The Upside of Downtime
By Blair Campbell
Pleasurable pastimes help these three peers work smarter.
What’s your favorite tool or technique on the job? Asking questions. Systems and accounting are both pretty easy, once the issues are understood—but problems come up when there’s a lack of understanding on one side about the challenges on the other side. So I just ask away.
What technology has most changed your life? Spreadsheets for accounting, which I discovered back in the early ’80s. As far as Oracle technologies, the self-service aspects of the procure-to-pay, order-to-cash, and manufacturing applications we’re using have made my life as an accountant easier, since they leave more time for analysis instead of rekeying data or providing information now available in the portals. The self-service features reduce the cost of processing transactions and answering questions, reducing staff within the finance department without increasing head count elsewhere.
How do you use wireless technologies? I don’t. I don’t believe in multitasking—when I work, I’m at my desk and working. When I’m not at work, I’m not using technology—but I find that by not being connected, insight and understanding about work issues come to me more easily.
How did you get started in IT? I started at age 10 on a SC/MP. I moved on to BBC Micro a year or so later, and by age 13 I was writing professional games and utility software for that platform. My first real IT job was using UNIX and Informix 4GL, shortly followed by Oracle6. A couple years later, I was implementing the world’s largest Oracle7 system, a pan-European rollout across 3,000 concurrent users and a four-node Oracle Parallel Server.
Which new features in Oracle Database are you finding most valuable? Oracle Database 11g Release 2 has some amazing functionality, but I think the Edition-Based Redefinition feature steals the crown. Availability isn’t just about the database; the database is an important part, but so are the other components, especially the application. Edition-Based Redefinition is the enabler to make logical application changes without disrupting availability.
What’s your favorite thing to do that doesn’t involve work? I play lead guitar in a rock band. I think it’s important to exercise both cortices of the brain, and playing Metallica and Iron Maiden tracks with my own twist seems to do that for me.
Which new Oracle technologies are currently sparking your interest? Right now I’m studying the features of the Sun Oracle Database Machine and Oracle Exadata V2 for Oracle Database 11g Release 2, including Oracle’s Sun FlashFire technology, smart-scan processing, and storage indexing. I’m expecting Oracle Exadata V2 to help reduce the size of our databases, consolidate data, and save money, while enhancing safety and increasing I/O per second.
What technology has most changed your life? Linux for operating systems and PlayStation 3 for my personal life.
What green practices do you use in your DBA work? I create virtualization servers for our Oracle environment using Oracle VM and consolidate those servers on a single server. This requires less energy and fewer materials and creates less CO2. I also use digital books and materials to study—I’ve stopped buying paperbacks. Once we’ve completed our new environment with Oracle Exadata V2, it will help migrate all old versions of the database to Oracle Database 11g Release 2, which will reduce energy consumption and make us greener as well.