Sunday, October 21, 2007

Hotsos Profiler Extension for SQL Developer

Hotsos has released its Profiler extension for SQL Developer. The extension is free but you must have a license for the profiler for the extension to do you any good.

The profiler works almost like the Explain Plan tool in SQL Developer. Enter the text you want to profile, press a key and then view the output.

You do need access to the trace files that are generated. The page linked above had instructions on how to enable access and what permissions you need.

A neat feature is that you can save profiling sessions for historical access. That can be a life saver if you are trying to tune and are trying out different approaches. Instead of keeping your own backups, use the history. You can also share that history so that all of you developers have the same baseline. Nice.

Hotsos also provides a discussion group for questions relating to the extension. If you are a Hotsos profiler user, you should check out this extension.

Friday, October 19, 2007

CUNY Chooses Oracle

City University of New York (CUNY) has standardized on PeopleSoft Financials, Human Capital and Campus Solutions. Of course, all of this will be running on Oracle 11g and, eventually, Fusion.

"We chose Oracle to provide the highest quality service and advanced solutions to accommodate our institutions' various sizes and non-traditional programs," said Brian Cohen, CUNY's chief information officer and co-project leader for CUNY FIRST. "We chose Oracle's PeopleSoft Enterprise Campus Solutions 9.0 for the new capabilities this version offered and look forward to leveraging it to transform our student information system."

CUNY selected Oracle due to the functionality and scalability of its applications - vital factors considering CUNY's unique composition of senior and community colleges and other programs and institutions - and the number of PeopleSoft implementations within higher education institutions in the U.S. Oracle's application solutions and database will enable CUNY to implement a single database instance for the entire university in a true multi-institution configuration.

"We chose Oracle to provide the highest quality service and advanced solutions to accommodate our institutions' various sizes and non-traditional programs," said Brian Cohen, CUNY's chief information officer and co-project leader for CUNY FIRST. "We chose Oracle's PeopleSoft Enterprise Campus Solutions 9.0 for the new capabilities this version offered and look forward to leveraging it to transform our student information system."

CUNY selected Oracle due to the functionality and scalability of its applications - vital factors considering CUNY's unique composition of senior and community colleges and other programs and institutions - and the number of PeopleSoft implementations within higher education institutions in the U.S. Oracle's application solutions and database will enable CUNY to implement a single database instance for the entire university in a true multi-institution configuration.

Ron Spalter, deputy chief operating officer and co-project Leader for CUNY FIRST stated, "It was significant to us that Oracle offered CUNY the Oracle Insight program, which we refined to focus on a high profile area for CUNY students - financial aid. We are working with Oracle to frame, analyze and resolve a number of outstanding opportunities in this area."

The City University of New York is the nation's largest urban public university. CUNY comprises 23 institutions: 11 senior colleges, six community colleges, the William E. Macaulay Honors College at CUNY, the Graduate School and University Center, the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism, the CUNY School of Law at Queens College, the CUNY School of Professional Studies and the Sophie Davis School of Biomedical Education. The University serves more than 231,000 degree-credit students and 230,000 adult, continuing, and professional education students. College Now, the University's academic enrichment program for 32,500 high school students, is offered at CUNY campuses and more than 300 high schools throughout the five boroughs of the City of New York.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Oracle's Letter to Bea

Oracle tried to buy Bea, Bea slapped them down, Oracle responds:

October 12, 2007
Board of Directors
BEA Systems, Inc.
2315 North First Street
San Jose, CA 95131

Dear Members of the Board of Directors:
As discussed with your management team, Oracle remains available to discuss and complete a transaction quickly and efficiently.

We believe that it is important to clarify the sequence of activities that have transpired over the past few days. Upon receipt of Bill Klein's letter dated October 11, I contacted him to address any process concerns. Bill and I agreed on an accelerated process that would be, by anyone's standard, "short in duration" and not "open-ended" and that would permit BEA to not "divulge competitively sensitive information."

BEA's management agreed to meet this morning at 10:00am Pacific time to commence a process intended to result in the execution of definitive agreements before the open of business on Monday, October 15. Unfortunately, BEA cancelled the meeting late last night and declined our invitations to reschedule. In my subsequent discussions with Bill earlier today, I asked whether there was any process that BEA would prefer to follow to move towards a friendly transaction and was told that BEA had no such process in mind.

We are available to proceed immediately with a process that would lead to a friendly transaction. In the meantime, we remain committed to our proposed price of $17.00 per share, provided that the BEA Board and management team do not institute any measures which reduce the value of the company or shift value from BEA's shareholders to the management team. Our proposed price is a substantial premium to an already-inflated stock price that reflected speculation of the potential sale of BEA and represents a more than 40% premium to BEA's stock price before the appearance of activist shareholders in mid-August of this year.

