From time to time I get asked if it’s possible to index a partitioned table so that recent partitions have different (local) indexes from older partitions. The answer is “not really, but there’s a couple of dirty tricks which aren’t very nice and aren’t very stable“. (You can always play around – dangerously – with unusable indexes or function-based indexes).
With Oracle 11.2 there’s a new optimizer feature called “table expansion” which I’m guessing has been created to address this issue. Christian Antognini introduces it in this posting – which is actually starts by talking about zero-sized segments and unusable indexes.