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Webinar Recording

So to wrap this up, the webinar recording (this time hosted on YouTube, the recording available from the webinar archive is hosted somewhere else) along with the webinar material for download is now officially available on AllThingsOracle.com.

I suggest that if you still have any questions regarding this webinar then you can comment on the post over there and I'll try to address them.

If you interested in more stuff like that, then stay tuned as there are more of them planned covering many of the aspects that I deliberately left out or mentioned only briefly in this basic introduction.

Concurrent Index Creation

When I read the recent post by the optimizer group about the new concurrent gather stats feature added in 11.2.0.2 it reminded me of the fact that I intended to publish something based on the same idea already some time ago.

The Problem

It was motivated by a client's regular need during a transition phase from non-Exadata to Exadata to create literally thousands of indexes with potentially a multitude of (sub-)partitions as fast as possible - as part of a full datapump import job of a multi-terabyte database running 11.1.0.7 and 11.2.0.1 (Exadata V2).

There are actually two issues regarding the index creation part of a large database import:

1. The datapump import performs the index creation only by a single worker thread even when using the PARALLEL worker thread import feature. Although an index could be created in parallel if you have thousands of smaller index objects this single worker thread potentially does not make efficient use of the available hardware resources with high-end configurations, including and in particular Exadata.

2. There is a nasty bug 8604502 that has been introduced with 11.1.0.7 that affects also 11.2.0.1 (fixed in 11.2.0.2 and a generic one-off patch is available on My Oracle Support for 11.1.0.7 and 11.2.0.1): The IMPDP creates all indexes serially, even those supposed to be created in parallel, and only after the creation ALTERs them to the defined PARALLEL degree. Note that the fix actually only fixes the problem at actual execution time, even with the fix installed (and in 11.2.0.2) the SQLFILE option of IMPDP still generates CREATE INDEX DDLs that will always have the parallel degree set to PARALLEL 1 (see MOS document 1289032.1 and bug 10408313 - INDEXES ARE CREATED WITH PARALLEL DEGREE 1 DURING IMPORT which has been closed as not being a bug). This "not-being-a-bug" also affects all other versions that support the datapump utility - the SQLFILE option always generates CREATE INDEX scripts with the parallel degree set to 1 no matter what the actual degree of the index is supposed to be. It's only the ALTER INDEX DDL command following the CREATE INDEX command that sets the parallel degree correctly.

These two issues in combination meant to them that a full database import job took ages to complete the index creation step after loading quite quickly the vast amount of table data in parallel.

In case of partitioned indexes there is another complication independently from the mentioned issues: Oracle uses only one parallel slave per partition for creation - in case of large and/or few partitions this again doesn't make efficient use of the available resources.

Oracle therefore provides several means to speed up index creation and rebuild tasks, in particular the documented DBMS_PCLXUTIL package that is around since the Oracle 8 days to overcome the above mentioned limitation of partitioned index creation by spawning multiple jobs each rebuilding an index partition in parallel.

Another, undocumented feature is the DBMS_INDEX_UTL package that is obviously used internally as part of several maintenance operations, for example those DDLs that include the "UPDATE INDEXES" clause. According to the spec it allows to rebuild multiple indexes concurrently by spawning multiple jobs - however since it is undocumented it might not be safe to use in production-like configurations - furthermore it might be changed in future releases without further notice and therefore is potentially unreliable.

A Solution

Since the client wanted a quick solution that ideally addressed all of the above issues I came up with a simple implementation that uses Advanced Queueing and background jobs to create as many indexes as desired concurrently.

The solution is targeted towards the client's scenario, so the following is assumed:

- There is a SQL file that contains the CREATE INDEX statements. This can easily be generated via IMPDP based on the dump files using the SQLFILE option.

