Last Monday evening we had the first Singapore Oracle Sessions - an informal meetup of Oracle professionals thrown together at the last minute by a few of us.
Morten Egan (or as I believe he is called in Denmark now - The Traitor ) mentioned to me months ago that if there was no user group when we arrived in Singapore, then we should start one. At the time he was the current (now retired) chairman of the Danish Oracle User Group (DOUG, strangely enough) and, as I've presented at and supported various Oracle user events over the years and am an ACE Director, it seemed fitting that we should try to build something for the Singapore Oracle community.
The fact that the Oracle ACE Hemant Chitale works for the same company and that the ACE Director Bjoern Rost would be spending a few days at my place before continuing on to the OTN APAC Tour was too much of an opportunity. After a short chat on Twitter we decided to bite the bullet and I started researching venues and contacted some of the locals. We only had 6 days to arrange it so it was either brave or stupid!
As it came together and (through a few very good contacts) we had more and more attendees registering it started to seem like a reality and eventually Bjoern, Madeleine and I found ourselves walking along to the Bugis area on Monday, hoping for the best. Despite some initial problems finding the venue, we arrived to find the extremely helpful Sean Low of Seminar Room who took excellent care of us.
Within the matter of 15 minutes or so, 33 of the 36 or so who had registered were safely settled in their seats (including my other half Madeleine who *never* attends Oracle stuff!) for my brief introduction during which Sean insisted I try out the hand-held microphone.
My big Sinatra moment (not).
First up was Bjoern Rost of Portrix with "Change the way you think about tuning with SQL Plan Management" which, as those who've seen me present on the subject at Openworld, BGOUG or UKOUG would know is a subject dear to my heart. However, Bjoern seems to have had much more success with it than my failed attempts that were damned by literal values and Dynamic SQL. (I've since had a little more success, but mainly as a narrow solution to very specific problems.)
As you can see, the room was pretty full and the audience very attentive (except for a few people who appear to be mucking around with their phones!). They weren't afraid to ask some interesting and challenging questions too, which I always find very encouraging.
Early in Bjoern's presentation we suffered what I would say was the only significant disappointment of the night as both the drinks and the pizza turned up early! It was nice of the delivery companies not to be late, but my stupid expectation that 7pm meant 7pm ensured that I was standing at the back of the room surrounded by obviously gorgeous pizza that was slowly going cold, not knowing whether I should stop Bjoern in his tracks or not. Manners dictated not (particularly as there were so many people in a small room) but the pizza experience later suggests I was wrong. Lesson learned! (Note that I had to ask others about the pizza as it's on my extensive list of things I don't eat.)
What obviously didn't go wrong at all was the social interaction between all of the attendees and speakers. It probably helped that there were a few attendees from some organisations and that people from different organisations had worked with each other in the past but it's a *long* time since I've felt such a vibrant energy during a break.
I was on next, presenting on "Real Time SQL Monitoring" and apart from a few hiccups with the clicker I borrowed from Bjoern and a couple of slide corrections I need to make, I think it went reasonably well and people seemed as enthused by SQL Mon reports as I've come to expect! With that done, and a quick smoke (I *love* organising an agenda ), it was time for Morten with his "Big Data Primer"
I think this might have been lots of peoples favourite presentation because it wasn't just about Oracle and Morten packed in plenty of the humour I've come to expect from him. Better still, it seemed to work for a quite cosmopolitan audience, so good work!
Afterwards he said a few words asking for people's feedback and whether there was a desire to setup a local user group or just continue with these informal sessions (sponsors permitting) and all of the feedback I heard later showed that people are very keen for a repeat run.
Overall, Monday night felt like a great success.
The passion and enthusiasm of the attendees was very encouraging and reflected in the subsequent feedback which has been consistently positive but also thoughtful so far. There's no question that a decent minority of the local Oracle community are looking for regular opportunities to hear decent speakers on subjects that interest them, meet and discuss issues with each other and also offer to present themselves, which is a great start for any Oracle User Group.
