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Oracle Database – Turning on the In-Memory Database option

It is indeed that sample as switching a knob to turn it on. To enable it you will have to set a reasonable among of...
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Oracle Database – Native JSON Support (1)

Oracle Database has now native support build-in for handling JSON (Javascript Object Notation) data. Oracle Database supports JSON natively with relational database features, including...
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Recurring Conversations: AWR Intervals (Part 2)

(Reminder, just in case we still need it, that the use of features in this post require Diagnostics Pack license.)

Damn me for taking so long to write blog posts these days. By the time I get around to them, certain very knowledgeable people have commented on part 1 and given the game away! ;-)

I finished the last part by suggesting that a narrow AWR interval makes less sense in a post-10g Diagnostics Pack landscape than it used to when we used Statspack.

Why do people argue for a Statspack/AWR interval of 15 or 30 minutes on important systems? Because when they encounter a performance problem that is happening right now or didn’t last for very long in the past, they can drill into a more narrow period of time in an attempt to improve the quality of the data available to them and any analysis based on it. (As an aside, I’m sure most of us have generated additional Statspack/AWR snapshots manually to *really* reduce the time scope to what is happening right now on the system, although this is not very smart if you’re using AWR and Adaptive Thresholds!)

However, there are better tools for the job these days.

If I have a user complaining about system performance then I would ideally want to narrow down the scope of the performance metrics to that user’s activity over the period of time they’re experiencing a slow-down. That can be a little difficult on modern systems that use complex connection pools, though. Which session should I trace? How do I capture what has already happened as well as what’s happening right now? Fortunately, if I’ve already paid for Diagnostics Pack then I have *Active Session History* at my disposal, constantly recording snapshots of information for all active sessions. In which case, why not look at

- The session or sessions of interest (which could also be *all* active sessions if I suspect a system-wide issue)
- For the short period of time I’m interested in
- To see what they’re actually doing

Rather than running a system-wide report for a 15 minute interval that aggregates the data I’m interested in with other irrelevant data? (To say nothing of having to wait for the next AWR snapshot or take a manual one and screwing up the regular AWR intervals ...)

When analysing system performance, it’s important to use the most appropriate tool for the job and, in particular, focus your data collection on what is *relevant to the problem under investigation*. The beauty of ASH is that if I’m not sure what *is* relevant yet, I can start with a wide scope of all sessions to help me find the session or sessions of interest and gradually narrow my focus. It has the history that AWR has, but with finer granularity of scope (whether that be sessions, sql statements, modules, actions or one of the many other ASH dimensions). Better still, if the issue turns out to be one long-running SQL statement, then a SQL Monitoring Active Report probably blows all the other tools out of the water!

With all that capability, why are experienced people still so obsessed with the Top 5 Timed Events section of an AWR report as one of their first points of reference? Is it just because they’ve become attached to it over the years of using Statspack? AWR has it’s uses (see JB’s comments for some thoughts on that and I’ve blogged about it extensively in the past) but analysing specific performance issues on Production databases is not it’s strength. In fact, if we’re going to use AWR, why not just use ADDM and let software perform automatically the same type of analysis most DBAs would do anyway (and in many cases, not as well!)

Remember, there’s a reason behind these Recurring Conversations posts. If I didn’t keep finding myself debating these issues with experienced Oracle techies, I wouldn’t harbour doubts about what seem to be common approaches. In this case, I still think there are far too many people using AWR where ASH or SQL Monitoring are far more appropriate tools. I also think that if we stick with a one hour interval rather than a 15 minute interval, we can retain four times as much *history* in the same space! When it comes to AWR – give me long retention over a shorter interval every time!

P.S. As well as thanking JB for his usual insightful comments, I also want to thank Martin Paul Nash. When I was giving an AWR/ASH presentation at this springs OUGN conference, he noticed the bullet point I had on the slide suggesting that we *shouldn’t* change the AWR interval and asked why. Rather than going into it at the time, I asked him to remind me at the end of the presentation and then because I had no time to answer, I promised I’d be blogging about it that weekend. That was almost 4 months ago! Sigh. But at least I got there in the end! ;-)

Oracle Database 12c Release – My First Observations. Licensed Features Usage Concerns – Part I.

