Monday, October 30, 2006

Oracle Unbreakable Linux 2.0

Everyone who's involved with Oracle in one form or another has heard about Oracle Unbreakable Linux v2.0 which basically has Oracle Corporation making a hostile overtune to Red Hat. Now, it's v2.0, so what was v1.0?

I did a search on "Unbreakable Linux" and found the following article dated June 2, 2002 (more than 4 years ago) when Larry Ellison (Oracle), Michael Dell (Dell Computers), and Matthew Szulik (Red Hat CEO) jointly announced "Unbreakable Linux" and I am assuming that this is v1.0 since I think that was the first time that "Unbreakable Linux" was used.

What was interesting was the quote by Matthew Szulik at that time, "Boy it feels awfully good to get here, I guess you could call this an 'Unbreakable' partnership." Boy, I would say that's putting your foot in your mouth or famous last words given "Unbreakable Linux v2.0".

What would be challenging is how Oracle is going to syncronize the new RH releases with what they already got since what Oracle has is no longer RH. If you check the current Linux downloads at Oracle's website, you will see the installation has no traces of RH logos (after all, they won't be able to do so without RH filing suit) so in all practicality, Oracle is offering their own Linux distros. If Oracle releases a patch to RH AS 3 or AS 4 but that patch never made it to the formal channels of Linux mainline coders, then what would that make the patched RH install? Definitely not RH anymore nor it be Open Source since the patch is not part of the Open Source Linux code base.

How about if I switch over to Oracle support and am running RH AS 4 and after patching, I'm no longer RH AS4 (let call it OUL AS4a) and RH releases AS4.5 without the patch, how do I get my install to syncronize with RH AS4.5? Probably not until Oracle can extract the AS4.5 bits and supply a patch update to bring my install to OUL AS4.5a assuming that nothing else will break.

All in all, very interesting and I think Oracle chose RH because that's the market leader and doing their own Linux distros is an uphill battle as they would have to convince existing RH customers to switch which is likely to succeed when pigs can fly. This way, they can probably and quickly grab a share of the Linux market riding on RH coat tails.

Only time will tell whether "Unbreakable Linux v2.0" is successful and what "Unbreakable Linux v3.0" would look like. To quote "May we live in interesting time" and I think we are and who knows, a decade from now, we would look back and marvel at the audacity of Larry Ellison much like when Oracle came on the market back in the late 70's.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Jonathan Lewis - Weblog

I saw from Tom Kyte's blog that Jonathan Lewis finally bit the bullet and decided to give blogging a try. So far he has three interesting entries and he is definitely one that you would want to track if you are involved in any Oracle technologies. Having said that, his regular website is still a must for Oracle pundits.

Welcome Jonathan!

OOW 2006 - Swag...

Swag or freebies or spoils of the conference. Actual meaning was "Goods acquired by unlawful means"...but in this case, goods obtained from OOW.

For those alumni attendees, if you are the first 3,000 registrants, you will get an alumni jacket. which I think looks great (at least on the folks wearing them as I have not worn mine yet). If you are registered in one of the X-treme programs, you will get an t-shirt just like what Henry Collingwood wore at the Blogger's Meetup.

Obviously there were tons of free t-shirts, pens, stick-it notes. Microsoft was giving away their Vista RC1, SUSE gave away their SUSE Linux 9 (180-day evaluation) and ditto for RH with their AS 4. The vendors prizes included (on top of the regular notebooks/laptops and iPods) HDTV televisions, a Harley-Davidson motorbike, a Vespa scooter and a Segway which Eddie Awad tried. Unfortunately I did not win any although if I had, I probably would have to turn it over to my employer as there are rules in place to discourage government employees of accepting gifts from ventors over a certain amount ($20 in my case).

Oracle gave away free "Unbreakable Linux" t-shirts, mousepads and stickers after Larry Ellison's keynote amongst other items. One item that wasn't officially on any freebies was an Oracle logo blanket which were handed out during lunch at certain locations as the weather was nice and sunny so that the attendees could actually use the blanket to sit on while they eat their lunches. A couple of years ago, it was an Oracle logo golf umbrella.

