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Oracle Database (commonly referred to as Oracle RDBMS or simply as Oracle) is an object-relational database management system produced and marketed by Oracle Corporation.

Larry Ellison and two friends and former co-workers, Bob Miner and Ed Oates, started a consultancy called Software Development Laboratories (SDL) in 1977. SDL developed the original version of the Oracle software. The name Oracle comes from the code-name of a CIA-funded project Ellison had worked on while previously employed by Ampex.

An Oracle database system—identified by an alphanumeric system identifier or SID—comprises at least one instance of the application, along with data storage. An instance—identified persistently by an instantiation number (or activation id: SYS.V_$DATABASE.ACTIVATION)—comprises a set of operating-system processes and memory-structures that interact with the storage. (Typical processes include PMON (the process monitor) and SMON (the system monitor).) Oracle documentation can refer to an active database instance as a “shared memory realm”.

Users of Oracle databases refer to the server-side memory-structure as the SGA (System Global Area). The SGA typically holds cache information such as data-buffers, SQL commands, and user information. In addition to storage, the database consists of online redo logs (or logs), which hold transactional history. Processes can in turn archive the online redo logs into archive logs (offline redo logs), which provide the basis (if necessary) for data recovery and for the physical-standby forms of data replication using Oracle Data Guard.

If the Oracle database administrator has implemented Oracle RAC (Real Application Clusters), then multiple instances, usually on different servers, attach to a central storage array. This scenario offers advantages such as better performance, scalability and redundancy. However, support becomes more complex, and many sites do not use RAC. In version 10g, grid computing introduced shared resources where an instance can use (for example) CPU resources from another node (computer) in the grid.

The Oracle DBMS can store and execute stored procedures and functions within itself. PL/SQL (Oracle Corporation’s proprietary procedural extension to SQL), or the object-oriented language Java can invoke such code objects and/or provide the programming structures for writing them.

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