Top 60 Oracle Blogs

Recent comments

Oakies Blog Aggregator

RAC system load testing and test plan

Yesterday I was browsing through some docs in Metalink regarding RAC on Windows… then again came across the “RAC Starter Kit and Best Practices” notes…

RAC Assurance Support Team: RAC Starter Kit and Best Practices (Generic) (Doc ID 810394.1)
RAC Assurance Support Team: RAC Starter Kit and Best Practices (Windows) (Doc ID 811271.1)

On the Generic note, just recently they’ve uploaded a new version of the RAC System Load Testing white paper… you can also find on the attached docs the RAC System Test Plan

Both of these docs are good stuff.. we all know that critical to the RAC install is testing the right components in the stack, either from the perspective of Performance, Scalability, or Reliability..

so these docs will guide you through the tools (yes you’ll have choices), steps, and structure on how to ensure a highly available RAC setup…

Performance Optimization with Global Entry. Or Not?

As I entered the 30-minute "U.S. Citizens" queue for immigration back into the U.S. last week, the helpful "queue manager" handed me a brochure. This is a great place to hand me something to read, because I'm captive for the next 30 minutes as I await my turn with the immigration officer at the Passport Control desk. The brochure said "Roll through Customs faster."Ok. I'm listening.Inside the brochure, the first page lays out the main benefits:

  • bypass the passport lines
  • no paper Customs declaration
  • in most major U.S. airports

Well, that's pretty cool. Especially as I'm standing only 5% deep in a queue with a couple hundred people in it. And look, there's a Global Entry kiosk right there with its own special queue, with nobody—nobody!—in it.If I had this Global Entry thing, I'd have a superpower that would enable me to zap past the couple hundred people in front of me, and get out of the Passport Control queue right now. Fantastic.So what does this thing cost? It's right there in the brochure:

  1. Apply online at There is a non-refundable $100 application fee. Membership is valid for five years. That's $20 a year for the queue-bypassing superpower. Not bad. Still listening.
  2. Schedule an in-person interview. Next, I have to book an appointment to meet someone at the airport for a brief interview.
  3. Complete the interview and enrollment. I give my interview, get my photo taken, have my docs verified, and that's it, I'm done.