Charles Phillips

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Oracle Makes PHP Code Open Source (PHP License)

Oracle today announced the contribution and a preview release of an enhanced Oracle Call Interface (OCI8) database driver for PHP. This helps bring breakthrough scalability to PHP applications, further enhancing PHP as a viable development environment for mission-critical applications. The OCI8 database driver for PHP supports important Oracle® Database features such as connection pooling and fast application notification, enabling a single industry-standard server to support tens of thousands of database connections while providing higher availability.

The enhanced OCI8 database driver for PHP provides new, improved integration between PHP and Oracle Database 11g, to allow a server-side connection pool shareable across web servers and languages, significantly enhancing the scalability of web-based systems. Highlights include:

* Breakthrough Scalability -- leveraging Oracle Database 11g's Database Resident Connection Pool (DRCP) feature, a large number of users can be supported with significantly reduced memory consumption. Multiple web servers running on different systems can share a single database connection pool, helping to further reduce consumption of system resources;

* High Availability -- supports advanced Oracle Database features such as fast application notification with Oracle Real Application Clusters and Oracle Data Guard. PHP applications can benefit from reduced downtime and higher levels of availability with this feature;

* Extended Compatibility -- existing PHP applications can take advantage of DRCP and fast application notification without changes in application code, resulting in an immediate boost in scalability, enabling more efficient hardware utilization and lower TCO.

"Oracle continues its long track record of contributions to the open source community, and with this OCI8 database driver for PHP we also help PHP developers leverage the power of the industry-leading Oracle Database 11g," said Ken Jacobs, vice president Product Strategy, Server Technologies, Oracle. "With these new enterprise-class features that Oracle brings to the PHP community, we expect to further strengthen PHP as a tool of choice and expand use of Oracle Database for Web 2.0 and mission-critical enterprise application deployments."

Oracle Awarded for Innovation

Oracle won the CMP Channel VARBusiness 2007 Tech Innovator award in the Business Enterprise category for the Oracle SOA Suite. The SOA Suite is part of Oracle Fusion. SOA Suite is Oracle's answer to web services and service oriented architecture.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Team Oracle Flies for Fleet Week

Awesome picture over San Fran.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Video Game Distributor Chooses Oracle Demantra

Jack of all Games, the largest dedicated full line stocking video games distributor in the United States, has successfully implemented Oracle's Demantra to revamp its demand planning and forecasting operations. The leading game distributor implemented Oracle's Demantra to establish an efficient and reliable process for capturing and managing information while streamlining sales and ordering. Jack of all Games maintains exclusive distribution agreements with Take 2, Globalstar, Rockstar and Gathering of Developers to ensure that the hottest game titles reach national retailers as quickly as possible.

"Across the United States, we are shipping the latest games to all major retailers as well as many regional locations, video stores and all branches of the military. To ensure that our supply is consistent with our customers' demand, we needed a solution that would help to ensure that the right games, in the appropriate quantities are available when needed," said Jack of all Games Director, Manufacturing and Distribution Systems, David Moon. "After evaluating multiple vendor offerings, Oracle's Demantra stood out as the most comprehensive, scalable demand planning solution available today. The implementation took place in less time than originally forecasted and under budget."

Friday, September 28, 2007

The Coming of the Oracle Database Appliance

It looks like Oracle is making the move towards appliances, albeit in a more componentized way.

Oracle today announced the Oracle Optimized Warehouse Initiative to help accelerate data warehouse deployments by offering a choice of optimized solutions that combine the performance, reliability and scalability of Oracle(r) Database with hardware and storage from industry leading manufacturers.

As part of this initiative, Dell, EMC and Oracle today introduced the initial Oracle Optimized Warehouse. (See today's related press release at: ). Available through Dell, the Oracle Optimized Warehouse for Dell and EMC is comprised of Dell PowerEdge servers, EMC CLARiiON networked storage systems and Oracle Database.

"As the data warehousing market continues to grow and mature, Oracle is evolving to meet the changing needs of our customers," said Ray Roccaforte, vice president of Data Warehousing and Business Intelligence Platform, Oracle. "With the Oracle Optimized Warehouse Initiative, customers no longer need to choose between proprietary data warehouse solutions and Oracle-based solutions custom built on leading hardware platforms. Oracle now delivers the advantages of its market-leading database within a simple-to-buy, pre-built product optimized for data warehousing out-of-the-box."

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Oracle vs SAP gets trial date

Are you following this case? Didn't SAP admit wrong doing? Why is this going to court?

