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Announcement: Singapore Oracle Sessions

When I knew that the ACE Director, Bjoern Rost of Portrix Systems was coming to Singapore on his way to begin the OTN APAC tour, I suggested he stay at mine for a few days and sample all that Singapore has to offer.

Then a thought occurred to me. While he was here, why not setup an informal Oracle users meetup, much like the various ones at cities around the world like Sydney, Birmingham and London (to name but three I’m aware of). Morten Egan, my new colleague and Oak Table luminary had already suggested to me months ago that we should get something going in Singapore, so why not start now?

Well, in a matter of a few days, we’ve put together an agenda, a room, we will be having pizza and beer and other drinks and three hopefully useful sessions from experienced speakers. 

Here is the agenda (SingaporeOracleSessions.pdf) and a map (SOSMap.pdf) to help you get to the venue which is very handily placed near Bugis MRT. All that’s required to register is to email me at dougburns at Yahoo. There are currently 21 people registered but the room holds (believe it or not) 42, so spread the word!

Hopefully, it’s just the beginning ….

OOW 2014: Day 2

Having been awake for so many hours, I was along at Oak Table World bright and early because :-
1) I wanted to make damn sure I got one of the T-shirts. The courier had let down poor Kyle Hailey so they weren’t there at first, but I accosted him to remind him that I was one of the first group of people there ;-) (Oh, and it worked later when they turned up.)
2) Because Mogens Norgaard was on first with a 30 minute opening talk. Mmmm, at 08:30? Who came up with *that* moment of scheduling genius?! LOL … Sure enough, Kyle had to implement a last-minute schedule change and Riyaj Shamsudeen helped out by stepping up to deliver his 9:00 slot 30 minutes early. 
Which was a shame for those who showed up at 09:00 and missed the first half of his In-memory Internals presentation, which I loved. Riyaj always works at a deep level but in those areas that are practically important, rather than just showing off his smarts!

I picked up a few extremely useful things from this presentation but I think the most important one was the journaling area used when rows in the standard row-orientated buffer cache have been updated. Which, for starters, means that only 80% of the allocated memory will be available for your original data. Not a problem, but worth knowing.

What really jumped out at me though was when he discussed how the number of updated rows could affect the optimiser’s decision to use In-Memory or not. I might not have explained that very well, but I believe the effect would be that the optimiser is likely to flip between using In-Memory or not depending on quite a few variables. Which means one thing to me. Potential Execution Plan instability. I’m not sure how Oracle could get around this because cost-based decisions are the sensible approach but I foresee lots of new performance analysis and tuning opportunities! Not quite “flick a switch and it just works”, but who would ever believe that kind of thing anyway?

Great presentation, though. Exactly what Oak Table World is all about so thanks to Kyle Hailey and the various sponsors () and speakers for making it happen!

When Mogens eventually showed up, he was on top form for his enormously entertaining Conference Opening where he delved into that new Big Data thingy. The strange thing about his presentations is that although they’re very quotable, I always find I’ve been enjoying it too much to remember a damn thing he said! LOL But I managed to have many interesting talks with him later in the week about how unstoppable this Big Data thing is for those who need it. You could question who really needs it, but I personally remember the days of ‘why would anyone need their own personal computer’ too.
Next up was Andy Mendelsohn’s Database General Session in an extremely frosty Marriot. I’ve become more of a fan of air-conditioning over the past 3 months but this was ridiculous! The presentation was very cloudy at first, then came the In-Memory stuff including Maria Colgan giving the cool demo which I’ve seen before but seems to have been polished up. The other thing that struck me for the first time in this presentation was just how much better Oracle’s new slide template is! As anyone who has used it would confirm, the old one was *very* red and blocky and intense and the new one is so much cleaner and spacious and uses colours that don’t kill your eyes. I thought the difference was staggering and actually found myself wanting to look at them for a change! ;-) But, on the whole, it was a relatively sober and honest presentation without any great announcements, but plenty of focus on delivering the meat of the previous year’s announcements.