So, all in all, it doesn't cost too much: a hundred bucks and probably a couple hours one day next month sometime.What's the benefit of the queue-bypassing superpower? Well, it's clearly going to knock a half-hour off my journey through Passport Control. I immigrate three or four times per year on average, and today's queue is one of the shorter ones I've seen, so that's at least a couple hours per year that I'd save... Wow, that would be spectacular: a couple more hours each year in my family's arms instead of waiting like a lamb at the abattoir to have my passport controlled.But getting me into my family's arms 30 minutes earlier is not really what happens. The problem is a kind of logic that people I meet get hung up in all the time. When you think about subsystem (or resource) optimization, it looks like your latency savings for the subsystem should go straight to your system's bottom line, but that's often not what happens. That's why I really don't care about subsystem optimization; I care about response time. I could say that a thousand times, but my statement is too abstract to really convey what I mean unless you already know what I mean.What really happens in the airport story is this: if I had used Global Entry on my recent arrival, it would have saved me only a minute or two. Not half an hour, not even close.It sounds crazy, doesn't it? How can a service that cuts half an hour off my Passport Control time not get me home at least a half hour earlier?You'll understand once I show you a sequence diagram of my arrival. Here it is (at right). You can click the image to embiggen it, if you need.To read this sequence diagram, start at the top. Time flows downward. This sequence diagram shows two competing scenarios. The multicolored bar on the left-hand side represents the timeline of my actual recent arrival at DFW Airport, without using the Global Entry service. The right-hand timeline is what my arrival would have looked like had I been endowed with the Global Entry superpower.You can see at the very bottom of the timeline on the right that the time I would have saved with Global Entry is minuscule: only a minute or two.The real problem is easy to see in the diagram: Queue for Baggage Claim is the great equalizer in this system. No matter whether I'm a Global Entrant or not, I'm going to get my baggage when the good people outside with the Day-Glo Orange vests send it up to me. My status in the Global Entry system has absolutely no influence over what time that will occur.Once I've gotten my baggage, the Global Entry superpower would have again swung into effect, allowing me to pass through the zero-length queue at the Global Entry kiosk instead of waiting behind two families at the Customs queue. And that's the only net benefit I would have received.Wait: there were only two families in the Customs queue? What about the hundreds of people I was standing behind in the Passport Control queue? Well, many of them were gone already (either they had hand-carry bags only, or their bags had come off earlier than mine). Many others were still awaiting their bags on the Baggage Claim carousel. Because bags trickle out of the baggage claim process, there isn't the huge all-at-once surge of demand at Customs that there is at Passport Control when a plane unloads. So the queues are shorter.At any rate, there were four queues at Customs, and none of them was longer than three or four families. So the benefit of Global Entry—in exchange for the $100 and the time spent doing the interview—for me, this day, would have been only the savings of a couple of minutes.Now, if—if, mind you—I had been able to travel with only carry-on luggage, then Global Entry would have provided me significantly more value. But when I'm returning to the U. S. from abroad, I'm almost never allowed to carry on any bag other than my briefcase. Furthermore, I don't remember ever clearing Passport Control to find my bag waiting for me at Baggage Claim. So the typical benefit to me of enrolling in Global Entry, unfortunately, appears to be only a fraction of the duration required to clear Customs, which in my case is almost always approximately zero.The problem causing the low value (to me) of the Global Entry program is that the Passport Control resource hides the latency of the Baggage Claim resource. No amount of tuning upon the Passport Control resource will affect the timing of the Baggage In Hand milestone; the time at which that milestone occurs is entirely independent of the Passport Control resource. And that milestone—as long as it occurs after I queue for Baggage Claim—is a direct determinant of when I can exit the airport. (Gantt or PERT chart optimizers would say that Queue for Baggage Claim is on the critical path.)How could a designer make the airport experience better for the customer? Here are a few ideas:

  • Let me carry on more baggage. This idea would allow me to trot right through Baggage Claim without waiting for my bag. In this environment, the value of Global Entry would be tremendous. Well, nice theory; but allowing more carry-on baggage wouldn't work too well in the aggregate. The overhead bins on my flight were already stuffed to maximum capacity, and we don't need more flight delays induced by passengers who bring more stuff onboard than the cabin can physically accommodate.
  • Improve the latency of the baggage claim process. The sequence diagram shows clearly that this is where the big win is. It's easy to complain about baggage claim, because it's nearly always noticeably slower than we want it to be, and we can't see what's going on down there. Our imaginations inform us that there's all sorts of horrible waste going on.
  • Use latency hiding to mask the pain of the baggage claim process. Put TV sets in the Baggage Claim area, and tune them to something interesting instead of infinite loops of advertising. At CPH, they have a Danish hot dog stand in the baggage claim area. They also have a currency exchange office in there. Excellent latency hiding ideas if you need a snack or some DKK walkin'-around-money.

Latency hiding is a weak substitute for improving the speed of the baggage claim process. The killer app would certainly be to make Baggage Claim faster. Note, however, that just making Baggage Claim a little bit faster wouldn't make the Global Entry program any more valuable. To make Global Entry any more valuable, you'd have to make Baggage Claim fast enough that your bag would be waiting for anyone who cleared the full Passport Control queue.So, my message today: When you optimize, you must first know your goal. So many people optimize subsystems (resources) that they think are important, but optimizing subsystems is often not a path to optimizing what you really want. At the airport, I really don't give a rip about getting out of the Passport Control queue if it just means I'm going to be dumped earlier into a room where I'll have to wait until an affixed time for my baggage.Once you know what your real optimization goal is (that's Method R step 1), then the sequence diagram is often all you need to get your breakthrough insight that either helps you either (a) solve your problem or (b) understand when there's nothing further that you can really do about it.