From ZDNet, Oracle vs SAP gets trial date.

Here are the key dates:

* Feb. 12, 2008: Another case management hearing.
* Nov. 13, 2008: The last date the judge will hear motions regarding the case.
* Feb. 9, 2009: The trial date.

Seems like a huge waste of resources to me.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Oracle Struts Its Software

A good article on Motley Fool, discusses Oracle's outstanding financial performance. I still think Oracle needs to do more to counter open source offerings but numbers like these are hard to argue with.

The numbers continue to speak for themselves at Oracle. First-quarter sales advanced 26% and earnings grew 28%. Better yet, new software license revenue grew 35%, well ahead of the 23% growth in license updates and product support and the 25% improvement in services revenue. Management explained it by noting that its installed base is growing, which only leads to lucrative product updates and related services down the road.

It looks like buying out the competition is having a doubly good effect. The competition no longer exists so Oracle really rules the business software arena. While competitors on the database market have made good progress (I'm talking DB2 v9, Postgres 8.2 and MySQL 5.2), they are always playing catchup. DB2 V9 started closing in on Oracle 10g but 11g creates a new playing field. Postgres and MySQL are working hard but still have a long way to go.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Dubai Police Depend on Oracle

Dubai Police has chosen Oracle as their database of choice.

Dubai Police has achieved remarkable returns on its technology investment as a result of deploying Oracle software solutions. Oracle built a robust foundation to automate and streamline Dubai Police's messaging processes with its market-leading Oracle® Database software. The solution now serves more than 5000 internal users.

"As a major government entity, Dubai Police has a growing pool of internal and external IT users - employees and clients respectively. In line with Dubai Government's e-government initiative, Dubai Police had a strategic need to migrate toward an enterprise-level IT infrastructure to enhance productivity and streamline operations," said Colonel Ahmed Hamdan Bin Dalmook, manager e-services department, Dubai Police. "We wanted to organise and automate our daily correspondence, and align our business processes between departments."

Friday, September 14, 2007

Oracle® Database 11g Running on HP with Windows Sets New World Record

Nifty! Oracle® Database 11g Running on HP with Windows Sets New World Record.

Oracle announced a new world record price/performance result with the TPC-C benchmark running Oracle® Database 11g on Windows. With this result, Oracle now holds the top two record benchmark positions in the coveted Top Ten TPC-C price/performance category. Optimized for small, medium and growing businesses (SMBs), the combination of Oracle Database 11g and Windows on an HP ProLiant server provides an ideal platform to meet these companies' individual business needs. This benchmark result further demonstrates Oracle's commitment to providing customers of all sizes unmatched price/performance and scalability.

"Out of the gate, Oracle Database 11g sets a new price/performance bar for the industry and it will continue to excel as it matures," said Juan Loaiza, senior vice president Systems Technology, Oracle. "This benchmark result furthers Oracle's commitment to SMBs, and our continuing promise to deliver on a long tradition of database excellence. SMBs that once thought Oracle was only for large enterprises need to take another look at Oracle Database."

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Oracle Buys Netsure, Analytics Provider

Ireland based Netsure, a communications intelligence and analytics provider, will become part of Oracle's Communications Global Business Unit, which delivers compelling communications-specific applications to service providers worldwide.

"The addition of Netsure's products to Oracle's comprehensive communications applications suite is expected to help Oracle's customers improve network utilization, optimize capacity planning and financial modeling, and streamline end-to-end network lifecycle management," said Oracle Senior Vice President and General Manager, Bhaskar Gorti. "In conjunction with Oracle's ERP, supply chain, inventory management and network discovery solutions, Oracle plans to provide service providers the ability to improve their network ROI and increase their operational efficiency as they launch, deploy and profit from next-generation IP services."

Monday, September 3, 2007

Employers, Post Your Job Here

I have signed up with a new service, Job-a-matic, to list and promote Oracle related jobs. Why would you want to list your jobs here?

  • This is a job listing that targets Oracle professionals. As such, you can target your Oracle needs to a very specific market.
  • It’s easy to post jobs to Oracle-Jobs using Job-a-matic’s four step process.
  • Your jobs will also be posted across the entire Simply Hired jobs network, which includes sites like MySpace Jobs, LinkedIn, MyWay and, of course, Simply Hired.
  • I will promote and high-light weekly job offers.
  • At $75/month per listing, it’s a darn good deal!
  • Do you really need Oracle-savvy talent? Give Oracle-Jobs a try.

Oracle Jobs

I am now listing Oracle Jobs here on the Oracle DB News blog. You can click the banner above or on the list of jobs to the right.

