Oracle Support Sucks…. Again.

Once again Oracle provides a less than perfect service on the support front. Let’s take a look at my latest encounter.

20-JUN-2005 – I raised an iTAR because the CC and BCC lists of the UTL_MAIL.SEND procedure don’t work. Emails are sent properly for people listed in the RECIPIENTS list, but mail to CC and BCC lists never get sent. I also sent this example code:

UTL_MAIL.send(sender     => '',
recipients => '',
cc         => '',
bcc        => '',
subject    => 'UTL_MAIL Test',
message    => 'If you get this message it worked!');

Assuming these were real email addresses person1 would receive a mail, while person2 and person3 would not. I was able to repeat this issue on Tru64 and Windows.

Within a couple of hours support requested an OWC (Oracle Web Conferencing) session to investigate further. Unfortunately I never received the email of the iTAR update so I didn’t reply.

13-JUL-2005 – The iTAR gets updated asking me for an OWC session again. This time I get an email so I respond saying I don’t think an OWC session is necessary as there is nothing to show. The sample code says it all. In this case the OWC session seemed like complete waste of both our time.

14-JUL-2005 – The iTAR is updated requesting an OWC session again. I say OK and connect. During the 10 minute conference (accompanied by a phone call) my only input was to show the sample code, which was already in the iTAR. First I’m told the issue can’t be progressed as I’m not on the latest patch, to which I reply that is the latest patch for Tru64. After that the support guy searches and finds a generic bug listed as being fixed in If this bug had been public I would have found it and not raised the iTAR in the first place.

The iTAR is now closed.

Now I realize that the majority of the time wasted here is down to me waiting for an email that never came, rather than checking the iTAR status directly. Obviously, if this had been an important issue for me I would not have let it drag on so long, but the whole process took nearly 4 weeks to inform me that my problem was an existing bug. I think that’s pretty shocking, especially since the bug was found using the information from the original iTAR, not the subsequent OWC session.

Conclusion – I assume the support people work to quotas. By replying to ask a followup question or request an OWC session they can tick a box to say they’ve responded. I’m sure the statistics relating to response times at Oracle support make very impressive reading, but I believe the truth is very different.

I don’t have a problem with the support people themselves. Some are great and some are not. I just think the support process sucks! We pay a ridiculous amount of money for what I can only describe as a crappy service. These days I raise iTARs in an attempt to improve the product/documentation, not because I expect to get an answer. I’m more likely to do that by visiting a free forum or searching on Google.

I suppose I should be grateful. At least you get an answer to DB support requests. That’s more than can be said for AS10g support requests! We close those out of boredom 🙂



New Article – Partitioning an Existing Table

In a recent forum thread someone asked me to outline a method for Partitioning an Existing Table using the DBMS_REDEFINITION package. I figured this might be useful to other people so I wrote it up as an article.

I always approach partitioning with caution. Both the article and the forum thread warn against partitioning for the sake of it.



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 🙂

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 🙂

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 🙂

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?