In with the NewBy Blair Campbell
Rave reviews for virtualization, Oracle Exadata, and the ‘Twittersphere’
What is your favorite tool on the job? I’m interested in pinpointing the root cause of performance problems, and I’ve found DTrace—introduced in Oracle Solaris 10—to be an invaluable tool for this. It has enhanced understanding of how things work at the operating system level, as well as providing a better understanding of the metrics reported by more-classic tools.
What about a favorite strategy? I encourage a focus on virtualization, both for myself and among my team members—particularly when the project is based on zones and ZFS, which completely revolutionized and extended the possibilities of virtualized configurations. Nowadays, one virtualization technology or another can be the solution for most workloads I see.
If you were going to the International Space Station for six months and could only take one Oracle reference book, what would it be? Without hesitation, it’s Solaris Performance and Tools: DTrace and MDB Techniques for Solaris 10 and OpenSolaris [Prentice Hall, 2006]. This book is a must-have, covering both tools and methodologies for performance observation and debugging.
What technology has most changed your life? The Oracle Exadata Database Machine. It’s changed the game and has set very high standards of performance, scalability, reliability, and support unification. Managing mixed OLTP [online transaction processing] /data warehouse workloads on a single view of the system has made things easier and seems so natural. With our clients who are using Oracle Exadata, I’ve seen gigantic improvement in ETL [extract, transform, and load] processes, analytics, and reporting, and the notion of nightly batch jobs when interactive users are sleeping is now obsolete. You can run anything at any time.
How are you currently using cloud computing in your work? My whole job is on the cloud. With only my browser and a remote SSH [Secure Shell] session, I manage Oracle databases around the globe without ever touching, seeing, or knowing the physical location of their servers.
How do you use mobile computing? I’ve configured my mobile devices to access Pythian’s custom monitoring tool and made those devices Oracle Grid Control-aware. Now I can’t see how I survived without this setup.
How did you get started in IT? I really got started by figuring out the architecture of my home computer during high school. It was an MSX2—a 1980s-era collaboration between Microsoft and ASCII Corp. that was especially popular in Europe—with a Z80A microprocessor, first designed by Zilog in the mid-1970s, at a whopping speed of 3.58 MHz. Five years later, I got my first IT job—as a Clipper programmer. [Clipper was a compiler for the dBASE III language, for MS-DOS.]
Which new features in Oracle technology are you currently finding most valuable? The Oracle Exadata Database Machine’s optimizations have proven very valuable—especially the Smart Scan feature, which greatly reduces full scan response time.
How do you use social media in your professional life? I blog and use Twitter. I’m both communicating with other IT professionals through Twitter and using it as an information aggregator. I used to use RSS feeds to get information about new blog posts, but now I let blog aggregators tweet them to me. Twitter is the newsgathering medium that costs me the least time, because it combines new blog posts, local and world news, and messages to and from industry peers.
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