You can also click this banner:

If you need a job, think about going this route.


Friday, August 31, 2007

Common Mistakes in Oracle PL/SQL Programming

I was browsing around YouTube tonight and ran across this video of a webinar that Steve Feuerstein did back in 2005. It's about an hour long. He covers various pl/sql tips that for the most part you should know by now unless you are just starting out. It is probably a good refresher for someone who doesn't spend most of their time coding PL/SQL.

Some of the things he calls mistakes, I would not. Some are just preference issues. Worth watching though.


Tuesday, August 28, 2007

A Match Made In Heaven

eHarmony, the large, internet dating site selects Oracle. eHarmony, who call themselves the #1 relationship service, has chosen Oracle to run its websites and data warehouse.

eHarmony uses its patented Compatibility Matching System, developed from 35 years of clinical and empirical research, to match highly compatible singles online. To support the more than 10,000 new users who register each day, eHarmony required a data management solution that would scale to accommodate its growing user base and to help ensure that its site is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. To enhance its online services and end user experience, eHarmony contracted Cloud Creek Systems, Inc., a Southern California-based Oracle Certified Partner, to assist in the migration of eHarmony's Web sites and data warehouse to Oracle. eHarmony deployed Oracle Database 10g, Oracle Real Application Clusters, Oracle Clusterware, Oracle Automatic Storage Management, and Oracle Enterprise Manager 10g on multiple Sun Fire X4600 servers running Windows.

In addition to its clustered environment, eHarmony operates a rapidly growing Oracle data warehouse to support its extensive real-time and historical reporting initiatives. Oracle Partitioning is used in conjunction with the data warehouse to improve performance. eHarmony's Data Analytics Group relies on the information to support critical business decisions such as how to improve service offerings and enhance the eHarmony customer experience.

"We moved to Oracle because our services required greater scalability and availability," said Mark Douglas, vice president of technology, eHarmony. "We felt we had reached the limits with our previous platform. As a result of the move to Oracle, we're able to confidently support more users and we've improved Web site performance."

Monday, August 27, 2007

Army Corps Chooses Oracle 11g

From, Army Corps ready to build on Oracle 11g, Researchers find potentially valuable advances in Web services and working with geographic data.

The Army Corps of Engineers has been beta testing Oracle 11g and is planning to use new Geo-Spatial extensions and 3D data types.

“Our geospatial information and our business information are being dovetailed…more in the same space.” — Michael Smith, Cold Regions Research Engineering Laboratory

In addition to the geospatial data structures, 11g offers other advanced data structures, such as point cloud storage and indexing.

A point cloud is a set of data collection points that represent 3-D space. The laboratory uses this type of data structure for recording measurements that come from its Light Detection and Ranging instruments.

Until now, such data had to be stored on flat text files. Databases had no way to tie together the datasets in a way that would let them calculate the datasets against a single entity. However, 11g can store a point cloud as a single object, against which developers can write simple queries to do line-of-sight, data point intensity or nearest-neighbor calculations “without even moving the data out of the database,” Smith said.

They will also be using ApEx for front-ends.


Friday, August 24, 2007

10 Basic Interview Questions for Oracle

For Basic SQL:

  1. How do you convert a date to a string? To_char. A bonus would be that they always include a format mask.

  2. What is an aggregate function? Grouping, sums or counts, etc.

  3. What is an interval? Specifies a period of time.

  4. What is a nested subquery? A subquery in a where clause.

  5. What is the dual table? A single row table provided by oracle for selecting values and expressions.

For Basic PL/SQL:

  1. Describe the block structure of PLSQL. Declaration, Begin, exception, end.

  2. What is an anonymous block? Unnamed PL/SQL block.

  3. What is a PL/SQL collection? PL/SQL Table, Varray, PL/SQL Array, etc.

  4. What is the difference between an explicit cursor and a select into? An explicit cursor is declared in the declaration section, a select into is declared in the body of the code.

  5. Why would you choose to use a package versus straight procedures and functions? I look for maintenance, grouping logical functionality, dependency management, etc. I want to believe that they believe using packages is a "good thing".

Is this list helpful to you? Would you like me to do a series on interviewing and interview questions?


Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Oracle Invests in China

Oracle is joining a Chinese company, Hisense, in creating a development center in southeastern China. The center will concentrate on embedding BerkeleyDB, TimesTen and Oracle Lite in various household appliances, TVs, phone and even cars.

Hisense is a large appliance manufacturer in Eastern China. They make TVs, refrigerators, air conditioners, washing machines and even personal computers and software.

I have to say, the press release that I am linking below is one of the oddest I have ever seen. The grammar problems are pretty bad.


