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Technical

November/December Highlights

In the Oracle technical universe, it seems that the end of the calendar year is always eventful. First there’s OpenWorld: obviously significant for official announcements and insight into Oracle’s strategy. It’s also the week when many top engineers around the world meet up in San Francisco to catch up over beers – justifying hotel and flight expenses by preparing technical presentations of their most interesting and recent problems or projects. UKOUG and DOAG happen shortly after OpenWorld with a similar (but more European) impact – and December seems to mingle the domino effect of tweets and blog posts inspired by the conference social activity with holiday anticipation at work.

I avoided any conference trips this year but I still noticed the usual surge in interesting twitter and blog activity. It seems worthwhile to record a few highlights of the past two months as the year wraps up.

First, four new scripts that look very interesting:
1. Utility: getMOSpatch (doc: blog)- useful script for downloading a specific patch from MOS. I had tried something similar for RACattack back in 2011. This script written by Maris Elsins looks to be very good. I’ve downloaded this and read up on it but haven’t tried it out yet.
2. Perf: ashtop and ash_wait_chains (doc: blog 1, blog 2) – from the author of snapper, here are two more excellent tools for general performance troubleshooting and quickly pulling information from the ASH. The chains script is an especially brilliant idea – it reports from ASH using a hierarchical join on the blocking_session column. Check out Tanel’s blog posts for details and examples. I’ve used both of these scripts while troubleshooting production issues during the past month.
3. Perf/CPU: fulltime (doc: slides) – Linux specific utility to drill down into CPU-intensive processes. Similar to Tanel’s OStackProf but seems a bit more robust (runs server-side without the windows/vbscript dependencies, also brings cpu/kernel together with wait info in a single report). Rather than oradebug, this uses new lightweight linux kernel instrumentation (perf) to report a sample-based profile of what the Oracle kernel is doing by internal function. This was a collaborative effort by Craig Shallahamer and Frits Hoogland and there are several related articles on both blogs about how it works. I’ve downloaded this but haven’t tried it out yet.
4. Perf/Visualization: [Ora/Py] LatencyMap (doc: blog/sqlplus, blog/python) – very cool looking program which gives a heatmap visual representation of metrics such as I/O. I’m a huge fan of visualizations and use graphical tools daily as a DBA. Make sure to check out the recorded demo of this utility!

I love exploring utilities like these. It brings out my nerdy side a little, that’s why I mentioned them first… :) But there are a few other highlights that come to mind from the past few months too!

On the topic of utilities, I have been working with Tanel’s “tpt” script collection quite a bit during the course of my day-to-day job. I fired out a question this month to the oracle-l mailing list about other publicly posted script collections, and I got the impression that there just aren’t many script collections posted publicly! Here’s the list I came up with:

Script Collections:
- Tanel Poder (tpt), see also E2SN for even more
- Tim Hall (oracle-base)
- Kerry Osborne (2010 Hotsos Presentation), see also various blog articles for many updated scripts
- Tim Gorman
- Jeff Hunter

I’ve also read lots of other interesting stuff this month. Three things I remember off the top of my head:
- In 2012, Yury Velikanov wrote up a presentation about oracle database backups. Last month, Maris Elsins made a few tweaks and delivered the updated presentation at UKOUG. The slide deck is a worthwhile read – everybody should be able to learn something from it. If you didn’t see it when Yury first released it last year then take a few minutes to check it out.
- I was interested to read Kellyn Pot’Vin‘s slides about Database as a Service (DBaaS). This is an area I’ve been working on a lot lately and it intersects with my Operationally Scalable Practices series of articles. She’s always got good content about OEM on her blog too – being a heavy OEM user these days, I tend to read what Kellyn’s writing.
- Kyle Hailey recorded Christo Kytrovsky‘s excellent OakTable World talk about Oracle, Memory and Linux. Worth listening to sometime.

You may already be aware but I have to mention that RAC Attack has hit the accelerator lately! Through an international collaborative effort, the curriculum was updated to version 12c of the database before OpenWorld 2013 and this was followed by a rapid series of workshops. During the past three months, there have been four workshops in three different countries – and there are more coming on the calendar!

Finally, two quick “news” type mentions. First, I’ve personally tryed to avoid much of the “engineered systems” buzz (not sure why)… but I did notice the new exadata release this month. Second, oracle made an acquisition this year which was particularly significantly to me: a chicago-based company called BigMachines. You may not have heard of this company – but it happens to be mentioned on my LinkedIn profile.

These are a handful of interesting things I remember seeing over the past two months. Please leave me a comment and mention anything else that you noticed recently – I’m very interested to hear any additional highlights!

About Jeremy Schneider

Doing stuff with Oracle Database, Performance, Clusters, Linux. about.me/jeremy_schneider

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(a) The views expressed on this website are mine alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of my employer.

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