UKOUG Systems Event 2015

ukougI have a bone to pick with UKOUG. I’m coming from Birmingham and I’m a lazy git, so why the heck am I on in the first slot? :) It was a 04:30 start to the day, for a train journey starting at 05:50. I could have got a later train, but it would have been busier and more importantly, more expensive… After putting the latest of my writing tips posts live and lying in the bath (sorry for the bad mental image) for a while psyching myself up for the day, it was a quick taxi ride to the station, then on to the train. The train was reasonably busy, but I had reserved a seat with a table and power socket, so I was able to use the time to write up a blog post about yesterday’s Oracle Midlands Event #9 and to do some last minute run throughs of my talk.

Since I was up in the first slot I missed the opening greeting to set up. The event was very Exadata-heavy and I was doing a virtualization talk, so I wasn’t really expecting anyone to come, but I had a pretty good crowd, which was nice. Many of the people in the room were already working with virtualization, some as users of the services, others as administrators. I don’t think there would be a lot that was particularly new to this audience, but I’m hoping they found at least something useful in there. After the session, I stood outside the room chatting to one of the guys about the issues he was currently going throught relating to Oracle licenses on VMware. It can be difficult, especially when there seem to be a lot of people out there actively trying to throw a you bum steer. My statement on this  matter is always, only ever deal with Oracle Licensing Management Services directly, not sales people, which working this stuff out and make sure you have everything down on paper before you start!

I only managed to catch the tail end of “Oracle Exadata Meets Elastic Configurations” by Svetoslav Gyurov so I will have to assume it was totally awesome! I love you Sve! :)

redstacktechDuring the session changeover, I got to speak to some of the folks on the Red Stack Technology booth. I popped by to say thank you for taking over the sponsorship of the Oracle Midlands events. They were also a sponsor of the UKOUG Systems Event itself, so a double thank you was in order. :)

Next up was “Oracle Exadata & Database Memory” by Frits Hoogland. Exadata is “posh-RAC”. Lots of stuff about RAC databases are also common to singe instance Oracle databases. As a result, this sesison was actually relevant to single instance, RAC and Exadata. Frits is one of those deep-dive guys, but the session had enough top-level and deep-dive content to appeal to all tastes. I really enjoyed it.

Next up was Roger MacNicol speaking about “Oracle Big Data SQL”. I had seen a bunch of this information last year at Oracle OpenWorld, but it also included some architectural information that was new to me. I was unaware of the architectural similarities between implementing smart scans in Exadata storage cells and getting Oracle to talk to Hive and HDFS. Very interesting!

I went to see “Migrating To Exadata The Easy Way” by Martin Bach because I wanted to watch him present. I don’t see working on Exadata in my future, so that aspect of the talk was not my focus. As with Frits’ session earlier, most of the content was relevant to Non-Exadata and Non-RAC environments too, so there was something for everyone here. Migration to new hardware and operating systems, no matter what the kit, comes with a similar set of issues and constraints. It also sparked some interesting discussions after the session, which meant I missed Jason Arneil‘s session on “Engineering DBaaS At Large Scale”. :( Hopefully I’ll get to see that at UKOUG Tech15?

There was a panel session at end the day. It is fatal to ask me to get involved in these things as I have an opinion on everything and find it impossible to keep my gob shut! I did warn them! :)

I spent much of the social event talking to @DBASushi about Enterprise Manager Cloud Control. I made some comments about Cloud Control in the panel session, which he wanted me to clarify. I’ve said before, I think all organisations should use Cloud Control, but there are some things about it I find infuriating, totally unintuitive and bloaty. During the discussion it became aparrent that some of my issues are because I need to RTFM a bit, but others are (in my opinion) problems with the user experience (UX) of the product. No offence to anyone involved, but some parts feel beautifully crafted, while other parts feel slapped together.

From there is was a quick goodbye, then off to Euston to catch my train home. Once again, a reserved seat with a table and power socket. Happy days!

Thanks to UKOUG for letting me come out to play, as well as all the attendees, presenters and UKOUG staff I talked to. Also thanks to the Oracle ACE Program for continuing to let me fly the flag.

Cheers

Tim…

Roll up! Roll up! This week’s events!