Saturday, August 18, 2007

The Market Batteground

Somewhat following on the heels of my post yesterday, Sympathy For The Devil is in the Details, Tim DiChiara of SearchOracle posted The Market Battleground.

Tim mentions that with Oracle's steady lead (41%) in the database wars, maybe Oracle doesn't need to worry. He points out though that microsoft, while enjoying a lower market share, is growing at 28% of over 2005 and may pass DB2 in the market.

Tim didn't even mention open source databases though. Just this week, DBA Village, an Oracle forum/news site, had a poll asking which database most people thought Oracle should worry most about. Now, while this is an unscientific poll and could be impacted by "DB pride", I think it is interesting that the question was asked and that MySQL and EnterpriseDB/PostgreSQL both made the list. That shows that the Oracle community is asking itself if they need to be concerned.

The poll results, by the way, as of tonight, is:

Which database do you consider the biggest threat for Oracle?
With 342 responses so far:

  • EnterpriseDB/PostgreSQL: 34%
  • SQL Server: 28%
  • DB2: 13%
  • MySql: 11%
  • No idea: 10%
  • Other: 3%
These results are not really meaningful in the overall scheme of things but the question is out there. I'm waiting to see how Oracle answers.


Friday, August 17, 2007

Sympathy For The Devil is in the Details

Matt Assay has a great blog entry today, Sympathy for the Oracle. He basically describes things I have said many times, Oracle would rule the database world if it adjusted it's licensing model; Oracle Releases 11g Pricing and A Kinder, Gentler Oracle being two examples of that.

Matt talks about Oracle losing sales to SAP because of the approach to selling. SAP starts with thoughts and ends with execution while Oracle begins at the execution step.

Because open source makes it easier to win the bottom-up war.
I don't think Oracle needs open source. It already has the best database. The problem is that Oracle spends a fortune supporting the sales process:
Oracle already makes most of its profit on maintenance revenues and, as my friend reminded me, breaks even or loses money quite often on these initial big license sales (because upwards of 100 people can get involved in closing a $1 million deal with a multibillion dollar prospect). So, a low-cost sales model that gets it in the door and sets it up for downstream maintenance revenues sounds ideal.
And that's my point. Oracle doesn't need open source because open source is (and always will be) playing catch up. Oracle needs to change the model. Give the base model away free or nearly so. Sell the EE stack at a reasonable price (at least 1/4 or less of what it sells it for now), include ALL of the enterprise features as part of the base package and drop the sales force.

People buy from the web: no discounts, no sales people, no bull. Oracle moves from being the database company to being the software company. Partner with Sun to deliver Oracle Apps appliances. Partner with Redhat to deliver complete web solutions. Partner with MS & Dell to deliver SMB appliances.

Oracle would supply all of the software. Sun would supply some hardware and the OS, Dell hardware and MS the OS. The MS solution could have tight integration with .Net and MS-Office. Maybe Oracle would choose Google instead of MS. Same deal there though.

If Oracle doesn't do these things, than someone like EnterpriseDB will. Becuase that is the future of databases. We can have sympathy for the devil but the devil is in the details.


Monday, August 13, 2007

Oracle Breaks Records With New TPC-C Benchmark

Running on an IBM System p 570 with two dual-core 4.7 GHz POWER6 processors, Oracle Database 10g Release 2 achieved 404,462.54 tpmC (transactions per minute) with a price-performance ratio of $3.50/tpmC -- a record achievement in 4-core performance.

"This TPC-C benchmark result, as well as those from the recent two-tier SAP SD Benchmarks, reinforces Oracle Database 10g's performance and scalability leadership," said Juan Loaiza, Oracle Senior Vice President Systems Technology. "It also demonstrates that Oracle Database takes full advantage of advances made in servers like IBM's p 570 to continue providing customers with unprecedented performance and scalability."

I wonder what 11g will do?


Friday, August 10, 2007

Oracle Adds to Linux Platform

Oracle releases a setup tool (YaST), Data Integrity (DIF Standard Implementation), and the Btrfs (Linux File System) to open source. You can read the press release at

Thursday, August 9, 2007

11g Arrives! Linux Only (for now)!

Two must have links: Oracle Linux Download and the Oracle 11g Documentation Homepage.

11g is currently Linux only but I would expect Solaris very shortly and other flavors not long afterwards. I would imagine Windows will be available by year end.

This is awesome. I have SO been waiting for this. Oracle teased me with the "release" on July 11 and it has taken almost a month to actually get the software. Yeah!


Oracle Centralizes Oracle Security

On Aug 8th, Oracle released a preview of Oracle Authentication Services for Operating Systems, a piece of software within Oracle Fusion that centralizes Identify Management. It integrates with Oracle Internet Directory.