4th Dutch Planboard Oracle DBA Symposium

Last Tuesday I presented at, and attended, the 4th Dutch Planboard Oracle DBA Symposium and here are my impressions about this wonderful event. The symposium offered ten presentations, divided into two parallel tracks with each presentation taking approximately one hour. All presentations featured hard-core DBA topics or topics very closely related to DBA work. The [...]

RAC Perf Tuning Seminar in Istanbul, Turkey

For those who attended my 2-day training event in Istanbul, I wish to express my sincere thanks for the participation. For me, or any speaker, the privilege of having your attention for 2 days away from your work and family, means a lot. Some folks came all the way from Ankara and had to go back to work the following day. I hope you all got to learn something worthwhile your time.

The scripts are located in: The password and userid is the ones I gave you in the class.

I also want to reiterate my earlier request to send me your detailed and honest feedback at You may want to write it in Turkish, if that is more convenient. The important thing is to provide the feedback; I can always translate using Google.

Thanks, Hande and Madalina from Oracle University for arranging it. Much appreciated. Now I am off to Estonia.

Comparative Window Functions...

I've been known as a huge fan of Analytic functions (as evidenced by the Rock and Roll linkability!)

And - they could be getting better in the near future. Read this document for a proposal to allow analytics to access the current row value to be compared against any other row value in a defined window.

I've already supplied them with my feedback (which started with "this is an awesome idea") - and you can too - by posting it here. They'll be checking back to see what you say.

Also, this is being proposed as well:

Another window function extension, not contained in the attached proposal, is the notion of VALUE based windows. Currently, we have ROW based (or physical) and RANGE based (logical) windows. RANGE window has limitation in that there can only be one sort key in window ORDER BY. On the other hand, ROW based window is agnostic to column value and can be non-deterministic.

The new VALUE based window allows one to include all rows with "n" values before or after the current row's value. For example, VALUE 2 PRECEDING and 3 FOLLOWING would include all rows with 2 values that are prior to current row's value and all rows with 3 values that come after the current row's value in sort order.

ticker txndate volume
orcl 1 10
orcl 2 10 <--------------------------- start of window for (orcl,6,12)
orcl 2 11
orcl 2 11
orcl 3 11
orcl 6 12 <=== assume this is current row
orcl 7 12
orcl 11 11
orcl 11 12
orcl 11 12
orcl 13 11 <------------------------- end of window for (orcl,6,12)

Similar RANGE window would have rows [orcl,6,12] through [orcl,7,12]. Similar
ROW window would include rows [orcl,3,1] through [orcl,11,11].

The VALUE based window would find usefulness when there are gaps in the dataset. For example, a query like "find the intra-day maximum for a stock in the past three trading days". Today, to do this one has to aggregate on trading date and then compute the moving max (in the past 3 days).

VALUE based window can have multiple keys in ORDER BY.

Thanks in advance for any feedback or ideas you might have on this.

Born Again Classic Metalink

On November 6th MyOracleSupport went into production to replace Metalink. MyOracleSupport is build using Flash technology which isn’t totally accessible to visually impaired people who rely on screen-readers. Although Flash can be made accessible, it remains difficult to use in my opinion and I prefer using an HTML interface where available. When logging in to [...]