Here’s a quick reminder of a couple of events happening this week.

On Tuesday evening it’s Oracle Midlands Event #9 in Birmingham. First up is Joel Goodman, who is practically a walking Oracle Encyclopaedia, speaking about “Oracle Distributed Transactions”. Next up is Richard Harrison, a regular Oracle Midlands attendee and returning speaker, this time presenting about “Data Pump Tips & Tricks”. It’s going to be a good evening, so please come out and show your support! It’s sponsored by Red Stack Technology, so it’s free!

On Wednesday it is the UKOUG Systems Event. I’m in the first slot, so it’s going to be an extremely early train ride for me. There is packed agenda, so I’m sure there is something for everyone involved in the systems side of things!

Hopefully I’ll get to see some of you folks at these events!

Cheers

Tim…

UKOUG System Event : I’ve got a paper selected.

I’ve just found out I’ve got a paper selected for the UKOUG System Event on May 20th. Check out my badge. :)

I was a spectator at last year’s event. At first glance you might think much of the content is not directly related to my job, since I’m not a system administrator, virtual infrastructure administrator and I don’t use any Oracle engineered systems, appliances or storage products. Having said all that, it’s hard to be a DBA these days without having a finger in several pies. Most of the information discussed at these events is relevant, even if you are not using the exact same kit or doing the exact same job as the speaker.

Hope to see you there.

Cheers

Tim…

UKOUG Tech 14 : Monday

The day started with a taxi ride into New Street station to get the 06:01 train to Liverpool Lime Street. I was a little dissapointed that the train was a sprint train, so there were no tables and no power sockets. When the ticket guy came through I asked about an upgrade to first class and it was only £25 for the return journey, so I paid the extra to get a table and a power socket. Two 90 minute journeys are so much more bearable when you can actually do something useful on them. From Lime Street, it was a quick taxi ride to the ACC where I picked up my pass and headed straight to the room for my first session.

I was up in the first block of speakers at 09:00 for my virtualisation session. I expected a very small crowd for a virtualisation session in the first slot of an Oracle tech conference. I got into double figures, so I was happy. I got some questions at the end also, which is always nice.

After chatting to Peter Scott and Richard Foote about Richard’s fake tan and botox, I went to the speaker lounge and spent some time chatting to a variety of people. I also got my Christmas present from my dad. I was kind-of surprised and the size of the cheque, but I promised not to tell the wife or daughter how much he gave me! They are jealous types.

Next up was Robyn Sands speaking about “Why Solid SQL Still Delivers the Best ROI”. Being a database guy I guess it’s pretty obvious I’m going to agree entirely with what Robyn says. :) A few of the key points included:

  • Good database and application design pays off many times over.
  • Set-based processing in the database will always out pace row-by-row processing, either in the database or in the middle tier, for large data sets.
  • If you can’t use set-based processing, array processing typically beats row-by-row processing.
  • Threading to fake parallelism is not a great replacement for true database parallelism, but it can give advantages in some circumstances.

There are always exceptions to the rules, but bad programming gives bad performance. The test harness used for the demos is really neat. It really does hammer home the point in a very clear way!

SpeakerAwardSmallI chatted through lunch and didn’t actually make it to the food. :) After lunch it was off to the keynotes, where the UKOUG gave out some awards. I picked up a “UK Speaker Award” for last years session on “Improving the Performance of PL/SQL Function Calls from SQL”. The award was based on the speaker evaluations, which makes it feel kind-of special. I wasn’t too happy with my performance during that particular session last year, but obviously some of the folks in the audience felt different. Just goes to show you can’t be objective about your own performance. I’ll no doubt act all blasé about it, like it does’t matter, but I’ll secretly get a t-shirt printed to wear around the house. :) Thanks to everyone who filled in the evaluations. It is very nice to get a pat on the back like this from time to time…

The keynote overran and I was sitting near the front, so I was a bit nervous about leaving early. As a result, I was the last person to arrive at my session. My second session was an introduction to Analytic Functions, which seemed popular. The room was full and Tom claimed he was turned away. I think he was on the wind-up! It’s always better to have a smaller room that’s full, that a large room that feels empty. :) I was a bit “giddy” during this session. I think it was a combination of things including lack of food, adrenalin, excitement over the award, having a few friends in the audience and it being my last presentation of the year. I remember it feeling like a fun session for me. Not totally sure how that translates to the audience reaction though. As an example of my “giddiness”, about 3/4 of the way through the session I noticed Dawn on the front row, right in front of me, stopped and said something like, “Oh. You’re here!”. I must have looked like I was on crack! :)

