Thursday, December 14, 2006

NYOUG Winter

Just got back from the New York Oracle Users Group Winter meeting. Although I've only been involved with the NYOUG for about two years, I was saddened to see Dr. Paul Dorsey step down as President. He's been a driving force for getting top quality speakers to the quarterly meetings and really supports the user community. I'm sure Michael Olin will take the reigns from Dr. D and keep the top quality speakers coming.

World renowned Michael Abbey presented the keynote address. His presentation took a light hearted look on the soft skills needed to cope with the various personalities encountered in the IT arena. I had to chuckle about his characterization of a sysadmin; hair as messy as his office, the biggest screen in the whole shop, and an aire of secrecy surrounding this person. I kept picturing the sysadmin I had right out of college and his description was right on. Perhaps the best management advice I got out of this presentation was "delegate and oversee". Michael explained that one person can't do and know everything and you have to trust (but verify) the work your people do. I struggle daily with knowing when to hand things off to other people and when to handle them myself.

The second presentation of the day was for 11g PL/SQL features by Tom Kyte. There's a lot of new features coming for PL/SQL in 11g (expected really late next year) that will help optimize the code as well as make it easier to write code. It sounds like the most helpful feature in my environment will be that dependency tracking is now at the element level instead of the object level. For example, just adding a column to a table won't validate the packages that depend on it. If you drop a field, then sure, everything referencing it will need to be recompiled. There are also other optimizations like the result cache (just-in-time materialized views) and better native compilation, but it sounds like you shouldn't be expecting your applications to speed up more than 5-10%. One really nice feature is the ability to mark just a table as readonly instead of having to move it to a readonly tablespace. As always, Tom was the entertaining speaker keeping that kept the audience participation at a very high level.

All the presenters then got together just before lunch to have an "Ask the Experts" panel; or as I like to call it "Ask Tom Live". Tom is a top notch presenter and world-class information source, but I kind of felt bad for the other presenters who were basically left out.

After lunch, I stole some power to recharge the laptop and bumped into Dave Anderson from SkillBuilders who was also powering up. We swapped laptop stories and seems neither one of us are really happy with our current capacity. As Tim Allen says, "More Power!"

Come to find out, Dave was the next presenter with an introduction to Automatic Storage Management. ASM is a 10g specific piece of software that essentially takes the place of a volume manager if you have JBOD (just a bunch of disks). You present the raw devices for those disks to ASM as a diskgroup and Oracle stripes the data over the physical disks in the disk group. For those of you on servers with direct attached storage and limited budgets, I would think ASM would be a good option rather than chunking down money for VxVM and VxFS just to have some RAID. On the other hand, I'm not sure how practical it is if you're in a SAN environment where the striping and mirroring is handled at the OS level. Also, Dave mentioned that there was no performance penalty of ASM striping over a hardware stripe. However, since ASM is a piece of software, you're basically putting a software based RAID over a hardware based RAID robbing my host of CPU that may be neede for user processes. Even so, ASM is obviously here to stay and I'll be investigating the technology and it's use as I get closer to 10g.

All in all, a great education value for the membership you pay. IF you're in the Tri-State area, it makes sense to join even if you only get to the September conference. Lets just say there are some educational events coming in may where the COST will be BASED on your membership being OPTIMIZEd. (OK, so maybe not so subtle, Jonathan Lewis is coming in May).

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