Thursday, September 26, 2013

Open World 2013 - Wednesday: Focus on a bunch of things

Even though I spent my prime time with RAC Attack, I ended up involved in a variety of discussions.

Licensing:

I am still amazed at how people and companies increase the cost of Oracle to themselves. 

One discussion was with a one-man company, and how Oracle Enterprise Edition is so expensive. This former employee, now entrepreneur, was still under the impression that Personal Edition has no capabilities.  A quick glance in the licensing document would have told him that the $400 + 22% annual fee would have served his purposes, since Personal Edition is for developers and includes all features of the Enterprise Edition (except RAC) at no extra charge.

Another discussion effectively was an acknowledgement that companies do not bother to understand and use the features they have bought - resource management, scheduler, email, etc.  Instead they buy additional product from other companies, attempt to shoehorn all these things together, incur additional license costs both from Oracle (because they now have additional s/w using up cores, therefore they need additional cores of DB license) and the added product they buy, as well as the cost of integrating it. 

And they wonder why Oracle seems expensive.

Spatial:

We had a wonderful discussion with the IOUG Spatial and Graph SIG executive and a number of SIG members.

I'd love feedback one idea: is to create a MAP Attack - a hands-on workshop similar to RAC Attack, with extremely fine-grained detail on installing and loading database and spatial, through installing and configuring Map Viewer and Map Editor, that we could play back at conferences.

RAC:

As usual, we had a lot of people interested in RAC Attack.  And as usual, the attendees found that the difficulty is in getting the networking and shared storage right.  The bulk of the problems arose from network mis-configuration.

Cloud:

Again we had a number of discussions on "X as a Service".  I think it is very important that DBAs start to embrace that - OracleVM, Cloud Control and DB Templates are in their future.

DBAs may still be able to push back for a while, but I am increasingly seeing CIOs and CTOs be convinced of the cost savings.  And if DBAs are not familiar with the technologies, they are being pushed aside and viewed as roadblocks to progress.  This can be a scary position to be in.  Learn the Cloud Control ...

Training:

One of the best courses I've taught in a while is the Oracle Virtualization (OracleVM for x86) course.  Well worth the time.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Open World 2013 - Tuesday: Focus on RAC Attack

The big discussions from Oracle was around "Internet of Things".  This is the future where your fridge tells you that the butter has curdled and you need to order more Arugula.  Or your car is speeding.  Or your portable electric generator has kicked in.  Or your credit card has been used.  Or ...

In other words, the "Internet of Things" is all about capturing real time data, in a standardized form, from nearly every device out there.

The potential impact on data volumes and security are ... well ... big.

There are millions of users on the internet, and there are potentially dozens and hundreds of security access points per user.

BUT, there are potentially thousands or even millions of devices *for each user*, acting as sensors and sending data back for information, action and analysis.  And these also need an identity and related security.

Who said DBA role is dead?  If you didn't understand performance before, you will need to now.

---

On my side, it was day 1 of RAC Attack.  In case you do not know about RAC Attack, it is a hands-on workshop to help interested people to build a complete RAC on a laptop as a learning environment. The details of what we build are at http://racattack.org/12c and that includes each and every small detail to implement your own.

This is in addition to, not instead of, the various Build-your-own-RAC articles at OTN and the various blogs.  The difference is that we provide hands-on assistance to interested individuals. 

This year it is the OTN Lounge and being run by a number of  OTN members, including 3 Oracle ACEs and 5 Oracle ACE Directors (including 'yours truly').

Thanks to
- Oracle Technology Network for making their space available for this
- Dell Corp for providing a server
- Exit Certified for providing several laptops as loaners
- this crop of RAC Attack volunteers
- Jeremy Schneider, Dan Norris and Parto Jalili for kicking it off several years ago and keeping it alive

Look for RAC Attack at any Oracle conference or user group meeting near you.  Feel free to contact me, or OTN, or any RAC Attacker if you want a session at your location.

More information is at http://racattack.org

Open World 2013 - Monday: Focus on Spatial

Oracle's Theme of the Day is: there be a lot of data out there.  Larry's keynote yesterday was about the hardware and hardware-consuming products that support chewing through huge amounts of data - from the Sparc M6 through the In-Memory Database.   Monday was about big data, scalable solutions with a lot of emphasis on crunching and analytics.

My Theme of the Day is Oracle Spatial and Graph.  Many of you know that Spatial is one of my major interests.

For me, the exciting new information is two-fold:

Nearly all of SDO_GEOMETRY-related functionality (except for LRS) previously available in 11gR2 and below is added to the free Locator stack.  The full description for Locator 12c is in the documentation at http://docs.oracle.com/cd/E16655_01/appdev.121/e17896/sdo_locator.htm#i632018

Related to that is that the existing functionality has been supplemented with a complete rewrite, from ground up, of nearly everything in SDO_GEOMETRY with a focus on performance.  Discussed benchmarks indicate performance improvements can range from 5x to 100x in all areas from indexing through analysis using any of the rewritten functions. 

A number of these performance improvements are available simply by upgrading.

However, some of these performance improvements are available only in Enterprise Edition, with the Spatial Option, by setting the 'Go Fast' parameter to 'True'

ALTER SYSTEM SET SPATIAL_VECTOR_ACCELERATION = TRUE;
 
as described at http://docs.oracle.com/cd/E16655_01/appdev.121/e17896/sdo_intro.htm#sthref136
 
 
It definitely is time for me to get back to Spatial, and get more involved in the IOUG Spatial SIG.


Monday, September 23, 2013

Open World 2013 - Sunday: Focus on Virtualization

I've decided to attend Open World on a thematic basis, and today's theme is Virtualization.  Therefore I'm attending the IOUG Virtualization / Cloud SIG sessions.

First:  what is 'Cloud'?

There are a lot of definitions out there, none of why I really like.  Part of the problem is that they try to give one consistent definition from all points of view.  However, I believe tjhere must be TWO independent definitions - one from the 'user' perspective and one from the 'operations' perspective. 

User perspective:

A compute cloud provides the right service (CPU, memory, storage, database, application) at the right time (day, night, month-end, year-end) to the user (person, department, system), without the user needing to be aware of the location of that service.

Operations perspective:

A compute cloud includes the infrastructure and metrics to permit appropriate, best-practices, architecture to permit support and configuration of the hardware and software needed by the user.

This is basically the same distinction as the electrical grid: users simply want electricity to be available when they plug-in and flip the switch; operators need to provide a very complicated, metered, and interoperable infrastructure to make the delivery nearly invisible and ubiquitous.

Basically, the future directions are "XaaS" when X is any of "hardware, platform, network, software, database, application [mail, website, WLS deployment platform, sales force, financials, database, etc.]" and 'aaS' is "as a Service". 

And Oracle is playing there - with OracleVM, Oracle Linux, Oracle Enterprise Manager, Oracle WebLogic Service VM templates, Oracle Database VM templates, Oracle Database PDBs, Oracle APEX, Oracle ADF deployment, and so on.

The core infrastructure is growing up.   See Kai's blog kyuoracleblog.wordpress.com and Wim's blog at https://blogs.oracle.com/virtualization/


Also watch for DB as a Service ... buy DB instance, database, schema and/or table on demand.



This an much much more is discussed in teh IOUG Cloud SIG

---

Separate note - a big shout-out to my dear friend Todd Trichler.  Todd used to be the face of Oracle Linux and OracleVM to the user community.

Friday, September 20, 2013

ACE Director Briefing - Friday afternoon

David Peake discussed Apex and highlighted a few things:

  1. First place to look at Performance issues: check your SQL
  2. Since Apex (by default) is in the 12c seed and the root containers, plugging in a new container can be a challenge
  3. Self-service http://apex.oracle.com/vote to help prioritize new features
  4. Apex Listener does support multiple PDBs with configuration
Look at the Apex OTN site for information.

By the way - http://apex.oracle.com (which now runs on an ExaData X2-2) gives out Apex Workspaces on demand.  Great way to get access to a SQL environment to study for Oracle certification.

---

The next session was all about Oracle's Cloud initiatives.  You are aware that Oracle is 'in the cloud', right?  Well, they are, and it ain't just Cirrus.

---

Now, an ExaLogic session ... "a network optimized system for the mid tier"for speed daemons. Economics shine because you generally can *significantly* reduce the number of server cores to accomplish the same work load.  It can run vanilla Linux or Solaris applications, as well as Exalogics-aware [WebLogic Server] applications.

Keywords to look up, during and after Open World:  Nimbula; Open Stack;

---

and ...

---

Time to head to the Hilton!  Bring me a beer!!!

ACE Director's Briefing - Friday morning

Started out with the Database discussion, and got a heads up to listen to Larry's keynote on Sunday for some very interesting announcements for [near] future directions and reviews of accomplishments. 

Jeremy Ashley and his team showed some very interesting changes to the ADF visual toolbox and the directions for Fusion Applications UI management. 

Wim talked about upcoming UEK changes, pending upgrades of OVM for x86 and some enhancements coming for OVM for Sparc. 

Reminder - Oracle VM for x86 download from eDelivery is 3.2.3,  However, you can get OVM 3.2.4 from Support (patch ID 16410428, note 1565283.1) and today they released 3.2.6 (patch ID 16815542) which updates to a more recent XEN release.

