Oracle’s latest acquisition: Me

I’m definitely the type of person that gets excited by new opportunities and always loves a new challenge. Without challenge, I get bored quickly and boredom makes me a little crazy.

So, this new opportunity came along a little while ago and I thought it sounded just perfect for me. Many of you that know me will recall that I’ve had trouble finding the right company that fits with all aspects of my personality, goals, and philosophy which has led me to “try” a few of them in the past several years. I don’t regret the choices I’ve made and I’ve learned an awful lot from each of my employers. Most importantly, I’ve created new relationships at each of my past companies that I still maintain today.

In looking at all the past experiences, I’ve concluded that I am ready for a change in direction. Things I enjoy:
Oracle products
People (customers and Oracle employees) that work with Oracle software
High Availability
Large, complex environments
Servers, OS, and storage infrastructures
Working with lots of new people, especially creating, managing, and growing new relationships
Presenting my knowledge to others, both one-on-one and to groups (and conference events that surround such gatherings)
A little bit of travel (which helps support my love of…)
Scuba diving

So, when an opportunity came along to get paid to do something that combines almost all of the things I enjoy (except scuba), I couldn’t pass it up. Starting on May 18, 2009, I will be the newest member of the new group at Oracle that’s known as the “X-Team”. This team is responsible for working with customers and prospective customers of the Oracle Exadata and HP Oracle Database Machine products to help them adopt these new technologies. The group is a part of the Maximum Availability Architecture group at Oracle that authors many of the best practices whitepapers and presentations you have likely seen online. For those at Oracle that know what this means, the group is a part of the Server Technology development organization under Juan Loaiza.

For those of you that have been my past consulting customers, first of all, Thank You. I’m no longer consulting and while I won’t be able to provide an “Oracle-sanctioned” recommendation to other consultants that may be able to help, I do have a large network of friends and one of them can likely help you. Please never hesitate to keep in touch!

On a logistical note, I’m not moving and will hopefully continue to be involved with local events in Chicagoland. However, I will be traveling part of the time to visit customers and other Oracle facilities, so keep an eye on my twitter feed, Britekite location, and Tripit plans and let me know if there’s a chance to have a meeting IRL.

Finally, this decision to join Oracle means that I’ll be sacrificing several things. First and probably most near and dear to me is the RAC SIG. In September 2008, I took over as the RAC SIG President. The RAC SIG is as strong as ever and there are a good group of volunteers involved in leading the group as it continues to grow and evolve. I’ll always be a member of the RAC SIG and will continue to watch it closely and volunteer when and where I can. The RAC SIG is associated with the IOUG, the Independent Oracle User Group, and Oracle employees shouldn’t be too involved in “independent” groups. So, this year, the RAC SIG will once again elect a new president. I will remain president until Oracle Open World in October 2009 in order to provide continuity to the group’s leadership and ensure a smooth transition. You can nominate yourself for a RAC SIG office soon via our website nomination form (nominations will be open soon and stay open until July 31, 2009).

I’m also going to relinquish my appointment as an Oracle ACE Director. While I think I’ll still be considered an Oracle Employee ACE, I’ll remember fondly the fame that Oracle Technology Network affords the Oracle ACE program and the individuals that are given the honor. Thanks to Justin, Vikki, Lillian, Todd, and the others at Oracle for allowing me to be a part of that program. I’ll certainly miss the perks!

That’s about it for now, I’m off to the new job and will once again begin learning. Luckily, I’m apparently the only person named Dan Norris at Oracle (last someone checked for me), so you can contact me at in a couple weeks.

Exadata front and center

Just in case you were like me and did not tune in for Oracle’s quarterly earnings concall, there were some interesting highlights. As many of you (well, there aren’t that many of you that read this, but…) know, I’ve been very interested in Exadata since its announcement at Oracle OpenWorld 2008 in October. While some observed that Larry’s introduction keynote was rather brief, I didn’t take it as a sign of disinterest at all. According to the concall earlier this week, quite the opposite.

Here are some choice excerpts from the transcript that I find telling about the future of Exadata:

Larry Ellison:

“So, that’s looking back. Now looking forward, I think the most exciting product we’ve had in many, many years is our Exadata Database Server.”