My very first words on Oracle Database 12c Release can be summed up in a single quotable quote:

This release is hugely important.

I’ve received a lot of email from folks asking me to comment on the freshly released In-Memory Database Option. These words are so overused. This post, however, is about much more than word games. Please read on…

When querying the dba_feature_usage_statistics view the option is known as “In-Memory Column Store.”  On the other hand, I’ve read a paper on that refers to it as the “In-Memory Option” as per this screen shot:


A Little In-Memory Here, A Little In-Memory There

None of us can forget the era when Oracle referred to the flash storage in Exadata as a “Database In-Memory” platform. I wrote about all that in a post you can view here: click this. But I’m not blogging about any of that. Nonetheless, I remained confused about the option/feature this morning as I was waiting for my download of Oracle Database 12c Release to complete. So, I spent a little time trying to cut through the fog and get some more information about the In-Memory Option. My first play was to search for the term in the search bar at The following screen shot shows the detritus returned due to the historical misuse and term overload–but, please, remember that I’m not blogging about any of that:


As the screenshot shows one must eyeball their way down through 8 higher-ranking search results that have nothing to do with this very important new feature before one gets to a couple of obscure blog links. All this term overload and search failure monkey-business is annoying, yes, but I’m not blogging about any of that.

What Am I Blogging About?

This is part I in a short series about Oracle licensing ramifications of the In-Memory Option/In-Memory Column Store Feature.

The very first thing I did after installing the software was to invoke the SLOB database create scripts to quickly get me on my way. The following screen shot shows how I discovered that the separately-licensed In-Memory Option/In-Memory Column Store Feature is enabled by default:


Now, this is no huge red flag because separately-licensed features like Real Application Clusters and Partitioning are sort of “on” by default. This doesn’t bother me because a) one can simply unlink RAC to be safe from accidental usage and b) everyone that uses Enterprise Edition uses the Partitioning Option (I am correct on that assertion, right?).  However, I think things are a little different with the In-Memory Option/In-Memory Column Store Feature since it is “on” by default and a simple command like the one in the following screen shot means your next license audit will be, um, more entertaining.


OK, please let me point out  that I’m trying as hard as I can to not make a mountain out of a mole-hill. I started this post by stating my true feelings about this release. This release is, indeed, hugely important. That said, I do not believe for a second that every Enterprise Edition deployment of Oracle Database 12c Release will need to have the In-Memory Option/In-Memory Column Store Feature in the shopping cart–much unlike Partitioning for example. Given the crushing cost of this option/feature I expect that its use will be very selective. It’s for this reason I wanted to draw to people’s attention the fact that–in my assessment–this option/feature is very easy to use “accidentally.” It really should have a default initialization setting that renders the option/feature nascent–but the reality is quite the opposite.


I have to make this post short and relegate it to part I in a series because I can’t take it to the next level which is to write about monitoring the feature usage. Why? Well, as I tweeted earlier today, the scripts most widely used for monitoring feature usage are out of date because they don’t (yet) report on the In-Memory Column Store feature. The scripts I allude to are widely known by Google search as MOS 1317265.1. Once these are updated to report usage of the In-Memory Option/In-Memory Column Store Feature I’ll post part II in the series.