Even though it is called "Oracle Authentication Services for Operating Systems", it looks like it is only available for Linux at this time. You can get it from the Oracle Unbreakable Linux Network.

"With its hot-pluggable architecture, Oracle Identity Management makes it easier for organizations to incorporate identity and access management capabilities into their Oracle and non-Oracle environments," said Hasan Rizvi, vice president, Security and Identity Management Products, Oracle. "The preview release of Oracle Authentication Services for Operating Systems marks another example of Oracle's commitment to supporting heterogeneous security capabilities that are reflective of our customers' data centers - and the growth of Linux - while helping them more rapidly centralize the authentication and management of their operating system accounts."

According to Oracle, the Oracle Authentication Services for Operating Systems preview is comprised of three key components including:

  • Pluggable Authentication Modules (PAM) - standard operating modules available on most Linux and Unix-based systems that support externalized authentication;
  • Oracle Internet Directory - standards-based directory server that leverages Oracle Database to store users, groups, roles and entitlements; and
  • Tools and Automation - tools and scripts that configure both PAM and Oracle Internet Directory components, provide simplified user migration and help ensure strong native security between network endpoints.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

GM CIO Discusses Oracle's Acquisition Strategy

InformationWeek has a good interview with the CIO of GM. Why would I post that on this blog? They interviewed him about Oracle. Yep, General Motors' CIO Speaks Out On Oracle's Acquisition Strategy.

I have to ask myself why this is news. Why does what the CIO of a car company have any bearing on Oracle? The interview itself, the questions and answers, make the point.

I'll let you read the article to get the details but the gist of the interview:

Q: What do do you think of Oracle's spending spree?
A: Like it. Seems to be working.

Q: What do you think of Charles Phillips?
A: Like him. Seems to be working.

Check it out.


Saturday, August 4, 2007

In2M Moves From Open Source database to Oracle

In2M is a company who makes an online financial productivity and personal spending management system, including MVelopes Personal which won the prestigious 2006 PC World World Class award and was selected as one of the Top 100 Best Products of 2006.

In2M recently switched from an open source database (I'm not sure which) to Oracle Standard Edition. Oracle Standard is the lower tier database (i.e. cheaper) that does not offer additional features such as partitioning or OLAP processing. Notably though, Standard Edition comes with RAC as part of it's feature set and does not require additional licensing for it. You are limited in the number of nodes you can cluster though.

"The possibilities in Real Application Clusters were another big reason for us choosing Oracle," said Law. "Right now we're running a proof-of-concept, merging databases under Real Application Clusters, to check out the architecture before moving forward. We believe that Real Application Clusters makes Oracle Database Standard Edition powerful enough to support us for the next four years, even given our high growth rate, the critical need for high-availability and high performance for our customers."

What makes this announcement particularly significant is that the company heavily uses open source in it's offering.

"We use Linux and open source platforms because it's cost effective," said Jason Law, Vice President of IT and Systems R & D for In2M. "But we were not comfortable with an open source database product for delivering high-availability software as a service. Oracle Database Standard Edition gives us the reliability we need now, and will scale to meet our future needs for some time to come, even despite our aggressive growth plans. Our target is 99.99 percent availability, and Oracle has not failed us since we started using it."

The migrated application is currently online with 50,000 users and it is expected to grow another 100,000 in the next year.
In2M found it quite straightforward to migrate the product's original open source databases to Oracle. And its next product, Mvelopes Business - currently in early testing and expected to be available later this year - will be rolled out from scratch on Oracle Database Standard Edition.

Also notable is that the user interface for the MVelopes Personal application is written in Open Source Adobe Flex. That makes the application completely browser based. The application offers security via SSL.

Features of the application include Transaction History, Online Bill Payment, Net Worth Tracking, and Mobile Access (cell phones).

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Learn Oracle - Part 1: Getting Started

Probably the most popular question I am asked is something along the lines of, "I just graduated college and want to learn Oracle. How can I do that?" Sometimes, it may be, "I have worked as a functional on an Oracle Applications implementation and want to learn technical." The question that some times frightens me is, "I heard I can make a lot of money with Oracle. I want to be a DBA or developer, which ever makes more money."

Ok. So I am going to make the assumption since you are reading this that you want to learn Oracle. This series will get you started. First, let's cover your motivations.