I managed to collect 4 leather wallets from Oracle which I have given to my team of DBAs and System Administrators along with t-shirts. They can't say that I don't have their interests at heart...;D

Saturday, October 28, 2006

OOW - Wrap up

Thursday was the last day of the Conference and there were no keynotes scheduled other than sessions. The exhibit halls opened at 10 and closed 3 hours later at 1 pm. Most attendees were all checking out of their hotels and getting ready to go home, some will stayed and enjoy playing tourists.

The highlights at OOW for me are:

  • the release of E-Business Suite Release 12 with its new look;
  • the announcement of Oracle Unbreakable Linux, basically wiping 17% off of Red Hat's stock price the next day;
  • the roadmaps for Oracle products including Fusion Applications and Server 11;
  • the Elton John concert;
  • the keynotes; and
  • last but not least, the Bloggers Meetup.

  • All the keynotes are available for download in almost all formats. The sessions notes will be ready for download within the next 4 weeks or so. With over 1600 sessions, well, it's gonna take a while so I've decided to order the Conference DVD/CD set instead.

    Next year's conference is scheduled for Nov 11th although the venue is in question as it seems that OOW has grown so much that it might be too big for the Moscone Centre. Rumours are Vegas or Orlando being places with big enough convention space. Me, I'm betting that it will still be in San Francisco as the revenue is something that the city would probably do not want to lose.

    In closing, this year's last day saw some drama where some of the street folks managed to get hold of attendee badges (probably from the trash after the attendees had discarded them) and got into the building. One wandered around the second level of Moscone West picking up empties. If he had gone up one level, he would have been able to get his hands on the rest of the refreshments being wheeled out at 2:45pm. Another was seen dashing out with an army of security personnel in tow. Now, he was still holding onto a cup of coffee but I doubt that it was a cup of coffee that initiated the pursuit. So, bit of advice for next year; if you are going to discard your attendee badge, put the pocket guide into the recycled bin, the plastic badge holder with the badge can be left at the Registration desk. I kept my badge as a souvenior.

    Thursday, October 26, 2006

    OOW - Day 4 (Wednesday)

    Boy, it sure is getting harder to keep track of the days and my apologies for the delay in getting this entry off.

    The big news, obviously, was Larry Ellison's keynote and in a nutshell, Oracle will now offer Enterprise class support for RH Linux and this is applicable to all RH customers not just Oracle customers running RH. Please check the following blogs for more details (no point in me repeating what has already said): Amis Blog; Andrew Clarke; IT-Eye and Oracle Linux

    My own sessions consisted of attending Jonathan Lewis' presentation on "Recent Improvement with the CBO" which was very, very good. Lots of food for thought and he provided convicing arguements on why you should always upgrade.

    My second session was on "Identity Management with Oracle E-Business suite" which was a terrible, terrible presentation. The speaker definitely needs to work on his presentation and actually try and provide better information that what was attempted. It's too bad as customer-based presentations are supposed to be a good source of sharing experiences that you can take back to the office and work.

    The next session that I attended was on "Securing your E-Biz Suite" and nothing new there other than the reinforcement of utilizing the two key Metalink articles on securing the EBS. The two articles are entitled "Best Practices for Securing your E-Business Suite" and "Setting up E-Business in a DMZ".

    My last session of the day was on "The making of the 10g:Faster and more Scalable" and it was an interesting session where the Oracle product manager highlighted some of the areas that they focused on when developing 10g. I will post more details on this when I get back to the office.

    Wednesday, October 25, 2006

    OOW - Rocketman!

    Wow! Elton John was fantastic but now I got "Rocketman" running through my head even the next morning...Urgh! Tuesday was a very productive day as I found the sessions to be extremely informative and to top it off with the Blogger Meetup followed by seeing Elton John perform is just the icing on the cake.

    The day started off with Thomas Kurian's keynote and it was very informative although unfortunately the in-house TV where I was watching from (OTN Lounge) cut off just as he was beginning to talk about WebCentre. One tip that Thomas advised folks is to build new web services or web service-enabled their legacy applications. This is actually one tip that I hope the Application Group at my work will take to heart as one of the manager there is pretty set against it. Workflow Manager (as you probably heard already) is obsolete to be replaced by BPEL Process Manager but Oracle has no intention of converting the Workflow Manager lists over to BPEL. Thomas also spoke about the Enterprise Service Bus which will tie services together and there is a new set of Business Intelligence tools (10gR3).