- To address the CREATE INDEX (not-being-a-)bug (the bugfix for the bug 8604502 still generates incorrect CREATE INDEX DDLs with the SQLFILE option of IMPDP as mentioned above) I've created a combination of "sed" and "awk" unix scripts that take the IMPDP SQLFILE potentially including all DDLs commands as input and create a output file that consists solely of the CREATE INDEX commands with correct PARALLEL clauses based on the ALTER INDEX command following the CREATE INDEX in the script

- To address the lengthy index creation process I've created a small PL/SQL package that sets up the required AQ infrastructure, takes the CREATE INDEX DDL file as input, populates a queue with the index creation commands and spawns as many worker threads as specified that will take care of the actual index creation (that in turn might be a parallel index creation)

As a side note it is interesting that Oracle actually allows to build several indexes concurrently on the same segment (which makes totally sense but does probably not happen too often in practice).

Note that in principle this code could be used as a general template to execute arbitrary DDLs concurrently (of course with corresponding modifications).

The following link allows to download an archive that contains the following subdirectories:

- correct_parallel_clause: This directory contains the Unix scripts mentioned above that allow to process a SQLFILE generated by IMPDP and output a DDL file that solely consists of the CREATE INDEX commands contained in the SQLFILE. The generated CREATE INDEX statements also use a correct PARALLEL clause - the degree is taken from the ALTER INDEX DDL command following the CREATE INDEX in the SQLFILE. For further details refer to the README.txt in that directory. Note that the script at present does not handle Domain Indexes, only conventional and bitmap.

- source: Contains the package source for the concurrent index creation, furthermore a package that is required by the provided automated unit testing (see below for more details) and a script that prompts for the required details to initiate a concurrent index creation. The README.txt in that directory provides a quick start guide how to use the concurrent index creation.

- test: Contains two flavours of test harnesses for automated unit testing of the package. One based on the unit testing feature implemented in SQLDeveloper 2.1.1, and another one based on "dbunit", an open-source unit testing framework based on jUnit. The README.txt in the respective subdirectories explain how to use these unit tests.

How to use it

The usage is split into two parts: The first part deals with preparing a suitable text file that consists of the CREATE INDEX commands, the second part is about processing this text file with as many worker threads as desired.

Preparing the file is straightforward: You can use the "transform_all_sql.sh" script to generate the required CREATE INDEX script from a DDL script created via IMPDP SQLFILE.

The script has been tested primarily with bash, sed and awk under Cygwin 1.7.1 and OEL5, different Unix flavors might have different versions of the shell, awk or sed and therefore might behave differently.

Simply put all four Unix scripts in the "correct_parallel_clause" directory into the same directory, mark them as executable and run the "transform_all_sql.sh" like that:

./transform_all_sql.sh < input_file > output_file

where "input_file" is the file generated via IMPDP SQLFILE option and "output_file" will be the result.

In order to perform the parallel index creation, you need an account that has suitable privileges granted. Since it is assumed that the indexes will have to be created in different schemas this account will have to have extended privileges granted. The package is implemented using invoker's rights so granting these privileges via roles is sufficient. A quick and dirty solution could be creating a temporary account and granting simply the DBA role to it (this is what I used to do to test it). Note that the account also requires EXECUTE privileges on the DBMS_AQ and DBMS_AQADM packages for the AQ stuff. It also needs a simple logging table where errors and progress will be written to as well as a type that is used as payload of the queue. Obviously the account also needs to be able to create jobs - in this version of the package this is done via DBMS_SCHEDULER. At execution time the package is going to create a queue plus queue table that also needs to be stored in a tablespace - so you should make sure that the account (or at least the database) that executes the index creation has an appropriate default tablespace defined.

You can simply run the "pk_create_index_concurrent.sql" script (located in the "source" directory) in such a suitable account which will deinstall/install all required objects.

