Last week I attended the Rocky Mountain Oracle User’s Group Training Days Conference in Denver, Colorado. RMOUG TD is one of the largest independent Oracle User’s Groups for Oracle database technology and draws a large number of Oracle Aces and Ace Directors, Oracle OakTable members and senior Oracle corporate technology leaders.

On Monday I attended a session by Cary Millsap from Method-R Corporation. In this full day session, Cary talked about how to use Oracle’s trace files to accurately diagnose performance problems related to specific business transactions by profiling the execution of database activity at the detailed call level. Using a variety of tools, Cary sliced and diced Oracle trace files to pinpoint problems related to disk, network and cpu performance for a variety of business transactions. Cary’s company, Method R, develops tools that make it easy to analyze trace files both from the command line as well as from within Oracle SQL Developer.

Monday evening I attended a VIP reception for Oracle Aces (having received by Oracle Ace designation in January), where I spent time talking to Kyle Hailey, a fellow OakTable member and Cornell alum, who has spent time as a Director at Oracle, Director of Performance Products at Embarcadero and is currently a Performance Architect and Technical Evangelist at Delphix. Delphix is a company that specializes in creating virtual copies of databases in order to provide massive storage savings and full-copy databases within organizations. It’s estimated that organizations make between 5 and 8 copies of their production databases, and Delphix provides software that reduces that number to 2, while enabling many “virtual” copies of the database to be used. A single physical copy is used as the basis for many virtual databases, all of which maintain only their changes against the base copy. Delphix’ technical team is top-notch, with former members of Oracle’s ASM storage team, RAC team and the Sun ZFS file-system development team. Delphix also provides a nice “timeflow-like” user interface influenced by Apple.

I believe the Delphix technology has significant benefits in providing full-copies of production data into QA, Test and Dev environments without requiring huge physical storage.

One concept I’ve been playing with is an 8-rack Exadata solution in which all of the storage cells are allocated to production servers within the 8-rack (for example, assume 5 racks are used for production, 2 racks for QA, and 1 rack for Development). Delphix provides a virtual dNFS-like mount point that could be used by the QA and Dev database servers to have full-copy of production data, while all of the expensive storage cells are fully utilized by Production.

Kyle told me their biggest barrier to adoption is the status-quo behavior of places that don’t think you can have full-copies of production in Dev and QA because it’s too hard today – Delphix makes that easy.

On Tuesday, I attended Karen Morton’s presentation on basic tuning for developers. I like to attend some of these introductory sessions to see what questions are asked and what information is being conveyed to new developers. As always, Karen does a nice job simplifying complex topics and making them clear in an introductory manner.

Tuesday lunch was “Lunch with an Oracle Ace” day, where conference attendees were given an opportunity to sit at tables with specific Oracle Aces. I had a table with my name on it full of database developers and had an engaging lunch answering questions.

After lunch I was invited to be a panelist on the Oracle Women in Technology panel (along with Karen Morton from Enkitec, Maria Colgan from Oracle, and Debra Lilley from Fujitsu. I was the male representative on the panel and was asked to talk about the value of diversity and my experiences in the Oracle field (where I’ve worked for over 23 years now).

Wednesday morning I attended 2 sessions – one by Tyler Muth from Oracle Corporation on Exadata tuning. Tyler did an excellent presentation on graphing Exadata performance results using R. After Tyler I attended a presentation on using GoldenGate with Exadata from the folks at Enkitec.

In the afternoon I gave my 2 presentations – one on Fuzzy String Matching Algorithms (based on phonetic matching) and the other on Recursive SQL Constructs – both were well received.