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Those of us that have dealt with RAC environments for a while are familiar with the behavior of Oracle Services in an Oracle Cluster. Services are an essential component for managing workload in a RAC environment. If you’re not defining any non-default services in your RAC database, you’re making a mistake. To learn more about services, I strongly recommend reading the definitive whitepaper by Jeremy Schneider on the topic.

In an Oracle RAC cluster, services can be started, stopped, and relocated from one instance to another. However, if you have multiple services for your database, then it becomes difficult to start them at a cold start. Due to dependencies in Oracle Clusterware, Continue reading ‘Start Database Services automatically after instance startup’

This has been an interesting week, but not really that surprising.

I was called back to a previous client site where I had previously helped with some Oracle Application Server ( post-install configuration. In that previous visit, I got oriented to the environment they use and the packaged application they were deploying. The packaged application uses JSP, Oracle Forms, and Oracle Reports (possibly also Discoverer). The deployment environment is all Microsoft Windows servers with two Oracle Application Server homes per application server since the vendor’s deployment requires that JSPs be deployed in a separate O_H from the Oracle Forms and Oracle Reports environment (that’s the first eyebrow-raise I did, but whatever). Continue reading ‘Install to go-live, 3 days’

Diving in Iceland, June 2009

It seems to everyone that I travel a lot. I guess I do compared to most people, but I enjoy traveling, seeing new places, new people, and old friends about as much as I enjoy anything. It’s usually part of my job anyway. So, with a once-in-a-lifetime chance to visit a place I’ve never been and may not have much reason or opportunity to visit again plus do some scuba diving, I couldn’t pass it up.

That’s right, in June 2009, I will visit Iceland and willfully plunge into the +2 C water that is the clearest body of water in the world. The reasons it is so clear have something to do with the fact that the water is the runoff from melting glaciers, filtered by volcanic rocks, and is very, very cold. It supports no wildlife (another reason it’s so clear/clean). Rumor has it that visibility is over 300 feet–that is something I really do have to see to believe.

The trip is being arranged by my friend Mogens Nørgaard who may very well be completely crazy. If you ever get a chance to meet and engage in conversation with him (a.k.a. “Moans Nogood”), do it. You won’t regret it, guaranteed.

The trip is highlighted on, Iceland’s (probably only) dive shop website. Oh, I forgot to mention that the lake bottom is where two tectonic plates (the North American and Eurasian plates, to be precise) meet up (!), so you’re essentially diving on or in one of the continental divides.

Of course, I’m very excited about this trip and hope that Ice, land can continue to function as their economic issues seem to be a little worse than everyone else’s. In the small world department, I have made contact with an Iceland native that I worked with back at Tandem (acquired by Compaq -> HP) in the late 90s. Hopefully, I can meet up with Leifur while I’m in the country. There are only about 300,000 people in the whole country, so he shouldn’t be *that* hard to find. On the other hand, it is possible that Leifur is like “John” is in the US. We’ll see.

RMOUG, Day 2, ++1

The second day of the RMOUG Training Days event was just as good if not better than the first. I took some notes for some sessions, so before my head explodes from all the information overload, here’s my brain dump of the day’s events. Continue reading ‘RMOUG, Day 2, ++1′

RMOUG, Day 1, +1

RMOUG Day 2 has started, but there was so much great content yesterday, I don’t know if I’ll remember it all unless I write a few notes here on my learning.

My first session of the day was Graham Wood’s session on adaptive thresholds for monitoring in 11g. I didn’t know very much about these new methods for setting alerts, but they are certain to be useful. Some of the methods for adaptive thresholds were available in 10g, but many enhancements were made in 11g. Most importantly, the cyclic nature of workload has periods that can be automatically determined in 11g whereas in 10g, they had to be specified manually. Graham talked briefly about using DB Time and Average Active Sessions as important metrics for tuning, but for alerting, adaptive thresholds make the most sense. Setting a hard limit means that you will likely miss many issues. If your system is normally 10% utilized overnight, but spends all night at 60% utilization, you would like to know about it. However, during the daytime, if the system normally operates at 75% utilization, a hard alert limit at 80% would have miss the 6x utilization increase from the overnight hours. Adaptive thresholds wouldn’t miss the aberration and would alert you of the 60% utilization in the overnight period. That would allow you time to attempt to resolve the problem before daytime hours start.

Continue reading ‘RMOUG, Day 1, +1′

RMOUG: You should be here

I arrived in Denver yesterday afternoon for the RMOUG Training Days event. As I’ve written before, this is the first conference I’ve attended (and paid for!) as an attendee in at least 6 years, maybe the only one ever. The coolest part was that the small amount I paid for an attendee registration ($285) has already been totally worth it, and the sessions haven’t even started yet. Many people would pay that amount just for an opportunity to visit with some of the people I got to talk with last evening.

After all, I know of no other conference where you can have meaningful, interesting conversations with all of these fine individuals in a single evening: Mogens Nørgaard, Debra Lilley, Graham Wood, Kevin Closson, Daniel Liu, Gaja Krishna Vaidyanatha, Jeff Needham, Christo Kutrovsky, Mike Ault, John King, Joze Senegacnik, Tim Gorman, Duncan Mills, Lynn Munsinger, and Peggy King. And those are just the people I got to talk to (there were many other well-respected technicians and sharers of knowledge around that I didn’t have time to speak with. I haven’t even gotten to see Cary Millsap, Robert Freeman, Craig Shallahamer, Riyaj Shamsudeen, Tanel Poder, Jeremiah Wilton, Tom Kyte, Iggy Fernandez, or Daniel Fink yet.