The execution of the index creation is then straightforward (taken from the package specification):

/**
* The main entry point to create indexes via parallel threads / AQ
* @param p_directory_name The directory where the file resides that contains the CREATE INDEX DDLs
* @param p_file_name The file name in the directory above
* @param p_parallel_degree_set_1 The number threads to start for the worker thread 1 which usually
represents the SERIAL_INDEX threads - G_AUTO_PARALLEL_DEGREE means use the CPU_COUNT and
CLUSTER_DATABASE_INSTANCES parameter to determine number of threads automatically
* @param p_parallel_degree_set_2 The number threads to start for the worker thread 2 which usually
represents the PARALLEL_INDEX threads - G_AUTO_PARALLEL_DEGREE means get the CPU_COUNT and
CLUSTER_DATABASE_INSTANCES parameter to determine number of threads automatically,
however 1 is the default here since we assume that these indexes use parallel DDL
* @param p_job_submit_delay The number of seconds each job will be delayed to allow Oracle
proper load balancing in a cluster, default 30 seconds (commented out at present due to
odd locking issues on the queue table in RAC environments)
* @param p_sleep_seconds The number of seconds to wait for the threads to startup
before attempting to teardown the AQ infrastructure again
* @param p_optional_init Optionally a SQL can be passed usually used to initialize the session
for example forcing a particular parallel degree
* @param p_worker_set_id_1
The character identifier used to identify the indexes to process by the first worker thread set
Default value is "SERIAL_INDEX"
* @param p_worker_set_id_2
The character identifier used to identify the indexes to process by the second worker thread set
Default value is "PARALLEL_INDEX"
**/
procedure create_index_concurrent(
p_directory_name in varchar2
, p_file_name in varchar2
, p_parallel_degree_set_1 in integer default G_AUTO_PARALLEL_DEGREE
, p_parallel_degree_set_2 in integer default 1
, p_job_submit_delay in integer default 30
, p_sleep_seconds in integer default 10
, p_optional_init in varchar2 default null
, p_worker_set_id_1 in varchar2 default G_WORKER_SET_ID_1
, p_worker_set_id_2 in varchar2 default G_WORKER_SET_ID_2
);

Note that the "p_job_submit_delay" parameter is currently not used - there were some odd locking issues on the AQ table in case of a RAC environment when using that option so I have commented out its usage at present - I haven't had a chance yet to investigate further what the problem actually was.

So the only required input to the CREATE_INDEX_CONCURRENT procedure is the name of the directory object that points to the directory where the file to process resides and the name of the file itself.

You probably want to specify the number of worker threads for the two sets: The idea here is to distinguish between the creation of serial and parallel indexes. The first parameter specifies the number of worker threads used for serial indexes, the second one the number of concurrent threads for parallel indexes.

The default is CPU_COUNT * INSTANCES threads for serial indexes and a single thread for parallel indexes.

If you don't want/need this separation of serial and parallel indexes simple use the same "worker_set_id" for both parameters "p_worker_set_id_1" and "p_worker_set_id_2" and specify the desired total parallel degree in one of the degree parameters and set the other one to 0 (the 0 is required otherwise one of the DBMS_SCHEDULER.CREATE_JOB calls will fail with a "duplicate job name/job name already exists").

The "p_sleep_seconds" parameter is only used to allow the jobs spawned to put a lock on the queue table - the teardown is then going to wait until all locks have been removed and therefore all queue processing has ended. The default of 10 seconds was sufficient in all cases I've encountered.

Since the package requires as prerequisite a directory where the file to process resides, I've prepared the script "create_index_concurrent.sql" that guides through the required inputs and takes care of that step as well.

It takes the full O/S path to the file and the file name as input, creates a directory CREATE_INDEX_CONCURRENT_DIR pointing to that directory and prompts then for the two degrees as input and the names of the two worker thread sets before calling the CREATE_INDEX_CONCURRENT stored procedure.

Caveats

Please note that you should double-check not to pass a non-transformed SQLFILE generated via IMPDP to the procedure - the results may be dire since the generated SQLFILE always contains much more than the bare CREATE INDEX commands, no matter what options you use for IMPDP. Always use the provided Unix scripts to post-process the SQLFILE before initiating the index creation.

Furthermore you need to be aware of the current limitation of the package that it does not attempt to tokenize the file contents. It simply uses a semicolon as delimiter to separate the DDL commands. This should be sufficient for most cases, but in case you have a function-based index using a string expression containing a semicolon as part of the index definition this will not work as expected. Also if you plan to use this package for other DDL execution activities like CTAS statements you might again hit this limitation if the DDL text contains semicolons.