During the Analytics session I try to break things down to the simplest possible terms, so this is more like a teaching session than a conference presentation. Analytics is something you just have to get your hands dirty with. No amount conference presentations will actually make you feel comfortable with them, so rather than trying to get heavy, I’m trying to get people over the first hurdle and get them started. The response from this session is usually pretty good, but I’m always worried someone will miss the word “introduction” mentioned in the abstract and turn up expecting some deep dive type session. It’s always good when you learn stuff during sessions you present and I learnt a couple of things thanks to Stew Ashton. Happy days!

After another chatting session in the speaker lounge, it was off to see dad speak about “AWR: Looking Beyond the Wait Events and Top SQL”. This meant missing Tom’s “AskTom” session, but family comes first! :) I really liked this session. The main point dad was making was people often jump into the top-5 wait events and try to fix the problem, without doing the necessary prep work first. Guilty! Instead, people should look at the information in the AWR report and try to build a picture of the system and application architecture, before trying to fix the problem. In many cases, this process will actually highlight the problems. This is not an exhaustive list, but the sort of things he highlighted were:

  • Check the spec of the hardware at the top of the report. Specifically the core count.
  • Check the number of sessions. Is it excessive compared to the core count. Ideally it should be 1-10 times the core count. More than that may represent a problem.
  • Is the number of sessions increasing during the sample time (start compared to end)? Is this normal or a session leak?
  • Is the number of open cursors excessive? Is it growing? Is this a cursor leak, which suggests bad application code?
  • On the load profile, is the DB CPUs per second is higher than the number of cores, you are CPU bound. This will probably make other waits “over-report” as they are really CPU bound. Maybe the contents of the top 5 waits is an artefact of being CPU bound. Can you trust them?
  • If there are a high number of rollbacks compared to transactions (commits), the application is doing lots of work only to throw it away. Bad application design.
  • Check out the init.ora settings for non-default and hidden parameters that look suspicious. Are these necessary or legacy?

Only after you’ve built up this picture, should you jump to the top 5 waits and the top SQL sections. Do they confirm your picture of the system built up from the previous investigation?

I’m pretty sure I will end up at the same conclusions when looking at an AWR report, but I think this approach is much better than the way I do things, so I will try to adapt and see how it goes. If you didn’t manage to see the session, you should download the slides and check them out. I think there is a lot of value there. Well done dad!

After the last session we headed off to the exhibition hall to socialise for a bit. I talked to a whole bunch of people, which is the best bit about conferences. I also got my first food of the day, a chocolate fish from the Dbvisit stand. :) I spent quite a bit of time talking to Jacco Landlust, who is always a great source of info. His advice has been incredibly valuable in plugging up the gaping holes in my middle tier knowledge.

At about 19:40 I shot off to the station and got on the 20:04 train home. A table and a power socket again. Awesome. I also managed to scrounge and extra strong mint of someone, which was the second meal of the day. :) I got to Birmingham at about 21:45 and stuffed some food down my face before getting a taxi home.

So that’s the last conference of the year. Let’s see what 2015 brings…

Thanks to my company for paying for the train ticket and letting me have the day off work as a “training day”, rather than holiday, especially having just got back from a three week “holiday” doing the OTN APAC tour. :) Thanks to the UKOUG for inviting me again and making sure everything ran smoothly. Thanks to all the attendees this year and to everyone who filled in their evaluations from last year. Cheques are in the mail. :) I’ll do a separate post about the ACE Program

Cheers

Tim…

UKOUG Tech14 : It’s nearly here…

TECH14_ResourcePk_IS_v1I’ve literally just picked up my train tickets for Monday’s trip to Liverpool for UKOUG Tech14!

