OpenWorld 2010 T-Shirt Giveaway

A while ago I tweeted that I’d give away the T-shirts from Oracle OpenWorld 2010 that I didn’t want… Well, here they are.

Front and back of each, and backpack too. I think there’s at least one person out there that is interested, so I’ll give it a week for people to express an interest and then get them posted out.

All size “large”, but there is a bit of variation…

*Please excuse the picture quality, but I’m an iPhone 3G user so suffer with a poor camera… And I was in a rush 🙂

Please either comment on the post, contact me via Twitter or use the contact form on my company website.

OOW10: All Over

The last post covered Sunday and Monday of OpenWorld 2010, which leaves this one needing to cover Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday…


Dan Morgan – Developer Coding Strategies for Very Large Databases: Dan Morgan clearly has experience of working with very large databases and his suggestions included: consider the use of individual tablespaces for partitions so that old partitions that will no longer be updated can have the corresponding tablespace made read-only; use of INSTANCE_ID as part of the partition key in RAC environments; at 11.2 take advantage of the release of index storage when an index is made UNUSABLE. The final suggestion I noted down was to avoid the existance of NULL values by using “nonsense values”. This seems to fly in the face of the fact that the use of nonsense values can cause the optimizer problems in estimating cardinality in the absence of histograms. Maybe I have misunderstood the suggestion, but I’d definitely use caution with this.

Richard Foote – Oracle Indexes: Q & A Session: As anticipated this was an excellent session. The key points I noted during the session were: the use of ROWIDs has benefits, but this comes at a price as you can’t then move rows without the associated overhead of updating wherever you store the ROWIDs; for INDEX SKIP SCAN to be useful the leading column must be low cardinality; if you’re not sure about index (A,B) or (B,A) then put the lowest cardinality column first as this creates improved opportunity for INDEX SKIP SCAN and allows for better compression; deletes from indexes are lazy deletes, it just marks the row as deleted, but does not clear the data; heavy DML on a compressed index should be avoided. My final note reads “Separate tablespaces for indexes and data is a myth and always has been. The use of an index is a serial operation and there will be lots of table blocks read for each index block. There is no parallelisation opportunity during the scenario.”

Kevin Closson – Do-It-Yourself Exadata-like Performance: This was an interesting session. The key points I noted where: for DIY Exadata you would need 39 Nehalem EP cores just to match the Exadata offload processing (filter and projection); compression is not a performance feature, it’s a capacity feature; the first and last columns are easy to access, but aside from the last field you pay more for accessing a column later in the column order.

During Kevin’s session I spotted this tweet that reflects the view of many that are primarily interested attending sessions where they will gain technical knowledge.

Cary Millsap – Thinking Clearly about Performance: There’s not much to say about this. Cary is an excellent speaker and a PDF copy of the paper is available from the Method R website. Even thought I’d read the paper before, twice, I thought it was worthwhile attending the session.

After Cary’s presentation I headed over to Thirsty Bear for Oracle Closed World, getting there just in time to catch Kyle Hailey‘s presentation. Clearly very knowledgeable and experienced, Kyle gave an excellent demonstration of the advantages of visualising data, compared to text output.

Maria Colgan – Oracle’s Optimizer: Top Tips for Getting Optimal SQL Execution All the Time: An interesting presentation where the following were covered: check cardinality estimates using SQL Monitor;causes of incorrect statistics; usage of extended statistics. This is definitely a session worth viewing on Oracle OpenWorld On Demand.


Chen Shapira – Everything DBAs should know about TCP/IP: Having followed Chen’s blog (now at Pythian) for a while I felt confident that her presentations would be worth attending. This session did not disappoint and as the turn out was pretty low (often a problem for Unconference sessions) there was plenty of opportunity to ask questions and discuss the material. Chen started by stating, “You need to find the keywords to use when talking to be people in different teams.” I couldn’t agree more with this and this is a factor in me spending a reasonable amount of my “play” time doing “non-DBA” activities. Other points that arose during the presentation are: SQLNET.EXPIRE_TIME and tcp_keepalive_time can be used to keep communication going between client and server in order to stop the firewall killing connections that appear idle. EXPIRE_TIME is not set by default; do a quick calculation before you do anything! If this approach had been followed in the example given then it would have been clear before contracts were signed that the network was not capable of supporting the traffic generated by the database used in a Data Guard configuration across the Atlantic; discussion of how setting ARRAYSIZE/setFetchSize() can make a big impact if lots of data is being selected; use tnsping rather than ping as it is the correct protocol if you want to assess SQL*Net performance; explanation of “advertised window” and the effect of errors on window size. Another presentation that is definitely worth downloading, but unfortunately because it was Unconference rather than OpenWorld it will not be available via OpenWorld on Demand. Discussion after the session revealed the following network related blog recommendationeds:

nmap – blog post from Frits Hoogland

Wireshark – blog post (first of a 7 part series) from Charles Hooper

SQL*Net encryption – blog post from Larent Schneider

Christian Antognini – Join Techniques: Even though the presentation was based on a chapter from Christian’s book, which I had already read (and can’t recommend strongly enough), it was a session that was definitely worth attending. As the full presentation with audio should be available via Oracle OpenWorld on Demand I won’t try to cover the technical details of the session here.

Oracle Closed World – The final day of Oracle Closed World saw some great presentation from Kevin Closson, Chen Shapira and Jeff Needham. Kevin offered to talk about whatever the audience wanted to ask and covered both NUMA and SMT, as well as the odd question about guns! Chen gave a really good presentation on NoSQL. I think some people believed she was trying to encourage it’s use, but to me it appeared to be a great overview of what NoSQL is all about. Jeff talked about the use of Windows and Direct NFS.

Bloggers Meetup – I think good time was had by all and it provided a great opportunity to meet fellow bloggers. Chet Justice aka ORACLENERD has already provided good coverage of the event so I won’t replicate his work here… I came surprisingly close to winning some kind of HP network storage device, but missed out by a few signatures. If I’d have know it would be so close I would have got a few more! All good fun and good to meet people that I’ve only every interacted with electronically before.

Party – Free food, free beer and lots of trouble finding the different groups of people I was trying to hook up with due to a big delay with SMS delivery…


Jean-Pierre Dijcks – Best Practices for Managing Parallel Execution in Concurrent Environments: Had no prior knowledge of Jean-Pierre and as friends went off to different sessions I had a moment or two of doubt, questioning if I was going to regret my choice. It turned out to be the opposite. Both the information and the delivery were really good. The presentation covered use of Services, Resource Manager and the new parallelisation parameters that have come in for 11.2. If my memory serves me well then at least a year ago I’d caught an Exadata talk by Joel Goodman where he touched on the advances in Resource Manager that were on the way. From reports in the field I don’t think there is a particularly great view of Resource Manager and one reason for this is traceability of the decisions it takes. I think it was Dan Morgan that raised this during the presentation and from the response it appears that Jean-Pierre, an Oracle employee, is aware that it would be wise to address this.

Jože Senegačnik – Query Transformation: Possibly the session I’m most glad I attended. The presentation style was great; the content interesting and technical. I didn’t take too many notes as I didn’t want to miss anything. Jože gave a very clear explanation of what both ANTI and SEMI joins are; explained that the optimizer will consider all transformations that are available to it; explained Join Factorization including that Oracle have filed a patent for it; covered that join elimination requires foreign-key constraints. One thing that really jumped out at me was hearing that join elimination is not currently supported for multi-colum primary-key foreign-key constraints and I’ll blog about why this stood out to me very soon. The last slide of the presentation provided a list of references, which is always nice to see, so I’ll definitely be downloading that for further reading.

Saroj Dash – Oracle Exadata: Myths, Discoveries, and Best Practices: I didn’t really get a great deal from this presentation apart from the following: “The architecture of databases changes at 10g because of ASM.”; it is no longer possible to by the Storage Servers on their own and therefore the only option is to buy the Database Machine; don’t use EHCC (Exadata Hybrid Columnar Compression) with tables that will have updates; cost of ownership is reduced due to not having to pay for Oracle Database Server licenses for the CPUs that are on the Storage Cells. Resource Manager allows for better meeting of SLAs. I got the impression that there was some misinformation provided in the presentation that was picked up on my some members of the audience. There was certainly plenty of Q & A after.

Arup Nanda – Analyzing Application Performance in Oracle RAC: Arup is a great presenter and covered how to monitor and trace database sessions very clearly. Anyone that feels they don’t already have a good grasp of how to do this would gain a lot from catching this session via OpenWorld on Demand.

