Oracle 10g Application Server, what’s the deal?

I’m begining to dislike Oracle 10g Application Server. That’s my polite and understated way of saying I loath, detest and hate it!

Before I move on I want to make it clear I’m a major fan of Oracle databases. I think Oracle consistently hit the nail on the head with respect to new database releases. Yes, they have a habit of adding chaff and bloat, but the core functionality is on the money every time.

I’ve been using Oracle’s application servers for a little over 2 years. My first experience was with 9iAS and if I ever see an installation of that again I will probably go on a killing spree. It’s like Oracle took a bunch of cool software, cobbled it together and made it totally unusable. If people ask me what 9iAS is like my immediate response is, “It’s an abortion!”.

When AS10g was released we moved to it right away. We had no choice, 9iAS didn’t work. For some months I basked in the glow of it’s brilliance, but little did I know the horrors that were waiting round the corner. Rather than list whats wrong with AS10g let’s look at it from another angle, let’s list what we want from an application server:

  • Reliability.
  • Speedy deployment of new applications.
  • Easy configuration.
  • High availability.
  • Simple problem diagnostics.
  • Simple performance monitoring.

The problem is AS10g gives me none of these. Let’s take these points one by one.

Reliability – We have logged untold amounts of bugs against AS10g, most of which have never been fixed to our satisfaction.

Speedy deployment of new applications – Our applications are pretty small and not exactly rocket science, but deployments to our 5 node application server cluster can take hours. You think I’m joking don’t you. I’m not! It’s not unheard of for us to lose our entire production system for a couple of hours during a deployment. Invariable a couple of nodes don’t deploy properly. By the time we’ve undeployed and redeployed the application, along with a few reboots, the user have packed up and gone home.

Easy configuration – Ok, it’s not the worst thing in the world, but there are so many products and layers to deal with that it becomes a nightmare if you want to do anything but the simplest application. I’ve just checked with one of my production app servers and it has 296 distinct log files. When someone asks me, “Are there any errors in the logs?”, it always brings a smile to my face.

High availability – I’ve already told you what happens when we deploy new applications! We have a 5 node cluster to make our application more resilient and maintain availability. Pitty we have to reboot before and after every application deployment. Until recently we were rebooting each app server once a day, but we’ve managed to get that down to once a week, provided we’re not deploying new versions of the application.

Simple problem diagnostics – Too many log files. Too many layers. We were hoping that grid control would come to our rescue, but it doesn’t work properly. I don’t even want to go there. You can read my earlier posts about that crap.

Simple performance monitoring – See previous answer. We’ve ended up writing some of our own tools. Sad I know!

I’m starting to depress myself so I’m going to knock this post on the head soon, but suffice to say, if I had my way we would ditch the lot and use Apache and PHP. No overcomplicated application servers and no J2EE. Simple, reliable and free!

I guess I can dream…



PS. For those of you that are assuming we’re just using it wrong, the consultants we’ve had in from HP and Oracle can’t make it work any better, so I guess we’re in good company πŸ™‚

Welcome to my world!

I went to watch “War of the Worlds” at the cinema on Saturday. Visually fantastic, but a rather so-so film in all, and Tom Cruise is seriously lightweight in it. When I came out I found the roads blocked by police and lots of people walking away from the city center. It turns out there was a bomb scare in the center of Birmingham so they were evacuating everyone. I guess the events in London last week have made everyone a little jumpy. Straight out of a disaster movie and into a real life disaster…. almost.

So that’s the state of play in my world, but let’s not forget the really important news, Harry Potter’s ‘Half Blood Prince’ Leaked.

Now consider the following words carefully. IT’S A CHILDREN’S BOOK!!!!!

Who gives a monkies if a few copies are sold early! If this were a piece of software it would have been released two years ago and bug-fixed to it’s current level with several service packs.

Every now and then events happen that bring a certain clarity with them. All I can think is that if the early release of a kids book is that important, we are doomed.



PS. The rather grumpy tone of this post is in part due to a lack of sleep caused by a dodgy back. I’m going to hit the pain killers later, which should improve my mood πŸ™‚

My Back Hurts!

OK. The pattern usually goes something like this:

  1. I injure my back doing something stupid, like Karate.
  2. The osteopath cracks it back into position.
  3. Yoga keeps my back flexible, strong and happy.
  4. Everything goes well for a few months.
  5. Goto 1.

Wow. That’s the first time I’ve used a goto statement since I was a kid programming on a ZX81 πŸ™‚

Anyway, on Friday one of the girls at Karate asked me if my back was OK. She said I wasn’t moving well and thought my back might have gone out again. Everything felt good so I thought nothing more of it.

Next day, bang. My back felt nasty. Added to that, I had promised to teach two Yoga classes for a friend who was away for his wedding anniversary. I managed to muddle through the classes OK, but my sciatic nerve was firing like crazy making my left leg freak out.

I’ve just got to survive a day of playing with my nephews today before a hasty trip to the oeseopath so I can start the cycle again.

You gotta laugh…



Oracle 10g Release 2 Installation Guides

I’ve just started producing some brief installation guides for Oracle 10g Release 2 on different versions of Linux. Here’s what I have so far:

Oracle Database 10g Release 2 ( Installation On Fedora Core 4

Oracle Database 10g Release 2 ( Installation On RedHat Advanced Server 4.0

I’ll see if I can get RHEL3 and FC3 done tomorrow, but no promisses.

Interestingly, Red Hat AS 2.1 is not a supported platform for 10g R2 according to the OUI valid platform list. I guess it was about time they dropped this version, but I thought they might carry it forward to the end of 10g. Now some people wil be forced to do an OS and Oracle upgrade.

Happy installing…


10g Release 2, Oracle Spending Spree and Unsecured Wireless Networks

I’m struggling to come to terms with the fact that 10g Release 2 is still not available for download. If you’re struggling to cope with its absense you can get ahead of the game by reading these articles:

Oracle Database 10g: Top Features for DBAs – Release 2 Features Addendum

Some very cool stuff has been added in this release!

Oracle has continued it’s spending spree. See: Oracle goes shopping again.

We often talk about the lack of security on wireless networks, but could we find ourselves in court if we use them? Sounds like the answer could be yes! See:

Man Arrested for Using Open Wireless Network



PS. Did I mention I was still waiting for 10g Release 2?

Star Wars, Lego and a Webcam…

I’ll start this post by stating the few facts:

  • I’m not a major Star Wars fan. I’ve watched all the films, but I’m certainly not a geek about them.
  • I played with Lego as a kid, but it’s not my thing now, unless I’m playing with my nephew.
  • I don’t own a webcam. Actually I can’t think of anything worse than seeing moving pictures of myself on the net.

That said, I think this link is really cool: Lego Start Destroyer

I just think it’s really funny. Imagine the scene, it’s midnight and you decide to build an enormous Lego model of a star destroyer that takes you 10 hours to complete. On top of that you decide to film it using your webcam to create a time-lapse recording of the event for the world to see. Fantastic!

I love technology πŸ™‚



Robert Freeman’s Blog…

I’ve just noticed that Robert Freeman has removed the ability to add comments to his blog and may stop blogging altogether, see his post entitled Removal of comments…

I hope he’s able to carry on blogging. I think it’s good to hear a variety of opinions and I like to read peoples off-topic posts as they give an idea of the personality behind the blog.