Data Modeling

Most readers of the blog are probably DBA's, or do DBA work along with development or other duties.
Though my title is DBA, Data Modeling is something I really like to do.
When first learning Oracle, I cut my teeth on data modeling, and used CASE 5.1 on unix to model a database system. True, CASE 5.0 used an Oracle Forms 3.x based interface, and the GUI modeling was unix only.
That was alright with me, as the Form interface allowed manual changes to be made quite quickly.
And the graphic modeling tool was fairly decent, even on a PC running Hummingbird X Server.
When Designer 2000 came out, it was clearly a more capable tool. Not only did it do everything that CASE 5.1 could do, it could do more. I won't make any silly claim that I was ever able to fully exploit D2K, as it was an end-to-end tool that could do much more than model data and databases.
What it could do with just the databases however was quite good.  Data models could be created, and then a physical database could be generated from the model.
Changes in the database model could be reverse engineered back to the model, and changes in the model could be forward engineered in to the physical model. D2K could truly separate logical and physical models, and allow changes to be migrated back and forth between the two.
There are other high end tools such as Erwin which can no doubt accomplish the same thing, but I have not used them.  
One important differentiation for me between D2K and other tools was that D2K worked with Barker Notation, which is the notation I first learned, and the one I still prefer.  
I should not speak of Designer 2000 in past tense I guess, as it is still available from Oracle as part of the Oracle Development Suite, but is now called Oracle Designer.  It just hasn't received much attention in the past few years, as I think many people have come to think of data modeling as too much overhead.  
I've tried several low end tools in the past few years, and while some claim to separate logical and physical models, those that I have tried actually do a rather poor job of it.
All this leads to some new (at least, new to me) developments from of all places, Microsoft.
Maybe you have heard of Oslo, Microsoft's Data Modeling toolset that has been in development for the past couple years.
If you're just now hearing about it, you will likely be hearing much more. The bit I have read has made me think this will be a very impressive tool.
If you have done data modeling, you have likely used traditional tools that allow you to define entities, drop them on a graphical model, and define relationships.
The tool you used may even have allowed you to create domains that could be used to provide data consistency among the entities.
Oslo is different.  
Oslo incorporates a data definition language M. The definitions can be translated to T-SQL, which in turn can be used to create the physical aspects of the model.  M also allows easy creation of strongly typed data types which are carried over into the model.
Whether Oslo will allow round trip engineering ala D2K, I don't yet know.
I do however think this is a very innovative approach to modeling data. 
Here are a few Oslo related links to peruse :
You may be thinking that I have given SQL Developer Data Modeler short shrift.
Along with a lot of other folks, I eagerly anticipated the arrival of SQL Developer Data Modeler.
And along with many others, was disappointed to learn that this add on to SQL Developer would set us back a cool $3000 US per seat.  That seems a pretty steep price for tool that is nowhere near as capable as Oracle Designer, which is included as part of the Oracle Internet Developer Suite. True the price is nearly double that of SQL Modeler at $5800, but you get quite a bit more than just Designer with the Suite.
As for the cost of Oslo, it's probably too early to tell.
Some reading suggests that it will be included as part of SQL Server 2008, but it's probably too soon to tell.
Why all the talk about a SQL Server specific tool?
Because data modeling has been in a rut for quite some time, and Microsoft seems to have broken out of that rut.  It's time for Oracle to take notice and provide better tools for modeling, rather than upholding the status quo.

Why We Made Method R

Twenty years ago (well, a month or so more than that), I entered the Oracle ecosystem. I went to work as a consultant for Oracle Corporation in September 1989. Before Oracle, I had been a language designer and compiler developer. I wrote code in lex, yacc, and C for a living. My responsibilities had also included improving other people's C code: making it more reliable, more portable, easier to read, easier to prove, and easier to maintain; and it was my job to teach other people in my department how to do these things themselves. I loved all of these duties.

In 1987, I decided to leave what I loved for a little while, to earn an MBA. Fortunately, at that time, it was possible to earn an MBA in a year. After a year of very difficult work, I had my degree and a new perspective on business. I interviewed with Oracle, and about a week later I had a job with a company that a month prior I had never heard of.

By the mid-1990s, circumstances and my natural gravity had matched to create a career in which I was again a software developer, optimizer, and teacher. By 1998, I was the manager of a group of 85 performance specialists called the System Performance Group (SPG). And I was the leader of the system architecture and system management consulting service line within Oracle Consulting's Global Steering Committee.

My job in the SPG role was to respond to all the system performance-related issues in the USA for Oracle's largest accounts. My job in the Global Steering Committee was to package the success of SPG so that other practices around the world could repeat it. The theory was that if a country manager in, say, Venezuela, wanted his own SPG, then he could use the financial models, budgets, hiring plans, training plans, etc. created by my steering committee group. Just add water.

