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!

Congratulations New Oracle ACE, Jeremy Schneider!

I’ll be the first to offer a large congratulations to Jeremy Schneider on being the most recent appointment to the Oracle ACE program. He certainly deserves it (I nominated him, so I suppose I would think so) and I continue to look for great things to come.

Jeremy is the main creator of the IOUG RAC Attack! event that was held for the first time back in August 2008. He (with help from others) will also be putting it on as a half-day session at Collaborate 09. It’s a University Seminar on Thursday morning. All hands-on, all RAC, all the time. I’m looking forward to the event (I’m volunteering as a staffer). You should sign up now before it’s full! I can almost guarantee you’ll learn something.

Besides his work on this hands on lab/class for RAC, Jeremy has many other community contributions. His blog is full of excellent technical bits that always seem to come from a significant amount of research. He contributes occasionally to the Oracle-L mailing list. He also contributed some code to OCFS (v1) several years ago, so you can guess he understands a thing or two about programming and Linux, too.

His ACE Profile isn’t posted yet, but look for it to arrive soon. In the meantime, read some of the good stuff he wrote on his blog and look for him (and me too) at Collaborate in early May!

Congratulations, Jeremy!

Start Database Services automatically after instance startup

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”

Install to go-live, 3 days

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 (10.1.2.2) 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”

I can haz conferences

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 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!)”

Certifications, response to Bex Huff’s post

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.

Hotsos Symposium 2009, I’ll be there!

Blink and 3 weeks goes by and I forgot to blog any new updates!

I’ve got a few new entries that will be coming along after my last 2 weeks being up to my eyeballs in Oracle Application Server 10.1.3, but that will wait. The exciting news is:

I’m going to present at Hotsos Symposium 2009! I’m especially excited because I’ve wanted to attend this event ever since they held the first one, but just haven’t been able to get there. This time, I decided to try my luck at submitting a session proposal and I got lucky. I’m on the very distinguished speaker list and will be presenting “Avoiding Common RAC Issues” sometime during the March 8-12, 2009 event.

For those that have attended this event before, I know it’s somewhat unique, so if you have tips for a first-time attendee (and presenter), please drop them in comments or drop me a line via email or whatever. I hope that you can attend–I’m honored to be among the absolutely stellar speaker lineup and am really more excited about attending other sessions than I am about presenting my own! See you in Irving, TX!

MOOW, Day 1

Miracle Oracle Open World is claims to be the best conference in the world. It claims that the “best” rating is not because of the number of attendees, but I disagree–the (relatively small) number of attendees is one of the things that makes this event great! There are less than 200 attendees here, but a high percentage of those are some of the most highly respected Oracle experts in the world (at least in my book).

Last night, I attended the opening session which included a technical presentation from Toon Koppelaars called “The Helsinki Declaration.” The session discusses the trend of the last 6-8 years where we’ve seen less use of database features and fatter middle tier applications. His plea was that we reverse the trend and return to using the database features (that customers pay a lot of money for) and shrink the middle tier bloat. This, Toon contends, will make more maintainable, more optimized applications overall. Forget about “database independent applications” since that necessitates using the database for little more than a spreadsheet. Toon encourages the use of Oracle Application Express (APEX) which promotes putting almost all application components in the database. I’m not sure I see that APEX is the best tool for every job, but I do see a lot of opportunities for APEX in the coming years and think it certainly could replace Oracle Forms once APEX matures. Continue reading “MOOW, Day 1”

My interview from Open World posted

While I was at Oracle Open World 2008 in September, I met Ignacio Ruiz and agreed to an interview with him. Ignacio is the person behind www.databases-la.com which publishes database-related content aimed at the Latin American community and he also blogs at oracledisect.blogspot.com. As a result, most if not all of his content is available in Spanish. He also makes most of it available in English.

I thought Ignacio asked some good questions and (fortunately or unfortunately) didn’t edit the interview at all. The one unfortunate part of the interview is that you don’t get to see Ignacio at all–only me. Without further ado, here’s the interview (if you can’t view below, you can see it on YouTube directly).