Strangely, I discovered a day or so later that there are already plans for a User Group and the Singapore launch event is next Wednesday. Coincidentally this is only 9 days after SOS! You can look into the APOUG website here and a number of colleagues and I will attend the launch event. I suppose it's a small shame that it's an APAC-wide user group, rather than specific to Singapore, which the number of attendees at such short notice would suggest Singapore can justify, but I'll be interested to see what APOUG has planned.
Big thanks for Alvin from Oracle for endless supplies of fine pizza and Bjoern Rost of Portrix Systems for the room hire (I bought the drinks, which some would say was appropriate but I couldn't possibly comment) and thanks again to all the attendees for making it a fun night!
I didn't notice until I was about to post this that Bjoern had already blogged about the evening and I think he's captured it perfectly.
Then a thought occurred to me. While he was here, why not setup an informal Oracle users meetup, much like the various ones at cities around the world like Sydney, Birmingham and London (to name but three I'm aware of). Morten Egan, my new colleague and Oak Table luminary had already suggested to me months ago that we should get something going in Singapore, so why not start now?
Well, in a matter of a few days, we've put together an agenda, a room, we will be having pizza and beer and other drinks and three hopefully useful sessions from experienced speakers.
Here is the agenda (SingaporeOracleSessions.pdf) and a map (SOSMap.pdf) to help you get to the venue which is very handily placed near Bugis MRT. All that's required to register is to email me at dougburns at Yahoo. There are currently 21 people registered but the room holds (believe it or not) 42, so spread the word!
Hopefully, it's just the beginning ....
Oct 8: OOW 2014: Day 2
I picked up a few extremely useful things from this presentation but I think the most important one was the journaling area used when rows in the standard row-orientated buffer cache have been updated. Which, for starters, means that only 80% of the allocated memory will be available for your original data. Not a problem, but worth knowing.
What really jumped out at me though was when he discussed how the number of updated rows could affect the optimiser's decision to use In-Memory or not. I might not have explained that very well, but I believe the effect would be that the optimiser is likely to flip between using In-Memory or not depending on quite a few variables. Which means one thing to me. Potential Execution Plan instability. I'm not sure how Oracle could get around this because cost-based decisions are the sensible approach but I foresee lots of new performance analysis and tuning opportunities! Not quite "flick a switch and it just works", but who would ever believe that kind of thing anyway?
Great presentation, though. Exactly what Oak Table World is all about so thanks to Kyle Hailey and the various sponsors () and speakers for making it happen!
Judge for yourself. No need to go to San Francisco!
... or how about finding open_cursors set to 2000? A per-session limit of 2000 cursors? As Graham pointed out - good luck keeping track of the state of all of those! As soon as you stop and think about these things sensibly, you realise that it's almost certainly a sign of an application leaking cursors.
There were lots of similar examples but the interesting overall approach that I would say they were illustrating is something that I tend to do when I first arrive at a new client site and I've watched other experienced Oracle techies do the same.
An AWR report is not just the top 5 timed events and the sections at the top are a pretty good description of the actual system workload which, in turn, can tell you a lot about the application design. Then, based on potential application design issues, you can drill down into the report and look at later sections to see where all those leaked cursors or transaction rollbacks or (whatever) ... are coming from.
Updated Later: As Toon Koppelaars highlighted on Twitter later, you can see this version of exactly what I'm talking about here, for free. I should hang my head in shame because Andrew and Graham made a point of all the RWP videos being available online here. Watch and enjoy!
Lucky boy that I am, I was able to retire to the comforting surroundings of the Thirsty Bear to continue the conversation about all things performance related with Graham and JB, much of the conversation being me whining about why people don't use the *full* range of tools that come with the Diagnostics and Tuning Packs that they've paid Oracle good money for. That's why I've been slowly developing a presentation on that very subject.