    The next session that I attended was on High Availability for the upcoming "11g" by Juan Loaiza. I doubt if the final name for the next release will be 11g but that's what was being referenced for a lack of a better name. Juan did an excellent presentation highlighting the direction that was taken which was to focus on maturity and stability of the HA components of the Oracle Server. ASM has been enhanced to be able to repair corrupted blocks utilizing data from the mirrored copy and ability to freeze I/O to unavailable SAN and replay those writes later when the SAN becomes available.

    Secured Backup (which I still think is not ready for primetime yet) will skip UNDO and thus speed up the backup time and reduces the size of the backup. The selling feature is that it only cost $3000/tape drive and no charge if you back up to drive (via virtual tape drive). There is a "new" Data Repair Advisor which will provide analysis and recommend recovery solutions. Data corruptions can be detected and prevented via Ultra-Safe mode but uses more hardware resources (CPU cycles increases by 10 to 20%). There is also buffer integrity and block contents checking.

    Improvements to Dataguard includes the ability to do real-time query on a Physical standby and will support RAC on Primary and Standby databases and the ability to handle all data types. A new standby type (Snapshot) will be available and can be leverage for use in testing which will allow the customer to discard the writes/changes done during testing and applying the redo logs generated by the Primary during the testing period. This will be done via one command, "Alter database conver to Physical Standby;" The HA team has also optimize failover so that it happens as fast as can be done. SYS is no longer required for redo shipping. If you recall, current DataGuard setup requires that the Primary and Standby database MUST have the same SYS password in order for the Redo Apply to work.

    Other features includes Proactive Patching, Online Patching, Rolling DB upgrades using Physical Standby. The Online Patching provides the ability to apply one-off patches while the instance is running and is currently only available on Linux and Solaris. A key Fusion Application initiative is to provide online Applications upgrade which would be a huge plus for Oracle Applications customers. There is also Edition-based redefinition (versioning of db objects other than tables), easier and faster to add columns with default values, "invisible indexes" where new indexes can be created but not available for use right away. Lastly, there is no need to recompile dependent objects when the base object was modified.

    The next session that I attended was on MAA for E-Business suite. The MAA team has managed to identified and documented the process and procedures to move from a single EBS instance to a highly available and robust infrastructure consisting of RAC and standby databases. It is still a work-in-progress and the paper should be available on the Oracle website (do a search for MAA with E-Business). We are looking at doing something similar with our EBS implementation and I will be in touch with the MAA folks on further details.

    The final session that I attended was on Tuning the E-Business suite and it was a long presentation but a very useful one as it provided a lot of suggestions on areas to look and tune. The only problem was that I couldn't stay for the end as it went way over the allocated time. For those who wishes more details on what was suggested, please let me as there are a lot of suggestions. Thankfully it was the last presentation of the day as everyone was getting ready to head out to the Cow Palace for the Conference Gala Appreciation event. I on the other hand, have to head out to the Bloggers Meetup at the Thirsty Bear but needed to head back to hotel to change and pick up my pass for the Gala event. Talk about a series of unfortunate events, when I got back to the hotel, I was told that the buses would not be running back to the Conference centre and I will have to make my own arrangements. It was suggested that the cable car would be the quickest and I headed over to the stop only to be told that the system has broken down and a shuttle bus is on its way. 20 minutes later, it was suggested that I should go up a block and catch the #30 bus and 20 minutes, the shuttle bus showed and I had ran the block in order to catch it. Needless to say, I was about 35 minutes late for the Meetup and thankfully most folks are still around. It was great finally to meet the folks who I have been reading but Tom Kyte did not managed to show and Sue Harper had left. Mark Rittman was very gracious as the host and I got to meet and chat with Lewis Cunningham, Eddie Awad, Mike Siebert, Tim Hall, Dimitri Gellis, Lucas Jellema, Andrew Clarke, Henry Collingwood, Laurent Schneider just to name a few. We had folks from New Zealand, Belgium, Holland, Canada, US and the UK.