Note that creating indexes using this tool results potentially in different index statistics than creating the indexes using IMPDP since IMPDP by default also imports the index statistics whereas the indexes created using this tool will end up with the current index statistics automatically generated during index creation (from 10g onwards, and the code requires at least 10.2). If you want to have the index statistics imported you can run IMPDP after the index creation using the INCLUDE=INDEX_STATISTICS option. This should complete fairly quickly and will import the index statistics only.

If you have SERVEROUTPUT enabled by default then you will very likely see some errors that will be printed by the initial attempt to tear down the AQ infrastructure. These errors are expected if the previous run was completed successfully or in case of the initial run and can be ignored (and will be catched/ignored by the default implementation).

Note also that all provided scripts except for the Unix shell scripts use DOS file format - under OEL this isn't a problem but it might be on your platform.

Finally the inevitable disclaimer: Although this has been tested thoroughly it comes with absolutely no warranty. Use it at your own risk and test it in your environment before attempting any runs against anything important.

Monitoring the execution

The code logs errors and progress into the table CREATE_INDEX_CONCURRENT_LOG. At present the code logs every attempt to execute DDL into the table as well as any errors that are raised during that DDL execution.

So the table can be used for both, monitoring the progress as well as checking for errors. The code currently continues the execution in case of errors encountered using the dreaded WHEN OTHERS THEN NULL construct, but the code is already prepared for a more granular error handling if required - see the defined exceptions and commented out exception handler.

You can view the queue contents in the corresponding queue view created by the AQ setup (AQ$CREATE_INDEX_QUEUE) in order to see the data to process. Note that due to the fact that all worker threads do not commit the queue transaction you won't be able to see the progress in the queue table until all worker threads committed. If you don't like that you can remove the wait and "teardown_aq" call at the end of the main procedure "create_index_concurrent" and uncomment the dequeue option "visibility=immediate" in the "create_index_thread" procedure. You would need then to call "teardown_aq" in a separate step as desired. With this modification you can monitor the progress by monitoring the queue, but the provided automated unit testing won't work with that variant since it relies on the main call to wait for all worker threads to complete before validating the results.

However you can see the progress also in the log table using the following sample query:

select
to_char(log_timestamp, 'DD-MON-YYYY HH24:MI:SS.FF') as log_timestamp
, sql_statement
, message
from
create_index_concurrent_log
order by
log_timestamp desc;

If you want to perform more sophisticated queries on the that table you might need to use some casts similar to the following, because the text columns are defined as CLOBs in order to be able to hold the complete DDLs and error messages in case of errors. The casts allow you to perform for example GROUP BYs etc.

select
to_char(log_timestamp, 'DD-MON-YYYY HH24:MI:SS.FF') as log_timestamp
, cast(substr(sql_statement, 1, 30) as varchar2(30)) as index_name
, cast(substr(message, 1, 128) as varchar2(128)) as worker_set_id
from
create_index_concurrent_log
order by
log_timestamp desc;

The Unit Testing

Here we come to a completely different issue that is off-topic for this post, however in my experience so far it seems to be a very important one and I hopefully will have the time to cover it in the future with separate posts.

Generally speaking I've seen to many shops that don't follow best-practice when it comes to database deployment and development, therefore here is what you should know/do about it ideally - in a nutshell:

- Treat your database like source code, which means put everything related to the database under version control. This includes not only the obvious database source code but also DDL and DML scripts for schema evolution
- Use unit testing to test database code. Automate this unit testing
- Automate the deployment of your database related changes
- Install a continuous integration environment that runs the automated deployment and unit tests regularly, for example every night
- Automate deployment everywhere - starting from the development databases up to the production environment
- Follow your guidelines strictly - for example any hotfix-like adhoc change should still go through the established processes - code changes, testing, deployment etc.

I've helped several clients in the past to setup corresponding tools and processes for implementing above - if you are interested, get in touch with me.

So as a bonus, if you haven't spent too much time yet with above mentioned topics, in order to get you started at least with automated unit testing, I've included two different examples for this small source provided, one using the built-in unit test feature of SQLDeveloper and the other one using "dbunit". You can find both in the corresponding subdirectories of the "test" folder in the archive.

