As one of the organizers of the IOUG RAC Attack! event, I may have a slightly partial viewpoint, but I think the event overall went very well. The hands-on lab was especially popular and I think participants in the hands-on lab all got to learn at least a few new things. If you’ve been to Oracle Education training classes like I have, you know how it seems like you sometimes have to spend 5 days in training to get 1.5 days’ worth of material. With the hands-on lab at RAC Attack!, we provided guided exercises to demonstrate certain features and/or processes, but the whole day was more like “structured playtime” than particular labs that had to be completed.

Jeremy Schneider was the brilliant mastermind behind organizing the lab materials and did the majority of the work to build the lab exercises. Since we used VMWare virtual machines, it was relatively easy to “reset” a system back to a known working configuration after a participant tries something that didn’t work. Jeremy also created several “jumpstart” points that allowed participants to start their lab experience from several starting points. For example, they could start just after the Linux installation so they could immediately start installing Oracle software or they could choose to start after all installations were finished and with a RAC database already created so that they could immediately jump in to the backup and recovery or load balancing lab exercises. This method also allowed people to try anything they like and within 20 minutes (to reset the VMWare files), they had a complete refresh and were back where they started (or at any other jumpstart point). There were a total of 5 jumpstart points (including options for using ASM or OCFS2 for the database files) which made for extreme flexibility. I think the only criticism I heard was that we only allowed participants to be in the hands-on lab for one day–most wanted two days or more.

The technical sessions led by Ed Whalen (Performance Tuning Corporation), Alex Gorbachev (Pythian), Krishnadev Telikicherla (Oracle RAC Pack), Jeremy Schneider (recently acquired by UBS Bank), and me all seemed to go very well. I wasn’t able to attend many of them as I spent most of my time helping hands-on lab participants, but the participants that attended the sessions indicated that they went very well and were very applicable to their learning process. Thanks again to all the speakers that helped make the event a huge success!

For those that participated in the event, I’m eager to get your feedback. Please drop a comment on this post or send me an email with any feedback (positive or suggestions for next time) as soon as possible–before you forget! Oh, and thanks for attending the first-ever RAC Attack! event. The first group to experience an event always has a special place in making the future events that much better! For those that couldn’t make it to this event, be sure to join the Oracle RAC SIG so that you will get notices of future events of this nature. We’re working now to plan for holding the hands-on lab at the Collaborate 09 conference in Orlando in May, 2009 (watch this site and/or the RAC SIG site for details).

  • Miles Anderson

    Dan,

    Thanks for organizing this event, I was able to learn much more with hands on then just listening to lectures. I do want to add that the lectures were all excellent and I learned quite a bit from each session but there is no substitute for hands-on training. One suggestion would be to extend the hands-on training one more day. I appeciated all the information on VMWare, this will help me setup my own environment at home where I can finish the labs that I did not get to during the training. Once again I would like to thank everyone involved for an excellent two day event.

    P.S. Where and when will we be able to get a copy of the session slides for both days?

    Thanks,
    Miles Anderson

  • http://www.dannorris.com/ Dan Norris

    Hi Miles,

    Thanks for the feedback. We heard many times that more than one day of
    hands-on time would be good. As we mentioned in the labs, one of the
    benefits of using VMWare as we did is that you can go home and build the
    VMs yourself and continue with the labs as needed. All the software used
    is available for download from OTN and/or EDelivery.

    The participants will be sent a link where slides and lab materials can
    be downloaded in the next few days (we're finalizing and preparing that
    website now).

    P.S. It was a lot of work, but I actually had a lot of fun preparing and
    facilitating the event as well!

  • http://orajourn.blogspot.com Charles Schultz

    To be honest, I am completely envious that we were not able to send anyone from our school. Grr!!

    So, when is the next one? =) I am very impressed with all the work you guys put into setting up the labs and the careful attention you paid to every detail. Kudos! I look forward to hearing what everyone else is saying.

  • http://www.dannorris.com/ Dan Norris

    As we were there, I realized that I didn't ask you guys if you were
    coming, but I also figured that you got the email blasts like everyone
    else, so I felt a little less guilty :).

    If you're interested in the hands-on part, it could be done via a
    consulting effort with the same quality :) Let me know if you're
    interested. We're also pretty sure the hands-on will be offered at
    Collaborate 09 as well (probably for an extra fee above the conference fee).

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  • uberbug

    I liked most of the presentations but would prefer more time spent in the lab. I am more of the hands on type of guy and by touching the “stuff” I am learning a lot more then just hearing about it.

    Otherwise, it was a very good time spent. Thanks for setting it up.

  • http://www.dannorris.com/ Dan Norris

    Thanks for the feedback–that's the same note that we got from many
    attendees.

  • uberbug

    I liked most of the presentations but would prefer more time spent in the lab. I am more of the hands on type of guy and by touching the “stuff” I am learning a lot more then just hearing about it.

    Otherwise, it was a very good time spent. Thanks for setting it up.

  • http://www.dannorris.com/ Dan Norris

    Thanks for the feedback–that's the same note that we got from many
    attendees.

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