The Oracle DBMS_PIPE package is an intrinsic part of the Oracle Database, providing a powerful mechanism for inter-process communication (IPC) between sessions within the same Oracle database instance. This feature enables different sessions to communicate with each other by sending and receiving messages through a virtual pipe. It’s a particularly useful tool for applications that require coordination or messaging between multiple processes or sessions, allowing for a more integrated and interactive database environment.

Key Components and Features

Pipes: These are virtual communication channels. A pipe can be public or private. Public pipes are accessible by any session, while private pipes are accessible only by the session that created them or by sessions that know the specific name of the pipe.

Messages: Information that is sent through pipes. Messages are enqueued (sent) to a pipe and dequeued (received) from it. The data in messages can be of various data types, including strings, numbers, and raw types.

Functions and Procedures: DBMS_PIPE includes a set of functions and procedures to work with pipes, such as creating pipes, sending messages, receiving messages, and removing pipes. These operations facilitate the IPC mechanism within the Oracle Database.

Major Procedures and Functions

DBMS_PIPE.CREATE_PIPE: Creates a new pipe. If the pipe already exists, this procedure opens it without affecting its current content.

DBMS_PIPE.SEND_MESSAGE: Sends a message to a specified pipe. The message remains in the pipe until it is explicitly read.

DBMS_PIPE.RECEIVE_MESSAGE: Receives a message from a specified pipe. This function can optionally timeout if no message is received within a specified interval.

DBMS_PIPE.REMOVE_PIPE: Removes a specified pipe. This operation deletes the pipe and any messages it contains.

DBMS_PIPE.PACK_MESSAGE and DBMS_PIPE.UNPACK_MESSAGE: These are used to construct and deconstruct messages, respectively. They allow for complex data structures to be sent through pipes.

Use Cases

The DBMS_PIPE package is suitable for a variety of applications, including:

Event Notification: Sessions can notify each other about specific events, such as the completion of a task or the occurrence of a certain condition.

Request and Response Mechanisms: A session can send a request through a pipe and wait for a response from another session, facilitating a synchronous or asynchronous communication model.

Load Balancing: Distribute tasks among multiple sessions based on availability or workload, by sending messages containing task details through pipes.


While DBMS_PIPE is a powerful tool, it’s important to consider its scope and limitations. It is designed for communication within a single Oracle database instance and is not suitable for inter-database or distributed system communications. For such scenarios, Oracle provides other mechanisms like Advanced Queuing (AQ) or database links.

In conclusion, Oracle’s DBMS_PIPE package offers a robust IPC mechanism, enabling seamless and efficient communication between sessions within an Oracle database instance. Its ability to facilitate event notification, request/response interactions, and load balancing makes it an invaluable tool for database administrators and developers aiming to enhance the interactivity and coordination of their database applications.