Filed under: oracle

Schema Consolidation in EM – Setup

***Just realized I screwed up a couple of steps so wait a bit before following these steps. Trying to get it corrected now.*** Schema as a Service provides database consolidation by allowing administrators to host multiple application schemas within a single database. This offers Database as a Service to possibly hundreds of application users without […]

Coding in PL/SQL in C style, UKOUG, OUG Ireland and more

My favourite language is hard to pin point; is it C or is it PL/SQL? My first language was C and I love the elegance and expression of C. Our product PFCLScan has its main functionallity written in C. The....[Read More]

Posted by Pete On 23/07/14 At 08:44 PM

Delphix 4.1 releases! Oracle 12c PDBs, Sybase, Amazon AWS and Developer Jetpack

Delphix 4.1 just came out last week. It may sound only like a point release but there is an amazing amount of new technology:

  • #999999;" href="'s+New+for+Delphix+Engine+4.1#What'sNewforDelphixEngine4.1-AmazonWebServices/EC2Support">AWS: Amazon Web Services / EC2 Support
  • #999999;" href="'s+New+for+Delphix+Engine+4.1#What'sNewforDelphixEngine4.1-Oracle12cPluggableDatabaseSupport">Oracle 12c:  Pluggable Database Support
  • #999999;" href="'s+New+for+Delphix+Engine+4.1#What'sNewforDelphixEngine4.1-ApplicationDataVirtualizationonWindows">Windows:  Application Data Virtualization
  • Developers: Jetstream
  • #999999;" href="'s+New+for+Delphix+Engine+4.1#What'sNewforDelphixEngine4.1-SAPASESupport">Sybase: and SAP ASE Support

I’m most excited about Amazon AWS support, Oracle 12c PDB support and developer jet pack , aka Jetstream. More coming on these features in upcoming blogs.

AWS Support

AWS support is super exciting because as a cloud enabling technology, Delphix is a perfect fit for AWS. AWS is currently hosting a replicated Delphix appliance replicating from our labs in Menlo Park. This means that I can provision in minutes into AWS any database linked into the Delphix appliance in our office in Menlo Park.  For customers wanting to migrate and/or sync database in the cloud this makes it a breeze. As I’ve blogged before, Delphix replication makes datacenter migration easy, fast and efficient. If I have a source database of 3 TB and 4 clones of the source that I want to move to the new data center then that would be 15 TB of data to move (3 TB x 5 copies – 1 source + 4 clones). In the case of Delphix replication it’s about 1 TB! yes 1/15 the space because Delphix compresses by 1/3 and all the clones use most of the same blocks in the source!  Also Delphix comes with masking so if you are using AWS for testing and QA those databases being replicated to AWS can all be masked databases.

If you want to use AWS for your database testing, QA or even for tbings like elastic compute, then how (the heck) are you going to get the data to AWS?  Delphix provides that solution, not to mention the speed and agility of using virtualized data in the cloud.


Screen Shot 2014-03-17 at 4.13.58 PM

Oracle 12c PDB support

Oracle 12c PDBs are cool. They reduce the memory consumption by about 400MB per database, but what about the storage space? The storage space of clone PDBs is still the full size unless you use Netapp or ZFS storage appliance. Now for anyone on any storage the clone storage can be almost negligible and the memory usage minimum, allowing one to put many databases as PDBs on the same hardware and storage infrastructure. This is awesome for teams of developers and QA  who want to spin up a either a PDB for each developer and/or multiple PDBs to to QA and testing in parallel.

Jet Stream

Jet stream will get it’s own blog post but for now suffice it to say that Jet Stream is an interface created specifically for developers. Up until now Delphix had self service access through the same interface that a Delphix admin would use. A Delphix admin of course sees more and has access to more than a developer. A developer has their own log in which limits what sources they see, how many virtual databases (VDB) they can create, how much storage they can use etc, but the developers use the same UI to take their actions of spinning up a VDB, represhing, rolling back etc. Now there is a UI made specifically for developers that will graphically show the lineage of their VDBs, allow them to graphically branch VDBs and share those branches with other developers.

Sybase Support

Delphix interestingly enough supports any database, but to support any database requires that a user of Delphix manually take a lot of time consuming steps. Delphix automation for supported databases makes all the steps required a few clicks of the mouse. Delphix continues adding automation and management support to more and more databases. Sybase support is awesome for those companies using Sybase and SAP with Sybase.

