OracleLarry Ellison and Bob Oats were working on a consulting project for the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). The code name for the project was called Oracle (the CIA saw this as the system to give answers to all questions or something such).
I guess the first question is really, "What is a database"? A database is an organized collection of data. The data can be textual, like order or inventory data, or it can be pictures, programs or anything else that can be stored on a computer in binary form.
A relational database stores the data in the form of tables and columns. A table is the category of data, like Employee, and the columns are information about the category, like name or address.
Some databases have minimal feature sets and only store data, while others include programming languages, facilities and utilities to support enterprise-level applications like ERP and data warehousing. Oracle is the #1 database and has the most advanced feature set.
Oracle is made up of a set of processes running in your operating system. These processes manage how data is stored and how it is accessed. I will cover these processes in detail in the future; but for now we just need to understand that Oracle is a program that is running in the background, maintaining your data for you and figuring out where it should go on your hard drive.
In almost all relational databases, data is accessed through SQL, or Structured Query Language, and Oracle is no exception. SQL allows you to SELECT your data, INSERT new records, UPDATE existing records and DELETE records you want to get rid of. SQL can be embedded in other languages or you can run scripts of SQL directly against the database.
PL/SQL is the procedural language extension to SQL. PL/SQL is a programming language like C, Java or Pascal. In the Oracle world, there is no better way to access your data from inside a program. SQL can be natively embedded in PL/SQL programs. I will be using both SQL and PL/SQL very heavily in my future articles.
PL/SQL is a feature-rich language geared toward developing database applications. PL/SQL is the procedural language of the database, but it is also the procedural language for most of Oracle's tools. Programs that run inside the database are called stored procedures. These stored procedures are almost always PL/SQL, but can be written in Java.