Oracle Virtual Compute Appliance, recently announced, looks quite interesting with it's plug-n-play configuration, completely pre-cabled (with a rack-to-rack cable to extend to 2 more racks), including Infiniband based Oracle Virtual Network, and 'one hour power to VM' configuration - need to look at this.  Basically we are looking at an OVM Manager with a pre-built server pool.  Plug-n-play!  I see a major play possible in Canada.

The internal IT team discussed the Oracle Global IT infrastructure, and their 'Single Global E-Business' database on a 4-node RAC cluster.  Significant savings that work into the business case justification.

And ... WebCenter Portal, WebCenter Content and WebCenter Sites are heavily updated, especially to understand and interact with [NDA].  Some interesting use cases that will be discussed, especially in advanced integrated search.  There are some very interesting UI and tooling changes.  People who are into WebCenter need to check the Demo Grounds during Open World.

Multi-tenant Database notes

We are in the ACE Director briefing on Friday morning with Penny Avril and people from her team.  Good to see her again!

There are some VERY interesting things coming up - look for the announcements in Larry's keynote on Sunday, and various presentations throughout the week.

---

We did discuss the Multi-tenant database.  One thing was clarified about the licensing, and this is actually written in the Licensing document at http://www.oracle.com/pls/db121/homepage

As of 12cR1, you have 3 modes to install the database:

- Pre-12c mode - 1 (or more) instance for one database;
- Single tenant - available for SE1, SE, EE and PE at no additional charge*
- Multi-tenant - available as an extra-cost option for EE only

* First entry in the table at http://docs.oracle.com/cd/E16655_01/license.121/e17614/editions.htm states:

"Extra cost option for up to 252 pluggable databases. The multitenant architecture with one pluggable database (single tenant) is available in all editions."

While somewhat ambiguous, we did get confirmation that "available in all editions" means no additional fee for 1 tenant.  

(As always - final word is only from Oracle ... "I read it on the internet" is never a good legal defense.)

--------

Update:  APEX is installed by default into the Seed PDB, and the Root PDB.  That can be changed - it can be removed from the Seed, and it can be removed from the Root.  This gives several potential configurations.
 




(Note to self: check on the impact of removing, specifically re: EM Express.)

If installing a PDB, especially importing from an 11gR2, there could be a challenge. 

Thursday, September 19, 2013

ACE Director Briefing - Thursday Morning

ACE Director Briefings have started.

Pretty good attendance - about 75-80 of us from around the world.   Great time renewing old acquaintances and friendships, and meeting new ACE Directors.

We've had a very interesting morning of briefings.  Today is the day for Fusion Middleware and Cloud discussions.  So far we've heard about

- WebLogic Server, Coherence
- BI and EPM
- SOA suite, BPEL, Service Bus, and integration
- ... As A Service

There will be a lot of interesting announcements at Open World this year, but so far they've reminded us that we are under NDA for the details.

During the BI session, I was reminded that the new BI Suite Sample for 11.1.1.7 is available in VM form at http://www.oracle.com/technetwork/middleware/bi-foundation/obiee-samples-167534.html

Oracle Open World - the final stretch

This is the 'week before' Oracle Open World.  The final stretch on the way to announcements, social and business networking, too much activity, sore feet ...

I arrived on Sunday to deliver the Oracle University "Oracle VM Administration: Oracle VM Server for x86" (2nd Ed) course, based on OracleVM 3.2.  I have to say this is one of the best tech courses in the Oracle course catalog - rates right up there with the "Oracle 11g: RAC and Grid Infrastructure Administration Accelerated".  Interestingly, two attendees were from Sweden - this gave them a chance to arrive early and adjust to the time zone.

In my spare time, I got 3 machines ready to loan out during RAC Attack at Open World.  Check out http://www.racattack.org

Arrived at Sofitel yesterday (Wednesday) in the early evening.  Already met up with a number of ACE Directors - Edward Roske, Cary Milsap, Mark Rittmann, Alex Gorbachev, Marcus Eisling, Arup Nanda, and many more ... Tanel Poder is in the booth next to me having breakfast.

In 10 minutes, I'm off to the ACE Director's briefing.  More as time goes on.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

RAC Attack at Oracle Open World

This year, one of my main Open World activities will be to participate as a RAC Attack Ninja.

RAC Attack is a program initiated by Jeremy Schneider, Dan Norris and Parto Jalili at the IOUG Collaborate 2008 conference as a result of a classroom full of unattended PCs (long story, great ending)

Quoting from the RAC Attack web site at http://racattack.org :

"RAC Attack is a free curriculum and platform for hands-on learning labs related to Oracle RAC (cluster database). We believe that the best way to learn about RAC is with a lot of hands-on experience."

This year the RAC Attack team - we call ourselves RAC Attack Ninjas - will be hosting a campground in the OTN Lounge on Tuesday and Wednesday from 10-2.

People who have their own laptop can download the Oracle VirtualBox (http://virtualbox.org), Oracle Linux (https://edelivery.oracle.com/linux) and Oracle Database 12c for Linux (http://download.oracle.com) and we will help them install Oracle Database 12c and a 2-node RAC cluster.

This year, Exit Certified (Oracle University partner who provides a lot of RAC training) and DELL (Oracle partner who sells a lot of hardware used with RAC) have sponsored some equipment for people who want to attend, but don't want to use their own laptops.

If you are interested in learning more about RAC, maybe installing it on your laptop, then come along to the RAC Attack sessions during OOW. Get more details from the Facebook page for each of the two days.
There is also a Google+ page.

If you are coming to install RAC, you might want to read through this.

Countdown to Oracle Open World

Oracle Open World - the annual festival during which Oracle employees, pundits, reporters, supporters, and customers try to overwhelm San Francisco with bodies, information, and just general fun - is about to begin. 

My itinerary, generally speaking (as I usually allow a lot of flexibility):

1) I'm already in San Francisco - teaching the Oracle University course on OracleVM until Wednesday. 

On Wednesday evening, I'll be heading to the Sofitel where many of the ACE Directors meet up before the ACED Briefing.

That's when we get to see Vikki and Lillian, the wonderful ladies who herd the cats known as Oracle ACEs. 

2) ACE Director Briefing, Thursday and Friday

In the years since I was fortunate enough to be selected a ACE Director, I have tried to attend all the ACE Director Briefings - presentations by Oracle management and product management to let us know (under NDA) what is coming up.  Of course, with the NDA, we are not allowed to talk about anything until Larry spills the beans, but at least we will have had a chance to mull things over before the beans do get spilled. 

Since Tim Hall can not be at the briefing this year, a number of us ACEDs will be blogging extra, trying to keep him up to date without violating the NDA. 

3) RAC Attack pre-meeting on Sunday, and possibly another on Saturday.

4) Kickoff on Sunday

Things officially start on Sunday with the various user group and specialty sessions, which inevitablyt have a great amount of info, followed by The Kickoff.  If things hold true to previous years, Larry will throw the gauntlet and give us a glimpse of what new announcements will be made and why we should listen.

5) ACE Dinner on Sunday

One of the ACE highlights at OOW it the ACE Dinner on Sunday evening.  I enjoy catching up with my fellow ACEs from around the world, and meeting the new faces who joined the ranks.

6) Monday-Thursday is going to be filled to the brim with all sorts of activities, traveling to and fro, and blogging about it.

7) RAC Attack

I'll be at RAC Attack both Tuesday and Wednesday.  Facebook pages at

8) Enterprise Manager CAB on Friday

I've been very fortunate to be selected as a Customer Advisory Board attendee for the Oracle Enterprise Manager Cloud Control.  This is an opportunity to provide feedback to the inner circle of the product team, as well as to learn about future directions of products.

Most products, and even major features, have CABs.  I encourage all customers to consider getting involved.

Wednesday, September 04, 2013

Oracle Open World - coming up

Just in case you didn't know ;-)

Oracle Open World, and Oracle Java One are just around the corner.  For more information, look at http://www.oracle.com/index.html

I'll be available at the RAC Attack on both Tuesday and Wednesday.  Come on over, with your own laptop (or use one of ours) and install a complete, operational, RAC sandbox.  http://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/RAC_Attack_-_Oracle_Cluster_Database_at_Home

Tuesday, August 06, 2013

Personal Edition for Linux - 11gR2 and 12c

See MOS Note "How to Install Oracle Database Personal Edition on Linux?" (Doc ID 1574396.1)
 
Thank you Oracle.

Saturday, July 06, 2013

Oracle Database 12c - notes 1

I now have a functional Oracle Database 12c Lab environment which consists of a bunch of x86_64 computers networked together.  (And some that are still pending, for the RAC exercise.)

