COMMUNITY: Up Close
The TranslatorBy Jeff Erickson
User group speaker helps DBAs understand the broader technology stack.
Face it, says Hans Forbrich: when you’re an Oracle DBA and your company invests in another Oracle product, there’s a good chance the company will throw that product to you too. For the past seven years, Forbrich, an Oracle consultant, Oracle ACE director, and sought-after speaker, has developed user group sessions to help DBAs deal with just this situation.
“A database customer will invest in a new technology such as Oracle Enterprise Manager Grid Control, Oracle WebLogic Server, LDAP, or Java EE [Java Platform, Enterprise Edition], and then they will say to the DBA, ‘It says “Oracle” on it—you take it,’” says Forbrich. “That’s where I come in.”
Drawing on his work as a DBA and longtime Oracle consultant, Forbrich delivers user group talks that quickly get DBAs up to speed. “I help DBAs understand these other technologies well enough that they can take an Oracle University class or attend a user group session and keep up,” says Forbrich. “Because a session leader will assume a minimum level of knowledge.”
Even familiar terms can trip up DBAs as they aim to master a new technology. “DBAs talk about entity and Java programmers talk about entity, but they mean very different things,” Forbrich says. “Because my experience is so broad, I can translate between the tech language they speak and the one the new technology speaks,” he explains. “I can break it down and see the solution the way my audience sees it, from their experience set.”
Sharing Real-World Experience
Forbrich was part of Oracle Canada from 1996 to 2002, working as a consultant for the communications industry. As a consultant, he had to think on his feet and make sure a customer’s entire stack of Oracle technology worked as planned. Oracle University Canada teachers would often pull him into their classes to share his real-world experience. When he opened his own consulting firm, he began teaching courses as an Oracle partner. In 2010 Forbrich was honored with the Oracle University Instructor of the Year award.
When Forbrich hears the same questions over and over again in class, he begins formulating a user group talk on the subject. “It is a great opportunity to get out and explain these things en masse,” says Forbrich. “Even such simple things as ‘How does the Oracle listener really work?’ or ‘Why doesn’t the split block function impact Oracle RMAN?’”
Forbrich has delivered talks such as “Introduction to Oracle WebLogic Server for DBAs,” “Introduction to LDAP for DBAs,” and “Introduction to Middle-Tier Security for DBAs.” Other popular sessions include “How to Upgrade from Your Old Application Environment to a New Fusion Middleware Environment” and—an old favorite—“How Do You Find It in the Documentation?”
A User Group Tradition
Forbrich strives to make his talks fit with what’s best about user group events. “You get straightforward presentations about what people have encountered with the technology, and those are very important,” says Forbrich. “More interesting to me, however, are those sessions that prepare people for the unusual—be it technical, legal, or cultural. I’ve seen people bring pictures and diagrams of a server room to show their fellow DBAs, because many DBAs have never seen one!”
Forbrich, who backstops his technology business with a career as a semipro singer with the Edmonton Opera, is an expert at mastering different disciplines. It’s a skill that many DBAs have also had to master. “These days you can even have an Oracle DBA who gets put in charge of hardware or storage because the product says ‘Oracle’ on it,” he says. User groups, he adds, are a big part of how DBAs will meet the challenge.
Jeff Erickson (email@example.com) is a senior editor with Oracle Publishing.
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