This is my first time to RMOUG and you may be thinking that this is some sort of fluke to have all these great researchers and presenters at one event, especially a relatively small event where there are ample opportunities to network with them directly. I’ve reviewed the RMOUG agenda for the last 3 years and this agenda is representative of the quality that they’ve managed to schedule for the event every year. Plus, unlike other conferences, the RMOUG attendee tuition is priced to help them break even, not make a large bankroll. My biggest regret is that I couldn’t manage to get here before this year!

I love attending technical conferences for Oracle. I guess that’s obvious since many of you have probably seen or met me at a conference. The best parts for me are meeting so many of those that I’ve connected with on mailing lists, forums, or other online communities. Of course, conferences are a place to share what you know and I find that especially rewarding too. To that end, here are some of the sessions I’ll be sharing in the 2009 conference agendas.
Continue reading ‘I can haz conferences’

I’ve got a (always-growing) list of product, features or configurations that I’d like to experiment with, but sometimes they aren’t practical to test on my local virtual machines. So, I planned to roll a new virtual machine on the development ESX server that we had at my office. All was going along fine with the Linux installation (OEL5U2) screens until I got to the end where it starts actually installing. For whatever reason, our little server was sick (likely a storage problem) and it hung for hours.

Rather than debug the storage issue, I wanted to get on with my testing. I consulted my usual list of experts, and my friend Matt suggested that I spin up a machine in the Amazon EC2 cloud. I checked out the costs and it seemed fairly reasonable. VERY reasonable, actually. Since it was based on time (cost per hour the machine is running), I waited for a day or two until I could dedicate enough time to it and complete the testing in one sitting. Continue reading ‘I bought my own server for $1.02 (USD!)’

I was cleaning up my feedreader today and reading a lot when I found this interesting blog on Bex Huff‘s site. I started to post a comment there, but soon realized I had more to say than was reasonable for a comment. Plus, I haven’t written here in quite a while, so here goes with my response(s).

I must offer a few counterpoints to Bex’s blog. First, while I agree that many certifications are simply brain dumps, the Oracle Certified Master (OCM) certification is a practicum-based exam that requires candidates to endure 2 days of scenarios that they must perform. They are scored based on the correctness and completeness of their solutions. IIRC, there are a few multiple choice questions (at least there were back in 2002 when I did it in the beta phase). Candidates are only allowed to use the server documentation–no online access is allowed. That’s why I still believe the OCM certification to be the most valuable of the certifications I’ve attained.

I also want to point out that not all certified individuals become certified for the same reasons. In fact, I blogged on that topic a while back. I do believe that while certifications don’t often prove knowledge, they do at least show some initiative. That is, those that get certified at least tried to do something to prove themselves. In summary of my post, most of the certifications I’ve attained were on my to-do list just because I enjoy the challenge and I like knowing what it means to have that certification. So, when someone comes to me and says they’ve achieved Oracle 10g OCP certification, I know whether it was a major accomplishment or if my grandmother could also have attained it (the truth is somewhere in between for the 10g DBA OCP case).

For the HR departments, I’m sure that certifications (or lack thereof) are sometimes used to weed out candidates, especially if the stack of resumes is large. In many cases, I think certifications are largely for this purpose. I don’t necessarily agree that this is a great practice, but I don’t know that there’s an easy-to-implement alternative.

I also think Bex overlooks the continuing education value of certification. For those of us that don’t read the online brain dumps or even use the “prep” tests/exams/books, preparing for a new certification exam is a lot of work in learning and reviewing things that a DBA either doesn’t know yet or has forgotten. So, even if I don’t pass an exam, I already benefited from the preparation that I had to do in order to allow myself to sit for the exam.

On Bex’s #8 point, I do have specific data (not opinion) that makes it untrue. I recently attended a social networking gathering where I met an executive from the “most recognized” certification company in the US (their own claim). Anyway, he informed me that the last 6 months have been among the best they’ve ever had. He said that when people start getting laid off, they look for a tune-up and some way to make themselves more marketable. Their certification enrollments are approaching record levels due to the economic “downturn” and he said their biggest problem was finding qualified people to work for them in updating and administering the exams to the influx of new candidates. I was a little surprised at first, but I suppose it makes sense.

Let me put my own disclaimer here that while I have achieved a number of certifications, almost all of them have been from Oracle, so I don’t know too much about other certification programs.

I’ll also add that I continue to disagree with Oracle Certification’s practice of requiring instructor-led training classes for some of their ceritifcations. I’ve had many discussions with the certification team on that point and still don’t understand the value of the training to becoming certified. It seems like a way to get more training classes sold to me and I think it devalues the certifications that require it (including–and especially–the OCM certification).

Lastly, I do love the fact that Oracle’s Certification team has put up their own blog and take comments on the various posts there. I’d love to see a post in the future on the rationale for requiring instructor-led training for a certification path, especially OCM, but also for OCP.

I was contacted a few months ago by some motivated individuals who were members of the Oracle RAC SIG. They wanted to start a new local Oracle user group in their region of Northern India and were looking for advice. I offered a few pointers and recently, they launched the new group – North India Oracle Users Group at

If you are in Northern India or have colleagues or friends that are located there, you should check out this group. If you would like to get involved by coordinating a meeting, being a speaker, or helping in any way, I’d encourage you to contact one of the individuals listed on the Board of Directors to see how you can help as a volunteer. They’re allowing registration for free (at least for now) too.

They’ve also established a blog to publish upcoming news on events and happenings with the group. It has an RSS feed, so you may want to subscribe to easily track the new posts there.

Good luck to all the volunteers and the new group!