Is X a Big Data product?

September 24th, 2014 Alex Gorbachev No comments

Virtually everyone in data space today claims that they are a Big Data vendor and that their products are Big Data products. Of course — if you are not in Big Data then you are legacy. So how do you know whether a product is a Big Data product?

While there might not be fully objective criteria (and mainly because Big Data definition is still in the air and people interpret it as they see fit for their purpose), I think I can provide one good suggestion on how to determine when a certain product is NOT a Big Data product. Of course, it will depend on the definition of Big Data that you believe in.

I believe that Big Data is mostly about being “affordable at scale“, quoting Jeff Needham, my good friend and fellow member of OakTable Network. In practice, that means commodity software, commodity hardware and commodity operations of the solution. I won’t define the thresholds of scale in terabytes or levels of complexity and etc but I can provide some guidelines.

Talking about commodity hardware, it’s generally based on x86 architecture (though, some say ARM is emerging but it’s been emerging way too long for my liking) with some reasonably priced components. That would typically be dual socket systems with up to few hundred GB of RAM and maybe a dozen disks or some SSDs and cost effective networking. If we narrow down to Hadoop-like architectures then a cluster node would typically cost between $4,000 and $10,000. Anything significantly above that is probably overpriced or overspec’ed.

OK. Now that we are good with hardware let’s look at software. Obviously, open-source software without any commercial support qualifies for commodity and being affordable. If you are Facebook-scale (or getting relatively close), your commercial support can be you own large scale, capable engineering team. Otherwise, you will most likely have commercial support. Back to Hadoop world, you should expect to pay for commercially supported Hadoop distribution (whoever it is out of three leading distributions — Cloudera, Hortonworks or MapR) the same order of magnitude as for the hardware itself. Annually, it would be a fraction of hardware cost or over three years it would be about the cost of hardware purchase or slightly above depending on the level of support and platform features. You get an idea. Non-open-source products licensed on similar pricing levels are Big Data products too — you don’t have to be open-source to call your technology Big Data.

Let’s take an example of a supposedly Big Data product. If a product has “Big Data” in the name, it surely must be a Big Data product. Eh?

I love quite a few Oracle products so why don’t I look at their line up… Big Data Appliance is a prebuilt Hadoop system or Hadoop appliance with 18 powerful data nodes per rack and list price tag of $525K per rack. That gets you to almost $30K per data node which is quite high and you would likely not build your own clusters like that. Add to that about $100K per year of support and maintenance for systems and OS (you can check pricing in the public engineered system price list). Big Data Appliance does include commercially supported Cloudera distribution so it might not be that terrible pricing-wise. If you have experience buying Oracle products you also know that customers don’t pay list prices. Thus, I can accept that Big Data Appliance can actually be called a Big Data product… just.

Now let’s looks at another product — Big Data SQL. It has been announced but hasn’t quite been released just yet (or did I miss it?). Awesome product, by the way. Great way to push some of data-intensive SQL processing from Oracle Database down to Hadoop. Now, it’s probably not widely known (since it wasn’t really publicly released and sold yet) that Big Data SQL is licensed per disk spindle and it’s $4,000 per spindle as list-price. Add to that typical 22% of annual software support and maintenance from Oracle. If I were to license Big Data SQL for a 100 nodes Hadoop cluster with 12 disks per node, it would cost me almost $5M based on list-price. Don’t forget to add 22% annually. This is order of magnitude more than I would spend on the hardware building such cluster. But wait, it looks like Big Data SQL is only working with Big Data Appliance. Even in this case, the cost of Big Data SQL per single rack appliance is $864K + 22% annually and that’s just one additional tool for your Big Data platform.

Based on what I know about Big Data SQL (and assuming it works as advertised when released), I love it — push code to data, scalable massive parallel processing, leveraging great features from Exadata Storage software. Great job to the folks who developed this product. Unfortunately, I cannot call it a Big Data product — it’s not affordable at scale.

