Oracle: It’s not for newbies…


I had this comment today related to RAC installation.

“thanks for the feedback, but for newbies this is where it gets confusing. No clear guidelines”

This post is not specifically about this comment, but it does bring up the issue I keep going back to again and again…

One of the things that annoys me about the Oracle marketing machine is they still try to make out all Oracle products are accessible for newbies. Oh really? Are you seriously telling me that Oracle RAC and Oracle Grid Control 11g are accessible for newbies?

I’ve been using Oracle products for about 17 years. I’ve been using Linux for about 13 years. I’ve been administering RAC for about 10 years. I don’t claim to be an international consultant to the stars, but I have a long history with this stuff. I’m not saying this to brag, just to put this into context. With all this experience I still don’t think this stuff is easy.

Check out the Oak Table Members list. Excluding myself, this is a “who’s who” of the people you would love to have on your site to show you how Oracle stuff really works. If you were part of the Oak Table mailing list you would see these people are still struggling with the idiosyncracies of some of this Oracle stuff. There are lots of RAC related issues under discussion all the time.

Knowing all this, do you really think you can roll up off the street and do a good job of installing and administering this stuff in a production environment? Do you think it is OK to be an SQL Server DBA on Windows today and start a job as an Oracle DBA on Linux tomorrow? I see this happening all the time because bosses don’t understand how complicated this technology can be. People do one Oracle installation on Windows and think the logical next step is RAC or Exadata.

I’m happy that Oracle have invested time and money in making Oracle *easier* to install and administer, but trying to tell people that it is easy is totally the wrong message. A week long course or a 2-Day DBA manual is not going to get someone up to speed.

For the next marketing slogan I suggest,

“Oracle. It’s f*ckin’ complicated, but it’s really cool!”

Rant over … until the next time… 🙂



Author: Tim...

DBA, Developer, Author, Trainer.

12 thoughts on “Oracle: It’s not for newbies…”

  1. Great post. You make the two good points; firstly it takes years to become an ‘expert’ and secondly you’re never really an ‘expert’ (Kyte says this a lot) as you’re always learning and stretching yourself each day (and I don’t mean in the gym).

    It’s just a pity that so many ‘newbies’ want, expect and demand to become ‘experts’ overnight.

  2. “…bosses don’t understand how complicated this technology can be…”

    We have 3 DBA groups (Oracle, DB2, SQL-Server). The boss of the SQL-Server group once said that SQL-Server is great because everybody can install it with a few clicks on a graphical user interface °_°
    (Quick&Dirty installations by anybody are the sleeping problems for tomorrow.)

  3. Sigh… wholeheartedly agree with you on that one. I have doing it for 15 years with oracle and 10 with linux and it’s only now that I feel somewhat competent :-p

  4. Can’t agree more. I’ve been a DBA for ten years and I feel like I know hardly anything, especially compared to others in the community (like yourself).

    At a job interview once, they asked me to rate my DBA skills out of 10. I said ‘4 or 5’. When asked why I didn’t give myself a 10, I said ‘it’s so broad and deep, anyone who tells you a 10 is either a liar or really a 1 as they don’t understand the subject’.

    I got the job.

  5. Couldn’t agree more … especially with Mark. What you thought you knew in release X can be turned on its head in release Y. The optimizer can/will change with each release. Add in System/Storage admins that don’t want to set it up the way it is defined in the documentation and you add more issues. RTFM is never as important as it is now and has a new brother FTFM – Follow the Fine Manual.

  6. If it was easy there would be a lot of consultants out of work…

    I remember when the CBO was released and I thought I would need move out of the performance tuning business. In hind sight it was the biggest boon for my business. The rules were way more easier to understand and tune the the CBO. IMHO the CBO has never met its goal of making good SQL development available to the masses. $.02, -d

  7. Agree, worked with non RAC systems for 5 years before getting into RAC, only successful from building and rebuilding the environment about 100 times (bc I would break it so bad it was just easier to rebuild). Also had a good reference; the RAC article that you created.

    SQL / Windows and Linux / Oracle are two totally different audiences, and I can now say moving from Windows to Linux I will never go back, but to expect a Windows person to support Linux that is a recipe for failure.

  8. Wait a minute, I thought this SQL stuff was supposed to make programming obsolete.

    Now explain Oracle locking in one or two sentences.

    Newbies; Can’t live with ’em, can’t kill them.

  9. Couldn’t agree more. And let’s not go into the actual running issues and the bugs and how to handle them.
    One of the things that always makes me laugh is the claim that ASM uses a set of commands that are “easy and familiar to the dba familiar with SQL”. Oh yeah?
    When was the last time you needed to write a file pathname such as “+diskgroup/dbname/filetype/filetypetag.file.incarnation” when using a standard file system?
    Let’s not go into how to diagnose problems with it and the cacophony of log files and processes to monitor and new utilities to learn…

  10. I agree- Oracle RAC is very complex and requires knowledge of not only Oracle but networking and storage area networks to be considered an expert let alone install Oracle RAC successfully. And no two Oracle RAC deployments are exactly the same.

  11. You’ve suggested a marketing slogan.

    I suggest a DBA slogan that should be part of every Oracle “congratulations for buying Oracle database software” letter :
    “Oracle for DBAs : You’ll have to put in some effort to understand it. But you’ll love it if you do (put in effort and understand, both !).”

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