    The evening was topped off with some of us heading to the Cow Palace to listen to Elton John and we chatted more during the ride to the venue. Overall, a great evening. Oh, for pictures, please check Eddie's blog and Mark's blog.

    Tuesday, October 24, 2006

    OOW - Monday (Day 2)

    I guess that it is officially day 2 of OOW 2006 as Sunday was considered to be the first day with Charles Philips kicking off the opening keynote. I didn't managed to make it for Hector de J. Ruiz's (AMD) keynote but caught the last part of it. I was interested in Chuck Rozwat's keynote and I gotta tell you that he usually peppered his keynote with hooky videos usually of him and other Oracle employees doing something silly to emphasize a point. Chuck mentioned 11g Server is in beta and they have incorporated 482 new features. Some of which included better patch/change management (hot patching), new snapshot standby (as compared to physical and logical standby), workload capture & replay at the database and SQL level, and online application upgrade with no impact on users when applying changes.

    The theme this year is "Better Information, Better Results" so the set of "utilities/tools" are Oracle's Content DB, Records DB, Secured System Search, Business Intelligence, Application Express, Spatial DB, 10gR3 Grid, Fusion Middleware and Warehouse Builder which is now part of the Oracle Server Enterprise Edition.

    I've learned not to go to the keynote hall to attend since getting and getting out after the keynote is a hassle. Best bet is to find one of the TV monitors where they feed the keynote and you can sit either on the floor or if you are lucky enough, find a beanbag or chair.

    Two of my sessions are on Roadmaps and Trends for the E-Business suite (Financials and Supply Chain). Not totally what I expected but did get more information on Release 12 of Oracle E-Business and the upcoming Fusion Applications. Since the theme was better information, the focus was getting better information to the business in order for them to make the right decision and the right time with the right information with improved foorecasting accuracy, demand insight, single Tax engine, consolidated Bank model, etc. The Fusion Applications will be built on top of the E-Business R12 data model so naturally some questions are of "do I have to be on R12 to upgrade to Fusion" type and the answer is no if you are on 11.5.7+ onwards. It all sounds pretty exciting and with my employer totally in bed with Oracle E-Business, it is going to be a learning experience for me and my guys to quickly come up to speed with the changing role (from pure DBA to Application DBA).

    One of the last sessions that I attended today was on DataGuard: Customers Experiences (Tips and Tricks). There were three customers who discussed their experiences with DataGuard and how well it works. Pretty standard stuff from what I had experienced with the DataGuard X-treme program but I do have a question that I will need to get answered when I get to the DemoGrounds today. It's not how switchover/failover happened but actually how my application will recognize that switchover/failover has happened and there is no loss of connectivity or that the users will have to disconnect (from the failed database) and reconnect to the new Primary. One tip was ensuring the password for the SYS schema MUST BE the same amongst the Primary and the Standbys (in Eli Lilly's case, they have 7 standbys).

    The evening finished up with us attending the Pacific Northwest Oracle customers appreciation event at the St. Regis Hotel (a very nice hotel) but we had to cut out since we wanted to attend OTN night at the Westin St. Francis. It was a fun night with a game for the technie folks and I gotta tell you that none of the contestents did very well with answering questions about Oracle products. You have to wonder about the quality of Oracle eductional courses but I gotta admit that I was stumped on a few of them too. Some questions are too vague and I actually like the old format better where they actually use questions from the OCP exams. Overall it was fund and I met some great folks and I am looking forward to Tuesday as the main event for the evening is the Elton John concert at the Cow Palace plus the Blogger meetup at the Thirsty Bear.

    Sunday, October 22, 2006

    OOW - X-treme Program Day 2

    Today's session is much, much better than yesterday's. The focus today was on DataGuard and the hands-on lab repeats but in a good way as things are shown and done via Grid Control and then done via the Dataguard command line utility. I like it.

