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Exadata Storage Indexes Part III – Similarities With Database Indexes (Same Old Scene) October 15, 2012

Posted by Richard Foote in Exadata, Oracle Indexes, Storage Indexes.

As discussed previously, there are quite a number of differences between Storage Indexes (SIs) and Database Indexes (DIs). However, there are also a number similarities between both of them as well.

The obvious one is that they’re both designed specifically to reduce the overheads associated with retrieving the required data out of the database. Both index structures provides a method by which Oracle can avoid having to read every row/block in a table when searching for data of interest. It’s just the actual implementation of this mechanism that differs between the two general index types as I’ve previously discussed.

The efficiency of both index types is very largely dependant upon the clustering of the indexed data within the table (i.e. the index Clustoring Factor). The better the clustering of the related indexed data within the table, the more tightly coupled the required data is likely to be and so the more efficient both index types would be in avoiding accessing unnecessary data. If the required data were to be less well clustered and randomly distributed throughout the table, the less efficient would be both index types in retrieving the necessary data. Some actual examples of this to come in future posts.

Both index types have a period of “warming up” before being fully effective. It’s simply the manner in which this warming up process occurs that differs between the two. Database indexes on a freshly bounced database server initially incur substantial physical I/Os (PIOs) until the related index/table data is cached within the database buffer cache (and indeed in the flash cache). These PIOs can significantly reduce the performance of the SQL plans utilising database indexes. Storages indexes on a freshly bounced storage server need to be recreated and can’t immediately eliminate accessing unnecessary storage regions. This can significantly reduce the performance of Full Table Scans until the associated SIs are fully created. Again, some actual demos on all this to come in future posts.

Both index types can use “Index Combine” like logic and use multiple indexes in combination with each other to further reduce the actual number of table blocks that need to be accessed to retrieve the data of interest. Storage and Bitmap database indexes are especially suited to these types of index combine operations, although B-Tree indexes can also be used in this manner.

Both Oracle index types are really quite interesting and often misunderstood and so meets the general theme of this blog, meaning I can quite happily blog about them without shocking too many people in the process 🙂

Like I said, more to come …