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20th Century Stacks vs. 21st Century Stacks

In the 1960s, Bank of America and IBM built one of the first credit card processing systems. Although those early mainframes processed just a fraction of the data compared to that of eBay or Amazon, the engineering was complex for the day. Once credit cards became popular, processing systems had to be built to handle […]

Oracle’s SQL Tuning pack, part I

#555555;">Have you used Oracle’s SQL Tuning Pack? What were your experiences like?
At my last consulting gig 2 out 3 statements I “tuned” with the SQL tuning pack actually ran significantly more slowly after applying the profiles recommended. I thought it was just my bad karma and luck of the draw until recently. Recently I’ve started asking other DBAs what their experiences were and generally finding less than enthusiastic responses. In the classes on Oracle 10g and OEM, I’ve always cautioned that profiles should not be blindly trusted and give an example using a Swingbench query where the SQL runs more slowly after the profile.If applying the profile, I recommend to jump immediately to the SQL performance page and to verify the effect of the profile on the load of the query.

It’s Not About the Snapshot

I hear this from time to time:

“Can’t I create a database copy in seconds with a file system snapshot?”

First let’s take a step back. There is a huge need to clone database quickly, easily and with as little resource as possible for development, QA, UAT, debugging, reporting and backup yet hardly any of the industry uses file system snapshots for cloning. Cloning with file system snapshots has been a possibility for almost 20 years.    Why, if there is a solution to a huge problem, is no one using it? Because it requires specialized hardware, storage system experts coordinating with DBAs and system admins and a lot of scripting. (Unless using Delphix)

Database Thin Cloning: Allocate on Write (ZFS)

#555555;">Allocate on Write Thin Cloning

#555555;">Three challenges specifically stand out when considering Copy on Write filesystem snapshots described in the previous section:

  • The number of snapshots you can take of source database LUNs is limited
  • The size of the snapshots is limited
  • Difficulties arise sharing the base image of source databases at multiple points in time. In some cases it is not possible, in others difficult or resource heavy.

#555555;">These challenges highlight a specific need: to create thin provision clones of a source database from multiple points of time at the same time without using any additional space consumption. This requirement is important, as it allows one base image to serve as the foundation for all subsequent clones and imposes no unplanned storage or refresh requirements on users of the target (cloned) systems.

Database Thin Cloning: WAFL (Netapp)

#555555;">Write Anywhere File Layout (WAFL)

#555555;">With EMC, thin cloning can only be achieved by using backup technology; in essence, the process has to be architected manually in order to support databases. How can the same goals be achieved but with database thin cloning specifically in mind?

Database Thin Cloning: Copy on Write (EMC)

#555555;">Copy on Write

#555555;">Copy on write is a storage or filesystem mechanism that allows storage or filesystems to create snapshots at specific points in time. Whereas Clonedb is a little known and rarely used option, storage technologies are widely known and used in the industry. These snapshots maintain an image of a stroage a specific point in time. If the active storage makes a change to a block, the original block will be read from disk in its original form and written to a save location. Once the block save is completed, the snapshot will be updated to point to the new block location. After the snapshot has been updated, the active storage datablock can be written out and overwrite the original version.

Database Thin Cloning : clonedb (Oracle)

#555555;">A production database is full of data that makes sense for its purpose, whether the database is 10GB or 10TB.

#555555;">Now if you take that database and clone it for QA or development suddenly the data is cumbersome, unnecessary. Terabytes of disk are provisioned simply to hold a replica for the purpose of testing a small subset of it. An entire architecture with its myriad support structures, historical data, indexes, and large objects cloned and ready just to be partially used, trashed, and rebuilt. This is waste, both of time and storage resources. To the business, having a duplicate environment makes absolute sense; however, from an IT point of view the repeated duplication of storage space and  the time drain it cause just makes no sense at all.

Which to tune ? Application, Database or Hardware ?

I. “The Database is hanging!” AKA “the application has problems, good grief”

Data masking made easy with agile data


How long does it take you to make a copy of production, find the sensitive data, mask that data and then make multiple copies for development and QA? Hours? Days? Weeks? Months? How about a few minutes.

Check out the new data masking module in the Delphix agile data appliance.


Graphing Oracle v$sysstat

#555555;">One thing I’ve failed to clearly document is that my tool #2970a6;" href="">ASHMON not only graphs ASH data but graphs v$sysstat as well.

#555555;">To access statistics in ASHMON click on the “functions” menu and choose “stats”. ( the other choices are “ash init” which goes the the ASH data graph and the third choice is “waits” which graphs data from v$session_event)

#555555;">Graphing v$sysstat can be overwhelming as the number of statistics is in the hundreds, so what does one look at? The important statistics are what I concentrate on now, but that list is another discussion and up for debate. On the other hand when one wants to explore the stats over time how can one do it in a way that is manageable?