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20th Century Stacks vs. 21st Century Stacks

In the 1960s, Bank of America and IBM built one of the first credit card processing systems. Although those early mainframes processed just a fraction of the data compared to that of eBay or Amazon, the engineering was complex for the day. Once credit cards became popular, processing systems had to be built to handle […]

Diagnosing ASMlib

To use ASMlib or not to use ASMlib? That is the question. Or at least, that is a question that frequently crops up when I’m on consulting engagements with customers. I have personally changed my mind a couple of times on this exact question, and I’m currently sat with one leg on either side of … Continue reading "Diagnosing ASMlib"

Diagnosing ASMlib

To use ASMlib or not to use ASMlib? That is the question. Or at least, that is a question that frequently crops up when I’m on consulting engagements with customers. I have personally changed my mind a couple of times on this exact question, and I’m currently sat with one leg on either side of … Continue reading "Diagnosing ASMlib"

Diagnosing ASMlib

To use ASMlib or not to use ASMlib? That is the question. Or at least, that is a question that frequently crops up when I’m on consulting engagements with customers. I have personally changed my mind a couple of times on this exact question, and I’m currently sat with one leg on either side of … Continue reading "Diagnosing ASMlib"

System Architecture Series: Introduction to the Series and Licensing

This blog post is an introduction to a few posts that can be grouped together under the banner of 'System Architecture'. Specifically, I'm referring here to Oracle Database System Architecture, not system architecture in general nor 'Oracle architecture' in general, which is an ever-growing beast. In this series of posts, I will take at look […]

System Architecture Series: Introduction to the Series and Licensing

This blog post is an introduction to a few posts that can be grouped together under the banner of 'System Architecture'. Specifically, I'm referring here to Oracle Database System Architecture, not system architecture in general nor 'Oracle architecture' in general, which is an ever-growing beast. In this series of posts, I will take at look […]

Simplicity Is Good

This is a post about the importance of appropriately simplistic architectures. I frequently get involved with the creation of full-stack architectures, and in particular the architecture of the database platform. There are some golden rules when designing such systems, but one of the most important ones is to keep the design as simple as possible. [...]

Right Practice

Wow, it’s been a while since I wrote a post, sorry about that! I thought that I would take a brief break from the technical postings and espouse some opinion on something that has been bothering me for a while – ‘Best Practices.’

Best Practices have been around a long time, and started with very good intentions. In fact, one could easily claim that they are still produced with good intentions: To communicate methods that the hardware and software vendors recommend. However, the application of Best Practices has become increasingly abused in the field to the point where they have become more like prescriptions of how systems should be built. This has gone too far, and needs to be challenged.

Sane SAN 2010: Fibre Channel – Ready, Aim, Fire

In my last blog entry I alluded to perhaps not being all that happy about Fibre Channel. Well, it’s true. I have been having a love/hate relationship with Fibre Channel for the last ten years or so, and we have now decided to get a divorce. I just can’t stand it any more!

I first fell in love with Fibre Channel in the late 90s: How could I resist the prospect of leaving behind multi-initiator SCSI with all it’s deep, deep electrical issues? Fibre Channel let me hook up multiple hosts to lots of drives, via a switch, and it let me dynamically attach and detach devices from multiple clustered nodes without reboots. Or so I thought. The reality of Fibre Channel is that it was indeed a revelation in its day, but some of that promise never really materialised until recently. And now it’s too late.

Sane SAN2010: Storage Arrays – Ready, Aim, Fire

OK, this one might be contentious, but what the heck – somebody has to say it. Let’s start with a question:

Raise your hand if you have a feeling, even a slight one, that storage arrays suck?

Most DBAs and sysadmins that I speak to certainly have this feeling. They cannot understand why the performance of this very large and expensive array is nearly always lower than they achieve from the hard drive in their desktop computer. OK, so the array can do more aggregate IOPs, but why is it that 13ms, for example, is considered a reasonable average response time? Or worse, why is that some of my I/Os take several hundred milliseconds? And how is it possible that my database is reporting 500ms I/Os and the array is reporting that they are all less than 10ms? These are the questions that are lodged in the minds of my customers.