But there was a problem. My own group of 85 people consisted of two very different types of people. About ten of these 85 people were spectacularly successful optimizers whom I could send anywhere with confidence that they'd thrive at either improving performance or proving that performance improvements weren't possible. The other 75 were very smart, very hard-working people who would grow into the tip of my pyramid over the course of more years, but they weren't there yet.

The problem was, how to you convert good, smart, hard-working people in the base of the SPG pyramid into people in the tip? The practice manager in Venezuela would need to know that. The answer, of course, is supposed to be the Training Plan. Optimally, the Training Plan consists of a curriculum of a few courses, a little on-the-job training, and then, presto: tip of the pyramid. Just add water.

But unfortunately that wasn't the way things worked. What I had been getting instead, within my own elite group, was a process that took many years to convert a smart, hard-working person into a reasonably reliable performance optimizer whom you could send anywhere. Worse yet, the peculiar stresses of the job—like being away from home 80% of the time, and continually visiting angry people each week, having to work for me—caused an outflow of talent that approximately equaled the inflow of people who made it to the tip of the pyramid. The tip of my pyramid never grew beyond roughly 10 people.

The problem, by definition, was the Training Plan. It just wasn't good enough. It wasn't that the instructors of Oracle's internal "tuning" courses were doing a poor job of teaching courses. And it wasn't that the course developers had done a poor job of creating courses. On the contrary, the instructors and course developers were doing excellent work. The problem was that the courses were focusing on the wrong thing. The reason that the courses weren't getting the job done was that the very subject matter that needed teaching hadn't been invented yet.

I expect that the people who write, say, the course called "Braking System Repair for Boeing 777" to have themselves invented the braking system they write about. So, the question was, who should be responsible for inventing the subject matter on how to optimize Oracle? I decided that I wanted that person to be me. I deliberated carefully and decided that my best chance of doing that the way I wanted to do it would be outside of Oracle. So in October 1999, ten years and one week after I joined the company, I left Oracle with the vision of creating a repeatable, teachable method for optimizing Oracle systems.

Ten years later, this is still the vision for my company, Method R Corporation. We exist not to make your system faster. We exist to make you faster at making all your systems faster. Our work is far from done, but here is what we have done:

  • Written white papers and other articles that explain Method R to you at no cost.
  • Written a book called Optimizing Oracle Performance, where you can learn Method R at a low cost.
  • Created a Method R course (on which the book is based), to teach you how to diagnose and repair response time problems in Oracle-based systems.
  • Spoken at hundreds of public and private events where we help people understand performance and how to manage it.
  • Provided consulting services to make people awesome at making their systems faster and more efficient.
  • Created the first response time profiling software ever for Oracle software applications, to let you analyze hundreds of megabytes of data without drudgery.
  • Created a free instrumentation library so that you can instrument the response times of Oracle-based software that you write.
  • Created software tools to help you be awesome at extracting every drop of information that your Oracle system is willing to give you about your response times.
  • Created a software tool that enables you to record the response time of every business task that runs on your system so you can effortlessly manage end-user performance.

As I said, our work is far from done. It's work that really, really matters to us, and it's work we love doing. I expect it to be a journey that will last long into the future. I hope that our journey will intersect with yours from time to time, and that you will enjoy it when it does.

Latency Hiding

A few weeks ago, James Morle posted an article called "Latency hiding for fun and profit." Latency hiding one of the fundamental skills that, I believe, distinguishes the people who are Really On The Ball from the people who Just Don't Get It.

Last night, I was calling to my 12-year old boy Alex to come look at something I wanted him to see my computer. At the same time, his mom was reminding him to hurry up if he wanted something to eat, because he only had five minutes before he had to head up to his bedroom. "Alex, come here," I told him, putting a little extra pressure on him. "Just a second, Dad." I looked up and notice that he was unwrapping his ready-made ham and cheese sandwich that he had gotten out of the freezer. He dropped it into the microwave and initiated its two-minute ride, and then he came over to spend two minutes looking at my computer with me while his sandwich cooked. Latency hiding. Excellent.