So when you look at other vendors calling their product Big Data — do this costing assessment and if it doesn’t come as affordable at scale then it’s not a Big Data product. And feel free to share your assessments for the rest of us here. I’m sure not everyone will share my line of thinking here either. Fire way.

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Oracle OpenWorld 2014 – Bloggers Meetup

September 19th, 2014 Alex Gorbachev No comments

Oracle OpenWorld Bloggers Meetup Guess what? You all know that it’s coming, when it’s coming and where… That’s right! The Annual Oracle Bloggers Meetup, one of your top favourite events of OpenWorld, is happening at usual place and time.

What: Oracle Bloggers Meetup 2014

When: Wed, 1-Oct-2014, 5:30pm

Where: Main Dining Room, Jillian’s Billiards @ Metreon, 101 Fourth Street, San Francisco, CA 94103 (street view). Please comment with “COUNT ME IN” if coming — we need to know the attendance numbers.


Traditionally, Oracle Technology Network and Pythian sponsor the venue and drinks. We will also have some cool things happening and a few prizes.

In the age of Big Data and Internet of Things, our mingling activity this year will be virtual — using an app we wrote specifically for this event, so bring your iStuff and Androids to participate and win. Hope this will work! :)

As usual, vintage t-shirts, ties, or bandanas from previous meetups will make you look cool — feel free to wear them.

For those of you who don’t know the history: The Bloggers Meetup during Oracle OpenWorld was started by Mark Rittman and continued by Eddie Awad, and then I picked up the flag in 2009 (gosh…  6 years already?) The meetups have been a great success for making new friends and catching up with old, so let’s keep them this way! To give you an idea, here are the photos from the OOW08 Bloggers Meetup (courtesy of Eddie Awad) and OOW09 meetup blog post update from myself, and a super cool video by a good blogging friend, Bjorn Roest from OOW13.

While the initial meetings were mostly targeted to Oracle database folks, guys and gals from many Oracle technologies — Oracle database, MySQL, Apps, Sun technologies, Java and more join in the fun. All bloggers are welcome. We estimate to gather around 150 bloggers.

If you are planning to attend, please comment here with the phrase “COUNT ME IN”. This will help us ensure we have the attendance numbers right. Please provide your blog URL with your comment — it’s a Bloggers Meetup after all! Make sure you comment here if you are attending so that we have enough room, food, and (most importantly) drinks.

Of course, do not forget to blog and tweet about this year’s bloggers meetup. See you there!

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C14 OakTable World Las Vegas

March 26th, 2014 Alex Gorbachev No comments

If you haven’t yet made the decision to attend COLLABORATE 14 – IOUG Forum in Las Vegas taking place on 7-11 April, 2014 at the Venetian Hotel, this might just help you to make the call. You know you want to be there.

OakTable Network will be holding its OakTable World for the very first time during the COLLABORATE conference. While it’s a little bit last moment, IOUG was able to provide a room for us to use for the whole day and we at OakTable quickly put the schedule together. The agenda is selected by the OakTable speakers on the topics they are really passionate about. As history shows, this is generally what your also want to hear about.

The history of OakTable World comes from the underground event started by Mogens Nørgaard during Oracle OpenWorld somewhere around 2007-2009. After several years of success and growing popularity, the even has become knows as OakTable World run during OOW12 (link) and OOW13 (link) and was a huge success. Last year, we have also run OTWUK13 around UKOUG TEBS 13 conference in Manchester. Needless to say it was a success.

Thanks to many good companies sponsoring the events all those years — you know who you are. This year, the sponsor is really IOUG who managed to find a room for us. I’ll probably gather few usual suspect to print special t-shirts again so stay tuned for that update — I wanted to get the info out-there ASAP so that people could plan attending.

The up to date schedule is in Google Calendar. You can also sign up to the calendar feed using XML or iCal feeds.

Embedded schedule is below:

Note that we have two hours of TED-style lightning talks with or without slides. Each talk is 10-15 minutes when the author shares an innovative perspective relevant to the database industry. The talks are the mix of technical and non-technical topics. It’s been first attempted at UKOUG conference in 2011 and 2012 I believe and were very popular and well attended.

