Oracle Releases Method to Disable AWR Collection

Jul 4, 2007 / By Paul Vallee

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As you might imagine, the traffic to the open letter from the oracle.com domain has been spiking in the last few days. Two days ago, in fact, Christo received an email from Oracle putting into question the fact that AWR data collection could not be disabled without a license to the diagnostic pack, and promptly forwarded that note to me.

This email then referred to a MetaLink Doc Id explaining how to do it. And a genuine and polite request was made to please correct the open letter so that at least it was factually accurate in this regard. The thing is, my searches on MetaLink did not turn up any published notes with that Doc Id. Seeing as I’m reasonably well-connected in the Oracle world (ha!) I asked someone inside to take a look and got the gist of the proposed Doc and package, and understood that it’s status was as yet unpublished.

So as it turns out, Oracle has been working on a package to disable the AWR data collection without requiring a license for at least two months. But as of yesterday, it had not yet been published.

And so, yesterday evening, and let’s give Mark Brinsmead most of the credit for the timing of this, Oracle published a method for disabling AWR collection without requiring a license to the diagnostic pack. They nicely gave me the opportunity to announce its existence, and thus behold, note 436386.1, helpfully titled “Package for disabling AWR without a Diagnostic Pack license in Oracle”! (You will need Oracle MetaLink credentials to access that note.)

A couple points now are in order:

  • Thank you very much, Oracle, for doing the right thing and making it so that your licensing term for this data is supported by the functionality of your database engine. A week ago, the fact that the restriction was not supported was a substantial stressor and risk from a licensing compliance point of view.
  • I think I should highlight that clearly Oracle is reading and responding to our blogs, and this is the first step to integration into the Oracle blogosphere. Whether this is as a result of your efforts, Justin, or not, I think an “‘attaboy and good job” is order here too. Please keep it up, I am looking forward to the point where Oracle users and bloggers are as tightly integrated with Oracle employees and bloggers as they are for some Oracle competitors. (Colour me jealous green!)
  • Speaking for myself, I still think Oracle is missing an opportunity by making this instrumentation available to the DBAs, at least at the data layer. There are very good arguments in support of this contention, made by Mark in his letter, and by several of the commentators to the letter. So I still feel this solution is a step backwards onto solid ground, instead of a step forwards onto solid ground.
  • That being said, until the licensing terms change, my review of the licensing terms and of this note leads me to conclude that running this on every system where the diagnostic pack is unlicensed is a best practice. That means, if you’re running Oracle 10g and you do not have the diagnostic pack licensed, put this on your agenda. Note that Oracle disagrees with this assessment, in saying

    Oracle, therefore, recommends that all customers, with or without Diagnostic Pack license, leave AWR enabled so that they can benefit from features that do not require pack license but implicitly use AWR.

    … but, without meaning to pick a fight in any way, I in turn respectfully disagree with them. The risk, ramifications and costs of a post-hoc licensing liability finding are just too high in today’s Sarbanes-Oxley world.

Of course, the open letter will need a slight correction now. Mark and I will discuss how to handle that later on. In the meantime, if you think the instrumentation should be included in 11g, by all means sign the open letter!

Thanks!

Paul

9 Responses to “Oracle Releases Method to Disable AWR Collection”

  • Oracle, therefore, recommends that all customers, with or without Diagnostic Pack license, leave AWR enabled so that they can benefit from features that do not require pack license but implicitly use AWR.

    I’d be very interested to see what are those “features that do not require pack license but implicitly use AWR” that are unavailable when AWR is disabled.

    Moreover, it’s not an appropriate way of disabling licensed feature — the method that also leads to unavailability of standard features. It’s just once again confirms that AWR/ASH were designed as a integral inseparable part of Oracle RDBMS. I would like to say that Oracle engineers did an excellent job on there but unfortunately Oracle licensing policies put in place ruined the usability and caused all kind of frustration amongst the customers.

    I hope Oracle will hear the voice of customers and “fix” the situation as advised in the open letter as opposed to delivering a “hack” that allows to disable this data collection.

  • Doug Burns says:

    Paul,

    >> And so, yesterday evening, and let’s give Mark Brinsmead most of the credit for the timing of this, Oracle published a method for disabling AWR collection without requiring a license to the diagnostic pack.

    >> that clearly Oracle is reading and responding to our blogs, and this is the first step to integration into the Oracle blogosphere. Whether this is as a result of your efforts, Justin, or not, I think an “‘attaboy and good job” is order here too.

