The public transport company needs new buses

Future-British-Bus-1A public transport company in a city called Galactic City, needs to replace its aging city buses with new ones. It asks three bus vendors what they have to offer and if they can do a live test to see if their claims about performance and efficiency holds up.

The transport company uses the city buses to move people between different locations in the city. The average trip distance is about 2 km. The vendors all prepare their buses for the test. The buses are the latest and greatest, with the most efficient and powerful engines and state of the art technology.

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Getting the most out of your server resources

hearseespeak

As an advocate on database virtualization, I often challenge customers to consider if they are using their resources in an optimal way.

And so I usually claim, often in front of a skeptical audience, that physically deployed servers hardly ever reach an average utilization of more than 20 per cent (thereby wasting over 80% of the expensive database licenses, maintenance and options).

Magic is really only the utilization of the entire spectrum of the senses. Humans have cut themselves off from their senses. Now they see only a tiny portion of the visible spectrum, hear only the loudest of sounds, their sense of smell is shockingly poor and they can only distinguish the sweetest and sourest of tastes.

– Michael Scott, The Alchemyst

About one in three times, someone in the audience objects and says that they achieve much better utilization than my stake-in-the-ground 20 percent number, and so use it as a reason (valid or not) for not having to virtualize their databases, for example, with VMware.

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Announcing my Openworld 2013 presentation material

oow2013flashLast Tuesday I had the privilege to present at Oracle Openworld 2013 together with Sam Marraccini (the guy with the big smile here in the pic) from EMC’s Flash products division. Sam introduced the various EMC Flash offerings we have, and I discussed some experiences and best practices from the field. We really got lots of interaction with the audience, and many questions (at one point I was looking at about 5 hands raised simultaneously) which caused me to run out of time finishing some of the best practices I planned to discuss at the end. But interaction is always better than just us talking so I got the feeling the session was successful – although I’d like to hear from people in the audience what their thoughts are (feel free to comment!)

When people started to make snapshots of the slides with their iPhones, we promised the audience to make the slides available ASAP. So here they are. They will probably also be available via Oracle’s OOW pages within time. Read more of this post

Linux Disk Alignment Reloaded

railtrackmisalignMy all-time high post with the most pageviews is the one on Linux disk alignment: How to set disk alignment in Linux. In that post I showed an easy method on how to set and check disk alignment under linux.
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ZFS and Database fragmentation

Disk Fragmentation

Disk Fragmentation – O&O technologies.
Hope they don’t mind the free advertising

Yet another customer was asking me for advice on implementing the ZFS file system on EMC storage systems. Recently I did some hands-on testing with ZFS as Oracle database file store so that I could get an opinion on the matter.

One of the frequent discussions comes up is on the fragmentation issue. ZFS uses a copy-on-write allocation mechanism which basically means, every time you write to a block on disk (whether this is a newly allocated block, or, very important, overwriting a previously allocated one) ZFS will buffer the data and write it out on a completely new location on disk. In other words, it will never overwrite data in place. Now a lot of discussions can be found in the blogosphere and on forums debating whether this is really the case, how serious this is, what the impact is on performance and what ZFS has done to either prevent, or, alternatively, to mitigate the issue (i.e. by using caching, smart disk allocation algorithms, etc).

In this post I attempt to prove how database files on ZFS file systems get fragmented on disk quickly. I will not make any comments on how this affects performance (I’ll save that for a future post). I also deliberately ignore ZFS caching and other optimizing features – the only thing I want to show right now is how much fragmentation is caused on physical disk by using ZFS for Oracle data files. Note that this is a deep technical and lengthy article so you might want to skip all the details and jump right to the conclusion at the bottom :-)

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Oracle Exadata X3 Database In-Memory Machine: Timely Thoughtful Thoughts For The Thinking Technologist – Part I

Awesome post by Kevin! Recommended read if you are interested in Oracle Exadata.

Kevin Closson's Blog: Platforms, Databases and Storage

Oracle Exadata X3 Database In-Memory Machine – An Introduction
On October 1, 2012 Oracle issued a press release announcing the Oracle Exadata X3 Database In-Memory Machine. Well-chosen words, Oracle marketing, surgical indeed.