You will hear about some specific technologies or methods that are under-utilized, about provocative approaches to database tasks we have at hand, about disruptive trends and about totally non-technical things that will make you a better IT professional — stories of someone’s life or professional career. It’s usually entertaining and thoughts-provoking. I strongly recommend them.

As you can see the speakers for the rest of the day are stellar. Frits Hoogland of Enkitec Europe fame comes to C14 all the way from Holland and he will start the day by getting very very very deep inside Oracle execution code. Frits will demonstrate live use of Linux GDB debugger techniques to diagnose and troubleshoot very complex scenarios when you really need to understand internal of certain database operations. You really need your brain fresh for this session so scheduling it first thing in the morning is the only reasonable time to reduce the risk of your brain being fried in the first 15 minutes. Hardcode folks will love this.

Next goes Kyle Hailey with Agile Data story to teach us about modern techniques in making Oracle database deployment, cloning and things as easy as deploying a Linux RPM package with YUM. Following thatMoved to 3pm, Graham Wood from Oracle will be presenting Unreal World Performance use cases themed after popular Real World Performance Tour (but without two other amigos) with fresh look at bad practices of managing connections to Oracle databases — time for a refresher on those very popular RWP Youtube videos.

After lunch is when Lightning talks will be running and also a very cool session by Jeff Needham of Scalabilities where you can learn about disruptive trends in modern data warehousing and what customers are doing today (and more will be doing tomorrow) to scale their data processing in cost effective way. How vendors respond to Big Data technologies disrupting their traditional products and how customers handle it (note that I’m trying hard to be politically correct here — come, it will be very refreshing). By the way, Jeff will give away his book copies (Disruptive Possibilities) during Lightning talk as well.

Unfortunately Jeff won’t be able to be here. We might still get some of his books. However, we have Gwen Shapira presenting on loading Twitter data into Hadoop and analyzing with complete live on the spot demo!

Late Karl Arao addition is also on the schedule!

Here are the schedule for the Lightning Talks. The schedule might change slightly between two slots (and we still have one slot to be confirmed):

Lightning Talk Part I:

  • Kyle Hailey – “Importance of Data Visualization”
  • Jeff Needham – “Hadoop Myth-Busting (plus books giveaway)”
  • Tim Gorman – “Eagles and Seagulls” about being an independent IT consultant
  • Kellyn Pot’vin – “Finding Your Path”

Lightning Talk Part II:

  • Jonathan Gennick – “Seven Ways toward Better Writing”
  • Kellyn Pot’vin – “Snapclone with DBaaS in EM12c”
  • Graham Wood – How Hardware Timings Affect Your Oracle Database Performance
  • TBC

Lightning talks details are in the events details in the calendar if you open the event. Remember that there might be some last minute changes so I recommend simply signing up for the calendar feed on your mobile device you carry with you at the conference.

Also, there will be the OakTable folks and other crowd hanging around that room for the whole day so come over. I think it would be a good experiment to reintroduce couple things that Mogens had back in the old days:

  • FIVE-MINUTES-OF-FAME – Any attendee can get up and present a technical solution (5-minute time limit) to the group for admiration.
  • FIVE-MINUTES-OF-HELP – Any attendee can get up and pose a technical problem (5-minute time limit) to the group for help.

Well, that’s the news. If you are excited — post here in the comments that you are coming, share this on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and what not. Looking forward to see as many of you there as possible. As Tim Gorman said — “more fun than a barrel of drunken DBAs, is the un-conference formerly known as “Oracle Closed World“, now known as “Oak Table World“.” And this year we are in Vegas!

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Missing UKOUG Tech13 — But Still in Manchester at OakTable World UK 2013

December 1st, 2013 Alex Gorbachev No comments

This is the first year since 2006 that I don’t present or attend the UKOUG Technology annual conference. Sad, but I had to withdraw because I didn’t believe UKOUG had been making the right choices in the past little while. The trigger was the introduction of the limit of six presentations per company to present at the conference. I believe this doesn’t really serve the conference, attendees or my company well (which I’m so passionate about,) nor my colleagues that I’m so proud to work with.

