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Lucky to find it…

Earlier this month I was able to bought the book “Sun Performance and Tuning: Java and the Internet (2nd Edition)” for only 190pesos at some bookstore </p />
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Fundamentals of Software Performance Quick Reference Card

I just posted "Fundamentals of Software Performance Quick Reference Card" at the Method R company website:

This two-page quick reference card written by Cary Millsap sums up computer software performance the Method R way. The first page lists definitions of the terms you need to know: efficiency, knee, load, response time, and so on. The second page lists ten principles that are vital to your ability to think clearly about software performance. This document contains meaningful insight in a format that's compact enough to hang on your wall.

It's free, and there's no sign-up required. I hope you will enjoy it.

Diagnosing and Resolving “gc block lost”

Last week, one of our clients had a sudden slow down on all of their applications which is running on two node RAC environment

Below is the summary of the setup:
– Server and Storage: SunFire X4200 with LUNs on EMC CX300
– OS: RHEL 4.3 ES
– Oracle 10.2.0.3 (database and clusterware)
– Database Files, Flash Recovery Area, OCR, and Voting disk are located on OCFS2 filesystems
– Application: Forms and Reports (6i and also lower)

As per the DBA, the workload on the database was normal and there were no changes on the RAC nodes and on the applications. Hmm, I can’t really tell because I haven’t really looked into their workload so I don’t have past data to compare.

The Most Common Performance Problem I See

At the Percona Performance Conference in Santa Clara this week, the first question an audience member asked our panel was, "What is the most common performance problem you see in the field?"

I figured, being an Oracle guy at a MySQL conference, this might be my only chance to answer something, so I went for the mic. Here is my answer.

The most common performance problem I see is people who think there's a most-common performance problem that they should be looking for, instead of measuring to find out what their actual performance problem actually is.

It's a meta answer, but it's a meta problem. The biggest performance problems I see, and the ones I see most often, are not problems with machines or software. They're problems with people who don't have a reliable process of identifying the right thing to work on in the first place.

That's why the definition of Method R doesn't mention Oracle, or databases, or even computers. It's why Optimizing Oracle Performance spends the first 69 pages talking about red rocks and informed consent and Eli Goldratt instead of Oracle, or databases, or even computers.

Advanced Oracle Troubleshooting by Tanel Poder in Singapore

When I first saw that Tanel will conduct his seminar in Singapore, I told myself that I would even spend my own money just to be on that training! I’ve already read performance books like Optimizing Oracle Performance, Oracle 8i Internal Services, Forecasting Oracle Performance… And after that I still want more, and I still have questions that need to be answered. Well, if you’re on a tight budget you just opt to download some more docs/books to do multiple reads coupled with research/test cases and also reading through others blog…
But thanks to my boss for the funding, I was there! </p />
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What would you do with 8 disks?

Yesterday, David Best posted this question at Oracle-L:

If you had 8 disks in a server what would you do? From watching this list I can see alot of people using RAID 5 but i'm wary of the performance implicatons. (http://www.miracleas.com/BAARF/)

I was thinking maybe RAID 5 (3 disks) for the OS, software and
backups. RAID 10 (4 disks + 1 hot spare) for the database files.

Any thoughts?

I do have some thoughts about it.

There are four dimensions in which I have to make considerations as I answer this question:

  1. Volume
  2. Flow
  3. Availability
  4. Change

Just about everybody understands at least a little bit about #1: the reason you bought 8 disks instead of 4 or 16 has something to do with how many bytes of data you're going to store. Most people are clever enough to figure out that if you need to store N bytes of data, then you need to buy N + M bytes of capacity, for some M > 0 (grin).

OS Thread Startup

Recently I encountered a performance problem scenario where a simple sqlplus “/ as sysdba” took about 2minutes to finish, this is critical to the client’s business because they have a local C program that loads Call Detail Reports on the database making use of local authentication for most of its operations and Sql*Loader to load the data, so this “2minutes of waiting” when accumulated greatly consumes significant time on their operations and greatly impacts the business.

When I arrived on the client I first checked the alert logs of both ASM (they have a separate home for ASM) and RDBMS, there were no errors…

Then I checked on the server to see if there were any CPU, IO, memory, swap, and network bottlenecks going on

The CPU run queue was zero and most of the time 90% idle

The disks were also most of the time idle

The memory utilization was low with 430MB free

Security, Forecasting Oracle Performance and Some stuff to post… soon…

I’ve been busy this February “playing around/studying” on the following:

1) Oracle Security products (Advance Security Option, Database Vault, Audit Vault, Data Masking, etc. etc.). Well, every organization must guard their digital assets against any threat (external/internal) because once compromised it could lead to negative publicity, lost revenue, litigation, lost of trust.. and the list goes on.. I’m telling you, Oracle has a lot to offer (breadth of products and features, some of them are even free!) on this area and you just need to have the knowledge to stitch them..

Dang it, people, they're syscalls, not "waits"...

So many times, I see people get really confused about how to attack an Oracle performance problem, resulting in thoughts that look like this:

I don't understand why my program is so slow. The Oracle wait interface says it's just not waiting on anything. ?

The confusion begins with the name "wait event." I wish Oracle hadn't called them that. I wish instead of WAIT in the extended SQL trace output, they had used the token SYSCALL. Ok, that's seven bytes of trace data instead of just four, so maybe OS instead of WAIT. I wish that they had called v$session_wait either v$session_syscall or v$session_os .

Here's why. First, realize that an Oracle "wait event" is basically the instrumentation for one operating system subroutine call ("syscall"). For example, the Oracle event called db file sequential read: that's instrumentation for a pread call on our Linux box. On the same system, a db file scattered read covers a sequence of two syscalls: _llseek and readv (that's one reason why I said basically at the beginning of this paragraph). The event called enqueue: that's a semtimedop call.

Injection Nation

I’m somewhat surprised to see a lack of Oracle blogging reaction to the recent post on The Daily WTF which goes into great detail on a case of SQL injection.  Maybe we’ve either become tired of it or we assume that “my systems don’t do that!”.

So, how do you audit or track if your system is being hit by injection?  How would you detect it?  Assume you’re “just a DBA” — and no one tells you about applications being deployed that talk to the database.  Is there a way you could tell just by looking from within the database?  What kind of assumptions would you make?