  • You want to be rich and/or famous - Become an actor, football player or rapper.
  • You have a technical background and want to expand into Oracle and/or databases in general - Excellent! This article is for you.
  • You have a business background or are a relative computer newbie and want to learn Oracle - Excellent! This article is for you.
Step 1

Get thee to OTN! The Oracle Technology Network is mandatory for anyone wanting to learn about Oracle. You are required to complete a registration to access many areas but it is completely free and it well worth the cost. As a beginner, you will be expected to spend a lot of time at OTN.

Step 2

Get familiar with some forums:

Step 3

Find the email lists. I don't recommend that you subscribe to every list to start and I especially don't recommend that you start posting. Subscribe to a couple of lists, filter them to a folder in your email software and spend some time each day just reading them. You will pick up information by osmosis, learn how to ask questions (and how not to), and get familiar with the names of people who regularly post good information.
  • ODTUG Mail Lists - Fairly good selection of lists
  • ITToolbox Groups - Ok Forums but not my favorite
  • Oracle News Groups - Look for high volume groups. Maintain a thick skin if you plan to post. Remember that people can be jerks and it usually has to do with their issues and not with you. and are the two usenet groups I read most often.
Now you know where to get the documentation and where you can find information. In the next entry in this series, I will cover some blogs that I consider exceptional and we will finally get to the software side of Oracle.


Saturday, July 28, 2007

Interview with Oracle's President, Charle Phillips

InformationWeek has a good interview with Charles Phillips where he discusses Oracle's competition. Charles Phillips has been in the background at Oracle for a long time but in the last few years has really been the driving force. I think he is largely responsible for the current acquisition strategy that Oracle is following.

Some good Q&A from the interview (some of these are not the entire quote, read the article fore the entire quote):

InformationWeek: Oracle can't possibly replace the majority of SAP ERP deployments since companies have gone through so much time and expense putting them in place. So what exactly is Oracle's endgame in business software?

Phillips: In other cases, we simply surround SAP's general ledger with best-of-breed functionality in areas where SAP is weak. A very common scenario is the SAP GL surrounded by Siebel CRM, PeopleSoft HR, G-Log for transportation management, Hyperion for consolidation of those GLs, and Demantra for demand planning -- all sitting on Oracle Fusion middleware and the Oracle Grid. Many SAP customers also use Agile and Siebel CRM On Demand.

InformationWeek: Some CIOs complain communication breaks down after an Oracle acquisition. How would you convince them Oracle's strategy is in their long-term interests?

Phillips: Most of our customers see the same sales rep post-acquisition because we simply fold in a specialized salesforce and tell them to keep doing what they've been doing. We've had very little turnover in the field as a result, and we've become the employer of choice in software. We maintain the continuity so we don't break relationships. The results over three years suggest we're connecting well with customers, very well. As time has gone on, customers are not only understanding what we're doing but encouraging us. They continue to suggest acquisition ideas for us, and I routinely get calls the day of acquisition congratulating us [for] helping them to further simplify their architecture. So opinions have changed.

I particularly like this answer:

InformationWeek: As a top Wall Street analyst, what would have scared you most about Oracle's acquisition binge?

Phillips: The stock is up 41% over the last 12 months. That usually assuages fears on Wall Street.

No Q&A about open source competitors which what I was hoping for. Still this is a good read. Check out the entire article: Q&A: Oracle's President Charles Phillips

Thursday, July 26, 2007

The Oracle Cost Based Optimizer: A Webinar

Earlier today, I attended a webinar by Hotsos. The webinar, titled Cost Based Optimizer: 1 of 2, was a basic introduction to the Cost Based Optimizer (CBO) in Oracle and the 10053 trace file. The CBO optimizes SQL queries and that optimization can be seen in a 10053 trace. It was not, what I would call, an advanced webinar but was done with plenty of examples and was very accessible for new comers to performance tuning. The webinar was given by Hotsos employee, Mahesh Vallanpati.

Because the webinar was filled with plenty of examples, it doesn't lend itself to a blog post. I'm pretty sure they said an archive of the webinar would be available on the Hotsos site. I did take some notes though so here are a few things that do lend themselves to a blog post. If any of this is wrong, it is probably a typo on my part.

The CBO is a complex, mathematical based optimizer. The CBO was introduced in Oracle 8, was improved in 9 and replaced the RBO completely in 10. While the CBO is driven by statistics many things affect it:

  • Database Parameters

  • Database Statistics

  • CPU and I/O Stats

  • DB Schema Configuration

  • Stored Outlines

  • The SQL Code Itself

  • The Oracle Query Cost Model (based on DB version)

Statistical data points collected by the CBO include (you can get this from the columns in stats data dictionary views):

  • Table Statistics

    • Number of rows

    • Number of blocks below the high water mark

    • Empty blocks

    • Average free space

    • Row length
  • Column Statistics

    • Distinct Values (very important)

    • Density

    • Low Value

    • High Value

    • Histogram values if they exist

    Note: If you use a default date rather than null, make sure your date is not way off base as that may skew the optimizer

  • Index Statistics

    • Clustering

    • Depth of index

    • Leaf blocks

    • Distinct Values (very important)

    • Other averages

  • System Statistics

    • Average Block Read sizes (multiblock and singleblock)

    • CPU Speed

    • I/O Speed

    • Table Statistics

    • Table Statistics

Note: The frequency and % of stats collected should not be a drag on the system. You need to evaluate just what % makes the most sense as well as how frequently you need to collect them.