Judge for yourself. No need to go to San Francisco!

Then I was straight over to the first Real World Performance group presentation with Andy Holdsworth and Graham Wood talking about some of the higher level application design issues they have discovered via AWR reports. But first they kicked off with their usual dose of performance analysis and design reality, reflecting on the daft way that customers approach performance (and those last word are mine, based on my own experiences). 
They talked about the obsession people seem to have with identifying and treating narrow symptoms of problems that are, in reality, application design problems that need to be treated from the top down in order to relieve the low-level symptoms.
For example, right at the top of the report is the number of sessions. Imagine 3,300 sessions on a 32 core server. Well you don’t need to because this was an AWR report from a real system so no imagination is necessary. Does that make any sense to anyone? Then why do we still see that kind of thing all the time? 

… or how about finding open_cursors set to 2000? A per-session limit of 2000 cursors? As Graham pointed out – good luck keeping track of the state of all of those! As soon as you stop and think about these things sensibly, you realise that it’s almost certainly a sign of an application leaking cursors. 

There were lots of similar examples but the interesting overall approach that I would say they were illustrating is something that I tend to do when I first arrive at a new client site and I’ve watched other experienced Oracle techies do the same.

An AWR report is not just the top 5 timed events and the sections at the top are a pretty good description of the actual system workload which, in turn, can tell you a lot about the application design. Then, based on potential application design issues, you can drill down into the report and look at later sections to see where all those leaked cursors or transaction rollbacks or (whatever) … are coming from.

Lucky boy that I am, I was able to retire to the comforting surroundings of the Thirsty Bear to continue the conversation about all things performance related with Graham and JB, much of the conversation being me whining about why people don’t use the *full* range of tools that come with the Diagnostics and Tuning Packs that they’ve paid Oracle good money for. That’s why I’ve been slowly developing a presentation on that very subject. 

Then it was back to Oak Table World to catch Greg Rahn talking about all that Hadoop stuff *again*! :-) Even though I only caught part of the presentation, I do keep managing to pick up bits and pieces on the subject although I wonder when it’ll become relevant to my day to day work. Probably whenever I’m too late to the party, as usual ;-)

But my main reason for showing up was to see Kevin Closson talking about using SLOB in some less obvious ways. Because SLOB is a good all-round Oracle workload generator, it shouldn’t be seen as simply a tool for testing storage performance and that’s probably it’s main strength. Kevin is always a great speaker and I find listening to him a very different experience to reading his blog, but I’m not sure I can put my finger on why. Oh, he also had the most ridiculously bright SLOB buttons! (As I found out by making the mistake of looking to closely at it as I tried to switch it on ;-))

At some point, all of the slides for the Oak Table World presentations should be available on the site, so keep a look out for those! (Oh, and I got my T-shirt which is deeply cool and was one of the few items of non-ACE swag I managed to pick up all week)

From there on, it was more or less party all the way.

- First quiet beers and snacks with lots of Oak Table and Oracle types.

- Then my very first ever Customer event that wasn’t for a specific technology area, but a sales region. Man, *that* was a mistake! Suits *everywhere*! ;-) but I suppose it was useful to build contacts with the senior support managers in my new region. 

- Instead, I headed towards the OTN night in Howard Street (until I realised I’d just dropped my bag with the entry ticket back at my hotel room)

- So instead I landed at one of the events of this and any other OOW – The Friends of Pythian Party’. As always, beautifully-organised, very generous on the liquid refreshments and the coolest crowd in town. Just because I find myself thanking Vanessa Simmons, Paul Vallee and all of the Pythian crew every year doesn’t make it any less sincere.