    We had to configure and set up the Primary database for standby with the various failover, switchover scenarios utilizing fast-failover and so on. It was a great session and the hands-on labs were good as they take you through the steps of configuration and then actually prove to you that the standby database is actually receiving the changes from the Primary. We are planning to implement DataGuard for our E-Biz implementation as an initial step and once that's is done, the next step is to focus on RAC to provide higher availability and then on to the application tier with multiple nodes for improved throughput and availability.

    Charles Philips provided the keynote to kick off the event. It was kind of hooky as he also took the opportunity to introduce Oracle Corp as the new sponsor of the Golden State Warriors (National Basketball Association) arena and this was followed by Judy Sims providing attendees with a rundown of this year's event with an estimated 41,000 registered attendees, 1600+ sessions, half a million pounds of freight, 187 buses to ferry the attendees from the hotels to the centre. Charles Philips mentioned that Oracle has three core businesses; Database, Middleware and Applications. He also got two of his executives to come on stage to demo the new Oracle Accelerate program. Apparently Oracle has a new website that customers/implementers can utilized to quickly and easily configure their new E-Biz applications utilizing a series of questions and answers with templates. That sounds very promising and is something that I will be checking out when I get back to the office.

    The Welcoming reception sponsored by NetApp was okay but I didn't stay long, instead opting for the IBM Canada event in the Marriott.

    Monday is going to be a busy day going from 8:30am right up to 5:45pm to be following by a couple of cocktails events and then the big event for the night; OTN Night which this year is at the Westin St. Francis hotel right by Union Square. I will blog about that tomorrow.

    OOW - X-treme program

    Arrived in San Francisco around 6pm local time. Took longer as the flight didn't get out of Vancouver until 3:55pm and my colleague's luggage actually made it to SF before he did and we didn't know until all the luggage from our flight were taken leaving us standing around the baggage claim area wondering what's going on.
    The Hilton @Fisherman's Wharf is a nice hotel and the room is big but unfortunately it looks like there won't be time for me to enjoy the room too much other than to sleep. Only downside is that there is no swimming pool at the hotel.
    So, I'm in the two-day X-treme program and I've chosen Building Highly Available Environments with Oracle Database 10g as my choice and yesterday was the first part where we were shown the Flashback feature, followed by Recovery Manager and then Secured Backup (with encryption). How are all these features considered "High Availability"? Well, they do contribute to minimize downtime but heh, I wouldn't classified them to be "high availability" features. They minimize recovery time but the database or objects in question are still unavailable while being recovered.
    As for Secured Backup, I would wait as I think it is still pretty much first release with first release features. The good news is that a second release (10.2) is in the works and should be ready pretty soon. Hopefully the second part of the session would be good as it deals with Data Guard which is one feature that we want to implement for our Supply Chain business.
    More and more delegates are here as tonight is the official kickoff of OOW and I have already seen Don Burleson hanging around outside smoking.

    Tuesday, October 17, 2006

    Limited free X-treme passes for OOW attendees

    I see on Steven Chan's blog that Oracle has a number of free passes for OOW attendees to take one of the X-treme program (scheduled for Sat/Sun before the official openning of the conference). For government/public sector employees, it's a little bit tricky as most of them do have a policy against receiving goodies from vendors. I am already registered for one of the X-treme program and for $650, I think that's a great deal.

    Friday, October 13, 2006

    8.4 Billion Hours and other numbers

    8.4 billion hours. That's a huge number of hours. According to the US Accountability Office, that was the estimated number of hours that US citizen spent in filling out paperwork (such as tax returns) required by the government for 2005. That's just plain wasteful. If you think about it, assuming that each hour is worth $5.00 (very low end), you are looking at $42 billion just in filling out paperwork. I personally think that a better way is to tax at source and not worry about paperwork. Sure, you are going to have folks who would earn money on the side without declaring (which you do now, anyways) but if the penalties are structured so that it is really not worth the effort to not pay taxes, I'm sure over 90% of the folks wouldn't look at tax evasion.

    Another number; 654,965.

    According to the Vancouver daily press, this is the number of people killed since the US invasion of Iraq three years ago. That's more than the entire population of the city of Vancouver. Scary and really sad.