“Exadata is 100% innovation on top of our very large and very strong database business. And the early results have been remarkable. Charles Phillips will go into a lot of detail but I’ll just throw a couple of numbers out there.

One of our customers, and Charles will describe this customer, one of our customers saw a 28x performance improvement over an existing Oracle database. Another customer saw a monthly aggregation drop from 4.5 hours just to 3 minutes.

When compared to Teradata, a competitive database machine that’s been in the market for a very, very long time, another customer saw that we were 6x faster than their existing Teradata application, when using Exadata versus Teradata.

Another customer saw a batch process fall from 8 hours to 30 minutes. Charles will go into more detail on all this, he will repeat those numbers, because I think they’re worth mentioning twice.”

Charles Phillips:

“So now just a few comments by area. On databases, Larry mentioned, we’re very excited about how the HP Oracle database machine is performing. The increases have just been stunning and so we are getting great feedback from our customers and the pipeline is the largest build I’ve ever seen in terms of a new product.

And as he mentioned, the numbers are just stunning. The major European retailer who reduced the batch processing time from 8 hours to 30 minutes did not believe the process had completed. We had to convince him that’s actually how it’s done.

And so, as Larry mentioned, this is the reminder that this is an internally developed technology in the midst of all the discussion of acquisitions. People forget that we’re actually spending $3.0 billion a year on research and development and this is why we do it.”

From these snippets, you can see that the top executives at Oracle are excited about Exadata. If you’re a techie (if you’re not, how’d you get to this blog?), you’ll probably already know about Kevin Closson’s popular blog on all things related to Oracle and storage. Kevin is giving a webcast next week on Exadata where we expect he’ll discuss some of the technical workings of the product–deeper than the overview information many of us have heard before. If you’re interested, I strongly encourage you to sign up for the event and attend. There is no better authority on Exadata than Kevin and this is a great opportunity!

I bought my own server for $1.02 (USD!)

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 am not Dan Norris

I’m not sure why it has taken this long, but I recently started getting about one email per week that was intended for a well-named member of the UK’s Parliament: Dan Norris. After communicating with Mr. Norris’ office, I found that we both found one another via Google Alerts that we’ve apparently both set up to notify us when Google finds our name somewhere on the intertubes.

The person that responded to my email was a staff member from Mr. Norris’ office who acknowledged that while they hadn’t received any emails intended for me, they were aware of my website and domain name registrations.

So, for clarification, Dan Norris is (also) the name of a Member of Parliament (MP) in the House of Commons in the UK. I am not him. In fact, I haven’t even been to the UK (yet) and have no interest in becoming a politician. Mr. Norris’ office offered that when I do finally make it to the UK, Mr. Norris would be willing to meet with me, so that’s exciting and something I’ll look forward to.

If you should wish to contact Dan Norris MP in the UK, he’s got a lot of contact options posted on his contact page. I find it very interesting that he offers a number to send him text messages–another (of the many) refreshing change from politicians in the US.

I’m still not exactly sure what surgeries are, but I can only presume that they’re something like office hours and there are no doctors involved.

Best of luck to Mr. Norris and his staff. While I haven’t made a habit of reading the emails that come to me, I read enough to determine that it isn’t intended for me and based on that sampling, I’m glad that I don’t have his job!

Concatenating lines in ldapsearch results

Many of us have had reasons to migrate Oracle Application Server (specifically, Portal) environments from one server or group of servers to another. This is often the case when hardware upgrades are needed and the whole environment must be moved to another set of hosts.

Recently, I was helping move an Oracle Portal ( environment from one host to another. This was due to a company spin off, so the “sticky” part of this move was that the domain name and resulting realm changed (more on that in a minute).

First, if you’ve had to perform this task, you should have already identified Metalink Note 251776.1 which describes the process necessary for moving users and groups from one OracleAS Infrastructure to another. The note’s step 3 mentions that the LDIF file must be edited to replace all references to the old realm with the new realm in the target system. However, this can prove difficult if you do actually have to change the realm name because of the way that ldapsearch produces output. The LDIF standard specifies that lines can be continued on the following line if a space is the first character on the line. The corresponding ldapadd command can properly import lines that are broken into multiple lines, but the standard search and replace tools (in notepad, vi or any other standard text editor) can’t find the occurrences properly to replace them. So, some entries are able to be replaced easily like this one (assume we need to replace “dc=dannorris,dc=local” with “dc=newcorp,dc=com“): Continue reading “Concatenating lines in ldapsearch results”

Corrupt download caused installation to hang, unzip lessons learned

I’m posting this because apparently it hasn’t happened to anyone else except me (heavens knows I searched for help!). The root cause certainly wasn’t obvious to me, so hopefully, this will help someone (maybe me, once I forget about it).