The unit testing is based on the "pk_create_index_concur_test.sql" package that is used to setup and teardown the environment for running the unit test. It assumes at present the existence of a directory "C:\app\oracle\admin\orcl112\dpdump" on O/S level. It will create a directory object for the path and attempt to create/write a file used for the unit test runs. You can pass any valid O/S directory path to the "pk_create_index_concur_test.setup" procedure if you want/need to use a different one.

All provided automated tests assume that both scripts, "pk_create_index_concurrent.sql" and "pk_create_index_concur_test.sql" have been run in the schema that should be used for test runs.

You can use the SQLDeveloper Unit Test feature to run the provided Unit Test. You can either use the GUI to import and run the test, or you can use a command line version that is actually using ANT to run the UTUTIL command line tool that comes with SQLDeveloper. You can read and follow the instructions in the "README.txt" in the test/SQLDeveloper directory how to do so. You'll need to setup a unit test repository initially if you want to use SQLDeveloper's unit testing feature either way (GUI or UTUTIL command line). See the SQLDeveloper's user's guide or online help how to do that (Hint: Menu item "Extras->Unit Testing" gets you started).

If you don't like the SQLDeveloper unit test approach or you are simply to lazy to install the tool, the unit test repository etc., you can alternatively try the automated unit testing using "dbunit". Follow the instructions in the "README.txt" in the test/dbunit directory how to run the unit tests using "dbunit".

This version of the package has successfully been tested using these unit tests on 10.2.0.4, 10.2.0.5, 11.1.0.7, 11.2.0.1 and 11.2.0.2 (after all it's dead easy with automated unit testing :-).

Summary

The provided tool set should represent a solid foundation for the given task of concurrent index creation. In particular it has been designed with the following in mind:

- Efficient use of privileges granted via roles: The package uses invoker's rights and most operations use dynamic SQL to avoid compilation issues, therefore granting the required privileges to the account used via roles should be sufficient

- The Unix scripts should be able to deal with table-, schema- and database-level datapump formats from Oracle 10g and 11g (all these variants use slightly different texts to identify the relevant sections of the generated SQLFILE by IMPDP)

- Optional use of two separate worker thread sets: This allows the concurrent creation of a multitude of indexes, be it serial or parallel, with clear distinction between the handling of serial (possibly many worker threads) and parallel indexes (usually only a few worker threads)

- Support for arbitrarily sized SQL: The DDL commands for (sub-)partitioned indexes can become quite large due to the way the Oracle meta data API generates the SQL. Therefore these generated SQLs can easily exceed the usual 32KB limit for PL/SQL character strings. The implementation uses CLOBs for the processed SQLs (and DBMS_SQL in versions lower than 11 to handle these piecewise) to support these potentially very large SQLs

- RAC/Grid/Cluster support via DBMS_SCHEDULER: The usage of DBMS_SCHEDULER allows a fine grained control of the resource consumption by the optional use of job classes (not implemented yet but can easily be added - it is a simple additional parameter to the CREATE_JOB procedure) that allow to specify a resource consumer group and a specific service name for the spawned worker threads

- Automated Unit Testing support: The provided unit test harness allows for easy testing of modifications to the code

Using wget and proxy to download patches from MOS

This is a rather quick note, but can be quite useful in certain situations. I currently look after a system which is quite difficult to jump on. That means before I get to do a “sudo su – oracle” I need to get to a jump-off box, ssh to 2 other machines and then log in as myself. It’s secure, but not user friendly. Especially in this case where I needed to run the latest RDA for an an open support request.

So rather than “dragging” the RDA with me on each box I used the new (Flash) interface to get a small shell script which you just need to deploy to your machine and run. It then connects to updates.oracle.com and does its magic.

The script works mostly fine, but depending on your environment you have to make small changes. My example is for Solaris 10, any Linux should just work out of the box.To start with you need to log in to the Flash version of My Oracle Support (unsurprisingly) and click on “patches and updates”. Enter your patch number, for example 10376971 for RDA on Solaris SPARC 64bit. On the results page, click on the description (“remote Diagnostics Agent OCM Bundle….”). The line will now be highlighted. Next, click on the download icon to view a new pop up window.The magic is in the “wget options” link down to the left. Clicking on it you have the option to have a script created or either copy the script to the clipboard.

