Spotlight on PerformanceBy Blair Campbell
Expert tips on everything from syncing to identifying performance problems and breaking into the biz
What’s your favorite tool or technique on the job? Oracle Enterprise Manager is one of my favorite tools, because of its continued evolution and rich feature set. It not only allows you to monitor the entire Oracle technology stack, but it provides capabilities including drill-down and trending. The database control component of Oracle Enterprise Manager lets DBAs quickly identify performance-problematic areas, and it provides drill-down information to help isolate the root cause.
What advice do you have about how to get into application development? Java, Ajax, and XML are key components being used to build next-generation business applications, so it’s important for aspiring developers to understand and eventually master them.
What technology has most changed your life? Java profilers have made a big impact. The Java platform has evolved, but a good Java profiler is still just as important to a Java developer as the SQL trace capability is to a SQL developer. On the code front, Java profilers provide detailed insight into the Java applications running within the Java virtual machine.
Which new features in Oracle technologies are you currently finding most valuable? Oracle Database Lite’s automatic sync allows high reliability in mobile applications, while at the same time keeping users working instead of interrupting their current applications to retrieve new applications. Prior releases relied on manual synchronization, and for an organization this caused issues because users’data could be stale if they waited too long between syncs. Now, an organization can set thresholds around data modified, network connectivity, and even low battery power to sync information.
Name one unique use of Oracle products at your company. We’ve created one of the largest implementations of Oracle Database Lite. We’re synchronizing more than 350 tables, 700 indexes, 60 sequences, and a full-blown OC4J application to field users’laptops.
What would you like to see Oracle, as a company, do more of? Oracle has many great technologies. What I find most customers have a hard time with is visualizing the integration of those technologies into their businesses. More in-depth case studies of solutions requiring multiple products would help.
How did you get started in IT? I worked for 13 years as a medical technologist in a bacteriology laboratory, but I was getting bored so I did an Open University degree in IT part time. In 1987 I was lucky enough to get an entry-level position at Hampshire County Council, a large Oracle site in the U.K. with a great training program. I’ve since taken on several staff who have studied IT as mature students. Their real-world business skills are a great benefit in a consulting environment.
What’s your favorite tool or technique on the job? Oracle’s 10046 trace. It’s amazing how many people try to tune applications without having a clear idea of what the real problem is. The trace may not be pretty, but it provides the information you need to tune.
What advice do you have for aspiring Oracle technologists? Do the formal education courses, even if it has to be part time, and then join your local Oracle user group—and talk to anyone who’s a potential employer. Most employers will be impressed by people who put in the effort. If you don’t get work immediately, offer to volunteer for a few days. If you have the aptitude for the job, an employer will want to hang onto you.