Words matter.
Games Are Games–Including Word Games
Oracle didn’t issue a press release about Exadata “In-Memory Database.” No, not “In-Memory Database” but “Database In-Memory” and the distinction is quite important. I gave some thought to that press release and then searched Google for what is known about Oracle and “in-memory” database technology. Here is what Google offered me:

Note: a right-click on the following photos will enlarge them.

 

With the exception of the paid search result about voltdb, all of the links Google offered takes one to information about Oracle’s Times Ten In-Memory Database which is a true “in-memory” database. But this isn’t a blog post about semantics. No, not at all. Please read on.

Seemingly Silly…

View original post 3,187 more words

Stop Idling – Start Saving

One of my missions is to help customers saving money (Dirty Cache Cash). So considering the average enterprise application environment, I frequently ask them where they spend most of their IT budget on. Is it servers? Networks? Middleware? Applications?

Turns out that if you look at the operating cost of an Oracle database application, a very big portion of the TCO is in database licenses. Note that I focus on Oracle (that’s my job) but for other databases the cost ratio might be similar. Or not. But it makes sense to look at Oracle as that is the most common platform for mission-critical applications. So let’s look at a database environment and forget about the application for now.
Let’s say that 50% of the operating cost of a database server is spent on Oracle licensing and maintenance (and I guess that’s not that far off). Now if we can help saving 10% on licensing (for example, by providing fast and efficient infrastructure), would that justify more expensive, but faster and more efficient infrastructure? I guess so.

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Thank you, Larry Ellison

My colleague Vince Westin published this great post on his blog:

During his opening keynote at Oracle OpenWorld 2012, Larry Ellison launched the new Exadata X3.
LarryOOW2012 The new version appears to have some nice new capabilities, including caching writes to EFD, which are likely to improve the usability of Exadata for OLTP workloads. And he was nice enough to include the EMC Symmetrix VMAX 40K in detail on 30% of his slides as he announced the new Exadata. And for that, I give thanks. I am sure that Salesforce.com were similarly thankful when Larry focused so much of his time on their product in his keynote last year.

Read the rest of his post here.

The post provides a bunch of good reasons why EMC VMAX might be a better choice for customers that run high-performance mission-critical environments. A highly recommended read!

Oracle snapshots and clones with ZFS

Another Frequently Asked Question: Is there any disadvantage for a customer in using Oracle/SUN ZFS appliances to create database/application snapshots in comparison with EMC’s cloning/snapshot offerings?

Oracle marketing is pushing materials where they promote the ZFS storage appliance as the ultimate method for database cloning, especially when the source database is on Exadata. Essentially the idea is as follows: backup your primary DB to the ZFS appliance, then create snaps or clones off the backup for testing and development (more explanation in Oracle’s paper and video). Of course it is marketed as being much cheaper, easier and faster than using storage from an Enterprise Storage system such as those offered by EMC.

Oracle Youtube video

Oracle White paper

In order to understand the limitations of the ZFS appliance you need to know the fundamental workings of the ZFS filesystem. I recommend you look at the Wikipedia article on ZFS (here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ZFS) and get familiar with its basic principles and features. The ZFS appliance is based on the same filesystem but due to it being an appliance, it’s a little bit different in behaviour.

So let’s see what a customer gets when he decides to go for the Sun appliance instead of EMC infrastructure (such as the Data Domain backup deduplication  system or VNX storage system).

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Exadata Hybrid Columnar Compression (HCC) for (storage) dummies

Columnar Basalt Landscape

Although EMC and Oracle have been long-time partners, the Exadata Database Machine is the exception to the rule and competes with EMC products directly. So I find myself more and more in situations where EMC offerings are compared directly with Exadata features and functions. Note that Oracle offers more competing products, including some storage offerings such as the ZFS storage appliance and the Axiom storage systems, but so far I haven’t seen a lot of pressure from those (except when these are bundled with Exadata).
Recently I have visited customers who asked me questions on how EMC technology for databases compares with, in particular, Oracle’s Hybrid Columnar Compression (HCC) on Exadata. And some of my colleagues, being storage aliens and typically not database experts, have been asking me what this Hybrid Compression thing is in the first place.

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