James's blog helped me put a name to a game that I realize that I play very, very often. Today, I realized that I play the latency hiding game every time I go through an airport security checkpoint. How you lay your stuff on the X-ray machine conveyor belt determines how long you're going to spend getting your stuff off on the other side. So, while I'm queued for the X-ray, I figure out how to optimize my exit once I get through to the other side.

When I travel every week, I don't really have to think too much about it; I just do the same thing I did a few days ago. When I haven't been through an airport for a while, I go through it all in my mind a little more carefully. And of course, airport rules change regularly, which adds a little spice to the analysis. Some airports require me to carry my boarding pass through the metal detector; others don't. Some airports let me keep my shoes on. Some airports let me keep my computer in my briefcase.

Today, the rules were:

  • I had my briefcase and my carry-on suitcase.
  • Boarding pass can go back into the briefcase.
  • Shoes off.
  • 1-quart ziplock back of liquids and gels: out.
  • MacBook: out.

Here's how I put my things onto the belt, optimized for latency hiding. I grabbed two plastic boxes and loaded the belt this way:

  1. Plastic box with shoes and ziplock bag.
  2. Suitcase.
  3. Plastic box with MacBook.
  4. Briefcase.

That way, when I cleared the metal detector, I could perform the following operations in this order:

  1. Box with shoes and ziplock bag arrive.
  2. Put my shoes on.
  3. Take the ziplock bag out of the plastic box.
  4. Suitcase arrives.
  5. Put the ziplock bag back into my suitcase.
  6. Box with MacBook arrives.
  7. Take my MacBook out.
  8. Stack the two boxes for the attendant.
  9. Briefcase arrives.
  10. Put the MacBook into the briefcase.
  11. Get the heck out of the way.

Latency hiding helps me exit a slightly uncomfortable experience a little more quickly, and it helps me cope with time spent queueing—a process that's difficult to enjoy—for a process that's itself difficult to enjoy.

I don't know what a lot of the other people in line are thinking while they're standing there for their 15 minutes, watching 30 people ahead of them go through the same process they'll soon endure, 30 identical times. Maybe it's finances or football or cancer or just their own discomfort from being in unusual surroundings. For me, it's usually latency hiding.

MetaLink, we barely knew ye

But, we wish we had more time to get better acquainted.

If you work with Oracle, you probably know that MetaLink went the way of the Dodo as part of an upgrade to My Oracle Support during the weekend of November 6th, 2009.

And so far it hasn't gone too well, as evidenced by these threads on Oracle-L:

Issues with My Oracle Support
Metalink Fiasco

Many people were lamenting the loss of MetaLink well before its demise, but I don't think any were quite expecting the issues that are currently appearing.

A few have reported that it is working fine for them, but personally, I have found  it unusable all morning.

At least one issue with MetaLink appears to have been cleared up with MOS, that is while I was able to login to it last week.

During a routine audit of who had access to our CSI numbers, I came across a group of consultants that were no longer working for our company, and froze their accounts.  The next day I received a frantic voice mail  from a member of the consulting firm, and he informed me that they had no access to MetaLink because I had frozen their accounts.

I returned the call just a few minutes later, but they had already been able to resolve the issue, as one of their consultants with admin rights had been unaffected, and was able to unfreeze their accounts.
Removing them from the CSI is the better procedure, but in the past when I have attempted to do so, I found that there were still open issues owned by the accounts, and could not remove them. The application owners had been very clear that this access should be removed, so I froze the accounts, so that is what I did on this occasion as well.

This all seemed quite bizarre to me.  This must be a very strange schema in the ML user database, and some strange logic to go along with it.  By granting a user access to a CSI, MetaLink was giving me Carte Blanche to effectively remove them from MetaLink.
How has My Oracle Support fixed this?  Try as I might, I could not find a 'freeze' button in user administration in MOS.  So the fix seems to have been "remove the button"