network Compression       N
Network encryption (SSL/TLS)       N
Parallel spatial index builds       N
Multimaster replication of SDO_GEOMETRY objects       N
Partitioned spatial indexes       N



It is imperative that the Oracle professional understand the features and options within the bewildering array of Oracle software offerings. By choosing the correct options, Oracle pros can save their company thousands of dollars and ensure that they have the right software for their application.

BEWARE:  Just because a features works, that does not necessarily mean that you are licensed to use the feature!   

Some Oracle features are allowed without explicitly purchasing any extra-cost options.  

For example, querying any AWR tables is allowed in EE but it triggers an internal Oracle system audit that may require you to purchase the extra-cost performance and diagnostic packs.  

For more details on the features of Oracle standard edition vs. enterprise Edition (EE) see these MOSC notes:

  •  Oracle 10g Standard vs. Enterprise Features:  MOSC Note 271886.1:   Differences Between Different Editions of Oracle Database 10G
  • Oracle 10g r2 SE vs. EE Features:  MOSC Note 465465.1: Differences Between Enterprise, Standard and Personal Editions on Oracle 10.2  
  • Oracle 11g release 1 .1 SE vs. EE Features:  MOSC Note 465460.1 Differences Between Enterprise, Standard and Personal Editions on Oracle 11.1



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