I chose the latter, and created /tmp/get.sh with the contents from the clipboard. The script is shown here:

#!/bin/sh

#
# Generated Wed, 23 Feb 2011 08:49:57 Coordinated Universal Time
# Start of user configurable variables
#

# SSO username and password
SSO_USERNAME=user@company.com
SSO_PASSWORD=

# E-Delivery token
# The EPD_TOKEN will expire 48 hours after the following generation date
# Wed, 23 Feb 2011 08:49:57 Coordinated Universal Time
EPD_TOKEN=

# Path to wget command
WGET="/usr/bin/wget"

# Location of cookie file
COOKIE_FILE=/tmp/$$.cookies

# Log directory and file
LOGDIR=.
LOGFILE=$LOGDIR/wgetlog-`date +%m-%d-%y-%H:%M`.log

# Output directory and file
OUTPUT_DIR=.

#
# End of user configurable variable
#

if [ "$SSO_PASSWORD " = " " ]
then
 echo "Please edit script and set SSO_PASSWORD"
 exit
fi

# Contact updates site so that we can get SSO Params for logging in
SSO_RESPONSE=`$WGET https://updates.oracle.com/Orion/Services/download 2>&1|grep Location`

# Extract request parameters for SSO
SSO_TOKEN=`echo $SSO_RESPONSE| cut -d '=' -f 2|cut -d ' ' -f 1`
SSO_SERVER=`echo $SSO_RESPONSE| cut -d ' ' -f 2|cut -d 'p' -f 1,2`
SSO_AUTH_URL=sso/auth
AUTH_DATA="ssousername=$SSO_USERNAME&password=$SSO_PASSWORD&site2pstoretoken=$SSO_TOKEN"

# The following command to authenticate uses HTTPS. This will work only if the wget in the environment
# where this script will be executed was compiled with OpenSSL. Remove the --secure-protocol option
# if wget was not compiled with OpenSSL
# Depending on the preference, the other options are --secure-protocol= auto|SSLv2|SSLv3|TLSv1
$WGET --secure-protocol=auto --post-data $AUTH_DATA --save-cookies=$COOKIE_FILE --keep-session-cookies $SSO_SERVER$SSO_AUTH_URL -O sso.out >> $LOGFILE 2>&1

rm -f sso.out

$WGET  --load-cookies=$COOKIE_FILE --save-cookies=$COOKIE_FILE --keep-session-cookies "https://updates.oracle.com/Orion/Services/download/p10376971_422_SOLARIS64.zip?aru=13243257&patch_file=p10376971_422_SOLARIS64.zip" -OUTPUT_DIR/p10376971_422_SOLARIS64.zip   >> $LOGFILE 2>&1

# Cleanup
rm -f $COOKIE_FILE

You need to check the SSO_USERNAME and SSO_PASSWORD variables to match your settings. I needed to do some minor modifications for my Solaris 10 installation . For example, wget is in the Sun Freeware directory (/usr/sfw/bin), which is not in the PATH. Change wget to “not check for certificates”, as shown in this example, line 20:

WGET=”/usr/sfw/bin/wget –no-check-certificate”

I also had to set a proxy-set the following environment variables, either in the script or on the command line:

export http_proxy=http://proxy.host:port
export https_proxy=https://proxy.host:port

With this set, everything worked smoothly. It pays off to run the script with the -x option as in bash -x /tmp/get.sh. As you can see the script writes a log file to your current working directory, and it saves the patch in it as well. Be careful not to fill up /tmp/ with a 3GB download :)

This technique obviously depends on the wget utility to be available. For security reasons your sys admin may not have installed it in which case you might use some fancy cascaded port-forwarding to get the patch to your box (or ask someome with more permissions after having spent 30 minutes raising a ticket which is going to be executed in the next 3 weeks)

Happy patching