Configuration:

SAN:
  1x AMD-based homegrown computer running OpenFiler 2.99 as iSCSI server

Monitoring and Support (licenses includes with Database):
  1x Oracle Linux 5u6 for OEM 12c Cloud Control
   - DB 11gR2
   - OEM 12.1.0.3
   - Cloud Control agent pushed to all machines BEFORE any additional s/w set up

  1x Oracle Linux 5u8 for Oracle Internet Directory
  - DB 11gR2,
  - RCU 11.1.1.7.0
  - WebLogic Server 10.3.6
  - Oracle Identity Management Suite 11.1.1.7.0 selected for OID
  - all targets displaying on Cloud Control

Test Machine 1
  - Oracle Linux 5u8, 48GB RAM
  - Standalone Grid installed for ASM
  - ASM 12.1.0.1
  - 1x DB 12.1.0.1 EE Container using ASM with 1 Pluggable DB 
  - 1x DB 12.1.0.1 EE Container using File System with 1 Pluggable DB
  - all targets displaying on Cloud Control

Test Machine 2
  - Oracle Linux 5u8, 4GB RAM
  - 1x DB 12.1.0.1 EE Container using File System with 1 Pluggable DB
  - all targets displaying on Cloud Control and EM Express

Test Machine 3
  - Oracle Linux 6u3, 4GB RAM
  - 1x DB 12.1.0.1 SE Container using File System with 1 Pluggable DB
  - 1x DB 12.1.0.1 EE non-Container using File System
  - all targets displaying on Cloud Control and EM Express

(Still to come:
   Test machine 4 will host GSM.
   Test machines 5-7 will have OVM and RAC 12c.
)

Results:

     84 Targets in OEM Cloud Control, all showing Green!

Initial Notes: 
  1. I needed to upgrade to OEM 12c Cloud Control 12.1.0.3 as 12.1.0.2 did not have the plugins to monitor Database 12c (production release). 
  2. Standard Edition supports 1 (one) pluggable database, if you chose the container architecture.
  3. Selecting both Cloud Control AND EM-Express during DBCA screws up EM-Express
    1. You need to install using EM-Express ONLY and discover manually with CC later.
  4. Separation of duty configuration works - almost correctly.

OpenFiler - lost iSCSI disks after reboot. How To Restore

I've been using OpenFiler 2.99 as a NAS and iSCSI server for some tests.  

A few days ago I had a power outage and that caused me some problems, so I got another UPS and added the OpenFiler system to the UPS.  Unfortunately, even though  I cleanly shut the filer down, it still caused the same problems as before.

This blog is more of a record for me, when I need to redo this exercise.  

Environment:
  OpenFiler 2.99  x86_64 NAS Appliance
    - obtained from http://openfiler.com/community/download
    - built on a home-brew system with 1 500GB base drive &  4x1.5TB Seagate SATA drives

Symptoms:
  After reboot, iSCSI disks were not presented.

Detailed symptoms & steps, as root:





1)  The 4 SATA drives were visible, and the partitions were listed in /dev
      (/dev/sdb1 -> /dev/sde1).  However, pvdisplay could not see the partitions.

     ran fdisk for all disks and rewrote the partition table, and reran pvdisplay

 # fdisk /dev/sdb
        ...
 Command (m for help):  w
 # pvdisplay

2) The Logical volumes were there but 'Status not available'

  ran the vgchange command.

# vgchange -a y
# lvdisplay

3) The iSCSI partitions still not being presented, apparently because the LUNs were stuck.

Command Line, as root
  went to /opt/openfiler/iscsi/targets
  made a backup of iscsi_settings.xml
  removed all the
 
OpenFiler admin web site (https://myhost:446/)
  Services > Services Section : Manage Services > iSCSI Target ... stopped and started
  Volumes > Volumes Section : iSCSI Targets > LUN Mapping ... remapped all LUNs

After remapping, all were visible again.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Oracle Database 12c is 'out' - some pleasant surprises

Without fanfare, other than a "didyaknow" on Oracle-L, Oracle 12c for Linux and Solaris became available on Oracle's edelivery site.

Some time later, the docs showed up at http://www.oracle.com/pls/db121/homepage and via http://docs.oracle.com (but not yet on tahiti.oracle.com) and on OTN's http://download.oracle.com

My FIRST look at the documentation these days is at the Licensing guide.  For me, that's even more important than the New Features, the Concepts (especially the What's New chapter) and the Administrator's Guide.

Wheeeeeeeeeeee!

Personal Edition For Linux!!!  It's here!

Finally.

THANK YOU ORACLE.   And, since I was able to peek at the product early, that is the first of MANY thanks.

 -------

Update:  One of the Oracle-L people pointed out that the Personal Edition for Linux has been available for 11.2 as well.  They snuck that in - but I am still very thankful.

Personal Edition is for developers who need ALL the features and options (except RAC and OEM packs), as well as support, at a very low price.  The limitation - it's a One Named User Only license.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Musings on Standby Database

It seem that every few months, there is a renewed discussion about whether you need to license your standby database, whether standby is Data Guard, whether Data Guard can be used in Oracle Data Server Standard Edition, whether we have to pay if we just apply redo at night, and similar.

Here is my response to that question:

-----

Standby is standby.  It is a technique to support disaster recovery.  And it is still called Standby Database, not Data Guard, even now.

For a long time, in order to automate disaster recovery technique people have written scripts.  For Oracle Database Server, Laurence To and the Oracle SPG group assembled a number of the scripts back with Oracle7 and Oracle8 and released then as a feature of the Enterprise Edition called Data Guard that initially only consisted of the 'best practices' scripts.  The core feature was, and still is, available at no additional cost.

Data Guard has since progressed significantly and become more of a set of executables, rather than scripts.  But the primary purpose still is to automate the steps of syncronizing the standby and automating the switchover/failover.

Standby is standby.  With Oracle Database Server, it consists of two databases: the first or primary actively handling transactions and query requests; the 'standby' being available to take over the load if the primary fails.

Over the years, we in the industry have refined the term to distinguish between Cold and Hot standby, the difference being in how much effort is involved, and how quickly the standby environment is available for use.

A Cold Standby environment may have the software installed, but the environment does not use any CPU cycles to keeping the data in sync.  In general, that will require some sort of restore from backups.  Since the Cold Standby does not use CPU cycles, Oracle has not traditionally charged for it.

A Hot Standby environment keeps the data in sync fairly closely to the primary.  The more similar the standby environment needs to be to the primary at the data and configuration level, the more it will cost to do that, and the more complicated the sync method needs to be.  The Hot Standby does use CPU cycles, and therefore must be licensed the same way as the primary unless you have an exception within YOUR Oracle license contract.

Oracle database server - whether Express Edition, Standard Edition or Enterprise Edition - has the ability to perform crash and media recovery from intact redo log files.  Oracle's hot standby capability is simply continuous media recovery.  However that requires the redo information from the primary to be sent to the standby, when it is available and it requires the standby to apply the redo once it has arrived.

The Enterprise Edition feature called Data Guard is simply a 'guardian application' that detects when the redo information is available, extracts it, transmits it, and controls the application at the standby system(s).  What it does can also be done manually, or through your own scripts.  Indeed, in Standard Edition, DbVisit (http://www.dbvisit.com) has created their own commercially available executable that does the same thing and more.

Data Guard has been enhanced to allow several 'levels' of similarity, from "minimum data loss" through "absolutely no loss permitted".  What used to be scripts is now compiled executables with many test points and with the ability to control the database server.

And the database kernel has been modified to allow the standby server to be opened in read-only while applying the redo information which may happen under the control of the Data Guard application.  This is called Active Data Guard, and it DOES require additional licenses.


Also check out the Software Investment Guide at http://www.oracle.com/us/corporate/pricing/index.html

And remember: the final authority is Oracle, not me.  "I read it on the Internet" is a shoddy defense in a contract dispute and will likely NOT be accepted by the Judge in a Court of Law.

Friday, May 03, 2013

Enteprise Manager - looking at some myths

Over the years, I've encountered myths around nearly every Oracle product.  Lately the number of challenges around Enterprise Manager seem to have increased.

Blue Medora has created several Cloud Control extensions (plugins) and asked me to blog as a guest on their site.  I've decided to challenge some of the current myths.

Feel free to read my comments there at

http://www.bluemedora.com/blog/debunking-some-persistent-myths-about-oracle-enterprise-manager

Saturday, February 23, 2013

OTN Yathra - past the 1/2 way mark

I am currently sitting in the hotel in Bangalore in India, catching my breath. We have finished 4 of the 6 cities in this tour.

I'm going to cheat tremendously and link to Lucas Jellema's blog about the tour, starting with http://technology.amis.nl/2013/01/27/otn-yathra-2013-the-six-city-oracle-tour-of-india/ as the overview.

Shamelessly linking Lucas' map of the Yathra.

I arrived in Chandigarh, Punjab on February 10, and was met by Oracle ACE and friend Aman Sharma.  The trip:  left Edmonton on Friday evening, landed London Heathrow Saturday morning, left LHR Saturday evening, arrived Delhi Sunday morning, left Delhi Sunday afternoon and into Chandigarh early evening.

On Monday and Tuesday, much to my delight, Aman showed me his home country and local community.  And I did some shopping.

Wednesday, headed back to Delhi by taxi, and prepared for the gathering and presentations.

On Friday the team gathered at the Country Inn by Carlson in Saket.  ACE Director team members are

Murali Vallath - our host and RAC ACED from India
Lucas Jellema - Development ACED, including SQL and Java
Edward Roske - BI/Hyperion ACED, presenting on Hyperion, Essbase and BI
Raj Mattamal  - Development ACED, specializing in APEX
Hans Forbrich - Infrastructure ACED, presenting on LDAP, Cloud Control and Linux

In each city we have been fortunate to have ACEs such as Aman Sharma join us to present

Saturday was the first presentation day at the FMDI (Fertilizer Marketing Development Institute) which has wonderful classroom facilities.

