If you’re following closely with Oracle Database releases, you’re probably wondering why they jumped from 19c to 21c. What happened to 20c, and is 21c set to be the next terminal release?

The Oracle 20c release was partially impacted by COVID-19

According to the official news from Oracle, “Oracle is mindful of the unprecedented economic and business disruption our customers faced in 2020. We decided to not promote our Database 20c Preview version to General Availability. Instead, we incorporated all of the 20c functionality into the 21c release and made 21c available in our Autonomous Database Free Tier.”

20c was initially planned to be an innovation release, which Oracle referred to as a “preview release.” With limited staffing during the pandemic, Oracle decided to shift gears and incorporate 20c into the 21c release for public testing. 

21c testing leading to a long-term release 

In a way, Oracle’s decision to shift to a testing model was brilliant. Instead of working out all the kinks internally, Oracle launched 20c features and a “beta” version of 21c to Free Tier users. The users benefit from early access to the database, and Oracle benefits from the feedback they get from the testing. 

This is all leading toward a long-term release of 21c. Over the next year or more, Oracle will take the feedback they’re getting and use it to create a terminal release of their latest database.

New features on Oracle Database 21c

Database 21c is a cloud-first release, meaning that it is currently only available to Cloud customers for download. General availability will occur in 2021, so it will eventually be accessible to on-prem users.  

One of the biggest changes coming with 21c is the introduction of Blockchain Tables. This feature ensures that data cannot be removed or manipulated at a later time. The data can be voided, as needed, but it will remain within the database for auditing. This is the same technology that authenticates the authenticity of cryptocurrency.

Another upgrade with the innovation release is better support for JSON. Oracle first announced support for JSON in Database 12c, but the newest database offers JSON as a native data type. JSON is the preferred file format for Javascript developers. 

Other innovations include the ability to execute JavaScript code snippets within the database, machine learning, automatic Zone Maps, PMEM support, and much more. 

Should I upgrade to 21c?

Because 21c is an innovation release, it’s not ideal for most users. Unless you have a small application and a small userbase with low risk, upgrading to 21c is neither necessary nor beneficial. We recommend waiting until a more mature release comes out.