Performance Benchmarking

In past blogs I’ve talked about I/O subsystem benchmarking we’ve been working at Delphix. Now Delphix includes the other half of the performance benchmarking which is built in network latency  and throughput benchmarking. The network benchmarking combined with the I/O benchmarking immediately informs us upfront what the performance characteristics of the installation hardware will be before launching into a deployment.

Additional Features

  • #999999;" href="'s+New+for+Delphix+Engine+4.1#What'sNewforDelphixEngine4.1-SQLServerAlwaysOnAvailabilityGroups">SQL Server AlwaysOn Availability Groups
  • #999999;" href="'s+New+for+Delphix+Engine+4.1#What'sNewforDelphixEngine4.1-RedGateSQLBackupSupport">Red Gate SQL Backup Support
  • #999999;" href="'s+New+for+Delphix+Engine+4.1#What'sNewforDelphixEngine4.1-RemovalofReservationsFeature">Removal of Reservations Feature
  • #999999;" href="'s+New+for+Delphix+Engine+4.1#What'sNewforDelphixEngine4.1-AdditionalSecuritySettings">Additional Security Settings


Plagiarism and Posting

I received an interesting question as a comment on another post (which I’ll approve as soon as I post this one) and I thought it was interesting enough to add a completely separate post on my thoughts. In essence, the comment was along the lines of this: “With so much content and articles do you […]

Oracle Linux 7 Released

With all the excitement around the release of Oracle Database 12.1.02, it’s easy to forget that there is other stuff going on as well.

I’ve just noticed that Oracle have announced the release of Oracle Linux 7. You can download it now from eDelivery.

Just remember, it takes quite a while to get products certified on this stuff, so although I’ve already tried installations on the beta versions, I would not install any Oracle products on this stuff “for real” until the official certification is announced for each product.



Oracle Linux 7 Released was first posted on July 23, 2014 at 4:26 pm.
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The Customer Experience

The Apple Experience

I’m going to kick this post off by taking sides in a long-standing feud.

Apple is amazing.

There. Edgy, right? Okay, so maybe you don’t agree with me, but you have to admit that a whole lot of people do. Why is that?

NOT part of the Customer Experience. Image from

Image from

Sure, there’s the snarky few that believe Apple products are successful due to an army of hipsters with thousands in disposable income, growing thick beards and wearing skinny jeans with pipes in mouth and books by Jack Kerouac in hand, sipping lattes while furiously banging away on the chiclet keyboard of their Macbook Pro with the blunt corner of an iPad Air that sports a case made of iPhones. I have to admit, it does make for an amusing thought. And 15 minutes at a Starbucks in SoHo might make you feel like that’s absolutely the case. But it’s not.

If you browse message boards or other sites that compare PCs and Apple products, you’ll frequently see people wondering why someone would buy a $2,000 Macbook when you can have an amazing Windows 8.1 laptop with better specs for a little over half the price. Or why buy an iPad when you can buy a Samsung tablet running the latest Android which provides more freedom to tinker. Or why even mess with Apple products at all when they’re not compatible with Fragfest 5000 FPS of Duty, or whatever games those darn kids are playing these days.

Part of the Customer Experience. Image provided by

Image from

The answer is, of course, customer experience. Apple has it. When you watch a visually stunning Apple commercial, complete with crying grandpas Facetiming with their newborn great-grandson and classrooms of kids typing on Macbook Airs, you know what to expect. When you make the decision to buy said Macbook Air, you know that you will head to the Apple Store, usually in the posh mall in your town, and that it will be packed to the gills with people buzzing around looking at cases and Beats headphones and 27″ iMacs. You know that whatever you buy will come in a sleek white box, and will be placed into a thick, durable bag with two drawstring cords that you can wear like a backpack.

When you get it home and open the box, it’s like looking at a Tesla Model S. Your new laptop, situated inside a silky plastic bed and covered in durable plastic with little tabs to peel it off. The sleek black cardboard wrapped around a cable wound so perfectly that there’s not a single millimeter of space between the coils, nor a plug out of place. The laptop itself will be unibody, no gaps for fans or jiggly CD-ROM trays or harsh textures.