Then it was back to Oak Table World to catch Greg Rahn talking about all that Hadoop stuff *again*! Even though I only caught part of the presentation, I do keep managing to pick up bits and pieces on the subject although I wonder when it'll become relevant to my day to day work. Probably whenever I'm too late to the party, as usual
But my main reason for showing up was to see Kevin Closson talking about using SLOB in some less obvious ways. Because SLOB is a good all-round Oracle workload generator, it shouldn't be seen as simply a tool for testing storage performance and that's probably it's main strength. Kevin is always a great speaker and I find listening to him a very different experience to reading his blog, but I'm not sure I can put my finger on why. Oh, he also had the most ridiculously bright SLOB buttons! (As I found out by making the mistake of looking to closely at it as I tried to switch it on )
At some point, all of the slides for the Oak Table World presentations should be available on the site, so keep a look out for those! (Oh, and I got my T-shirt which is deeply cool and was one of the few items of non-ACE swag I managed to pick up all week)
From there on, it was more or less party all the way.
- First quiet beers and snacks with lots of Oak Table and Oracle types.
- Then my very first ever Customer event that wasn't for a specific technology area, but a sales region. Man, *that* was a mistake! Suits *everywhere*! but I suppose it was useful to build contacts with the senior support managers in my new region.
- Instead, I headed towards the OTN night in Howard Street (until I realised I'd just dropped my bag with the entry ticket back at my hotel room)
- So instead I landed at one of the events of this and any other OOW - The Friends of Pythian Party'. As always, beautifully-organised, very generous on the liquid refreshments and the coolest crowd in town. Just because I find myself thanking Vanessa Simmons, Paul Vallee and all of the Pythian crew every year doesn't make it any less sincere.
I have to be honest, though, and say that the highlight of the night for me was spending much more time with Kevin's punchy, beautiful and fun wife Lori. If you think Kevin's smart, wait until you meet his wife! There's a lady who can hold her own and make me chuckle Problem is that I think she's used to scaring people but us Scots don't scare so easily
It was a great night anyway, as always, and although this is entirely unconnected to the Pythian party but might have had a *lot* to do with jet lag, I didn't wake up until 11:45 the next morning
Oct 5: OOW 2014: Day 1
From left-to-right : Karl Arao, Martin Bach, Kerry Osborne, Andy Colvin, Tanel Poder and Frits Hoogland.
They talked a little about the original version of the book (largely based on V2) and how far Exadata had come since then, but it was a pretty open session with questions shooting around all over the place and great fun. Nice way for me to wrap up my user group conference activities for the day and head out into the sun for Larry's Opening Keynote.
Sep 28: OOW 2014: ACE Director Briefing
Disclosure: I'm attending Openworld at the invitation of the OTN ACE Director program who are paying for my flights, hotel and conference fee. My employer has helpfully let me attend on work time, as well as sending other team mates because they recognise the educational value of attending. Despite that, all of the opinions expressed in these posts are, as usual, all my own.
The first day of the ACE D briefing was a bit of a wipe-out for me as I had so much catching up on bits and pieces of work and personal email to do, having arrived very late the previous night, although I still managed to spend some valuable time catching up with friends of the Oak and non-Oak variety as well as hearing some useful info from various Product Managers. I was gutted to have missed Thomas Kurian's briefing session because, as I heard later, it was as splendid as usual. I think some of the enjoyment comes from people's fascination with how on top of things he is, talking at all sorts of technical and non-technical levels over a very wide portfolio. That's pretty much how I remember the last few briefings.
Despite the inevitable arrival of jet lag screwing up my sleep, I've been able to enjoy day two much more (once I'd absorbed some light-hearted wind-ups about my disappearing act). Today was always going to be the most enjoyable for me anyway as the agenda was more database-centric.
It kicked off with a session on the current state of play of MySQL which I must admit I've almost forgotten about (conspiracy theorists will enjoy that) but seems to be ticking along quite nicely with incremental performance and functionality improvements although the presenters were keen to point out that MySQLs forte is not it's functionality so much as it's ubiquity in the web area, given it's part of the LAMP stack. Like a lot of the presentations, it might not have been about something I use day to day but was very enjoyable keeping in touch with other technologies.