Pythian’s vision has always been to grow, as the place where the top experts in the database industry want to work. Naturally, many of the folks working at Pythian are also industry leaders and active community contributors. As Pythian has been steadily growing, more and more Pythianites are submitting abstracts to conferences such as UKOUG, which do get accepted being good abstracts by known speakers. UKOUG Tech13 wasn’t an exception — while there was not nearly dominating number of abstracts from Pythian accepted, it was still more than six.

It’s even more disappointing this year because this rule wasn’t communicated (or didn’t exist) earlier in abstract selection process when abstract reviewers were selecting the sessions. Seems like it was sort of added as an afterthought. This isn’t as much of my concern but more of those who actually did the reviews and now will be overridden by a rule that has nothing to do with the merits of abstracts and speakers they evaluated. Long story short, I got a request from UKOUG to moderate the sessions from Pythian to comply with this new limit of six session per company. While it sounds nice to give the company such choice, it goes against our culture of conference participation — it’s individuals’ choice and not corporate moderation. From Pythian perspective, there is no moderation for central abstract submissions and approvals for UKOUG — folks have their own individual budgets and conference allotments every year that they are free to control as long as it works with their teams and budgets. Thus, I couldn’t possibly decide who should be going and who should withdraw — it would break our culture.

This wouldn’t even matter because we would naturally had few speakers refuse sessions and in the end have less than six session anyway without any moderation. What’s important is that (1) the approach itself harms Pythian and it’s employees because people who join the company, have less chances to present at UKOUG that so many of us have been keeping in high regards; and (2) the conference agenda doesn’t get the best presentations independently submitted by speakers and then independently selected by abstract reviewers and selection committee.

While I appreciate the prompt response from UKOUG to my protest on this limit and readiness to explain the reasoning behind the decision, there was no interest in changing that late-added rule — my arguments were not strong enough it seems. I thought that the best course of action for me personally would be to withdraw my sessions this year, which is what I did. Needless to say it wasn’t an easy call to make because UKOUG conference is the first conference I attended and the first conference I presented on. It’s been a special kind of gathering for me and I haven’t missed a single one since 2006 no matter where I lived at a time of the conference. I wanted to share my decision on the blog but didn’t want to make it look too anti-UKOUG and potentially reduce conference attendance — while I’m unhappy with some of the decisions, I respect many people involved in UKOUG. This is why I’m writing this at 3am on Monday, just before the 2nd day of the conference.

I must say, that large part of my exciting UKOUG conference experience is meeting my good friends I’ve made over that many years, and also make new ones. The good news is that this part (at least partially) will still happen this year. While I don’t present at or attend UKOUG Tech13, I’ll be at OakTable Work UK 2013 on Monday and Tuesday, which is right across the road from UKOUG Tech13 conference and is open to all to come by. See the presentation from awesome speakers and network with the group of people they like (well, supposedly like).

So, this is sort of my personal protest to this absurd rule. I hope UKOUG will change their mind next year. By the way, Pythian is not the only company in such a position — there are other companies (not many, but you know who you are!) that are successfully growing and attracting top talent and are in the same boat with Pythian when it comes to this limit of six presentations per company. I don’t want to talk on their behalf, but I know some folks had to make their choices too.

Now you know where you can find me and some of the folks your won’t be seeing at UKOUG Tech13 this year – Premier Inn, 7-11 Lower Mosley Street, Manchester. Monday and Tuesday. In the evenings… Well, you know where you can find me too.

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Oracle OpenWorld 2013 – Bloggers Meetup

September 4th, 2013 Alex Gorbachev No comments

Oracle OpenWorld Bloggers Meetup Oracle OpenWorld 2013 is just few weeks away, and of course, we are organizing the Annual Oracle Bloggers Meetup — one of your top favorite events of OpenWorld.