Mark Farnham – Physical Ordering of Data: Is It Ever Useful?: This was a very interesting subject and one that I felt I already knew the answer to from information I’d picked up from others. However, this was a worthwhile session as Mark talked through his testing in order to come up with not just an answer to the question, but numbers that clearly demonstrate that physical ordering can be important. By this point in the conference my brain was not working at full speed, so I’ll be watching this on reply too!

It’s a Wrap – That was all for another year. As I sat drinking beer, eating tacos and listing to the band play in the beautiful San Francisco sunshine, I felt pretty certain that I’ll make the effort to get over again next year…

OOW10: The Story So Far

One good thing about jet lag is that I’ve been waking up by at least 5 am, which has meant I have plenty of time catch up with what needs catching up on… Well, apart from sleep.

Here’s a quick summary of the first 2 days of presentations/sessions:


Exadata SIG: Although I have never worked on Exadata it is something I’m keen to learn more about, and in the ideal world I’ll find an opportunity to get hands-on experience. The SIG session was very welcoming and the discussions interesting. Of most interest to me was talk of the possibility of getting the Exadata storage cell VMs, that some have seen used by Oracle employees, out in the wider community. Personally I would see this as an excellent way for Oracle to improve the chance of organisations adopting Exadata. After all, before taking on a new proposition like Exadata it would be sensible to do everything possible to ensure staff are appropriately skilled. Most organisations aren’t going to be able to afford to have play Exadata environments, so VMs would be a great solution… If you are interested in Exadata then I suggest joining the group on LinkedIn.

Richard Foote – Oracle Indexing Tips, Tricks and Traps: An excellent and informative presentation. There’s no point me trying to reproduce the highlights as I believe Richard will be making the presentation available on his blog. In the meantime you could spend hours learning about indexing from the material already available in the Presentations & Demos section of this site (some of which was covered in the presentation).

Rich Niemiec – Tuning Oracle at The Block Level – Beginners Go Away: Personally I find Rich’s presentations inspiring, but be warned he moves through slides at a fast pace. Rich said the presentation will be available on his company’s website and I guess it will end up here. Right now it looks like there is a previous version of the presentation, from 2006, available as well as a host of other interesting looking ones.

Craig Shallahamer – Resolving Buffer Busy Waits: It seemed to take Craig a little while to get going, but when he did I found him to be an excellent presenter with the ability to keep interest by giving the components of Oracle Database Server personalities. This session certainly helped me better understand the internals of buffer cache management. There were some fantastic quotations including: “Every block wants to be in the buffer cache… That’s where the party is!” Presentation here.

Anthony Noriega – Oracle Automatic Storage Management Load Balancing: By this point I was pretty worn out and maybe I had the wrong expectation regarding this presentation, but I didn’t see it through to the end. It wasn’t that the content was not interesting, it was, but it was almost all stuff I was already aware of. In fact the only think I picked up was that ASM_POWER_LIMIT has a range of 0 – 1024 from 11.2, which I’ve just tried to validate and the official documentation shows 0 – 11 (local copy of 11.2 docs as I can’t hit right now) … If I’d not already spent so much time on ASM I would have got more from the session, so I’m sure there will be others that have a different view.

After the conference sessions were over I met up with friends and enjoyed the free food and beer. I spend most of the duration of the keynote presentation discussing Oracle security, so can’t really comment too much on Exalogic.


Kamran Agayev – RMAN 11g New Features with practical demonstrations: This was my first Unconference session and really summed up what Unconference has to offer. There were less than 10 people in the room and we had the please of an excellent overview of the 11g new features, with live demos. Highlights for me were the demo of the Data Recovery Advisor and introduction of the ability to restore a database with only a backup and auxiliary instance as detailed here. If you have any desire to know more about RMAN and how to get the most out of it then I’d strongly recommend you follow Kamran’s blog.

Craig Shallahamer – Optimizing Internal Serialization Control: Another interesting session. The presentation is available from Craig’s OraPub website, but the one thing you don’t get when you’re not actually at the presentation you miss out of the way Craig talks about the Oracle memory structures. My favourite from this session was, “Gimme, gimme, gimme” (server process trying to acquire a latch).

At this point I went over to Oracle Closed World and could Arup Nanda and Tanel Poder both give presentations. If you’re reading this blog and you don’t know these guys then you need to get over to their blogs and spend some time reading their material. There are plenty of good presenter in the world of Oracle, but these two are right up there and do an excellent job of sharing their knowledge.