Sunday, a quick tour of Delhi, off to the airport to Mumbai (formerly Bombay), and settle into the Holiday Inn.

Monday, presented using the facilities of the Women's Technical Institute, and then by car off to Pune.

Since we arrived in Pune Monday evening, Tuesday was a touring day out to Mahabalshawar and the head of the Krishna river.

Wednesday we presented in Pune at the Oracle offices.

Thursday by plane to Bangalore, and

Friday presented in the Oracle offices in Bangalore.  Lucas has a fantastic half-way write-up at http://technology.amis.nl/2013/02/21/otn-yathra-2013-spreading-the-story-of-oracle-across-india-half-time/

Raj and Edward left today to return home.

Tomorrow Lucas and I will head to Hyderabad and continue this tour.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

OTN Yathra

What does Yathra mean?

Yathra is a Sanskrit word which means Journey.  In the northern states of India Yathra is spelled as Yatra.

Why is this relevant?

Oracle Technology Network, and the Oracle ACE and ACE Director programs are sponsoring a 6 city OTN tour, or Yathra, in India this February. 
  • February 16 in Delhi
  • February 18 in Mumbai
  • February 20 in Pune
  • February 22 in Bangalore
  • February 25 in Hyderabad
  • February 27 in Chennai
And I'm going!  (Assuming my Visa application is approved.)  Speaker's list is
  • Speaker                           Country
  • Vinay Agrawal                  India
  • Hans Forbrich                  Canada
  • PS Janakiram                  India
  • Lucas Jellema                 Netherlands
  • Satyendra Kumar            India
  • Raj Matamall                   USA
  • Harshad Oak                   India
  • Edward Roske                 USA
  • Vijay Seghal                    India
  • Aman Sharma                 India
  • Vivek Sharma                  India
  • Ganapthy Subramanian  India
  • Murali Vallath                   India
For more details, check out 

Thursday, October 04, 2012

Tom's "12 top new features"

Tom Kyte, in Moscone South Room 103, looking ahead to the new features that will come up with new version of DB (12c) when it gets released.

1) "With" clause can define PL/SQL functions

2) Improved defaults, including Default col to a sequence or "default if (on) null".  Or always use a generated as an identity (with optional sequence def info).  Or Metadata-only defaults (default on an added column). 

3) Bigger varchar2, nvarchar2, raw -up to 32K.  But follows rules like LOB, if over 4K will be out of line. (max_SQL_String_Size init param)

4) TopN and Pagenation queries using the 'OFFSET' clause + optional 'FETCH next N rows' in SELECT.  Eg: SELECT ... FROM t ORDER BY y FETCH FIRST 5 ROWS

5) Row pattern matching using the "MATCH_RECOGNIZE" clause.  Gonna take a while to get this one.

6) Partitioning improvements including ASYNC Global Index maintenance (includes new jobs to do work 'later'), cascade truncate & exchange, multi ops in a single DDL, online partition moves (no RDBMS_REDEFINITION), "interval + reference" partitioning.

7) Adaptive execution plans, which sets thresholds and allows execution plans to switch if threshold is exceeded.  (Also 'gather_plan_statistics' hint.)  Shown by 'Statistics Collector' steps in trace/tkprof.

8) Enhanced statistics. Dynamic sampling goes to 'eleven', turning it persistent.  New histograms: hybrid (for more than 254 distinct values, instead of height-balanced) and top.  Stats gathered on data loads automatically. (By the way, don't regather stats if not needed.)  Session private statistics for GTTs. 

9) UNDO for temporary objects, managed in TEMP, which eliminates REDO on the permanent UNDO. (ALTER SESSION/SYSTEM SET TEMP_UNDO_ENABLED=TRUE/FALSE)

10) Data optimization, or Information Lifecycle Management, which detects block use - hot, medium, dormant - and allows policies in table defintion (new ILM clause) to compress or archive data after time.

11) "transaction Guard' to preserve commit state, which includes TAF r/w transfer and restart for some types of transactions.

12) pluggable databases!  Implications too numerous to list right now.  Suffice it to say, huge resource improvements, huge consolidation possibilities.  Looking forward to reality.


Monday, October 01, 2012

Linux, Virtualization and roadmaps

Listening to Wim talking about the roadmap for Virtualization.

The whole idea of Cloud is transforming the IT needs. Data centers are becoming Service centers, the stack is much more integrated and customers are demanding much more scalability, availability, agility.  Hypervisors need to be aware of each other, or at least be coordinated.

Future is *Application* driven Virtualization. Use templates, self provisioning.  Create a RAC for the sake of creating a RAC is "so yesterday". 

New world:  "One throat to choke" becomes "One point of satisfaction"  (my note: Not going to be easy, but that is the way Oracle MUST move.)

OracleVM is foundation for cloud.  Stack -> Storage : Servers : VM : OS : DB : Middleware : Apps

Network virtualization - Xsigo Data Center Fabric ... new acquisition.

Desktop virt - Virtual Desktop Infrastructure; SunRay Client; Secure Global Desktop; VM Virtualbox

Desktop Virtualization

Bring your own device becoming common.  Centralize everything becomes necessary. Access from any location, from any device, BUT be *unobtrusively* secure.

Virtual Desktop Infrastructure - entire desktop is hosted on server, access from any client.  (Tarentella.)

Secure Global Desktop - individual applications are hosted on the server.

Virtual clients - software (VirtualBox) and hardware (SunRay) clients.  Virtual Desktop Client for iPad!!!

Oracle VM

For x86 and SPARC. 

x86 is Supported AND Certified for ALL Oracle s/w.  Now in Gartner's "Challenger' position for 2012 Magic Quadrant.  CPU-based license on VM, not hardware host.

x86 is Open Source and Free to download and run in production.  You can purchase optional Support, but not required.  Management via Oracle VM Manager - either GUI or CLI.  Under no circumstances manage at server under server control, because that breaks the multi-machine environment.  Oracle Enterprise Manager 12c can manage the VM Servers but does that THROUGH VM Manager.

Storage Connect allows VM Manager to manage Hitachi, Fujitsu, EMC and Oracle storage directly.

OracleVM 3.2.1 now in public beta.

Network Virtualization

Addresses network inefficiencies. 

"Overflow" - network tunneling, which will likely be an interesting technology in the future.

Oracle acquired Xsigo.Fabric director allows configuration subnetting/storage of an Infiniband 'switch'.  No VLans required - configure to get 1G/10g networks plus HBAs as required.  Very interesting.

RAC Attack

Open World - Howard Street Tent, in the OTN lounge.

If you want to build a 2 node RAC on your laptop (which has 4GB RAM, Windows, 50GB disk) or you want to set one up on the Pythian laptops, come over.

I've been here this morning, helping out.

I'll be here from 10:15-11:30 tomorrow as well.

You can also install it on your own, with the core instructions from http://racattack.org

OakTable er ... Closed um ... Open ... whatever ... World

One of the highlights for the database crowd attending Oracle Open World is the unofficial geek conference called Oak Table World.

Tim Gorman just had a great presentation on fast database warehouse updates using transportable tablespaces and partition exchange.   Well done.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

EM 12c

Kellyn Pot'vin presenting on EM12c - full house!

Why monitor? To  be proactive. Keep the users from becoming annoying, and keep management in the procurement cycle.



Challenges: White noise, wrong noise, late noise.


Manage incident manager.  Create incident from alerts using rules.  New visuals, new shift.  This is a shock and a learning curve.

To use existing rule sets - don't mess with the existing ones.  Instead disable and create-like.  Several reasons:  they work; they might get overwritten with patches.

Highlight: 12.1.0.2 - the metric thresholds are only set for Warning, not Critical.  If you have incident notification on "Critical only", default results in no messages.

"Metric Extensions" replaces "User Defined Metrics".   Much more flexible, wider scope, build your own library, keep your own stand-alone scripts and fold them in.  Has a 'development lifecycle', so you can test *before* production.

Performance pages have not changed much.  "Pink (and Orange) is not a girl's best friend".   SQL Monitor is very useful - learn it if you don't know it yet. 

ASH Analytics!  Real Time ASH.  Drill into events, SQL, SQL details, over a variety of time frames. Load Map is a new way of showing the load.  Very useful, especially when trying to convince people to address an issue.  Replaces "Top Activity", which will likely go away.


IOUG Virtualization Sig - Expert Panel

OracleVM
Discussion around OracleVM, which has a no-Cost, no-Fee license.  You can optionally purchase support, however the product itself is $0.

- consists of one or more VM Servers, managed by one VM Manager.
- 3.1.1 is in production
- 3.2 is in beta

As of 3.1, VM Manager can be installed as a VM inside the VM Server. 

Is based on XEN, installs on bare metal (replaces an existing OS, just like to VMWare enterprise hypervisor), on install you have a Dom0 (Domain 'zero') which is a minimalist Linux used to provide core services to the active VMs.  Each Virtual machine is known as a 'DomU' (Domain 'User').

Moving from OracleVM 2.x to 3.x is a migration, not an upgrade.

Templates are available for many Oracle products.  Templates are similar in concept to Amazon Gold Images.  RAC template can be deployed in under an hour.

Can create VMs using P2V (Physical to Virtual) and V2V (Virtual to Virtual) utilities.  Possible to convert VMWare and VirtualBox VMs.

