CDB architecture, multitenant architecture – what’s the correct naming?

2016-06-09 Off By Markus Flechtner

After an internal discussion, I thought about the naming conventions for database architectures in Oracle Database 12c. Many people call the “new architecture” “multitenant architecture”. This can result in some confusion because the “Multitenant Option” is an extra-cost option of the Oracle Database and so people stop thinking about the new architecture because they think “Multitenant architecture = Multitenant Option = expensive = too expensive for us”.

Unfortunately, even within the Oracle documentation there is no consistent naming:

Upgrade Guide:

“The non-CDB architecture is deprecated in Oracle Database 12c, and may be desupported and unavailable in a release after Oracle Database 12c Release 2. Oracle recommends use of the CDB architecture.”

Licensing Information:

“The multitenant architecture with one user-created pluggable database (single tenant) is available in all editions.”

New Features Guide:

“The multitenant architecture is new in Oracle Database 12c Release 1 (12.1). You can have many PDBs inside a single Oracle Database occurrence. PDBs are fully backwards compatible with an ordinary pre-12.1 database.”

My preferred naming is:


  • Classical database architecture known since Oracle 6. Deprecated


  • New database architecture introduced with Oracle 12c (CDB=Container database). Application data is stored in Pluggable Databases (PDB)
  • Comes in two configurations
    • “Single-Tenant”: CDB-Database with one single PDB. This configuration for all database editions without additional licensing. Single-Tenant will become the default configuration in the future
    • “Multitenant”: CDB-Database with 2 – 252 PDBs. This configuration requires the “Multitenant Option” of the Oracle Database 12c Enterprise Edition

It think this naming convention is better, because it distinguishes between “architecture” and “configuration”.

What do you think?

Update:  In March 2018, Patrick Wheeler, Senior Director, Product Management for Multitenant wrote on Twitter

  • The name of the product is “Oracle Multitenant”
  • The architecture was named “Multitenant Architecture” (to cement the word “Multitenant” in the peoples’ minds).
  • He (Patrick) tends to use both terms (“Multitenant Architecture” and “Container Database Architecture”) interchangeably.