Rich Niemiec – Exadata for Beginners: I didn’t take any notes during this presentation other than writing down the following quotation: “Wanna teach your kids something of value, teach them Oracle!” I have to agree when I was starting my career in IT about 6 years ago I had no idea what Oracle would be today. The presentation is probably best described as a whistle-stop tour of what Exadata is and how it is evolving.

The OTN Night party provided the required refreshments and an unexpected opportunity to meet Jeremy Schneider of Ardent Performance Computing. The conversation ran on after the OTN Night and we onto a bar to catch up with with Karl Arao, who had presented earlier at Closed World.

Well, I started this writing this post first thing this morning and there has now been another whole day of sessions that I’ll write about soon.

As I final note, I did my first Oracle related presentation today (at Closed World) 🙂

OOW10: Too Much To Do It All

One of the problems I have when attending any conference is knowing which sessions I most want to be at. I’ve spent a few hours using Schedule Builder over the past few weeks to build a plan of how I’ll spend my time at OpenWorld. There were a few conflicts, but I’ve managed to decide on my priorities, which was easier now I don’t have to consider what my manager would want or what would be most applicable to my current employer. I decide on my priorities now, so I can focus on the subjects I’m most interested in.

From my experience so far I feel the Schedule Builder is much improved over last year. I don’t even remember what it was that I didn’t like about it, but it just feels better 🙂 (very scientific!)

… Anyway, the point is that just when you’ve got a schedule arrange for OpenWorld, you realise that Unconference is not to be missed, then you see a tweet drawing to your attention to Oracle Enterpise Linux sessions that you’ve overlooked, then you see another tweet mentioning Oracle Closed World

There just simply isn’t enough time available to attend everything I would like to be at. I’m going to have to miss some things that scream “simply unmissable!”

I’m just going to have to go with the flow and accept the fact that I might not end up in some of the sessions that I originally planned to be in, but as long as I’m enjoying the session I’m in then it’s all good…

OOW10: The Build Up

This is the first in a series of posts I’ll do about Oracle OpenWorld 2010. The focus of the posts will not always be technical, so if you’re only really interested in the technical stuff then posts with the title prefix of “OOW10” might not be of any interest… Including this one 🙂

I first attended OpenWorld last year, when I was lucky enough to work for a company/manager that saw the benefit of encouraging the geeks in the team. I loved the experience of OpenWorld and came back to the UK with even more enthusiasm for getting to know the technical detail of Oracle Database 11.2 and how I could apply it.

Since then I’ve left the world of permanent employment and set up my own company. There is no specific training/conference budget to speak of, so I was looking for ways to keep costs down. I was aware of the blogger program for OpenWorld from people I’d met last year and was hopeful that I’d be accepted so that I could attend again.

For reasons that I’ve not been able to establish it took much longer for my application for to be accepted than for some others I know, which gave me about a month of thinking that I’d have to miss out this year… Then it came! The confirmation email arrived on 10th August and that kicked off a flurry of activity booking flights and arranging accommodation.

As we get closer and closer to the event the activity on Twitter (hash tag #oow10) and on blogs is really starting to pick up. One of the must attend events of OpenWorld for bloggers is the “Bloggers Meetup“. Last year I had to leave early as in order to catch up with friends that just happened to be in San Francisco as a stop over during their relocation from the UK to New Zealand! This year I should be able to be there the entire evening.

For me one of the highlights of last year was to pick up on the fact that Unconference was something to pay attention to. People go to Oracle OpenWorld for many reasons and it’s not going to be what everyone is looking for, but last year I attended sessions with Jonathan Lewis, Richard Foote and Cary Millsap that were extremely worthwhile.

I look forward to meeting old friends and making new ones. If you’re reading this and attending OpenWorld then get in contact and we’ll meet up… The count down beings 🙂

Oracle OpenWorld – First Keynote

At the end of a busy first day at Oracle OpenWorld 2009 I took myself along to the first keynote presentation “Extreme Innovation”. I wasn’t sure if it would be worth going to what is clearly focused on marketing and customer relations rather than technical education, but it was…

The number of people, size of the screens and general buzz in the room was something worth experiencing and that’s before anyone even started talking. You can watch highlights on the Oracle site. It is hard to not marvel at how Larry Ellison has grown Oracle and for all the chatter to the contrary it does appear that Oracle a full committed to SPARC, Solaris, Java and MySQL.