Problems with Oracle Migration Workbench

Database vendors like to bash each other, sponsoring dubious “objective industry studies” to “prove” they are better than others. All of them do it. In my opinion, Oracle is particularly bad in this regard, compared against IBM DB2 or Microsoft Sql Server. Talking about “unbreakable Oracle” and software full of bugs, and in many cases you need to pay the Metalink membership to simply get to know that the issue you are dealing with is a bug. That is not to say Sql Server and DB2 don’t have bugs in their software, though.

Each of them wants you to convert your database to their platform. To that end, they provide some program to help you along. Oracle has a thing called Oracle Migration Workbench. Sql Server has something similar called Sql Server Migration Assistant.

More often than not, marketing people from those companies will tell you how great their migration program is. That it is easy to migrate, you will see performance improvement, etc. Don’t believe them.

A couple of months ago, I worked on a project to migrate a database from Sql Server to Oracle. This database has a lot of stored procedures, user defined functions, and linked server stuff. I talked to Oracle people, and they recommended their own Migration Workbench, with Sql Server plug-in. I downloaded them and started working.

Basically, the Migration Workbench tries to go through database code in T-Sql. For code that uses built-in T-Sql functions, the Migration Workbench creates functions with the same name in Oracle, and try to writes something similar in PL/Sql that makes an attempt to do what T-Sql function does. I didn’t look too deep into this, but I am suspicious at all of them. The reason I didn’t look too deep into them was that the whole effort was derailed by a bigger problem. Let me explain.

In T-Sql, all variable names start with @ symbol. In fact, in many places, variable names are simply column names prefixed with the @ symbol. This can be pretty easy to read. And it actually works very well.

However, PL/Sql variable names don’t follow that convention. So, as Migration Workbench goes through T-Sql stored procedures, it simply strips off the @ symbol from the variable names. This basically renders all the code useless.

This is just very, very dumb. Oracle is a multi-billion dollar company, and you would think they should know this. Instead of stripping off the @ symbol, it could replace it with some kind of prefix. But it does not do that.

Another problem is with the identity field. Once again, one would expect that the Migration Workbench converts it to Oracle sequence, but it doesn’t. It changes that to NUMBER.

Eventually, the project was canceled. The moral of the story: migration from one RDBMS to another is not as easy as it sounds. It is doable. Sometimes it is probably easier to just write everything from scratch.

2 responses to “Problems with Oracle Migration Workbench”

  1. […] 1. It is not easy to migrate existing app, unless the app is a simple one. Even for that, there are enough quirks that can throw people off and cause enough frustration to derail the whole projects. I’ve seen that happening twice, having engaged in moving 2 apps from Sql Server to Oracle; […]

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