Management is through GUI.  You do not log in to VM Server and make OS command line changes.  However, 3.1 has a CLI that can be used on the server.  Also EM CLI can be used remotely.

For learning and testing, you can install OracleVM inside of VirtualBox.

VirtualBox

3.x is available.  Also $0, no cost, no fee license.   Significant product, runs on top of an existing Windows / MacOSX / Linux environment.  It works.  I use it - a lot!

Saturday, September 29, 2012

OOW - Post 1 of many

For ACE Directors, OOW kicked off on Wednesday with Sofitel by Oracle HQ being a general collection point.  On Thursday and Friday we had briefings on many topics, from many product groups as well as from Thomas Kurian of Oracle.  Friday evening we shuttled to the Hilton San Francisco Union Square which we will call home for the next several days.

I'll be wandering around downtown San Francisco, attending events, talking, and generally having a great time.  Although this year is bittersweet with some important people missing.

For those who want to chat with me, here are some known times and locations:

Sunday
     18:00-22:00 ACE Dinner (invitation only)

Monday
    10:45-12:00 at the RAC Attack table in the OTN Lounge

Tuesday
       8:45-  9:45 at Big Data SIG in Moscone West Level 3, Overlook 3
     10:15-11:30 at the RAC Attack table in the OTN Lounge
     16:30-18:30 at the Tweet Meet (meet the faces behind tweets) at OTN Lounge

 Wednesday
     15:30-16:30 presenting ZFS (CON5101) at Moscone West - 3014
     17:30-19:00 at the Blogger's meetup (contact Pythian)

Other than that, at random I'll be
- at the OTN Lounge (tent) on Howard Street a lot,
- attending various Open World sessions, https://blogs.oracle.com/oracleopenworld
- attending various IOUG SIG sessions
- over at the OakTable World (http://oaktableworld.com/),
- and [other places] where there is beer to be found.

See you there.
/Hans

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Free Data Modelling book

Fellow ACE Director, Ken Graziano, has created a book "A Check List for Doing Data Model Design Reviews" available for free this week.

Check out his blog at http://kentgraziano.com/ for more details.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

VirtualBox on Mac Lion 10.8.2

Over the past few months I've been using VirtulBox on my new MacBook Pro.  Absolutely love the combination!

Yesterday I finally upgraded the MacBook from 10.8.1 to 10.8.2 and immediately VirtualBox stopped working.  Instead of opening my VMs, I was greeted by the message:

Failed to open a session for the virtual machine Windows XP.
VT-x is being used by another hypervisor. (VERR_VMX_IN_VMX_ROOT_MODE).
VirtualBox can't operate in VMX root mode. Please close all other virtualization programs. (VERR_VMX_IN_VMX_ROOT_MODE).
 Turns out this is a new bug tracked at https://www.virtualbox.org/ticket/10965

It is fixed using HotFix package 4.2.1 for Virtualbox available at https://www.virtualbox.org/wiki/Downloads


Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Bye Bye, DBControl

Thanks to Hemant for noticing the following article in Oracle Support

Database Control To Be Desupported in DB Releases after 11.2 [ID 1484775.1]

I've been encouraging people to switch to Cloud Control for a while now.

Thursday, August 09, 2012

See you at Oracle Open World

Dear Hans,
We have finalized the session schedule for Oracle OpenWorld 2012.

We would like to inform you of your speaking schedule along with the location information. Since there will be multiple venues, we recommend that you make a note of your session location.
SESSION SCHEDULE INFORMATION

Session ID: CON5101
Session Title: Integrating Oracle Database Appliance with Sun ZFS Appliance to Achieve HA Security
Venue / Room: Moscone West - 3014
Date and Time: 10/3/12, 15:30 - 16:30

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Data Design Myth-takes - an ongoing list

This post will likely be updated frequently over time. 

It got started because I renewed Oracle Support online today.   Oracle insists that my billing address must be in a certain format.  However, about 2 months ago, I received a letter from Canada Post that I need to get mail addressed a certain way if I wish to continue to receive it - and that way is NOT the way Oracle insists is "the standard format". This will be the third time in 3 years I have had to fight with Oracle about the format of my corporate address. 

Myths about names: 

  • Instead of going through the list myself, I'll kickstart it with an excellent one from Kalzumeus http://www.kalzumeus.com/2010/06/17/falsehoods-programmers-believe-about-names/

Myths about addresses: 

  • the format the developer wants to use is the correct one, even if it does not agree with the format required by the post office;
  • a commercially available centralized list of city names provides the correct spelling of the city, even when that does not agree with the spelling used by the city council.  My company is in St. Albert, Alberta - the commercial lists do not like the St. abbreviation and insist in "Saint Albert", even though the city council and all maps use St. Albert. ; 

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

DB Roles - it's worth repeating ...

The Oracle RDBMS Server has a GRANT command that permits assignment of privileges to a user or a role.

And it has a REVOKE command that removes privileges from a user or a role.  That command simply removes the privilege from the list currently available to the user or role.

However, the Oracle database does not have a 'DENY' command that could be used to store a REVOKE in a role, allowing the removal of a privilege based on the addition of a role.

A lot of [new] DBAs believe that revoking a privilege from a role will remove that privilege from a user who is granted that role. 

Test case (as DBA):

CREATE USER hans IDENTIFIED BY hans;
CREATE USER test IDENTIFIED BY test;
GRANT CREATE SESSION TO hans, test;

GRANT RESOURCE TO test;
CREATE TABLE test.testtab (x NUMBER);
INSERT INTO test.testtab VALUES (1);
COMMIT;

CREATE ROLE A;
GRANT SELECT, UPDATE ON test.testtab TO a;

CREATE ROLE B;
GRANT SELECT, UPDATE, DELETE ON test.testtab TO b;

GRANT a,b TO hans;

CONNECT hans/hans
SELECT X FROM test.testtab;
UPDATE test.testtab SET x=2;
COMMIT;

CONNECT {dba}
REVOKE UPDATE ON test.testtab FROM b;

CONNECT hans/hans
SELECT X FROM test.testtab;
UPDATE test.testtab SET x=3;
COMMIT;

If the revoke was stored in the role, then the update to set x to 3 would fail.

This question happens in nearly every DB Admin Workshop I've held or watched. 

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

How to absolutely panic a DBA using AUDIT_SYSLOG_LEVEL

I'm teaching the Oracle Database 11gR2: Security course this week.

During the auditing module, students are asked to enable auditing, and then configure to send audits to syslogd.  The steps are simple:  tell the database to send audits to OS; tell the database to flag the audits as a specific syslog facililty and level.  These two items are in the initialization parameter file, and you restart the DB after making the change.

The challenge:  get the facility right OR ELSE!

If the syslog facility or the message level being requested is not valid, the database instance will NOT restart.

Heck - it won't even MOUNT. 

So there is NO WAY of fixing the now-corrupt SPFILE using the ALTER SYSTEM command.

So how did we get around this?

In the classroom Linux environment, the spfile is stored in ASM.  So we took the following steps to recover for instance XYZ:

  • configure to access ASM by using ". oraenv" (dot space oraenv) and enter "+ASM"
  • use "asmcmd" to get to the SPFILE (as identified in the ifile line of the initXYZ.ora)
  • copy the spfile to the OS using "cp {spfile} /home/oracle/initXYZ.ora"
  • edit the wierd initXYZ.ora to remove the binary lines and to fix the AUDIT_SYSLOG_LEVEL  information
  • configure back to access the database instance
  • STARTUP MOUNT pfile=/home/oracle/initXYZ.ora
  • CREATE SPFILE='{ASM location of SPFILE}' from MEMORY;
  • SHUTDOWN IMMEDIATE;
  • STARTUP
 I'm more than a bit surprised that an unknown syslog facility setting would stop getting into the MOUNT state.  And this one could cause an extended outage for a relatively lightweight reason.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Happy TAU Day

Today is June 28.  6.28 ...  2-PI ... TAU!   Happy TAU Day.

No, really, PI is wrong.

For more information, please go to http://tauday.com

That is all!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Oracle Database Applicance - SWEET!

Last week I taught the Oracle University RAC class in Victoria, BC.  On Thursday, I took my class on a field trip ...

The Victoria Oracle Users Group brought in Dan Morgan to chat about the Oracle Database Appliance.  They lent him one to demonstrate during his presentation.

The ODA is about the same size and weight as my NetApp F810 Filer which has about 1 TB of disk. 

However - the ODA has 4TB of active data disk triple mirrored (eg: 12TB with plenty of redundancy in case of disk failure).  It includes 2 completely separate computers (nodes) each with 2x 6-core CPUs,  96 GB RAM, a 1GB cluster interconnect with redundancy, and gobs of 1GBethernet connectivity.  All on Oracle Linux 5 update 8.  With the Oracle DB as well as Oracle Grid Infrastructure and RAC s/w staged to install as per your license agreement.

Installing and completely configuring a 2 node RAC using ODA involved:  the DBA and 2 hours from the time the DBA has access to the machine.

Building a 2-node RAC from scratch involves computer hardware, HBAs to SAN, sufficient SAN space, public NICs, private NICs and appropriate switch (not VLAN), and a team of experts in the OS, SAN and network areas (all of whom think they know better than Oracle on how a RAC works).  Nominally a few weeks of effort.

The only kicker is that the database must be under about 3.5TB.

And Dan's experience - NO ORA-00600 or ORA-07445 have happened since his installs last year.