    Or, sorry to sound churlish, but it’s perhaps the publicity from other blogs that brought them here? Many people publicised that letter on on Oracle-L, through their blogs, on the OT list and so on because they thought it was a good thing. My impression is that there have always been a lot of oracle.com hits to all blogs historically, so maybe it’s not just Pythian’s and it’s not something new?

    Alex,

    >> I’d be very interested to see what are those “features that do not require pack license but implicitly use AWR” that are unavailable when AWR is disabled.

    I suppose that’s a little like AWR uses partitioning. whether you’re licenced to use it or not ;-)

  • Doug Burns says:

    Oh, and this kind of undermines your argument a little, doesn’t it?

    >> So as it turns out, Oracle has been working on a package to disable the AWR data collection without requiring a license for at least two months. But as of yesterday, it had not yet been published.

    i.e. Oracle were working on it anyway, perhaps because of the efforts of others? But the Pythian blog has perhaps hurried things along.

  • Paul Vallee says:

    Hi Doug,

    When I wrote “and let’s give Mark Brinsmead most of the credit for the timing of this” (emphasis new) I really meant only the timing. The fact that this was already under development is completely true and I indicate as much! There is no doubt in my mind based on the actual conversations I had yesterday and on July 2, by email and by voice, that the acceleration of the publication of this note has everything to do with the blog, which brings me to…

    On your other point, whether it’s the oracle-l or other means that got Oracle to take note and respond, I don’t know and we’ll likely never know – although I can ask if we’re very curious. But the fact of the matter I still think it’s a breakthrough for Oracle that essentially a blog post gets a response from corporate and an acceleration of the timeline to publish a note, within two days. I think that’s really unusual and great. And I also reiterate that in my mind this is at least in part a result of Justin’s efforts in this regard. And thus my note congratulating Oracle and underlining Justin’s efforts. They took some heat from James Governor at Redmonk (see my link above) about not being responsive and integrated into the blogosphere, and I think these kinds of successes need to be applauded if we want more of the same.

    Cheers!

    Paul

  • Doug Burns says:

    >> … or other means that got Oracle to take note and respond, I don’t know and we’ll likely never know – although I can ask if we’re very curious.

    I’m not particularly curious, but I think you should consider the possibility that one of the Oracle employees who frequent Oracle-L or are OT members might have raised the flag? My point is that I welcomed the letter, as I’m sure many did, and the community joined in in drawing attention to it but I’m not sure Oracle employees are fervent Pythian blog-watchers. Although I could be wrong and, even if I’m not, they will be now ;-)

    >> I think these kinds of successes need to be applauded if we want more of the same.

    Agreed. Only by giving due credit for a positive response might people keep listening.

  • Paul Vallee says:

    > but I think you should consider the possibility that one of the
    > Oracle employees who frequent Oracle-L or are OT members
    > might have raised the flag? My point is that I welcomed the
    > letter, as I’m sure many did, and the community joined in
    > in drawing attention to it but I’m not sure Oracle employees
    > are fervent Pythian blog-watchers.

    Doug! Of course, that’s exactly what happened. But that’s my point exactly and the fact that Oracle employees are reading our blogs, our mailing lists, and more importantly being responsive to them, is exactly the positive development I want to thank and congratulate Oracle for. By the way, Oracle corp definitely reads Pythian’s blog as I’m sure they read all the blogs including yours more than anyone’s (except maybe Tom Kyte’s)! After all, these blogs are about Oracle and they are Oracle, so that is completely natural. But just reading them is not really enough to become integrated in the user community, they need to respond to them and participate in the user community directly.

    Out of interest, I looked it up – in the month leading up to the Thursday just before the Friday Mark published his letter, Oracle was the only non-Pythian non-ISP in our top ten visitor IP ranges:

    Network Location Visits
    the pythian group 689
    videsh sanchar nigam ltd – india. 315
    road runner holdco llc 313
    comcast cable communications inc. 284
    sympatico hse 266
    comite gestor da internet no brasil 197
    verizon internet services inc. 187
    oracle datenbanksysteme gmbh 161
    ip pools 157
    deutsche telekom ag 127
  • Paul,

    It is that what we wanted really? We want Oracle to make the AWR/ASH free, i.e. no licensing fee.

    I am half heartily happy of this change, as Oracle didn’t make the AWR/ASH license free tools.

    Waiting for the day.

    Jaffar

  • Joel Garry says:

    Too little, too late for those of us who have seen dumbass Oracle people threaten longtime customers with license audits for no good reason.

    Besides that, I agree with Jaffar.

  • Marc says:

    Does anybody know if there is a way for the XE-community to get the necessary script? Metalink does not seem accessible for XE users. Does the license term of not being allowed to accidentally query the awr tables also inflict XE-use?

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