    10.56 Billion.

    Amount that college students (in the US) are expected to spend on electronics for 2006. Wow, in my college days, I would be lucky to even be able to afford to buy a stereo system.

    5.9 Million.

    The number of Sony-made notebook batteries that were recalled because they could catch on fire. Locally, a condo complex caught fire and suffered $2 million (estimated) in damages because a notebook left on a glass coffee table got too hot and shattered the glass top and fell on top of some newspaper which ignite and started the blaze. Luckily no one was killed or injured as the fire occurred in the early evening.

    50,000 Attendees.

    The estimated number of attendees expected at this year Oracle Open World...see you all there.

    Thursday, October 12, 2006

    More blogs added to the blog roll

    You will see that I have added some of the regular blogs that I check out every so often. For me right now, the one that I keep on top of is Steven Chan's blog which deals with the Oracle E Business Suite and Technology Stack since my organization is busy implementing the application for our Supply Chain folks.

    Sunday, October 08, 2006

    Recent Interviews...Embellishment of resumes

    No, I was not the one going for interviews but rather was doing the interviewing. We were looking for a Senior Oracle DBA on a 7-month contract to come in and back-fill for one of our DBA (who will be almost full time on a project). Anyhow, I had hope for someone who has more than 5 years of solid Oracle DBA experience supplemented by 2 to 3 years of Oracle Application DBA work.

    Anyhow the responses are mixed and I can tell you that it wasn't easier finding someone who has both solid Oracle DBA AND Oracle Application experience. Potential candidates either have only Oracle DBA experience or just Oracle Application. One of the things that I found in going through the resumes and conducting the interviews was that the resumes were "padded". By "padded", I meant that it makes the candidate sounded more experience than they actually are. The candidates are not lying at all but things like "experience with implementing backups/recovery procedures" could turn into (when questioned) "yeah, well, the team that I worked in did the implementation and my actual role was actually run these backup and recovery scripts" or something to that effect. Now I would not say that the candidates were lying but rather their resumes were embellished.

    I don't know if this is the right thing to do but I would not want to do that as I think it would come across as not being upfront about it. This is, of course, not just restricted to resumes but also to profiles/biographies of folks (sometimes folks listed as Executives, Directors of organizations). I have seen profiles/bios listed on the company's website of folks that I know and their work experience and I know that what they actually did was not exactly what was listed.

    Another example was a consultant that I knew and he had listed himself (after becoming an Executive for a new startup) as being the youngest Director on the board of a big multi-national organization but the truth was far from that. The actual fact was that he was on a Board of Directors but not for the whole organization but rather for a specific project (much akin to a Project Steering committee).

    Bottom-line: Be very aware that what is listed on a resume could very be embellished to make the candidate appear more experienced and have greater responsibilities or bigger role than what they actually did.

    Saturday, October 07, 2006

    It has been a while

    Seems that I never managed to get solid time to sit down and get this blogging going again. Things have been crazy at work with a new Supply Chain implementation project starting and we actually lost complete power to our server room twice in Sept. This is on top of the one on July 5th, details here. On Sept 11th (yes, 9/11 - talk about karma), an electrician working on installing new power outlets, short-circuited one of the new outlets which in turn created a loopback or something like that which caused our main GFCI (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter) to kick in before our breakers could. This in turn caused a surge to our centralized UPS which shut down in order to protect the equipment downstream. No power and no UPS, down goes the servers. We eventually got power restored and managed to have all systems up and running by around 9pm (about 12 hrs later). And while recovering from that outage, three days later, an accident on the street took out the transformer and we again lost power to the whole building including the server room. Thank goodness, the UPS kicked in this time and we are able to gracefully shut down all systems/servers until power was restored. Things came up pretty well and we were done by around 3pm. We still got to finalize the recovery process as everything was still pretty much in flux. One thing that worked pretty well was to designate someone as the "incident commander" and have this person drive the whole recovery process which included communication to the various affected business areas.

    Hopefully that was it for us for a long time. I will try and keep regular updates and I think for the Oracle Open World, it might be best if I do blog each day so that I don't forget what was done as I will need to debrief our IT guys when I get back from the conference.