What Employers Want : A Series of Posts

A couple of years ago I was asked to give a talk about employability, with respect to graduates. I’m not an expert in that field, so I reached out to a few friends and companies to get some feedback about what they expect from new staff. I get questions about jobs all the time, so I figured I would write a short series of posts on the subject, just so I can refer people to them.

The posts in the series are as follows.

After doing the presentation I discussed it with the careers staff present, who confirmed this matched the feedback they were getting from their industrial contacts, so it seems the feedback I got from my contacts was on the money!

As I publish each post I will turn these bullet points into links.

Hope this helps.



VirtualBox 5.1.26

VirtualBox 5.1.26 has been released.

The downloads and changelog are in the usual places.

I’ve done an installation on my work PC (Windows 7) and it worked fine. I probably won’t get to do it on macOS Sierra and Oracle Linux hosts until the weekend. Update: Worked fine on macOS Sierra and Oracle Linux 7 hosts too.

I’ve had some odd behaviour from a couple of VMs recently and I can’t tell if it’s a problem with the OS, VirtualBox, me or the combination of the three… I was secretly hoping this release would magically fix the issues, but it didn’t, so I guess I’m going to have to spend some time bottoming them out…



VMware Workshop : It’s a Wrap!

Just a few quick comments to wrap up the whole“VMware Expert Database Workshop Program Oracle Edition” event…

Running Oracle workloads in virtualised environments is not a new thing for me. On my desktop I mostly use VirtualBox, but in the data centre it’s always VMware. I first started to run Oracle workloads on VMware about 15 years ago and have never really had any problems from a technology perspective. I’ve never been a VMware administrator, and never will be, but it’s important for me to know as much as possible about VMware to allow me to get the most out of the Oracle database when it’s running on that platform.

A very big thank you to all the folks at VMware and Pure Storage for inviting me to this event and organising everything. I feel hugely privileged to be able to get access to these people and this information!

Thanks to all the speakers, VMware and non-VMware, who took the time to come and educate us and deal with our questions, whether they were good or dumb questions. 🙂 Thanks to Michael Corey for being the event photographer, and not capturing me at my absolute worst. 🙂

For those folks that don’t have the opportunity to take part in an event like this, you can still get all the non-NDA information for free! Just Google “VMware best practice” and the name of your area of interest, like “Oracle RAC”, and you are going to get a whole bunch of links to VMware best practice documents that will tell you everything you need to know! The take-home message from the VMware support folks was the vast majority of customer issues actually come down to misconfigurations that are detailed in these best practice documents. Only go off-piste if you know what you are doing! 🙂

Thank you everyone. Much appreciated! See you soon…



PS. My posts related to this event were:

VMware Workshop : The Journey Home

It was a later start today. I headed down to breakfast at about 08:15 to meet Heli (and family) and Johannes. It was the first time I had made it to the hotel breakfast this week. Over time more people filtered in to say hello and goodbye. 🙂

From there it was back to my room to write some blog posts and continue the process of playing catch-up with the stuff I have missed while I have been away. I’m officially on holiday, but I can’t stop myself from logging in to work every day, checking my emails and doing odd things to keep on top of stuff. The thought of going back next week and having to deal with the week’s backlog is too much for me. 🙂

When I came to zip up my case the zip broke. I managed to fix it, but I was a bit concerned it might open in transit. At about 13:30 I headed off for the airport. The plane had been delayed coming out of Scotland, so it arrived late in Cork. As a result my flight home was delayed by about 40 minutes. The flight itself went smoothly enough and when I got to the other end my luggage was intact. 🙂

I was going to get a taxi home, but the delay meant I would be stuck in rush hour traffic, so instead I opted for the train. The train is a lot cheaper, but super annoying as I need to take two trains and walk with the bags at the end…

I ended up standing on both trains, then walking home in the rain. I had a coat in my bag, but I was scared to open my bag in case it wouldn’t close again… I arrived home wet, but in one piece… 🙂

I’ll do a wrap-up post next…



VMware Workshop : Day 3

Day 3 started the same way as day 2. I woke up and felt like a total zombie due to lack of sleep.

The agenda for “VMware Expert Database Workshop Program Oracle Edition” day 3 was packed and looked something like this.

  • “License Fortress from VLSS” by Dean Bolton
  • “VMware vSphere Core & SDDC – Networking – NSX & VCNS” by Chris Rohan
  • “VMware Experts Event – Brocade and VMware Technology and the VMware Solutions Lab” by Marcus Thordal
  • “VMware Integrated Containers and Oracle” by Simon Guyennet
  • “VMware Executive Presentation – The CPBU, vSphere and Friends, and the Experts Program” by Mike Adams
  • “VMware Experts Event – Pure Storage – Technical Session #2” by Somu Rajarathinam & Ron Ekins
  • “High Availability and Disaster Recovery in the SDDC” by Feidhlim O’Leary
  • “Management & Monitoring – Blue Medora and Oracle on vSphere” by Alain Geenrits
  • “License Audit” by Daniel Hesselink
  • “vSphere HA or Oracle RAC, SRM or Data Guard, they are all complimentary when Oracle is run in the SDDC” by Sudhir Balasubramanian

The business proposition from VLSS is super interesting. To put it simply they offer an insurance policy for your Oracle compliance. If you are running Oracle workloads on VMware, or any other platform for that matter, you should definitely look at this!