Why am I talking about this?

I know of situations where an ODA would save customers much money, and seriously reduce the corporate investment in Tylenol (or other headache pain reliever).

I ALSO know that with ODA, the future of viable RAC-only consultancies is severely limited. 

(I'm hoping some of my customers pick up this post.  Mutual benefit - fewer concerns on my side, fewer outages and better reliability. Which is what RAC is SUPPOSED to provide.)

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

OEM Pack Cost Myth resurfacing ...

Discussion yesterday:  "OEM Grid Control / Cloud Control is expensive!  You have to pay for the Packs to make it useful.  You don't need to pay for the Diagnostics Pack in Database Control."

Sorry folks - that is totally incorrect. 

The DB Diagnostics Pack and the SQL Tuning Pack (as well as other packs) are options added to the database.  To use them, you need to pay for them.

These packs happen to collect information.  Accessing that information (using the views) requires a license, and [in production] you (usually) need to pay for that license. 

It does not matter whether you use Database Control or Grid/Cloud Control to display the contents of those views as rows/columns, or as alert messages, or as charts or graphs.  You still need to license it.

From the Database side, see the Licensing document at the doc home page (for 11gR2 see http://www.oracle.com/pls/db112/homepage).

From the OEM side, see the Licensing document found through ttp://docs.oracle.com (for 12c, see http://docs.oracle.com/cd/E24628_01/index.htm)

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

UYOUG Workshop, May 9th

If you are in Montevideo, or can get there for May 9th, note that the UYOUG is presenting a 1 day workshop on Oracle topics,  from 16:00 to 20:30 hsAulario del Faro - Facultad de Ingeniería - Universidad de la República (Senda Nelson Landoni esq. Julio Herrera y Reissig).

Details at http://www.uyoug.org.uy/

 

Collaborate 2012 - Day 1

Monday was a busy day. 

In preparation for my OBIEE-Spatial presentation, I looked through the onsite bookstore.  And, of course, bought more books than I had intended - including the excellent "Business Dashboards: A Visual Catalog for Design and Deployments" which provides some interesting ideas and variants in designing Dashboards. 

After my OBIEE presentation, I dashed to the Mandalay Bay C to present an overview of LDAP for Oracle DBAs.  Rushed it a lot, as the confirmation email from the Collab organizers indicated the session was from 12:15-12:45, but the attendees insisted that the official schedule went to 1:15 and they insisted on listening right to the end. 



Both presentations are available for download from the IOUG Collaboration 2012 site.


After that I rushed over to listen to Edelweiss Kammermann present "BI Publisher 11g - Only good news".  As usual, Edelweiss gave an interesting and very informative presentation which provided the highlights of the changes in BI Publisher, and you could really tell that she spoke from experience. 
I was most impressed at the number of attendees to her session, especially since Mark Rittman had an OBIEE presentation at the same time, in the next room. 


I did get to see Mark Rittman's presentation on Tips for Administering OBIEE.  I have some customers who have been asking for exactly that, and there are few courses and even fewer books on the topic.  I would have no challenge filling 3-4 days of discussion on that, and was impressed at how much Mark got into his 1 hour.


Over to Mandalay Bay C again to see Nelson Calero discuss MySQL Administration for Oracle DBAs.  One word: Wow!  Nelson has promised to follow up with a series of Webinars - we'll announce those on the UYOUG web site, and other places as well.


Capped it off with a wonderful view from the Mix at the top of TheHotel.

 Collaborate 2012, for me, was too short.  Indeed, I needed to leave Tuesday morning to be back on stage Tuesday evening with the Edmonton Opera.  Thus I missed a number of excellent presentations and a lot of great networking opportunities.

Thanks to the IOUG and the organizers for Collaborate 2012 for the opportunity.

Now off to write my submissions for DOAG 2012 in November, UKOUG 2012 in December, and for the OTN Tour in India next February.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Collaborate 2012 - Day 0

Officially Collaborate 2012 starts Monday.  However, in the tradition of "thread the best before, during and after", the really deep dive sessions started Sunday.

Since I am in the chorus for Edmonton Opera's  staging of Beethoven's Fidelio (April 21, 24, 26), and it's no fun being an opera widow (as actors/singers tend to focus on the show this close to performance) I asked my wife to go ahead to Las Vegas on Friday afternoon and meet me there.

Side note:  Opening of Fidelio was fantastic.  A fitting thank you to Brian Deedrick, former artistic director of Edmonton Opera and opera director superb-lious,  and Peter Dala, former music director and chorus master of Edmonton Opera and musician extraordinaire.  I know the entire chorus joins me wishing Brian and Peter all the best in their future.

I arrived at the Mandalay Sunday around 9:30 AM, completed my hotel check-in (early room availability was not requested), met with my lovely wife for coffee, then picked up my Collab registration badge, and went to the show.

First session I attended:  Alex Gorbachev's excellent discussions around ultra high availability: the first part I managed to see was on the impact of multiple disk failure in an ASM environment, and why ASM Normal and even High redundancy are important protections against data loss.  That was followed by his discussion around Data Guard.

My partner, Nelson Calero from Uruguay, met up with me in Alex' session.  Both of us found the information very useful. 

At lunch, our other partner, Edelweiss Kammermann, also from Uruguay (and Nelson's life partner) joined us and we met up with Arjen from DBVisit.  I first met Arjen in Santiago , Chile at the forst OTN Latin America session.

DBVists fits very well with Alex Gorbachev's discussion, as their primary product is a very cost effective equivalent for Oracle Data Guard for Standard Edition.  

After lunch, off to Tom Kyte, Graham and Andrew's session on performance tactics in the database.  Very interesting demo proving that increasing connections in a connection-pool based application can be counter-productive.  This presentation will be repeated as a road show - if you hear about it, GO!  I know that it will be presented through the Uruguay Oracle User's Group in August.

A big benefit of conferences like Collaborate is networking, so we went to the opening mixer.  The annual awards were handed out - congratulations to Arup Nanda, Rich Niemec, and posthumously to Mark Townsend, who received the Ken Jacobs award.  Ken Jacobs himself received the award in Mark's memory.  All three awards richly deserved.

Dinner at the Lupo by Wolfgang Puck with Susanne, Edelweiss, Nelson, and our good friend Kai Yu.

Moderately early to bed, as the only sleep after the opening of Fidelio was on the plane from Edmonton to Las Vegas.

Long, but absolutely amazingly fantastic, weekend.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

DB Statistics Collection - a poll

Just a very quick note that Timur Akhmadeev has an informal poll about methods of collecting DB stats at
 http://timurakhmadeev.wordpress.com/2012/04/09/method_opt/

If you do respond, you might want to add your DB version(s) in the comments.  That's one critical piece (of several) of information not in the poll. 

In spite of the lack of formality and process in the poll, it is still interesting to see the results.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Exciting news about Oracle and OL/RHEL 6

Hot stuff! Thanks to Mark Bobak for letting us know on Oracle-L.


Oracle just announced that the Oracle Database and Fusion Middleware are now supported on RedHat 6 and Oracle Linux 6.

http://www.oracle.com/us/corporate/press/1563775

Timing-wise, distros and installations with the Oracle UEK2 (therefore Oracle Linux) are basically supported now, and those based on the standard RH kernel (both OL6 and RHEL 6) will be fully supported in 90 days,

While good news, I would be careful to jump too fast on a regular kernel installation for an ASM environment until we know exactly how the ASMLib support will proceed. Until now, changing kernel has forced a change in the ASMLib. And that has required finding and downloading the kernel-matching ASM libraries OR using a completely separate way of handling ASM presentation (UDEV) which is immensely more error-prone. Until we understand what has changed there, I recommend caution.  Of course, searching for the ASMLib is easier if you start from http://www.oracle.com/technetwork/topics/linux/asmlib/index-101839.html

And the announcement mentions that the free public YUM server (http://public-yum.oracle.com/) is being enhanced.  (That is one service people keep overlooking.)

Thanks, Oracle! :-)

Friday, March 16, 2012

Collaborate, Opera, shilling Books, Open World

In case you had not heard, Collaborate 2012 is happening this year in Las Vegas on April 22-26,  I'll be there Sunday thru Tuesday morning - on Monday I chat about LDAP for the DBA and present on Oracle Maps in OBIEE.

Silly schedule conflict - Saturday April 21, and Tuesday and Thursday the Edmonton Opera presents Beethoven's Fidelio.  I get to shave my hair!  Which means I'll be sporting a completely different look for the presentations at Collaborate.

As you know, I firmly believe in reading all about Oracle, from as many sources I can get close to my eyeballs. In preparation for Collaborate, Packt Publishing - for whom I have done a fair bit of technical reviewing - has announced they are discounting all Oracle titles, whether printed or eBook. Quoting their announcement
To lend a helping hand to those in attendance or professionals who are simply excited about the buzz that the glamorous Las Vegas event will bring, Packt’s discounts apply to all of their Oracle titles and formats.
If you are interested, check out their web site http://www.packtpub.com and click on the 'coupon' at the top.  (I get nothing other than the enjoyment of more people understanding Oracle.)

The call for papers for Oracle OpenWorld is now open.  Give it a try and see if you can get a slot!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

xhost and DISPLAY - again!