What: Oracle Bloggers Meetup 2013

When: Wed, 25-Sep-2013, 5:30pm

Where: Main Dining Room, Jillian’s Billiards @ Metreon, 101 Fourth Street, San Francisco, CA 94103 (street view). Please comment with “COUNT ME IN” if coming — we need to know the attendance numbers.


Traditionally, Oracle Technology Network and Pythian sponsor the venue and drinks. We will also have some cool things and few prizes.

As usual, vintage t-shirts from previous meetups will make you look cool — feel free to wear them. We won’t make it too busy with activities this year as we have so many folks coming now and we barely have enough time to network and say hello.

However, we couldn’t resist another competition so this year wou will compete for the best video composition from Oracle Blogger Meetup — edit it, process is and do whatever you want with it but there are few conditions:

  1. Must be under 3 minutes total
  2. All scenes must be shoot at the meetup
  3. Must be shared on Youtube by 15-Oct

Recommendations — make it funny, get as many bloggers into it as you can, make it a story… be yourself — it’s your film! Get your creative film director juices flowing!

For those of you who don’t know the history… The Bloggers Meetup during Oracle OpenWorld was started by Mark Rittman and continued by Eddie Awad, and then I picked up the flag in 2009 (gosh… it’s 5 years I’ve been doing it?). The meetups have been a great success so let’s keep them this way! To give you an idea, here are the photos from the OOW08 Bloggers Meetup (courtesy of Eddie Awad) and OOW09 meetup blog post update from myself.

While the initial meetings were mostly around Oracle database folks, the latest meetups are joined by guys and gals from lots of Oracle technologies – Oracle database, MySQL, Applications, Sun technologies, Java, and more. All bloggers are welcome. We estimate to gather around 150 bloggers.

If you are planning to attend, please comment here with the phrase “COUNT ME IN”. This will help us make sure we have the attendance numbers right. Make sure you provide your blog URL with your comment — it’s a Bloggers Meetup after all! Make sure you comment here if you are attending so that we have enough room, food, and (most importantly) drinks. Last year we barely fit (again!).

Of course, do not under any circumstances forget to blog and tweet about this year’s bloggers meetup.

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Virtual IOUG Collaborate 13 for Only $299

March 20th, 2013 Alex Gorbachev No comments

For only $299, you can access Virtual IOUG Collaborate 13 individually or set up a conference room at your company for the whole team. There will be two tracks broadcasted, so if you have demand for both tracks, it makes sense to purchase two access passes and setup two tracks broadcasted in parallel in your office so that members of your team can individually choose what to attend. I think that’s a steal even if you want to purchase this package individually.


Virtual attendance doesn’t completely replace the physical presence, but if you can’t come to Denver in April, this is the next best thing. Relationships that you gain from meeting your peers and speakers face to face are extremely valuable and you will carry them throughout your whole career. I’ve been just recently discussing with Rene Antunez (who’s just joined Pythian) about how social media and Twitter revolutionized our professional networking, and we agreed that things like Twitter alone won’t cut it for many of us. While some folks only know most of their peers online, the real relationships are established face to face — discussing a presentation with the speaker during lunch, sharing a drink at the reception or having a heated discussion in a pub near the convention center. With such relationships, social media becomes a natural extended communication channel.

But I digress… So those of you who can’t come to Denver for one reason or another, do consider taking Virtual IOUG Collaborate 2013 Pass and enjoy the session in tracks “High Availability, Disaster Recovery, Manageability” and “Performance, Scalability and Internals”. Here are some of the speakers who you would have a chance to see over 4 days of sessions broadcasting:

  • Kuassi Mensah, Oracle
  • John Beresniewicz, Oracle
  • Michael Abbey, Pythian
  • Yury Velikanov, Pythian
  • Craig Shallahamer, OraPub
  • Karl Arao, Enkitec
  • Carlos Sierra, Oracle
  • Mark W Farnham, Rightsizing
  • Guy Harrison, Dell
  • Frits Hoogland, VX Company
  • Tim Gorman, Evergreen Database Technologies
  • Kyle Hailey, Delphix
  • Gwen Shapira, Pythian

My favorite virtual track is “Performance, Scalability and Internals”, but I will be at the conference physically so I will also be attending lots of sessions on Big Data and Data Science. By the way, as virtual attendee, you will get access to the recordings as well so even if you miss certain live sessions, you can watch them later at your convenience.