Since I’m currently going down the rabbit hole with Docker, the vSphere container stuff was pretty interesting. Both what is already GA and what is coming… 🙂

At the end of the last session we recorded a short video question/answer session, which will probably come out in a montage at some point. Kind-of scary and fun mixed together. From there we had a quick tour of Global Support Services (GSS), before heading back to the hotel. Before I knew what happened the last day was done!

In the evening a group of us went out to eat, then it was back to the hotel to chat more about tech, how the workshop had gone, life, the universe and everything. 🙂

I’ll do a proper wrap-up post when I get back home with all the real thank you messages in it, but suffice to say thanks to everyone for making this happen and letting me be a part of it.



VMware Workshop : Day 2

Another late night and another morning feeling like a zombie! 🙂

The agenda for “VMware Expert Database Workshop Program Oracle Edition” day 2 looked something like this.

  • “The Best Oracle Support Team on Earth – Global Support Services Oracle Team” by Yvonne Murphy and Gabi Rosell
  • “Oracle on vSphere Licensing” by Dave Welch
  • “vRealize Automation and Oracle” by Jad El-Zein
  • “vRealize Automation and Oracle mini Workshop” by Jad El-Zein
  • “vSphere Core Storage Fundamentals” by Andres Scherr
  • “vSphere Core – vCPU Scheduler & Memory allocated to Virtual Machines” by Valentin Bondzio
  • “Troubleshooting in Virtual Environments for DBs from the GOS\vNUMA” by Valentin Bondzio
  • “Modern Converged Storage, & VSAN & VVols” by Andres Scherr
  • “Oracle on vSphere on Pure Storage Cloud based Labs – Day 2”

It was another full-on day. Lots of content. Lots of questions. Lots of answers. I really hope when I get home I can make sense of the notes I took during the day! 🙂

In the evening we went out to a bar in the town and got food and drink for those that do. During the food there was music and Irish dancing by Tanel Poder? 🙂

We got back to the hotel at about 22:00, so the obvious thing to do was go to bed. Unfortunately I stayed up until after midnight chatting about tech again! It’s going to be a tough day tomorrow! 🙂



VMware Workshop : Day 1

Having a late night before an intensive day in a lab is not a great idea. I woke up feeling like the living dead. We got in a bus and were driven a few miles to the VMware office in Cork to start the “VMware Expert Database Workshop Program Oracle Edition”.

The basic agenda for the day was as follows.

  • “Introductions and Program Overview” by Don Sullivan & Mohan Potheri
  • “The Basics of vSphere and the SDDC for Oracle” by Mike Corey
  • “VMware Executive Welcome to Cork” by Karen Egan
  • “Pure Storage Executive Welcome” by Carl McQuillan
  • VMware vSphere Core & SDDC – vMotion, The Decoupling of the Server and the Host” by Valentin Bondzio
  • “Oracle on VMware ‘One Woman’s Journey'” by Yvonne Murphy
  • “Pure Storage – A Technical Session #1” by Somu Rajarathinam and Alex Infanzon
  • “Oracle on vSphere on Pure Storage Cloud based Labs” with Mohan Potheri, Dean Bolton, Sudhir Balasubramanian

The whole day was really interactive. We were asking questions and giving opinions throughout the sessions. Between the sessions I was working through a list of questions with various speakers. This was really a combination of trying to learn new stuff, confirm stuff I already know and updating some of my out of date knowledge.

In the evening we headed out to dinner and I spent a lot of time talking to Valentin Bondzio and taking notes on my phone. 🙂

We headed back to the hotel and spent a long time continuing the conversations of the day. I was planning on an early night, but if you give me the opportunity to geek out I’m going to take it, so it was another late night! 🙂

It was a great first day. I wrote loads of notes and cleared a lot of my questions. Everyone at VMware and Pure Storage were super helpful, to a big thank you to everyone! I’m looking forward to tomorrow!



VMware Workshop : The Journey Begins

I mentioned a few days ago I would be attending the “VMware Expert Database Workshop Program Oracle Edition”. That trip started today.

I got up at silly o’clock to get my taxi to the airport. As usual I had some problems sleeping, worrying about potentially missing my early flight. Thanks brain!

The airport was really crowded. There were queues to the queues to the queues. I find it really irritating when you tweet about it and get a, “I’m sorry, we really care!”, type of message. Nonsense! If you cared you would staff accordingly! You know the schedule of the planes. Sort yourself out!

One of my colleagues happened to be on the same plane, on his way to see family, but he arrived at the airport a little later than me, so didn’t make it through to the gate until boarding time. That was a pity as I wanted to impress his wife with my witty repartee, whilst he squirmed waiting for me to start swearing and generally being obnoxious. Despite views to the contrary, I can behave when I need to. 🙂

The flight to Cork was only about 70 minutes, so it was shorter than the queues I had already stood in!

