Oracle 18c has been released.

What’s included?

How does it impact you as a developer or a DBA?

How can you get access to it to play around with some of the new features?

Keep reading to find the answers to this, and more.

What is Oracle 18c?

Oracle 18c is Oracle’s latest version of their database.

Oracle 18c

It was released on 16 Feb 2018, and is available to customers using Oracle Public Cloud and Oracle Engineered Systems.

It was announced at Oracle Open World (OOW) in October 2017 during Larry Ellison’s keynote speech.


What Happened to Oracle’s Release Version Numbering?

You might be wondering, wasn’t the latest version number 12?

What happened to 13 to 17?

Well, as part of the announcement during OOW 2017, Oracle has changed their release numbering system.

Previously, major versions (10, 11, 12) were released every few years. They had a release update, or minor version, between that (11.1, 12.1), and patches in between those (

Oracle announced that their new numbering will alignt o the year that the database is released. So, the “18” in 18c stands for 2018, which means it was released in 2018. The “c” stands for “cloud”, which indicate’s Oracle’s focus on cloud architecture.

The My Oracle Support (MOS) Note 742060.1 has more information (this link is only accessible if you have a MOS account):

New releases will be annual, and the version will be the last two digits of the release year. The release originally planned as will now be release 18, and the release originally planned as will be release 19. Releases 18 and 19 will be treated as under the umbrella of 12.2 for Lifetime Support purposes. The current plan is for Oracle Database 19 to be the last release for 12.2. This may change in the future to Oracle 20 as the last release for 12.2.

From Dominic Giles, Master Product Manager from Oracle Database:

Oracle Database 18c is the first version of the product to follow a yearly release pattern. From here onwards the Oracle Database will be released every year along with quarterly updates. You can find more details on this change by visiting Oracle Support and taking a look at the support Document 2285040.1 or on Mike Dietrich’s blog. If you’re confused as to why we’ve apparently skipped 6 releases of Oracle it may be simpler to regard “Oracle Database 18c” as “Oracle Database 12c Release 2”, where we’ve simply changed the naming to reflect the year in which the product is released.

Mike Dietrich also wrote about this new version numbering system:

In my own words we basically rename the patch sets and name them what they were since years: Full releases. This means, Oracle Database will be Oracle 18. And Oracle will be Oracle 19. And so on.

Therefore there won’t be any Oracle anymore – and obviously no Oracle 13.1 followed by Oracle 13.2.

In addition we change from Proactive Bundle Patches (BP) to Release Updates (RU) and from Patch Set Updates (PSU) to Release Update Revisions (RUR).

So, the recent versions (including Release Updates and Release Update Revisions) are:

  • 10g Release 1:– (February 2006)
  • 10g Release 2:– (April 2010)
  • 11g Release 1:– (September 2008)
  • 11g Release 2:– (August 2013)
  • 12c Release 1: (June 2013)
  • 12c Release 1: (July 2014)
  • 12c Release 2: (March 2017)
  • 18c ( 16 February 2018


Oracle 18c Features

As mentioned above, Oracle 18c can be thought of as a patch for Oracle 12.2. So, if you’re wondering why there are so few features for a major release (if comparing to previous major releases), then that’s why.

The new features in Oracle 18c include:

  • APEX (e.g. New and Updated Packaged Applications, Interactive Grid, Page Designer Enhancements)
  • General features (e.g. OCI Call Timeout Attribute, Private Temporary Tables, JDBC Support for Key Store Service)
  • Graph (e.g. Support for Collaborative Filtering with SQL-based Property Graph Queries, Property Graph Query Language)
  • JSON (e.g. SQL Enhancements for JSON, SODA for C and PL/SQL (Simple Oracle Document Access))
  • PL/SQL (e.g. PL/SQL Hierarchical Profiler (DBMS_HPROF) Enhancements, Qualified Expressions)
  • Spatial (e.g. Support for Sharded Databases with Spatial data types, Enhanced Spatial JSON support)
  • Text (e.g. Automatic Background Index Maintenance, Faceted Navigation Support)
  • Availability (e.g. Server Draining ahead of relocating or stopping services or PDB, Oracle Database sees Request Boundaries)
  • Data Guard (e.g. Oracle Data Guard Multi-Instance Redo Apply Supports Use of Block Change Tracking Files for RMAN Backups)
  • General Availability (e.g. Shadow Lost Write Protection, Duplicate PDBs between encrypted and non-encrypted CDBs)
  • Sharding (e.g. Centralized Diagnosability and Manageability for Sharded  Databases, Support for PDBs as Shards and Catalogs)
  • Analytic Views (e.g. Analytic View FILTER FACT and ADD MEASURE Keywords, New Analytic View Calculation Functions)
  • Data Mining (e.g. Algorithm Meta Data Registration, Decomposition-based attribute and row importance)
  • Connection Management/General Database (e.g. Oracle Connection Manager in Traffic Director Mode, Copying a PDB in an Oracle Data Guard Environment)
  • Globalisation (e.g. Collations for bind variables in OCI, Partitioning on columns with any declared collations)
  • Install, config, patch (e.g. Engineered Systems support, Zero-Downtime Database Upgrade)
  • Partitioning (e.g. Parallel Partition-Wise SQL Operations, Online Merging of Partitions and Subpartitions)
  • Tuning (e.g. SQL Tuning Advisor Exadata Enhancements, New SQL Tuning Set API)
  • Diagnosis (e.g. Wallet Integration in ORAchk, TFA service in Domain Services Cluster for anomaly detection)
  • Performance (e.g. Dynamic Capture Window for In-Memory Expressions, Automatic In-Memory)
  • ASM and ACFS (e.g. Storage Conversion for Member Clusters, ASM Data Reliability Enhancements)
  • Cluster Health Advisor (e.g. Cluster Health Advisor Cross Database Analysis Support)
  • General RAC and Grid (e.g. Shared Single Client Access Names, NodeVIP-Less Cluster)
  • Security (e.g. Ability to Create a User-Defined Master Encryption Key, Ability to Use Encrypted Passwords for Database Links with Oracle Data Pump)

You can read more about these features on the Oracle documentation website here.

I’ll be writing posts about Oracle 18c in the future (and I’m sure many other bloggers will), so over time we’ll all learn more about the features of the latest version of Oracle database.


Is Oracle 18c Autonomous?

If you’ve read any articles about Oracle 18c or the Oracle Open World 2017 announcement, then you might be thinking that Oracle 18c is some kind of automatic, autonomous database.

The short answer is no, it’s not.

But there is a service Oracle applies that adds automation.

Oracle 18c is the next version of Oracle’s database. It’s available on several customer configurations, such as Oracle Public Cloud and on-premise.

The autonomous feature that’s referred to is a service Oracle offers to its 18c cloud customers, called “Oracle Autonomous Database Cloud Service”.

This means that Oracle 18c is not an autonomous database. There is a service Oracle offers which adds this.

There has been quite a few articles written about this as there initially was some confusion:

Biju Thomas from Oneneck also clarified the 18c/Autonomous discussion:

Oracle Database 18c by itself is NOT Self-Driving. It is the Oracle Autonomous Database Cloud Service that brings the “Self-Driving” in 18c. Oracle Database 18c installed on-prem will “drive” pretty much the same as Oracle Database 12c.

Tim Hall from Oracle-Base also summarises it:

  • If you buy an Autonomous Database Cloud Service on Oracle Public Cloud or Cloud@Customer, that’s a service that specifically includes the words “Autonomous Database” in the name of the service, you are getting an Autonomous Database.
  • If you buy regular 18c DBaaS on Oracle Public Cloud or Cloud@Customer you are not getting an Autonomous Database.
  • If you install 18c yourself on any cloud provider, including Oracle Public Cloud or Cloud@Customer, you are not getting an Autonomous Database.
  • If you install 18c yourself on-prem you are not getting an Autonomous Database.

So, what does the Autonomous Database service mean?

As mentioned on the Oracle website:

The Oracle Autonomous Database Cloud eliminates the human labor associated with tuning, patching, updating and maintaining the database and includes the following capabilities:

  • Self-Driving: Provides continuous adaptive performance tuning based on machine learning. Automatically upgrades and patches itself while running. Automatically applies security updates while running to protect against cyberattacks.
  • Self-Scaling: Instantly resizes compute and storage without downtime. Cost savings are multiplied because Oracle Autonomous Database Cloud consumes less compute and storage than Amazon, with lower manual administration costs.
  • Self-Repairing: Provides automated protection from downtime. SLA guarantees 99.995 percent reliability and availability, which reduces costly planned and unplanned downtime to less than 30-minutes per year.