I have to be honest, though, and say that the highlight of the night for me was spending much more time with Kevin’s punchy, beautiful and fun wife Lori. 
If you think Kevin’s smart, wait until you meet his wife! There’s a lady who can hold her own and make me chuckle :-)Problem is that I think she’s used to scaring people but us Scots don’t scare so easily ;-)

It was a great night anyway, as always, and although this is entirely unconnected to the Pythian party but might have had a *lot* to do with jet lag, I didn’t wake up until 11:45 the next morning :-(

OOW 2014: Day 1

Disclosure: I’m attending Openworld at the invitation of the OTN ACE Director program who are paying for my flights, hotel and conference fee. My employer has helpfully let me attend on work time, as well as sending other team mates because they recognise the educational value of attending. Despite that, all of the opinions expressed in these posts are, as usual, all my own.
After the very welcome tradition of breakfast at Lori’s Diner, I had time to register and then get myself down to Moscone South for my first session of the day. I’d planned to listen to Paul Vallee’s security talk because I’d been unable to register for Gwen Shapira’s Analyzing Twitter data with Hadoop session but noticed spare seats as I passed the room, so switched. I love listening to Gwen talk on any subject because her enthusiasm is contagious. A few of the demos went a little wrong but I still got a nice overview of the various components of a Hadoop solution (which is an area I’ve never really looked at much) so the session flew by. Good stuff.
Next up was Yet-another-Oracle-ACE-Director Arup Nanda’s presentation on Demystifying Cache Buffer Chains. The main reason I attended was to see how he presented the subject and wasn’t expecting to learn too much but it’s an important subject, particularly now I’m working with RAC more often and consolidated environments. CBC latch waits are on my radar once more!
Next up was 12 things about 12c, a session of 12 speakers given 5 minutes to talk about, well, 12c stuff. Debra Lilley organised this and despite all her concerns that she’d expressed leading up to it, it went very smoothly, so hats off to Debra and to the speakers for behaving themselves with the timing! I was particularly concerned that we kicked off with Jonathan Lewis ;-) Big problem with putting him on first – will he actually be able to stay within the time constraints? Because he’ll get too excited and want to talk about things in more depth. He did do it, but it was tough as he raced towards the finishing line ;-)
The only thing that bugged me about this was that I hadn’t realised it was two session slots (makes complete sense if I’d performed some simple maths!) but it was very annoying when they kicked everyone out of the room at half-time before readmitting them. Yes, there are rules, but this was one of the more stupid. It annoyed me enough that I decided to skip the second half and attend the Enkitec panel session instead.
What an amazing line-up of Exadata geek talent they had on one stage for Expert Oracle Exadata: Then and Now ….
Enkitec Panel
Including most of the authors of the original book as well as the authors who are writing the next edition which should be out before the end of the year.

From left-to-right : Karl Arao, Martin Bach, Kerry Osborne, Andy Colvin, Tanel Poder and Frits Hoogland.

They talked a little about the original version of the book (largely based on V2) and how far Exadata had come since then, but it was a pretty open session with questions shooting around all over the place and great fun. Nice way for me to wrap up my user group conference activities for the day and head out into the sun for Larry’s Opening Keynote. 

First we had the traditional vendor blah-blah-blah about stuff I couldn’t care less about but, in shocking news, I actually enjoyed it! Maybe it’s because it was Intel and so I’m probably more interested in what they’re doing, but it was pretty ok stuff. All the keynotes are available online here.
Then it was LarryTime. Seemed on pretty good form by recent standards although I can summarise it simply as Cloud, Cloud and more Cloud. There’s no getting away from the fact that it’s been quite the about-turn from him in his attitude towards the Cloud. I did appreciate the “we’re only just getting started” message and I suppose I’ve become innured to how accurate the actual facts are in his presentations and to the attacks on competitors so I sort of enjoy his keynotes more than most.
At this stage, the jetlag was biting *hard* and I ended up missing yet another ACE dinner but from all the reports I heard it was the best ever by some distance so I was gutted to miss out on it. But when you’re body is saying sleep whilst you’re walking, sometimes you have to listen to it! Then again, when it decides to wake you up again at 2:30, perhaps you should tell it to go and take a running jump!