It's that time of year again, when people try to install their databases on a Linux or Unix host.  And run into issues with xhost and DISPLAY.

The typical complaint is "I issued the DISPLAY command and it tells me I don't have permission." or "I tried to runInstaller"

This is often an indication of doing things in the wrong order.


The correct sequence is:
  1. Log on to the computer that *owns* an XWindows screen.  This could be a Linux machine with gnome/KDE/twm, or perhaps a Windows machine with cygwin/X, Xming, or perhaps Hummingbird (now OpenText) eXceed ... these are known as XServers.
  2. Tell that Xserver (screen) to accept remote requests, by issuing "xhost +" (note that the + disables security) 
  3. Log on to the computer / user that is to use the XWindows - the one that contains the runInstaller 
  4. Tell that to display on the computer that is to be used for display using export DISPLAY=(host):display.screen
  5. Run the program that needs a display
Many people, especially students, log in to root on the computer and then su to oracle to do the installs. While this is fundamentally a stupid thing to do, because using root unnecessarily increases potential security risks and is it NOT good practice and will it NOT be allowed in any self-respecting business, the following would be the sequence
  1. Log on to XWindows as root.  Do NOT su to root!  Do NOT pass GO.  Do NOT collect $200.
  2. Open a terminal
  3. Enter: xhost +
  4. Find out which DISPLAY is used by entering: set | grep -i DISPLAY
  5. Enter: su - oracle
  6. Enter: export DISPLAY=:0.0 # of course, base this on step 4
  7. Enter: runInstaller # (or whatever is required, such as xeyes) 
The most common mistake is running xhost after su. This will not work. The xhost must be issued by the first user - the one that owns the screen.

 

I am simply amazed that IT instructors don't discuss this basic thing, but I suspect it is caused by a lack of understanding - or bad assumptions.

 

 

 

 

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Oracle 11gR2 Express Edition on Ubuntu 11.10

A number of people have asked, in the forums and through email directly to me, how to install the Oracle Database 11g Release 2 Express Edition (XE11g) on Ubuntu.

XE 10g had native Ubuntu support. 

XE 11g does not support Ubuntu, according to the official documentation (see links below).

The big reason I discourage using an unlisted/unsupported platform is: after install, should any issue occur, you will never really know whether that issue is a result of the platform mismatch.  In other words, it might have been avoidable, and the problem might be a direct result of your decision. 

And if you don't have the experience and background to do the install on your own, how do you expect to support that unsupported environment, possibly in production.  That is a heck of a risk to place on your application and potentially on your customer/employer.

Today I stumbled upon an amazing install HowTo for XE11g on Ubuntu 11.10. 

So, while I still strongly discourage installing XE11g on Ubuntu (or any other "unsupported" platform) at least I can point you to a decent resource so you have a chance to get it right.  From the Oracle Forums:


If you have any issues with XE11g, here are some of the better resources I've found:

Oracle's OTN XE Portal
Oracle Database 11g Express Edition Documentation
Forum: Oracle Database Express Edition (XE)
Oracle's OTN APEX Portal
Oracle Application Express Documentation
Forum: Application Express


Hope that helps.

Thursday, March 08, 2012

DB TimeZone-itis - what it is, and what to do about it ...

It's that time of the year again: snow mold allergies, hay fever, and DB TimeZone-itis are about to hit us ...

This weekend, a number of countries and regions will perform a semi-annual ritual of changing their clock either ahead or back one hour.  Aside from irritating the cows and shifting costs of lighting from business to consumer >D , this also has an impact on unpatched Oracle9i and Oracle 10g database applications. This is called TimeZone-itis, and occurs twice a year.

 
Before 2007, many places shifted on first Sunday in April and last Sunday in October.  (I use 'shifted', because south of the equator, where fall is approaching, the shift is opposite to the that in the north..)  In 2005, President Bush enacted a law that moved this shift date 3 weeks earlier in March and 1 week later into November: this law came into effect in 2007 and many other jurisdictions around the world have since followed suit.
 
The symptoms: unexpected crashes, errors that did not occur before the time shift, applications suddenly stop working, applications (such as dbconsole) not starting.


The root cause: Oracle databases up to, and including, 10.2.0.1 were built using the 'old' time zone shift.  Publicly available downloads of Oracle Database 9i,10gR1 and 10gR2 were released before 2007 and most have not been updated.

Who can this affect?: any application that stores data in "Timestamp with TimeZone" data type in an unpatched Oracle9i or Oracle10g (incl 10gR2) database, that compares the timestamp information against the operating system, or that uses the OJVM, might experience some symptoms. 

One particularly nasty one is the Oracle Enterprise Manager - database console and grid control are affected.

Why am I raising the alarm?: I teach a lot of Oracle University courses, and therefore see a lot of students who have downloaded a copy of the Oracle software.  Many students and developers will, by default, reach for the Oracle 10g database, and may experience trouble using the Enterprise Manager console.  This is often getting close to 'spring break' and 'year end' when students and developers want to cram.

Solutions:  Four practical solutions at the top of my personal list:
  1. Use Oracle Database 11gR2, as it is the one currently supported and is pretty much backward compatible to 10g;
  2. Get the appropriate patches from Oracle Support;
  3. Switch operating system anmd DB to GMT/UTC;
  4. Take 2 Aspirin, go to bed, and try again in 3 weeks.
For more details how this affects the database, look at

"Impact of changes to daylight saving time (DST) rules on the Oracle database [ID 357056.1]"
"USA 2007 DST Changes: Frequently Asked Questions for Oracle Database Patches [ID 402742.1]"
 
and a 'master note' covering a lot of product is

"Updated DST transitions and new Time Zones in Oracle Time Zone File patches [ID 412160.1]"

 

For Application Servers, WebLogic Server, and other Java environments, search out TZUpdater tool at http://www.oracle.com/technetwork/java/javase/tzupdater-readme-136440.html

 

 

 

 

 

 

Friday, March 02, 2012

Should the Oracle docs be 100% trusted

A few days ago, a member of the Oracle Forums asked a question about a number referenced in the Oracle DB documentation.  The immediate question did point to a doc bug, but a number of the responses (correctly) indicated that the specific numbers being referenced might not be absolute.  The poster countered that if the numbers can not be trusted, perhaps the documentation can not be trusted.

Like Wikipedia, the Oracle documentation is a great place to start.  It provides a lot of information, and a lot of 'facts'.  However, also like Wikipedia, blind faith in the documentation as an absolute source truth can occasionally be misplaced.

My response to that thread was

I like Tom Kyte's attitude around this, which can be paraphrased as "it ain't true until you've proven it for yourself - and even then, recheck periodically"
In an engine such as Oracle, where things can automatically adjust themselves based on statistics, it is probably unwise to take things like '20% or 20 blocks' as an absolute.
For example, consider the following: "When is it better to do a full table scan instead of using an index that is referenced in the query?"

We will often say "when you get back 'N'% of the data", and 'N' will be typically between 10 and 25%.
SQL is designed around the idea that we declare what is to be accomplished, not how it is to be accomplished.  The Oracle Server database engine is free to interpret the request in a variety of ways, and come up with different ways to implement the response. 

Once the different code paths have been determined, the optimizer can apply different weight to each path based on the cost of doing that, the number of rows involved, and so on. 
However, a much more accurate answer would be "when the optimizer has determined the total cost of the table scan to be lower than the total cost of using the index". And factors that could adjust that cost might include:

- current statistics on the table and the column
- whether the data in the column is required for any subsequent operation
- whether the column is involved as an expression in the output

which could possibly change the percentages in the answer from 5% to 50%.
For years, Oracle Tuning courses have emphasized that there are only two ways to speed things up - reduce the time waiting on resources, and reduce the time working toward the end result.  Over time the designers and developers of the Oracle engine have collected a lot of information about how things are done and where the bottlenecks occur.  Some of that research has resulted in new code paths, but some has resulted in interpreting the statistics in new ways, of changing the weight of specific code paths - making more efficient choices.
As the optimizer has been improved, it has added some quite unexpected capabilities but it has also added some interesting 'opportunities for improvement' and side effects.
The documentation is a great, and even a mandatory, starting place to understand Oracle.  However, there are several points to keep in mind, highlighted by my colleagues Joel Garry and Justin Cave:
  • The documentation is written by humans and can easily have some errors;
  • The documentation is published periodically and may not reflect each update that has occurred in the rush to deliver product;
  • The documentation normally does not reflect behaviour due to bugs;
  • The documentation can not reflect every possible decision-tree variant chosen due to statistics
So, should the documentation be 100% trusted?  My take, based on my experience, is roughly:

  • 90% of the time the concepts and the general ideas that are provided in the docs are good enough to use unchanged
  • 9% of the time, the docs are a great springboard to move you in your own direction, if you have your own tests.  A rule of thumb for this category is when the docs provide a number, and no supporting script or test.
  • 0.9% of the time, the docs may be completely insufficient, and you need to turn to My Oracle Support or to experts like Jonathan Lewis or Tanel Poder who are willing to share their knowledge.  However, this is beyond the normal day-to-day DBA activity and goes into the realm of 'very interesting stuff'.
  • 0.009% of the time, you have the opportunity to become an expert yourself.
  • And perhaps for 0.0009% of the time (if that high), the docs have mistakes - which you should report to the Documentation forum at http://forums.oracle.com/
And to refer to an old engineering joke - that's close enough for all practical purposes


Don't give up on the documentation.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Oracle Support - First Impressions

Today is the first day of the rest of our lives. Make it a good day ... 