Less logical I/O is not always better. In the session, Mahesh went over an example where, due to the dbfile_multi_block_read_count setting of 16, a full table scan with a LIO of 722 was actually chosen by the optimizer in lieu of an index scan with a LIO of 166. That means that in a full table scan, Oracle was reading 16 blocks at a time. By reading that much data at once, Oracle was actually getting more data faster than it would have by reading the index sequentially. Had the parameter been set at 8k, the index might have had better performance. Very nice detail.

One good tip that Mahesh provided is: The first step of your statistics gathering should be to backup your old stats. That way you can recover if something goes wrong.

Finally, Mahesh talked about a hint that I did not know existed, the CARDINALITY hint. Using the cardinality hint in a dev or test environment, you can test scalability when the amount of data in your tables grows. The hint tells Oracle that you have a different number of rows than you really have. You can run explain plans with various values and see how that impacts your plan.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Oracle Creates Asian R&D Center

Oracle is linking development and solution centers in Asia Pacific and Japan to build a new R&D center. This center will develop local and global solutions. The center will incorporate people from Beijing, Gurgaon, Seoul, Shenzhen Singapore, Tokyo and other Asia pacific locations.

"This new collaboration will significantly enhance our Asia Pacific innovation development process and ultimately benefit our customers and partners in this region," said Kevin Walsh, chief technology officer,Oracle Asia Pacific & Japan. "With all sides of the globe participating and contributing to technology solutions, our customers will gain access to some of the most cutting-edge IT projects in the world. Customers and partners will also be able to collaborate with Oracle's vast R&D network to apply new thinking in the way software can be used to stimulate global growth and innovation in any industry or country."

Oracle recently reported that it spent 2.2 billion dollars on R&D in 2007. That's up 17% from 2006.

Another Oracle Exec Leaves, This Time for Open Source

Don Klaiss, Senior VP of Applications at Oracle has left to to be CEO of Compiere. Compiere is the largest, and, I think, oldest, open source ERP provider. Compiere was an early adopter of Oracle as a backend for its open source database.

Klaiss says, "After 15 years with Oracle, I decided to move on. Building and running such a large applications business had been challenging and exciting, but as the industry matured and began to consolidate, I felt there was a lack of innovation happening in traditional enterprise software."

"Why? The mid-market ERP segment was not well served – and it needed to be. On the high end, Oracle and SAP offer a variety of products. But these products are complex, bloated with features, and too expensive for most mid-size companies."

I first played with Compiere back in 2000 or so when I worked at another, closed source, ERP software company. I looked at it to see if we could adopt anything. We were using Orale Forms at the time so there was nothing there we could use. I still thought it was a pretty nice piece of software though and tried to get my management to look at it. No go.

Paul Hamerman, an analyst with Forrester Research, says, "The company is starting to become recognized among our clients. We don't get a lot of inquiries about open-source alternatives. But I think it is starting to get legitimatized."

Klaiss has brought in former Oracle and SAP employees for key posts and is changing the way it interacts with the world. Klaiss himself is blogging (or at least being very open with his opinion) in "In Search of an Open Source Business Model".

Monday, July 23, 2007

Oracle buys Bharosa

Oracle® Buys Online Identity Theft and Fraud Detection Leader Bharosa

Bharosa, Inc., is a leading provider of software that helps combat online identity theft and fraud. This should tie in nicely with Oracle's Identity software.

According to the article:

With more than 25 million users, Bharosa's real-time fraud detection and multifactor online authentication security solutions for the enterprise, combined with Oracle's established web single sign-on and web-based authorization solutions, will result in a differentiated solution that protects investments by extending internal web Single Sign-On (SSO) solutions to external users. It also creates a highly secure, low impact security solution that protects users from common, often costly, threats.
"Companies need new mechanisms that complement their existing security solutions so that they can better protect themselves from insider threats and misuse from privileged users," said Jon Fisher, CEO, Bharosa. "At Bharosa, we're thrilled to bring our market-leading solutions to the world's largest enterprise software company."