Once at Cork I was met by the driver and a few minutes later Frits Hoogland turned up. We headed to the hotel and sat down in the lounge chatting about Docker, Ansible and Vagrant while we waited for our rooms to be sorted. We arrived hours before the official check-in. 🙂 After a while we were joined by Martin Klier and the conversation continued.

Once our rooms were ready we headed up to them for a while, before getting together in the evening to meet everyone and get some food. After the food we stayed up in the hotel lobby until about midnight chatting about tech. It was good fun, but probably a bad idea since we had an early start planned for the next day! 🙂



Oracle’s New Release Cycles : My Thoughts

UpdateMike Dietrich’s post on this and the linked MOS note confirm the new release schedule. I’ve included some updates in red related to what we know now, which we didn’t when the post was written. 🙂

Nearly a month ago I read Scott Wesley’s post on the new database patching cycle. That pointed to a post by Franck Pachot, which put a bit more meat on the bones. Recently we got the release of SQL Developer 17.2 and a link back to Jeff Smith’s post about their new release naming, which I had somehow missed. I just thought I would post some thoughts on this subject. This is based on that one publicly displayed slide (now confirmed). I have no insider information on this, so the contents of this post could be complete rubbish. It’s just speculation! 🙂

I really don’t have much of an opinion on the release cycles and versioning/naming of client tools. It’s nice to get regular releases with new bells and whistles, but for the most part you can choose to upgrade whenever you want and a downgrade is pretty simple if things go wrong. Case in point being SQL Developer and SQLcl, which are just “unzip and go”. Easy install. Easy backout.

The server side is a much bigger issue to me as this is where I can see the major pros and cons.

From the slides posted online, we are looking at something like this.

  • Annual Release : It’s not clear if this is a “release” as we currently know it, but more frequent, or if this is the new major version each year. The slide mentions long term support for a “terminal release”. This implies it is not the major version, but Franck links to a bug that says fixed in 18.1, which suggests it is a major version. I guess we won’t know until the final announcement happens. 🙂 Update: It’s the major version according to the MOS note
  • Release Updates (RU) : Quarterly releases, kind-of like proactive bundle patches.
  • Release Update Revisions (RUR) : Quarterly releases, looking something like critical patch updates (CPUs).

Update for Clarification : I am not too concerned about the lack of clarity about the process at the moment (now clarified by MOS note). It’s one slide in a presentation that no doubt had a safe harbour slide. 🙂 The things mentioned below are not so much concerned with the specifics of the process, more the resulting increase in the rate of change. There is often a discrepancy between the rate of change I would like personally as a content provider, and what a company using the products can reasonably keep on top of.

The pros listed below tend to be more focused on what I want, and the cons tend to be more focused on business practicalities as I see them. 🙂


  • Quicker release of features : It can be a bit annoying to wait 4 years for a new feature. It’s also a bit annoying when you get a half-finished feature, knowing you will have to wait 4 years to get the final vision. As a content producer I like the idea of a quicker release of features!
  • Predictable release cycles : It’s been a little odd in recent years. There have been long gaps between releases, then some patchsets have included really big changes. Some of those patchsets have included a load of new stuff that is undocumented. It will be nice to have a more predictable flow of features. Once again, as a content producer I like this.


  • Upgrade/Patch burnout : The hardest thing about upgrading and patching isn’t the upgrading and patching itself. It’s the associated application testing. I know a lot of people who don’t bother with CPUs/PSUs, only focusing on patchsets. There are a lot of companies that can’t cope with a 4 yearly database release cycle. I can see people still choosing to do every 2, 3, 4 release. I hope this isn’t the case, but I fear it will be.
  • Stability : The biggest thing people worry about is not new features. It’s stability and predictability of the database. One of our systems was upgraded from to over six months ago and we are still finding new issues. There are quarterly and yearly processes that keep cropping up with performance issues. There is a reason why a lot of people are still running old versions. If it ain’t broken, don’t fix it. My fear would be the quicker release cycle results in less stability from a response perspective, whether that’s because of bugs or features.
  • Product Support/Certificaton : Two days ago someone told me they support their product on, but not or I’m not sure how software companies will deal with product certification on a quicker release cycle. I can imagine a few companies we work with biting their nails… 🙂


  • Learning : The fanfare of a new version tends to focus people on learning the new stuff for a period of time. The second release seems to attract much less attention in that respect. I am interested to see how this new release cycle affects people. Will the drip feed of stuff make their life easier, or will people burn out and ignore them? It’s not like the Oracle database is the only thing I have to keep up to date with…
  • Certification : We recently found out there is a 12cR2 certification exam. Ignoring 8.0 and 8.1, we’ve not really had a certification based on a release before. Maybe this is a one-off, but if the certification continues to be based on releases, does that mean we’ve got a certification exam each year from now on? I don’t see that is sustainable for most folks. What will happen for those people wanting to do OCM? 🙂 I guess the certification approach might need a rethink.

Like I said, this is all my idle ramblings. We will probably get something official soon that will make this all sounds stupid. 🙂 We now have the official information and I think all my concerns still stand.