Just logged on to the new My Oracle Support at https://supporthtml.oracle.com using Firefox 9.0.1 and Chrome 16. ... So far so interesting. As compared to my response to the Flash version, I am pleased to give this a passing grade.

Both browsers provide very snappy response, so the ADF implementation seems reasonably good. ADF is assumed since the URL references 'faces'. If true, this will be a great poster child for ADF and hopefully Oracle will provide some details - version of ADF, coding techniques, lessons learned.

On Firefox, I was greeted by a Personalization display to verify my information. Apparently Canada no longer has provinces, as that dropdown is greyed out. I'll assume an early implementation quirk.

Browser BACK BUTTON WORKS! At least for those areas I tried. Thank You!

Dashboard:

We still are forced to see "News" and "Getting Started". Hopefully these boxes will become intelligent but at least we can minimize them.

However: Psych 101 - excessively repeated exposure results in ignoring the message.

Knowledge:

Using the Knowledge Browser is amusing. First text box is 'Product Name' with autocomplete and type-ahead search. So type in 'Server' and instead of seeing Oracle Server, the company's bread and butter, we start up with all sorts of application server variants. Type in 'Database' and you still scroll down several pages to see that which the probable majority of MOS users will be needing. How about a check-box quick filter on "x Applications x Tools x Management x Middle Tier x Data Tier" to assist?

That said, it is fun to use the multiple box entry technique to get to Certify in stead of clicking the Certify tab. Seriously, though, I can see how this browser will help. Still a bit crude, but in the right direction.

Service Requests:

Looks clean. Right now I have no need to open a SR - and don't particularly want to have a need.

Patches and Updates:

Looks identical to the old HTML. Which is great, because that is the most important area of MOS for me, and the HTML version (especially the quick links section) was by far the most usable part of MOS. Also much more responsive than before.

Certifications:

I am reasonably pleased with the changes introduced in the Certifications area last year. Still a bit confusing, but very very functional. And also very responsive.

For the other screens, I can only comment on the clean lines, quick update response and general appearance. The look and feel is professional and clean - I wonder whether Oracle will allow us to use custom CSS to tailor that LAF?

First impressions are favorable. Now to see how it works in real life ... we have all experienced released Prototype code before which falls flat under production load and exceptions. Somehow I get the impression this will not be Prototype code.

Friday, December 23, 2011

New UI coming for Oracle Support

Just received the email this morning - Oracle Support interface is changing again. In a nutshell, they are converting from the HTML and Flash interfaces to an Oracle ADF-based interface. This will be happening over the next month and a bit. I applaud the decision to use the Oracle ADF product. I look forward to seeing whether Oracle has learned anything about UI design from the miserable Flash interface. And I do wonder why they insist on eliminating the useful SupportHTML interface for pure query work. This should be interesting. A lot of the lull in the past few years has been due to the Support interface. If this works, I may just start being happy with Oracle again.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Yippee - Oracle VM 3

Over on Oracle blogs, we find http://blogs.oracle.com/virtualization/entry/great_things_come_in_3s

Announcing Oracle VM 3.0. Still not available for download, but at least there are white papers and stuff. RSN!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Oracle LA Tour Part 2

Yes, Virginia, there is a Part 2. Not quite the same way as expected, though.

Last October we toured Peru, Chile, Uruguay, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador and Costa Rica. A few of us added some extra trips - Dan Morgan (DB, RAC), Ben Prusinski (DB, Apps) and I added a day in Macchu Piccu, Peru (from where I celebrated my wife's birthday); I got a tour of Colonia del Sacramento, Uruguay; Francisco Alvarez (DB), Ronald Bradford (MySQL) and I scooted to Galapagos; Ronald and I had a tour of the Costa Rican country and jungle.

But, by far more important and memorable was the amazing set of presentations and people in each location. In most cities, we ended up at a University to do the presentation. Local user group members hosted and presented. In spite of the language barrier, I learned an amazing amount and was able to present on the "Basics of App Servers for DBAs", "Spatial" and "Fusion Middleware". Due to Visa timing, (Immigration, not Credit) I had to miss Brazil in October.

Francisco organized an even better tour this time, although he himself could not attend in person. Debra Lilley (Apps) has a very significant description of the tour on her blog at http://debrasoracle.blogspot.com/ for those interested in more detail than I provide here. I posted an awful lot (for me) on Facebook as well.

The tour this time went San Jose, Costa Rica; Quito, Ecuador; Cartagena, Colombia; Lima, Peru; Sao Paulo, Brazil; Montevideo, Uruguay; Santiago, Chile.

I had a seminar to present at the beginning of July, so I missed Costa Rica, and the wonderful people there. I was sorry not to see Gerardo - who always gives us an interesting time - and people like Alejandra (my handler last time, and an absolutely charming young lady) and the rest of the ULACIT group.

So my first stop was with Paola, Christian and the ECUOUG. Debra's notes are more than decent for the area. I was a bit off-energy as I got to the hotel at 1AM before the 8AM conference on Friday. But the city and the people are exactly as friendly and welcoming as last time. Afterward, dinner with Tom Kyte and Megan, Debra Lilley, Kuassi Mensah (DB Connectivity) and Murali Vallath (DB, RAC), Ronald Bradford (MySQL) and Cindy. Tom and Megan ended their tour at Ecuador.

Saturday 3AM wakeup call came quickly since the plane to Cartagena, Colombia was fairly early. Robin and the Colombian team made us very welcome on Sunday, and I enjoyed the boat, although Debra didn't quite like it as much. On Monday, Arup Nanda (DB, RAC) joined us, as did Manuel Contreras and Pedro Andrade (Oracle MySQL) at the ASUOC sessions held at the Universidad Tecnológica de Bolivar. Many thanks to all there.

We left Cartagena Tuesday afternoon to fly to Lima, Peru. Arrived at 1AM on Wednesday the morning of our presentations. Debra was keynote in the conference, held at the NM Hotel in Miraflores. This one was a 2 day conference, with the second day providing some very in depth sessions. I did enjoy Graham Wood's session - he joined us there and stayed 'till the end. I would have enjoyed Miguel's session the next day as he is a good, very knowledgeable, speaker. As it was, we parted after dinner (thanks Miguel and PEOUG) the first night, with several of us heading on to Brazil on Thursday, some coming later, and Murali heading back.

On Thursday, Kuassi, Arup and I became the advance guard to Sao Paulo, Brazil. The GUOB – Grupo de Usuários de Tecnologia Oracle do Brasil is an amazing user group: extremely efficient, highly tuned, and very hospitable. Due to time required to complete the visa, I could not attend the Brazil tech day in person in October (only by webcast), so I excited to see Sao Paulo in person. I was certainly not disappointed. Amazing, astonishingly large, and astoundingly clean. You can tell the locals have pride in their city. Kai Yu from Dell joined the tour at that time, so I was able to enjoy both Kai's and Kuassi's sessions. Debra and Graham, Ronald and Cindy joined arrived Friday and stayed Sunday, whereas Arup and Kuassi returned home on Sunday and Kai and I headed to Uruguay.

Almost everyone knows that I have a soft spot in my heart for Uruguay. The landscapes are similar to home. (Except that Alberta does not have the sea.) The climate feels like our spring, summer and fall - so no harsh winters. And the people are all truly friends on sight. We managed to be there when Uruguay won the semifinal of the COPA Americas cup, and a great time was had by all. Debra has captured some small sense of the time there. A small timing challenge, as our sessions were scheduled between the long weekend (Uruguay's Constitution day) and the COPA Americas games, so I am amazed that so many people showed up for the sessions at the Communications Tower. (Excellent facility, by the way.) For me, well, I can't wait to get back. To Edel, Nelson, Daniel, Bruno, Pablo, and the others, who provided such hospitality and unqualified friendship with open arms, I miss you. ;-)

Ronald and Cindy split off in Uruguay, which meant that it was up to Kai, Graham, Debra and myself to carry on to Santiago, Chile. This was the start of the OTN Tours, several years ago, when Francisco had a number of us present at the Ritz Carleton. The sessions were somewhat reduced but reasonably well attended. I found the time in Chile much more relaxed than ever before, but that may have been because we were starting to wind down. Thank you Felipe, for your efforts and your hospitality. You have seen a lot of changes in these 3 OTN Days, and have done a lot of work. Thank you.

Graham caught the flight out the evening of the sessions, Kai and I headed out on Saturday and Debra caught some tours and stayed until Sunday.

I left Santiago at 6:30 PM on an Air Canada 093, a plane that started in Buenos Aires a few hours earlier. After 12 hours in the air flying due North, I landed in Toronto, and two hours later took off on a 4 hour, west-north-west flight back to Edmonton.

Seventeen days, 94 hours in airports and airplanes, a dozen hours of formal discussions about Oracle and several dozen hours of informal Oracle team-building, much food and wine, some song, and a huge number of memories and friendships later, I got home.

Thank you to all the translators and interpreters for making my talks, and those of our colleagues, accessible to the attendees.

Thank you Francisco and the members of the the LAOUC for making it happen. I look forward to the next one.

Thank you Justin, Vikki, Lillian, the entire OTN Team, and Oracle for making it possible.