Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Oracle OpenWorld Day 3

Day 3 of OpenWorld was probably the best day of the conference for me so far.  The sessions were great but the networking was really the highlight of my day.

I spent most of day 3 on the DEMOgrounds, fielding questions to vendors from Quest, EMC, NetApp, Oracle and a few others.  I also had an interesting discussion with the EMC representative regarding their Symmetrix storage and its use in ASM.  He shed some light on the reasons why storage admins create LUNs the way they do for ASM, and what they really need to do for each implementation.  Likewise with NetApp, I got a demo of their SnapManager for Oracle tool for doing backups and recovery in a virtualized environment.  I currently use RMAN for all production backup and recovery related tasks but with more organizations moving towards virtualization of their infrastructure - including databases, it was worth exploring how this will be handled by the different products. SMO seemed to do a good job - backup of a 200GB database took less than 2 minutes and restores were less than 5 minutes.  This uses the underlying snapshot technology of the NetApp storage and since no blocks are being copied, it becomes a very fast operation.  This opens many of possibilities too, like cloning environments for testing, but I'll have to get it set up in the work environment and do some hands on before making a final judgement.

Since this was Oracle OpenWorld, I decided to take a look at some of the other new features for the database that were being demoed - Smart Flash Cache, Edition Based Re-defintion and the Upgrade Advisor on My Oracle Support portal.  Smart Flash Cache enables faster query processing by reserving a section of solid-state storage for a level-2 type cache.  It's less expensive than main memory and faster than spindled disks, so it has some benefits in performance.  I think it is only supported on Linux and Solaris platforms right now.

Edition Based Redefinition is used to provide high availability of applications during upgrades. Edition views and triggers are used to create and synchronize multiple versions of an application object, which allow applications to be upgraded without users even knowing what was done.  However, this requires a one-time downtime for setup.  A cool feature to be explored some more.  Tom Kyte has a few articles on the topic in Oracle Magazine.

The Upgrade Advisor was another new tool that I got to look at.  It's actually a wizard driven advisor for upgrading Oracle products.  I particularly took interest in this since it eliminated the need to be a search guru if you wanted information on performing database upgrades.  This will guide you through the steps, provides checklists and a list of tasks to be performed at each stage of the upgrade process.  There is an Oracle Database 10g to 11g advisor as well as a few others but sadly no Enterprise Manager advisor yet.  They are planning on expanding the offering to as many Oracle products as possible in the future.

Like I mentioned before, the highlight of my day was the networking opportunities with peers.  I attended a My Oracle Support Community Meet-up at the Metreon Tilt Arcade for some food, games and drinks and met some cool geeks from Chicago, LA and Ghana and the process!  I wouldn't exactly call myself a beer drinker but the occasion called for throwing back a couple. The beers must have sunken in because I actually walked back to my hotel a half mile away for the first time.
Looking forward to day 4... appreciation night with Black Eyed Peas!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Oracle OpenWorld Day 2

I started off my day somewhat later than planned, although I was up from 4:00 am.  Having been bitten by the dullness of previous day's keynotes I decided to skip this morning's session with John Fowler, Edward Screven and Mark Hurd.  My first session was at 11am so I decided to use the time and do some 'fun' stuff.  The DEMOgrounds was where I headed to try and bag some free swag before any cerebral activities.  There were quite a number of vendors displaying their wares - most of which were giving away some items in return for marketing opportunities.  By far the most popular giveaway item was iPads.  EMC claims that they are giving away an iPad every hour, with several other vendors attempting to follow suit.  I even had time to shoot some hoops in the Game Zone.

After all the fun I sat in the the database general session with Andrew Mendelsohn - Why Standardize on Oracle Database 11g.  Andy kicked things off talking about new features in 11g since OpenWorld 2009.  These include Golden Gate and Active Data Guard, new features in Secure Backup, SQL Developer 2.1 and the now free Data Modeler, Berkley DB 11g Release 2 and Apex 4.0.  He then went on to discuss the ubiquitous Exadata Database Machine x2-2 and it's benefits in performance for OLTP workloads.

My next sessions were a less than impressive Enterprise Manager session and an informative case study about Optimizing your databases with policy-managed Oracle RAC with Markus Michalewicz of the RAC pack.  Policy-managed databases uses the concept of server pools to dynamically manage services and workload in a RAC configuration.  This is opposed to using standard administrator managed databases with manual workload management.  Policy-managed databases are more suitable for RAC databases with more than 4 nodes and in which nodes are added or removed frequently.  Services can then be mapped to specific server pools which are defined with a minimum and maximum number of instances which can be running in a pool at any given time.  It is truly a grid computing concepts which makes managing many nodes more efficient.  Markus went on to mention two complementary technologies - instance caging and Quality of Service Management new in

I spent the last part of the day in two hands-on labs.  I finally got a chance to play with Oracle VM.  In the first hands-on lab we learned how to download Oracle VM templates and deploy Oracle database 11g.  The templates consisted of a fully-functional Oracle Enterprise Linux 5 OS (JeOS) with Oracle Database 11g w/ASM.  As in most hands-on labs that I've ever attended we encountered some issues while deploying the templates. It turns out that the VM manager crashed.  After several hiccups we eventually completed the deployment.  Pretty fun stuff (for a geek).  My second hands-on lab was Patch Provisioning and Automation using Enterprise Manager 11g.  This went a lot smoother but there were too many tasks to really grasp any concepts.

