A few weeks ago someone emailed me about a problem they had importing securefiles – it was very slow. Such things are never easy to address by email, of course, but there were three features to consider: (a) it was securefiles, (b) it was impdp, and (c) it was across a database link. If you read my blog regularly you’ll have seen me comment a few times that the easiest way to break Oracle is to mix a few features – so
- securefiles and impdp (I know why LOBs generally appear to be slow to import, was it “LOBs” or specifically securefile LOBs)
- securefiles and database links (db links are always slower than local actions – easy to do a comparative test)
- impdp and database links (probably not, they’re supposed to work very well together in general – could do a local/remote comparison)
- impdp with securefiles across a database link (easy enough to factor out the database link)
It was just a brief email, and I didn’t have an answer offhand, so I pointed out that there were a few bugs on MoS about impdp and LOBs and left it at that. A couple of days ago I got a follow-up email telling me that the problem was Bug 13609098 : IMPORTING SMALL SECUREFILE LOBS USING DATA PUMP IS SLOW.
There are two reasons for writing this note – the first, of course, is just to publicise the bug because I’ve seen three of four complaints over the Internet about slow imports with LOBs and maybe a couple of those were actually “small securefile LOBs”; and then it’s possible that there are other people who haven’t even realised that their imports could be running faster.
The second reason, though, is to highlight a viewpoint that leaves me approaching Oracle features with extreme caution: this looks like the sort of bug that many people should have noticed, but the first reference is Jan 2012, and the earliest patch seems to be dated Oct 2013 – 22 months later! There could be various reasons for the long gap – but the one that always comes to my mind first in cases like this is: “are there so few people using ‘feature X’ that this bug stayed near the bottom of the todo list for a long time ?” – followed by the slightly less alarmist “maybe there are quite a lot of people, but very few have noticed” and “but the specific combination is, perhaps, just a little unlikely”. If there really are very few people using the feature then I’m not going to be keen to advise a client to take it on without doing an extremely careful set of tests – at scale – of everything they’re likely to do with the feature. I don’t want something to break after go-live and find that it take weeks to identify the root cause and months to fix.
In this particular case I’ll believe that the combination of Securefile LOBs (“large” objects) that were actually small and in large numbers is significant. I’m prepared to assume that the customer base using Securefiles is a reasonable size but the subset who hit this combination is a small fraction of the whole; and that means I won’t be quite so paranoid about suggesting Securefiles as an option to a client – though I’d still insist on modelling any special cases that their requirements might highlight.
The bug is fixed in 12.2 with several backports to 11.2.0.x for different platforms.