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The new release appears to be a showcase for new features.

Oracle Database 21c is now production on the Oracle Cloud Database Service and the Autonomous Database Free Tier Service. Customers who want an on-premises edition for Exadata, Linux and Windows will have to wait until 2021.

Willie Hardie, Oracle’s vice president of database product management, explained some of the new features in a recent blog post.

Since Database 12c, users have been able to query JSON files, albeit by storing data as a VARCHAR2 or a LOB (CLOB or BLOB), he writes. This enabled developers to build applications with the flexibility of a schemaless design model.

It was also possible for developers to treat their Oracle Database as if it were a NoSQL database. They did this by accessing it with the Simple Object Data API available for Java, Node.js, Python, C and REST.

But with Database 21c, Hardie claims JSON support is “further enhanced” by offering a JSON as a native data type.

“This means that instead of having to parse JSON on read or update operations, the parse only happens on an insert and the JSON is then held in an internal binary format which makes access much faster.”

“This can result in read and update operations being 4 or 5 times faster and updates to very large JSON documents being 20 to 30 times faster,” he claims.

Other new features in Oracle Database 21c include Blockchain tables, SQL Macros and In-Memory Hybrid Scans. There is also the ability to execute JavaScript from inside the Oracle Database.

Tip: Oracle expands next generation cloud in Europe

Database 21c is an innovation release

As Mike Dietrich points out in his Oracle Database blog, Database 21c appears to be an innovation release rather than a long term support release. The 21c release will be under Premium Support until June 2023, but it will not be eligible for Extended Support.

Dietrich surmises that Database 21c is a release to “test and try out new exciting features, test the application, etc.”

He recommends that admins move their production estate to Database 19c for now. Then they should move to the next Long Term Support release when it arrives.