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April Sims, a DBA at Southern Utah University and an Oracle Certified Professional, published a book last month called “Oracle Database 11g Underground Advice for Database Administrators.” We caught up with Sims to ask her why she published this Oracle database 11g book now, why most people haven’t yet upgraded to 11g, and how the DBA’s job description has changed in the past few years.
Oracle Database 11g has been out for a few years now, so what does this book add to the conversation?
It was written for 11g, though I write about 10 and 9 as well. What I did was [bring] out some of the really small things that some people don’t know about. For example, I’ve met with many people, and none of them knew that if you delete a temporary tablespace in 11g, it would be automatically recreated on start-up. That’s a good example of what’s in the book -- things that you might not know about Oracle. But the emphasis is on 11g.
We recently did a reader survey that found that more people were running Oracle 10g and 9i than 11g. Does that surprise you, and why do you think that is?
No, 11g is quite a bit different, and 11g R2 just came out. Quite a few people were waiting for R2 because it has all the enhancements for RAC.
It’s actually good practice to wait until the second release for production. You could migrate early to non-production databases, but it’s always good to wait for the second release. And there are a lot of application vendors that hold back.
I don’t think there is one thing that you can pin down [as a reason] for not going to 11g. It’s a pretty big change. We haven’t even gone to 11g in production completely. We’ve gone in a minor way and plan to go there in a more major way this fall.
What is the most crucial step in moving to Oracle Database 11g?
Upgrading the optimizer to SQL Plan Management. It’s where Oracle takes over the role of execution plans for performance reasons. Oracle has a complete mechanism for improving execution plans over time. Statistics may change, and you may do all sorts of different changes. It’s a whole method where Oracle can modify and delete to keep performance as high as possible.
How do you think the role of the DBA has changed in the last few years?
Just like technology, DBAs have to constantly adapt or learn to change as they go along. Oracle is pushing the DBA to be more of a reactive or monitoring person. A few years ago, DBAs would be heavy into the command line; now, the GUI is very much a part of their everyday tasks. So DBAs have to take care of more applications and more databases, so there are more automation tools that they have to install and maintain.
Mark Fontecchio can be reached at email@example.com.