All I needed to do was install a default Oracle Database 11g R1 environment with a starter database for some experimentation. Seems simple.

I had archived a copy of from OTN, so I copied that to my Oracle Enterprise Linux 5 U1 virtual machine and unzipped it (no errors or warnings, mind you). I proceeded to launch the installer as the oracle user and it ran me through the 4-6 screens of questions, prerequisite checks, etc, then the summary screen and started installing. The progress bar on the first task (copying files or similar) quickly progressed to 38% and then stopped…forever (I waited an hour). Continue reading “Corrupt download caused installation to hang, unzip lessons learned”

RAC SIG Officer/Board Member Elections

All RAC SIG members should have received an announcement regarding the voting that’s now in progress for new RAC SIG board members/officers. There were several nominations received in July and early August and voting is open now to all RAC SIG members. Just login to the site and use the Elections tab to cast your votes. Make sure you vote for each office (nominations for each office are on separate pages).

I’m giving up my spot as the Events Chair and am running for the President position along with several other fine candidates. Please vote today!

In related news, I just posted the RAC SIG Events taking place at Oracle Open World 2008 on the front page of the site, so check those out (and add them to your schedule in the OOW Schedule Builder) if you’re planning to attend OOW this year!

When I conduct an interview…

This post is a follow up to a thread (“How do you conduct technical interviews?”) that carried on for quite a while on the Oracle-L mailing list (you should consider joining if you aren’t already on the list). Here is my contribution to the discussion that started with the eternal question “How do you find the person with the right attitude, not just technical skills?”

As has been said often, there are no silver bullets and your “gut” feeling has to play at least some part. Here are some of my thoughts (in no particular order) on how I typically conduct interviews (I interview consultant candidates, but IT candidates wouldn’t be much different):

  • My mindset in the interview is about determining whether this person has a high capacity to learn new things quickly and apply/adapt them. This is almost always more important than the knowledge they have in their head now, because at least some significant part of the detail they know will be obsolete or changed in the coming months/years. Continue reading “When I conduct an interview…”

Upcoming presentations: OOW, UKOUG

Every year it seems like I get part way through the Oracle OpenWorld event and comment that next year, I need to be less busy so I can enjoy the event a little more and attend others’ presentations more than giving my own. And yet it seems that somewhere between then and the following year, I manage to volunteer myself for a full agenda of participation via the RAC SIG, IOUG, and my own personal/professional interests.

This year’s conference, coming up September 21-25, will be no different and I’ll be there all week to meet as many new friends as possible (that’s you), see some old friends (that might be you too), and share a few of my technical and community bits of knowledge with anyone that shows up at my sessions (hopefully you). I’ve already glanced through the schedule builder and picked out a lot of sessions that interest me, so pulling myself away from those to perform other presentations or fulfill other duties will be challenging, as usual. First, let me list where you’re certain to find me (you should add these sessions to your schedule using the Schedule Builder to ensure your seat in the sessions): Continue reading “Upcoming presentations: OOW, UKOUG”

WordPress 2.6 upgrade successful, home test server not so good

That wasn’t even painful. There are some cool new features from an authoring perspective too. (Not that I author enough to make good use of some of the new features, but I’m trying to write more often.)

I’ve got another post in the queue, but needed my VMWare Server at home to finish it up. Then I learned that my VMWare Server (perhaps because it felt neglected lately) apparently went belly-up sometime in the last month or two since I last logged on to it. After doing the online chat with Dell Support, they’re dispatching a tech to replace the motherboard, memory, processor, heat sink, and power supply. I guess that just leaves the hard drives and the CD-ROM drive as the only original electronic parts. I’m 38 days from the end of the warranty, so I’ll need to make sure it’s in top shape before mid-August just in case I need more parts.

Anyway, once the server is fixed, I should be able to verify some of my syntax and finish the posting. Until then, consider this: It never rains underwater. Discuss.