At the end of the day I decided to listen to Thomas Kurian talk about all the Java stuff in the JavOne keynote.  In a former life it would've all made sense to me.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Oracle OpenWorld Day 1 (review)

So User Group Forum day has come and gone. The IOUG sessions were pretty good.  Naturally I was focusing on RAC, Grid Infrastructure/ASM etc.  My favourite session of the day was the Grid 2.0 session by Pythian's Alex Gorbachev - high entertainment value (oh yeah I learned stuff too). Running a close second to that was the Oracle Experts panel - pretty informative discussions but there wasn't enough time to answer all the questions.

I also got to meet up with some pretty cool guys from twitterland - Chet (oraclenerd), Sunil Ranka and even ran into Alex  in between sessions.

Chet and myself met up at the Welcome Keynote where we were expecting to have front-row seats - with our press/blogger pass and all.  Too late.  Safra Catz gave the opening welcome and introduced the HP keynote speakers.  This proved to be the most agonizing hour for most attendees including myself.  After what seemed like an eternity Larry did his own long pre-introductory ritual via the BMW/Oracle racing (by the way it won the America's Cup).  Larry announced the ExaLogic Cloud Computing machine -- cloud in a box (see my previous post), Fusion Apps and Unbreakable Enterprise Kernel - a new version of Oracle's Enterprise Linux which breaks away from the Red Hat compatible version.

It was a good first day overall.  Looking forward to today's sessions.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Another Oracle OpenWorld Day 1 Post

Gonna jump on the OpenWorld bloggers bandwagon this morning with another 'Day 1' post.

I arrived in SF last night at about 9pm via OAK. Found my way to the hotel fairly easily apart from going in the wrong direction after coming off the BART. Quickly checked google maps and made a u-turn.
There was some difficulty sleeping last night due to all the roadside traffic.  Since I was up at about 2:30am I checked out the OpenWorld iPhone app to do mobile check-in via SMS.  There was a reply from my CHECKIN text message that asked where I wanted to pick up my badge - Hilton or Moscone West.  I chose the latter and a second later I got another reply telling me that I can pick up my badge at that location when it reopens at 10am.

Today is user group forum day - MySQL, IOUG, ODTUG etc.  I'll be at the IOUG sessions so I plan on heading out about 10am to pick up my badge and like most other folks on my twitter list check out the first session at 12:30 pm.

3:30pm update --

After a not too lengthy registration registration this morning - I met up with a couple of friends and hung out for a bit.  I then attended two IOUG sessions - both RAC & Grid related.  The second speaker was Pythian's Alex Gorbachev who presented an informative and humorous session on Grid 2.0.  In his presentation Alex hinted at something that has been floating in mind since I arrived in SF.  Oracle will announce their own private cloud - PaaS offering.  Some of my associates seem to agree, having seen the new Oracle Database Machine v3 (ExaLogic).  This would make sense seeing that they have Sun's hardware in house plus all the resources behind it.  Personally, I was hoping to see and "Iron Man Machine" (remember Larry's cameo in Iron Man 2?).

I have another IOUG session to attend at 4:00pm and the Welcome keynote at 5:30pm.  Updates after the break...

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

How to find Oracle Patchset

After being 'leaked' last week, the Oracle patchset for Linux  x86/x86_64 was officially made public on 09/13.
If you were like me, frantically searching e-delivery, MOS and OTN to find the files to download - login to My Oracle Support, click on Patches.  Under the Patching Quick Patch Links section on the top left click on Latest Patchsets under Oracle Server/Tools.  Select the architecture required (x86 or x86_64), download and install (after reading the Readme of course).   There are 7 files in all for a total of (4.8GB) but you may not need all of them (though I'm pretty sure I'll be downloading everything).

For everyone else not running on the 'Penguin Platform' you'll just have to wait until the other releases become available.

Some of the changes are pretty significant while some new features were added.  One of the most notable changes is that the patchset is a full-install - no longer required to install the base version first.  All upgrades are recommended out-of-place.  Grid Infrastructure upgrades are required to be out-of-place.

Important Changes to Oracle Database Patch Sets Starting With [ID 1189783.1]

Oracle Database 11g Release 2 ( New features Guide

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Oracle OpenWorld Schedule Builder

For all those going to OpenWorld this year - Schedule Builder has been the tool of choice to help navigate the thousands of sessions being presented/demoed.   I initially started putting together my agenda on July 22 with the IOUG events.  However, after several re-iterations and fine-tuning my schedule I realized that my sessions disappeared from the calendar of the Build Agenda section.

I checked the My Agenda section and all my sessions were still there.  Thinking it was a minor glitch of some sort, I wasn't too troubled hoping that things would reappear once the 'glitch' was worked out.  I forgot about it after several weeks and when I finally got around to logging back in I realized that my sessions were not restored.  Seeing that I spent several hours in building the schedule, I really wasn't thrilled about rebuilding from scratch.  I fired off an email to the OpenWorld registration team in the hope that they could help fix the issue.  They recommended rebuilding my schedule...not what I wanted to hear.  Anyways, I started rebuilding process only to realize that many of the sessions that I already selected were now full.  Today I logged in to Schedule Builder and to my surprise all of originally selected sessions had magically re-appeared.