Log Buffer #116: A Carnival of the Vanities for DBAs

Sep 26, 2008 / By David Edwards

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Welcome to the 116th edition of Log Buffer, the weekly review of database blogs.

This was the week of Oracle Open World (OOW), Oracle’s gigantic annual get-together in San Francisco — always the heaviest week in Oracle blogs, so let’s start there.

For day-by-day coverage of OOW on the ground, I recommend Doug’s Oracle Blog: OOW Day 1, OOW Day 1.5, OOW Day 2, OOW Day 3.

Tom Kyte shared a podcast from OOW 2008, and interview with Oracle Magazine editor Tom Haunert, in which Tom, ” . . . stirs things up in this conversation about Oracle OpenWorld happenings, a new approach to publishing, and the trouble with triggers.”

Oracle teased everyone right at the beginning with word that CEO Larry Ellison’s keynote, carrying the title “Extreme Performance,” would introduce something big and new. And there was much speculation in the blogging world, some of it quite perspicacious. “Big and new” was soon going by the tantalizing nom-de-hype “X”. And before Larry’s keynote was even over (before he mothballed the black mock-turtleneck for another year), X was no longer unknown.

Writes Lucas Jellema on the AMIS Technology blogThe secret is out: Oracle launches “The Database Machine” – becoming a hardware vendor! “The big announcement that had loomed over the conference has been made. Oracle – in joint partnership with HP – introduces the world’s fastest hardware for running databases and especially data warehouses: the Exadata Storage Server.” Click through for Lucas’s précis of what it’s all about.

On blogs.oracle.com, Jack Flynn has some video excerpted from the keynote.

Lucas’s story has a picture of the thing itself, albeit a somewhat blurry one. Here’s a better image of one of the two new machines, the Exadata. Oooh, just look at it! Cor!

Pythian’s Christo Kutrovsky offered his analysis of the Oracle Exadata Storage Server and Database Machine. In a nutshell, ” . . . the number one problem this product solves is configuration.”

Doug, in his OOW Day 4 post, is very keen on this thing. But not everyone was knocked out by all this. Tim Hall was, to use his words, “ . . . a little underwhelmed by the keynote,” as were some of his readers. He writes, ” . . . for me this is like discussing the merrits [sic] of a Lamborghini when I’m actually going to buy a Renault Clio.”

So maybe the big new machines are too much for some. Jeez, maybe even RAC is too much! Jeff Browning, the Oracle Storage Guy, analyzes an alternative to RAC in To RAC or not to RAC (reprise). He begins, “I am proud to announce that a solution featuring VMware HA cluster as an alternative to Oracle RAC . . .”

Was there anything else in Oracle this week? Of course! It’s just that those Exadatas and Database Machines kind of block the view. William Vambenepe reported on running Oracle in Amazon’s cloud, with several relevant links.

Karen Morton discovered an flaw in STAT lines in 11g, specifically, ” . . . an anomaly in the roll ups for the time values in the STAT lines emitted in 10046 trace data from an 11g database.” She breaks the problem down and provides the evidence, and her readers shed some light on it too.

If you want to keep your DB security as free of flaws as possible, I recommend Pete Finnigan’s Oracle security weblog to you, via his post announcing the availability of Oracle Password Cracker written in PL/SQL.

A couple quick PostgreSQL items now. They have their gatherings too, and as Magnus Hagander writes, October is a month of conferences — Open Source Days, PostgreSQL Conference West, pgDay.EU/pgDay.IT, and FSCONS. Get the info from Magnus.

Frakkle looks at the hoops to jump through if using Oracle 10g (instead of Postgres 6+). It’s about function caching and a way of implementing this Postgres-ish feature in Oracle.

Moving into MySQL stuff now–the Paul to PostgreSQL’s John (or is that the other way around?)–Robert Hodges of The Scale-Out Blog looks into open source databases at Oracle Open World. He writes, “Open source databases still have a very long way to catch up to Oracle. I was at Oracle Open World touring the exhibits on Tuesday. Just for fun I asked everyone I met whether they used open source databases or saw demand for them in their businesses. The answer almost universally went like this: ‘No.’”

What about demand for MySQL and other DBAs? When pet projects bite back! examines the database job situation in England. “Since I wrote a while ago ‘Which Database to Choose When Looking for a Job’, I wanted to continue it with some of my findings. I did a lot research on IT specific job sites and used 2 main searches, ‘database developer’ (because that’s what I want to do) and ‘mysql’ to help me find job posts that I was interested in.” The item looks at the results of the search, across platforms, and the trends noticed.

Speaking of jobs, Baron Schwartz of Xaprb is wondering, What happened to Falcon? in the wake of its daddy Jim Starkey leaving his job at Sun/MySQL. The item is a call for news, which its readers–including Starkey himself–provide.

Baron also has a much discussed post on the MySQL Performance Blog, asking for recommendations on a common problem when optimizing COUNT().

Arjen Lentz follows up on a bug noted by Baron’s colleague Peter Zaitsev some time ago: MySQL 5.x starts even with fatal InnoDB errors.

On mysqlguy.net, Jay Janssen gives his reply to another post of Arjen’s asserting that a SAN is a single point-of-failure, too. “Arjen, you are absolutely right. It doesn’t matter how over-engineered a storage solution is (I’m thinking of a giant dual-headed Netapp with redundant everything). After you’ve paid a few hundred K for that, you still have a single point of failure. Is it a highly-unlikely point of failure? Sure, but it’s still a point of failure,” he writes, in So you want to talk about Single points of failure, eh?

On the StatisticsIO blog, Jason Massie looks into a new setting in SQL Server 2008 called “Optimize for adhoc workloads”. “I was happy to see this. You should be too especially if you have ever had arm wrestle an app that causes a bloated proc cache on an x86 box. . . .  I was wondering how this setting would play with the forced parameterization database setting. It looks like forced parameterization trumps the new server wide setting.”

Jason also introduces a SQLCLR Twitter client called TweetSQL. He writes, “You probably just uttered a profanity at the thought of it on production server. I did when I first heard of it.” Would you use it?

I have a feeling that James Luetkehoelter wouldn’t, judging by his post An open letter to all 3rd-party vendors: DO NOT USE SA ANYWHERE IN YOUR APPLICATION, which sparks a worthwhile discussion.

Kalen Delaney observes the problem of Too Many Columns!, something he says you might enjoy in SQL Server 2008 with sparse columns. Or perhaps at the Parthenon.

The Less Than Dot Blog features an excellent interview with Louis Davidson, author of Pro SQL Server 2008 Relational Database Design and Implementation.

Some quick items before I have to run. From the DB2 world first. Raul F. Chong’s report on DB2 on Campus in India.

On Getting the Most out of DB2, Willie Favero’s introduction of ChannelDB2, a social networking site for DB2 professionals.

Here’s Susan Visser’s look-ahead to October’s IDUG Europe event.

Firebird is having a conference, too, right now. Firebird News links to the Firebird International Conference 2008.

And finally, a nude DBA. For real, the naked truth of Mogens Norgaard, courtesy Eddie Awad. Proof positive that DBAs aren’t just heads in front of monitors, I guess, although that really hadn’t occurred to me before now. I don’t actually know what this is all about, but it makes a perfect closing for LB. And it is probably NSFW.

That is all for now. See you in a week’s time for Nicklas Westerlund’s second run at Log Buffer.

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