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).