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August 6, 2014

Oracle: our in-memory “landmine” is a dud

In-memory database bug WON’T switch on the £14,000 option, Oracle says.

By Joe Curtis

Oracle has admitted there is a bug affecting its in-memory database option, but said it doesn’t actually activate the £14,000-per-processor feature.

Larry Ellison’s firm has sought to clarify the situation following confusion over whether a bug found in Database In-Memory by an expert actually enables the feature without the customer’s knowledge, incurring a £14,000 fee.

The feature was released with Oracle’s Database 12c update last month as an optional addon to speed up data processing by around 100 times.

While it is enabled by default, the in-memory size parameter is pegged at zero in that default setting, rendering it, in Oracle’s eyes, disabled, because it has no space to operate and thus is doing nothing.

However, database expert Kevin Closson wrote on his blog that database architects (DBAs) did not need to change the default parameter setting to apparently enable the feature.

Instead, he pointed out, they could do so unwittingly by just pulling in the incorrect database initialisation parameter file.

He said: "Stepping on a landmine doesn’t just happen. You have to sort of be on your feet and walking around for that to happen.

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"In the same vein, triggering usage of the separately licensed Oracle Database 12c Release 12.1.0.2 In-Memory Column Store feature/option required me to be ‘on my feet and walking around’ the landmine, as it were."

However, after in-memory product manager Maria Colgan acknowledged the existence of the issue, Oracle has now claimed that that landmine is a dud.

A spokesman told CBR: "Kevin initially claimed that feature tracking could report In-Memory usage, and therefore impact licensing, without the end-user doing anything. This was and is still not the case.

"Customer licensing of Oracle Database In-Memory is not impacted by the bug that Maria notes in her blog.

"When an end-user explicitly undertakes actions to set the INMEMORY attribute on a table but the In-Memory column store has not been allocated (by setting the inmemory_size parameter to a non zero value), the bug results in feature tracking incorrectly reporting In-Memory ‘in use’.

"However as no column store has been allocated, the feature is not in use and therefore there is no licensing impact."

Colgan wrote that the bug would be fixed by October.

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