It will help out IT departments and their DBAs by reducing the manual work involved in these areas.


Oracle 18c and its Impact on DBAs

Since Oracle 2017, when the announcement at Oracle Open World was made, there has been quite a few blog posts and forum questions online about what this means for the Oracle DBA.

Ths main question is, with the improvement in automation capabilities, will this mean that DBAs are no longer required?

The short answer is yes, they are still required. But your role will change.

Tim Hall (from mentions there will be less time on mundane tasks and more time on important and interesting tasks:

The aim of this suite of autonomous databases is to automate as much as possible to reduce the need for human interaction and free us from the mundane. There is an important slide at about 41 minutes that sums this up well. Less time on infrastructure, patching, upgrades, ensuring availability, tuning. More time on database design, data analytics, data policies, securing data.

You can read his full article here.

An article on DBA Kevlar also indicates that DBAs with advanced skills and knowledge will still be valuable, which is something I think you should be aiming for:

Developers are expected to do more in a shorter cycle and with less every day.  Agile is here and with the introduction of DevOps, there is structure around agile development to demand even more from them.  The skills and the depth of their development knowledge is already vast and that will result in them being stretched to fulfill the demands from standard development tasks.

This will result in a high demand for DBAs knowledge of database engine, the optimizer and how to optimize environments.  Those DBAs with advanced skills in these areas will have plenty of work to keep them busy and if Larry is successful with the bid to rid companies of their DBAs for a period of time, they’ll be very busy cleaning up the mess afterwards.

So, while I’m not a DBA, I can see that from the thoughts and opinions of other DBAs that the role of a DBA is not going anywhere.

You may need to learn different skills, and do more tasks that people can do and computers can’t. But that’s just life working in the IT industry, right?

Innovation and improvements in technology mean mundane tasks can be done by computers.


Oracle 18c On Premise

Can you install Oracle 18c on-premise (as opposed to the cloud)?

Yes, you can. But it’s not available yet.

Oracle 18c is currently only available to customers on Oracle Public Cloud and Oracle Engineered Systems.

However, it’s expected to be released later in 2018.

As mentioned by Maria Colgan (sqlmaria):

So, when will you be able to get your hands on 18c on-premises for non-engineered systems?

It will be some time later this calendar year, so stay tuned!


Oracle 18c Express Edition

Is there an Oracle 18c Express Edition?

Not at the moment.

At the time of writing, the latest Express Edition is for 11g. Yes, there is no Express Edition for 12c yet.

I’m not sure when an Express Edition for 12c will be created, or a version for 18c.

I’ll be keeping an eye out for the latest Express Edition, because at the moment that’s what my setup is on my laptop (Express Edition on Windows VM using Parallels, using a Mac). I might move over to the VirtualBox VM provided by Oracle at some stage.

So, in short, an Express Edition for Oracle 18c may not be released for a while.


Oracle 18c Certification

Are there any certifications available for Oracle 18c?

At the moment, there are no certifications for Oracle 18c. I imagine there will be at some point in the future, as all versions have had certifications for them.

However, with the annual release cycle, I’m not sure how Oracle will handle the certification numbering. It might be hard to update the certifications every year, and expect developers and DBAs to keep up.

For example, if I get an 18c certification later this year, and the database version 19c comes out next year, it will seem like my 18c certification is out of date, when it really isn’t.

So perhaps there will be version-agnostic certifications? I’m not sure. We’ll have to wait and see.

For now, the 12c certifications are available on Oracle’s certification page.


How can I get started using Oracle 18c?

If you want to get started using Oracle 18c, there are two ways you can do it:

  • Oracle Cloud account
  • Live SQL

If you have an Oracle Cloud account:

  1. Log into your Oracle Cloud account (
  2. Select Database from the Platform drop-down list.

If you want to try it on Live SQL (Oracle’s free online SQL database):

  1. Visit Live SQL: Live SQL2. Log in with your Oracle account, or create a new oneOracle Sign In3. Click on Code Library on the left menuCode Library4. Search for “18c” and select one of the scripts to try.

SQL Scripts



Oracle 18c has only just been released. It’s a re-numbered version of an Oracle patch, but it has some great features for DBAs and developers. I’m looking forward to using it and am excited about Oracle’s development of this database and the new features they’re adding.

For more information, click on any of the links I’ve added in this post.

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