If your team is dispersed geographically, the members would need a pass each to watch broadcast live but, again, I still think it’s a steal at $299!

I’m looking forward to see some of you in Denver and some of you on Twitter talking about what you saw at the virtual conference. If you don’t come to Denver and aren’t going to be virtual attendee, tell me why and what else can we do to plug you into Collaborate. I will relay your message to the IOUG Board of Directors and the Conference Committee.

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Big Data is the Commercial Supercomputing in the Age of Datafication

March 19th, 2013 Alex Gorbachev No comments
NERSC's Hopper NERSC; Design: Caitlin Youngquist/LBNL Photo: Roy Kaltschmidt/LBNL

NERSC’s Hopper NERSC; Design: Caitlin Youngquist/LBNL Photo: Roy Kaltschmidt/LBNL

I’ve been reading a book by my good friend Jeff Needham “Disruptive Possibilities: How Big Data Changes Everything” and it cemented some thoughts that had been forming in my head for a while and gave me bunch of new insights. Jeff managed to pack an incredible amount of information in a very concise form. I thoroughly recommend getting a copy for yourself when it’s published. (I’ve got an author’s copy from Hortonworks at StrataConf in Santa Clara few weeks ago.)

Supercomputers, and later High Performance Computing (HPC), have been around for a while. However, they were only available to organizations and projects that were extremely well funded. Military defense and intelligence departments are a good example. Oil and gas exploration that required an enormous amount of processing to predict where to drill with a high degree of certainty is another good example. They can afford to invest in supercomputers because the alternative was to drill expensive wells with little chance to hit the oil reserves. Since drilling a single well costs millions of dollars, companies can get a high return on investments into supercomputing.

Modern commercial supercomputing in the age of Datafication is what we today call Big Data. I think a better term for it would be Data Supercomputing, but the industry has already spoken, so Big Data it is. The architecture shifted from environments that required massively-parallel compute-intensive number crunching to massively-parallel data-volume-intensive processing. The performance of processors and storage media capacity has been growing much quicker than storage and network performance while data volumes growth trumped all of them. This was triggered by the shift in supercomputing architecture.

Hadoop is the first modern commercial supercomputing platform — it’s here to stay and evolve.

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Register to IOUG COLLABORATE 13 and Get an Hour of My Time

March 12th, 2013 Alex Gorbachev No comments

Spring is a very active conference season for me. I might be going to half a dozen conferences in 3-4 months. That’s a lot of travel, but I look forward to all of them. The conference I’m probably looking forward to the most this year is IOUG COLLABORATE. It might be because:

  • it’s the largest user group conference,
  • I have been missing some of the previous conferences for various reasons (like volcano activity in Denmark or delayed passport at the US consulate),
  • I’m more and more connected with IOUG every year (this year I’m the IOUG Director of Communities),
  • COLLABORATE is the conference where I’m meeting some very good friends I rarely see otherwise, or
  • it’s in Denver this year – the place I’m going to every year for RMOUG, but missed this February due to unfortunate circumstances.

Now that I think about it, I think the reason I’m looking forward to it so much this year is because this year is special for IOUG – it’s our 20th anniversary and COLLABORATE 13 is where the main celebration is going to happen.

I’m hoping to see many of the blog readers there, so if you are at COLLABORATE 13, do find me to say hello. If you are not yet committed to come to Denver in April, I would love to do something to swing the balance of your decision scale towards COLLABORATE. The best gift I could think of is to contribute an hour of my personal time to you as a thank you for coming to Denver for this special for IOUG COLLABORATE conference. Phone or video call would be the best communication media, and you can choose any topic you want to talk about that you think I can contribute to – be it around community involvement, blogging, certifications or a technology topic, such as discuss your approach to database consolidation, your company’s big data strategy, Hadoop adoption plans, or focus on a specific issue you are facing such as a specific performance issue you need help with or disaster recovery strategy. Anything goes: we can even talk about woodworking if you’d like. Though, I have much less knowledge and limited experience in woodworking, compared to database technologies.