Next was an informal conversation with Bob Evans, the Chief Communications Officer, which covered a wide variety of subjects with the usual direct and critical approach I've come to expect from the ACE Directors in attendance (you might be surprised!), raising concerns about the interface between Oracle Sales and their shared customers. I was disappointed to hear that there seems to be a pattern of scheduling local sales events at the same time as Oracle ACE tour events. Seems pretty daft to me. (Another one for the conspiracy theorists, I suppose.)
Then Gene Eun gave us an update on the Oracle Database Cloud Service. Although I still feel Oracle are way behind the curve on this, I don't think that necessarily means they can't make up ground, as they have in the past, but I think the most important message for me was a reinforcement of an answer to a question I asked last year. There's no reason why people can't use the same technology to run their own on-premise cloud and, working in Finance as I seem to have done for a while, the most realistic implementations I can imagine are hybrids of onsite and offsite infrastructure to cope with regulatory requirements whilst still gaining the benefits of offsite deployment where that makes most sense.
I didn't spend so much time drinking coffee in the Oracle canteens this year, but I did manage to have an enjoyable catch-up with Uri Shaft, a true development geek who always has interesting thoughts both on those technologies he is or has been involved with, but also other development areas that he has nothing to do with! Never a man short on opinions on software and a truly nice guy. Sadly, the regular JB catch-up no longer exists and that Maria Colgan moves in entirely different circles these days! (That would be a joke, folks, and I'm looking forward to light refreshments and chat when she's in Singapore soon.)
Speaking of Maria, she was part of the presentation team for the two hour Oracle Database Development Update, which is one of the key sessions for most attendees. Penny Avril and Maria Colgan kicked off with an all-too-short session discussing release plans and a little about In-Memory Option but I was left with the feeling that, having put so much work into getting the In-Memory stuff ready, it's now a case of consolidating the work and delivering product. i.e. I didn't notice any earth-shattering announcements in the database area but I suppose last year made up for that!
So most of the session was focused on two non-RDBMS areas. George Lumpkin on documents in the database and JSON stuff which was one of those - interesting but not something I'm likely to work with for a while presentations.
Dan McLary was almost certainly the speaker of the day as he delved into Oracle's BigData/Hadoop offering in good detail but with passion and a refreshing honesty about where Oracle fit into this field which still managed to be very positive about where Oracle are taking it. As he pointed out, the combination of being able to query anywhere (different data sources and technologies) with the functional richness of Oracle's SQL implementation is likely to be a pretty compelling offering.
It was an afternoon full of good presenters likely to keep the jet-lagged awake (although both Connor McDonald and I were struggling badly by this stage) like David Peake who covered Apex and a new website - Learning SQL - to help people, erm, learn SQL. I think we'll be hearing more about this in the upcoming week.
Wim Coekaerts is always popular with a small chunk of the ACED crowd and was again with his usual Linux and VM update, an informal conversation delivered without notes or slides which hit mainly on the areas that the attendees wanted to discuss. In a neat piece of agenda symmetry, he pointed out the presence of DTrace probes for MySQL running on OEL, as he discussed in his recent blog post.
By now we were running late and beers were beckoning, so Steve Feuerstein did a great job of just about keeping people going with his discussion of Oracle's attempts to reengage and energise the traditional Oracle SQL and PL/SQL technologies we know and love with a new (and quite possibly younger!) audience - YesSQL! Keep an eye out for what is likely to be a fun and different session with Steven and Tom Kyte and other special guests at 18:30 on Monday in Moscone South 103.
... and with that all wrapped up, it was time for beers and the bus into the city. The hotel check-in wasn't the car crash it usually is, but by the time it was all done and dusted there was just time for a few more drinks and since then it has been sleep, sleep, sleep for me
The usual thanks to the OTN team for putting together a varied and interesting briefing, which must be a really tough task when the Dev folks are all up to their eyebrows preparing for next week. Great work!
I'm hoping just an hour or two more and I'll be bright and breezy for Sunday, the first proper conference day. With my apparently new-found energy and dashing good looks (courtesy of Singapore), I'm expecting the week to be a good one!