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Oracle Linux and MySQL

I’m in the process of taking on some of the MySQL databases in my company. The first ones are MySQL 4.1 running on Windows, so we are upgrading them to MySQL 5.6 on Oracle Linux. As with many of our systems, these will be running on VMware virtual machines.

Since the current installations are so old, we are planning on dumping out the data and creating fresh installations on the new systems. Based on the advice I got from Ronald Bradford and Sheeri Cabral, we are also taking this opportunity to switch to InnoDB and utf8, rather than MyISAM and latin1 that are currently used.

Quiet Release MySQL Plugin 12.1.0.1.2 — Bug Fixes

This is just a small bug-fix release of the plugin. It has actually been quietly released for a while now. If you have downloaded the plugin recently, you have the latest version. To be sure, check the version in the Console, or you can see it in the file name.

There are two bugs fixed:
1. Deployment on an OMS hosted on Solaris didn’t work. (And I suspect it could be the same for Agents on Solaris.)
2. Changing thresholds on the metrics caused the error “Modification of Target Monitoring Settings has Failed”. Also, applying monitoring template was failing for the same reason.

Announcing MySQL Plugin 12.1.0.1.0 for Oracle Enterprise Manager 12c Cloud Control

MySQL management plugin for EM 12c has been long overdue. I’ve initially migrated the older plugin to EM 12c about 6 months ago, and few dozen people received this as the initial beta of the plugin. It worked OK but didn’t use any of the new 12c features, and its home page was a bit of a mess in the EM 12c Cloud Control web interface.

Hardware Components Failures – Survey Results

When preparing for the the IOUG Collaborate 12 deep dive on deploying Oracle Databases for high Availability, I wanted to provide some feedback on what hardware components are failing most frequently and which ones are less frequently. I believe I have reasonably good idea about that but I thought that providing some more objective data would be better. I couldn’t find and results of a more scientific research so I decided to organize a poll. This blog post shows the results and I promised to share it with several groups.

Announcement: Release 1.1.2 of MySQL Plug-in for Oracle Enterprise Manager 10g/11g

This release is just a quick bug fix release of an older 1.1.1 version of the plug-in. It’s long overdue but I’ve managed to fix “” problem only couple weeks ago. I’ve distributed the new version to the folks who have reached out to me by email of via blog reporting the issue in the [...]

Thirteen signs of DBA fudging

If you are a director, manager or project manager who works with DBAs, you probably have had the nagging suspicion at one time or another that a DBA’s assertions regarding his or her practices lack an empirical or scientific basis, or are simply deflections intended to pass the buck.

Manager: Mr. DBA, the application is really slow. Do you have any idea what’s wrong?

DBA: Oracle is very complex. It could be any of 100 different possible causes. I will begin checking each. Anyhow, what makes you think it is the database?

Oracle OpenWorld 2011 — Bloggers Meetup

Isn’t that that time of the year again? Yes, it is — it’s time for our annual Oracle Bloggers Meetup and of course Oracle is piggybacking OpenWorld with the meetup again! ;) What: Oracle Bloggers Meetup 2011 When: Wed, 5-Oct-2011, 5:00pm Where: Main Dining Room, Jillian’s Billiards @ Metreon, 101 Fourth Street, San Francisco, CA [...]

Handling Human Errors

Interesting question on human mistakes was posted on the DBA Managers Forum discussions today.

As human beings, we are sometimes make mistakes. How do you make sure that your employees won’t make mistakes and cause downtime/data loss/etc on your critical production systems?

I don’t think we can avoid this technically, probably working procedures is the solution.
I’d like to hear your thoughts.

I typed my thoughts and as I was finishing, I thought that it makes sense to post it on the blog too so here we go…

The keys to prevent mistakes are low stress levels, clear communications and established processes. Not a complete list but I think these are the top things to reduce the number of mistakes we make managing data infrastructure or for that matter working in any critical environment be it IT administration, aviation engineering or medical surgery field. It’s also a matter of personality fit – depending on your balance between mistakes tolerance and agility required, you will favor hiring one individual or another.

Regardless of how much you try, there are still going to be human errors and you have to account for them in the infrastructure design and processes. The real disasters happen when many things align like several failure combined with few human mistakes. The challenge is to find the right balance between efforts invested in making no mistakes and efforts invested into making your environment errors-proof to the point when risk or human mistake is acceptable to the business.

Those are the general ideas.

Just a few examples of the practical solutions to prevent mistakes when it comes to Oracle DBA:

  • test production actions on a test system before applying in production
  • have a policy to review every production change by another senior member of a team
  • watch over my shoulder policy working on production environments – i.e. second pair of eye all the time
  • employee training, database recovery bootcamp
  • discipline of performing routing work under non-privileged accounts

Some of the items to limit impact of the mistakes:

  • multiples database controlfiles for Oracle database (in case DBA manually does something bad to one of them – I saw this happen)
  • standby database with delayed recovery or flashback database (for Oracle)
  • no SPOF architecture
  • Oracle RAC, MySQL high availability setup (like sharding or replication), SQL*Server cluster — architecture examples that limit impact of human mistakes affecting a single hardware component

Both lists can go on very long. Old article authored by Paul Vallee is very relevant top this topic — The Seven Deadly Habits of a DBA…and how to cure them.

Feel free to post your thoughts and example. How do you approach human mistakes in managing production data infrastructure?

Product Support vs Operational Support

Sometimes I get questions as to whether Pythian is one of the competitors battling with Oracle for MySQL support. The answer lies in the distinction of product support and operational support.

At Pythian, we are laser focused on supporting applications and data infrastructure using Oracle, MySQL and Microsoft SQL Server products. A vast majority of our Oracle customers (there are few customers who have very old 7.x and 8.x products running without vendor support) have Oracle maintenance subscriptions that include product updates and product support. Product support entitles the customer to open support requests when the product doesn’t perform according to the specifications (bug reports) as well as fill in enhancement requests. It also covers deployment blue-prints and deployment guidelines in the official vendor documentation and support database.

What you can’t expect from product support are answers to questions like these:

  • How do I architect my infrastructure?
  • How much CPU do I need to run this database
  • How do I setup my backups?
  • How do I tune that SQL statement?
  • What I need to monitor in my environment to keep it healthy and avoid service outages?

Of course you cannot expect product support to login to your systems and help monitor them, recover a corrupted database or resolve performance issues etc.

Oracle customers usually have clear understanding of the differences between product support and operations support and consulting that Pythian provides. Even then, every now and again we hear rare statements like “I’m not renewing our Oracle product support because we now have you, Pythian, supporting our databases.” Hearing that, we’re catching our breath for few seconds and then patiently explain that this is inadvisable and the product support is totally different from what Pythian does.

Because of its open-source nature, MySQL database customers have somewhat less incentive to sign up for product support relying on public community releases and the ability to patch the product themselves but even then there is a clear distinction between product support and operational support.

All that was a long prelude to answering the question — “Is Pythian Competing with Oracle and other vendors for MySQL product support”? The answer is NO — Pythian provides plan, deploy, manage services — we analyze, design, implement and maintain the infrastructure. We are working with the vendor providing product support (or as part of the community at large when it comes to the open-source community MySQL releases).

YPDNGG: You Probably Don’t Need Golden Gate

Before launching into this, I must give due deference to Mogens Nørgaard’s landmark article, You Probably Don’t Need RAC (YPDNR), available here, but originally published Q3 2003 in IOUG Select Journal.  Mogens showed that you can be a friend of Oracle without always agreeing with everything they do.