All of which is to say, Apple provides an amazing customer experience. Are their products expensive, sometimes ridiculously so? Of course. But people aren’t just buying into the product, they’re buying into the “Apple life.” And why not? I’d rather pay for experiences than products any day. I may be able to get another laptop with better specs than my Macbook Pro Retina, but there will always be something missing. Not the same Customer Experience.Maybe the screen resolution isn’t quite so good, maybe the battery doesn’t last as long, or maybe it’s something as simple as the power cord coming wrapped in wire bag ties with a brick the size of my head stuffed unceremoniously into a plastic bag. The experience just isn’t there, and I feel like I’ve bought something that’s not as magnificent as the money I put into it, features and specs be damned.

Customer experience isn’t just a buzz phrase, and it doesn’t just apply to how you deal with angry customers or how you talk to them while making a sale. It also doesn’t mean giving your customer everything they want. Customer experience is the journey from start to finish. It’s providing a predictable, customer-centric, and enjoyable experience for a customer that is entrusting their hard-earned cash in your product. And it applies to every business, not just retail computer sellers and coffee shops. What’s more, it applies to anyone in a service-oriented job.

Customer Experience for IT Professionals

In a previous post I mentioned how important it is to know your client. Even if your position is Sub-DBA In Charge of Dropping Indexes That Start With The Letter Z, you still have a customer (Sub-DBA In Charge Of Dropping Indexes That Start With The Letters N-Z, of course). Not just your boss, but the business that is counting on you to do your job in order to make a profit. And you may provide an exceptional level of service. Perhaps you spend countless hours whittling away at explain plans until a five page Cognos query is as pure as the driven snow and runs in the millisecond range. But it’s not just what you do, but how you do it that is important.

I want you to try something. And if you already do this, good on you. Next time you get a phone call request from someone at your work, or have a phone meeting, or someone sends you a chat asking you to do something, I want you to send a brief email back (we call this an “ack” in technical terms) that acknowledges their request, re-lists what they need in your own words (and preferably with bullets), and lists any additional requirements or caveats. Also let them know how long it will take. Make sure you don’t underestimate, it’s better to quote too much time and get it to them early. Once you’ve finished the work, write a recap email. “As we discussed,” you might say, “I have created the five hundred gazillion tables you need and renamed the table PBRDNY13 to PBRDNY13X.” Adding, of course, “Please let me know if you have any other requests.”

If the task you did involves a new connection, provide them the details (maybe even in the form of a TNSNAMES). If there are unanswered questions, spell them out. If you have an idea that could make the whole process easier next time, run it by them. Provide that level of experience on at least one task you accomplish for your customer if you do not already, and let me know if it had any impact that you can tell. Now do it consistently.

The Apple ExperienceFrom what I’ve seen, this is what separates the “workers” from the “rockstars.” It’s not the ability to fix problems faster than a speeding bullet (though that helps, as a service that sells itself), but the ability to properly communicate the process and give people a good expectation that they can count on.

There’s a lot more to it than that, I know. And some of you may say that you lack the time to have this level of care for every request that comes your way. Perhaps you’re right, or perhaps you’re suffering from IT Stockholm Syndrome. Either way, just give it a shot. I bet it will make a difference, at least most of the time.


Recently, I became the Director of Customer Education and Experience at Delphix, a job that I am deeply honored to have. Delphix is absolutely a product that arouses within customers an eager want, it solves complex business problems, has an amazing delivery infrastructure in the Professional Services team, and provides top notch support thereafter. A solid recipe for Customer Experience if there ever was one. But it’s not just about the taste of the meal, it’s about presentation as well. And so it is my goal to continuously build an industrialized, scalable, repeatable, and enjoyable experience for those who decide to invest their dollar on what I believe to be an amazing product. Simply put, I want to impart on them the same enthusiasm and confidence in our product that I have.

I hope you have the chance to do the same for your product, whatever it may be.

The post The Customer Experience appeared first on Oracle Alchemist.