I’m only going to be there for Monday, so I’ve got a lot to pack in. I’ll be doing 2 sessions, at 09:00 and 14:30, so if you don’t want to come to my sessions, but want to meet up to chat, grab me before or after them. Geeking out is much more important than the sessions. :)

I thought I might be able to make the Sunday stuff this year, which I usually have to miss because of my nephew’s birthday party (got to get your priorities right). I thought I might make it this year because his birthday is on Wednesday (today), but they decided to do the party on the weekend following, rather than the weekend preceding, so no luck. One of these years the stars will align and I’ll get to do the whole event!

Anyway, I’m looking forward to meeting up with everyone again. Hopefully I will get to see the wife and kid. Not sure if dad (and master of social media) is going to make it this year…

Cheers

Tim…

UKOUG Operating System and Storage Event : Summary

Today was the UKOUG Operating System and Storage Event. I was a tourist for this event, as I didn’t have any presentations to do. Added to that, I’m a grunt DBA, so I wasn’t too sure what would be waiting for me at an OS and storage event… :)

Thanks to the miracles of Google Maps, I managed to be late for the event, so I missed the first session. Why is it I can get to foreign countries on time, but I can’t get to something that is pretty much in my own city without getting lost?

I bumped into a few people I know there, including Jason Arneil and Martin Nash and a couple of my colleagues. :)

First up (for me) was “Patching Linux with Spacewalk and Ksplice” by Wayne Lewis and friends. Spacewalk looks kind-of neat. It’s a free open source product, with Oracle’s version of it available from public-yum.oracle.com. Basically, it allows you to easily set up a local repositories, manage and track OS package updates across your Linux infrastructure. You can use it for free, or if you want you can choose to buy support from Oracle. The choice is yours. The second half of the session was on Ksplice, which I’ve known about for a long time. As it turns out, my understanding of what Ksplice actually does was quite off the mark, so it was good to be educated… :)

Second up was “Bringing OpenStack to the Cloud” by Stephen Bourke and friends. OpenStack is used to build public and private clouds. That is honestly as much as I actually know about it. :) This session discussed what OpenStack is and talked about Oracle’s implementation of OpenStack. You can read more about it here:

What was most refreshing about Oracle’s implementation of OpenStack is they are keeping it open. At a time when other OpenStack vendors might be trying to provide ClosedStack, Oracle are staying true to cause.

Next up was “Dtrace in Linux and Solaris” by Mike Carew. I’m not one of those guys that spends my life using Dtrace, strace or systemtap, but occasionally you have to get down-and-dirty, so it is good to keep on top of this stuff. Some great strides have been made to bring Dtrace to Linux, but it is still quite limited in comparison to the Solaris implementation. Perhaps as it matures we might get a feature like this on Linux, which I learnt about for the first time today!

“Virtualisation Case Study – How Not To Do It!” by Philip Brown was interesting as it was almost the polar opposite to my feelings about virtualisation. In fairness to him, this was a presentation of how not to do it and ultimately he did make the point that if you do it badly you are going to have a bad experience, which is definitely true. My counter to this is, if you do it well you are going to have a good experience. :) It’s all about using virtualisation where it is appropriate and knowing what you are getting into before you make that leap. Due to me not being able to keep my gob shut, there was a prolonged discussion about this topic after the session, which was fun. You can of course read my thoughts on virtualisation in this article.

I really enjoyed the day! Well done UKOUG and to everyone I saw presenting today. I certainly came away with a lot of good stuff to think about…

Cheers

Tim…

 

UKOUG Next Gen

I’ll be at the UKOUG Next Gen event at Birmingham City University on the 15th May.

My session is on “The Importance of Community”. I guess my blog readership is not exactly target audience for an event like this, but if you know any students or recent graduates who are looking to start a career in IT, or you are an employer looking for fresh new talent, you should come along to the event.

Cheers

Tim…

 

 

UKOUG Operating System and Storage Event – 28th May

Just a quick note to say the call for papers is open for the UKOUG Operating System and Storage Event in Birmingham on the 28th May. To quote the website,

“This event will cover Linux and Solaris Administration, Storage and Network Administration, Virtualisation and Engineered Systems.

UKOUG Operating Systems & Storage Event takes place in Birmingham on 28th May and will become a key event for DBAs, OS, Network and Storage Administrators who support an Oracle Infrastructure.”

Hope to see you there!

Cheers

Tim…