So what do you need to do to claim an hour of my time? Register for IOUG COLLABORATE 13 before the end of March and use the code BOD13. I will reach you and arrange some time between us. You can also reach out to me by leaving a comment on this blog post below or just filling the Contact Us form. As long as you register between now and the end of March 2013, you can count on that offer.

Why BOD13 priority code? Well, we have a small friendly competition between the board of directors and conference committee on who can attract the most attendees. It’s more for fun than anything else, and this proposal is my way to get your registrations on my side. ;)

Don’t forget to leverage group discounts if you can and discounts for hotel booking through IOUG — this will save you quite a bit off registration fees. The early bird discount is over but those those are still valid.

See you in Denver!

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Under The Hood of Oracle Clusterware 2.0: Grid Infrastructure

February 15th, 2013 Alex Gorbachev No comments

I’ve recently realized that I hadn’t posted the second version of my presentation — Under The Hood of Oracle Clusterware 2.0: Grid Infrastructure, codenamed UTHOC2. I think it would be very useful as I still see lots of questions being asked, and UTHOC1 covers Oracle RAC 10g and 11gR1 only. 11g Release 2 brought many changes in the clusterware, and the slides needed some good refresh.

Seeing how much changes are in 11.2, I wouldn’t expect that the next release (and some call it 12c and say it’s coming out very soon) of Oracle Database will have any significant changes. Now, participating on Oracle beta, I know more than what I could assume a couple years ago, but I shall remain silent for now and just leave you with my old opinion. Perhaps there will be time for UTHOC3 soon. What do you folks think?

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Where is Oracle Block Change Tracking Today?

February 15th, 2013 Alex Gorbachev No comments

Update 7-May-2013: Almost 100 people filled in the survey and here are the result:

BCT survey results

BCT survey results

Oracle BCT Internals by Alex GorbacheI wrote a presentation on Oracle Block Change Tracking (BCT) internals more than 6 years ago. Back then, it was based on Oracle Database 10g Release 1. I have also written a paper in support of the presentation for Collaborate 2007 (You are coming to COLLABORATE 13 in April. Aren’t you?).

To the best of my knowledge, the core principles of block change tracking are still the same. In fact, Oracle recently asked me if they could publish this paper in the knowledge base on My Oracle Support. So now it’s there — ORACLE 10G BLOCK CHANGE TRACKING INSIDE OUT [ID 1528510.1]. I guess it means it’s still very relevant.

This reminded me that Fast Incremental Backups, enabled by Oracle BCT, is a very handy feature. I see lots of use cases that could leverage it, but for some reason don’t. Thus, I wanted to run a quick poll to see how the adoption of BCT is amongst the audience of this blog. If the poll embedded below doesn’t get displayed, you can follow this link.

As a reminder, Block Change Tracking enables Oracle database to keep track of changed fragments of datafiles between incremental backups. Using this log, it’s possible to identify the fragments of a datafile that changed after a particular incremental backup and then only read those fragments during the next incremental backup.

innovationBlock Change Tracking enabled us to deliver some innovative solutions to our customers. One unconventional use case is incrementally updated standby when you need to replicate a database that changes the same blocks over and over again and that, in doing so, generates so much redo that it’s not feasible to transfer that amount of redo to a remote site (like DR site) for replication. Transferring and applying incremental backups often requires much less bandwidth in these cases. Incrementally updated standby is also a way to replicate large data warehouses that are updated in NOLOGGING mode because standard physical standby doesn’t capture those NOLOGGING changes, so Data Guard for Data Warehouse is useless if you need to replicate NOLOGGING changes.

What are your use cases for block change tracking? Take the poll and feel free to provide more details in the comments section below on how you are using the Block Change Tracking feature or what prevents you from using it.

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