Oracle Database 11g
This latest generation of the world's #1 database builds on the innovations introduced in Oracle Database 10g. The newest release includes automated self-management capabilities, advanced compression and partitioning that supports the reduction of storage costs by compressing data as much as two to four times, and Oracle Real Application Clusters (RAC), which delivers grid plug and play and new server pooling capabilities.
Architect, Database Manageability
Location: Redwood Shores, California
Product: SQL Manageability for Oracle Database
Q: What is SQL manageability?
A: The primary goal of SQL manageability, and manageability in general, is to help businesses lower their IT operational costs while providing maximum performance and availability. For example, the automatic SQL tuning advisor fully automates the SQL tuning process by comprehensively exploring all the possible ways of tuning a SQL statement. This way, tuning of SQL statements no longer has to be the domain of experts. Instead, we have built a tuning expert inside the database engine to perform this very important function for database administrators in a fraction of the time and cost needed to carry out the same task manually.
Another SQL manageability feature we have designed and implemented for Oracle Database 11g is real-time SQL monitoring. Real-time SQL monitoring provides the fastest and easiest way to identify and fix performance problems with long running SQL statements. Out-of-the-box, database administrators have now a powerful feature to track complex execution plans, helping them to identify issues like poor indexing or skew in parallel queries—all in real time.
Another great SQL manageability feature we introduced in Oracle Database 11g is the SQL performance analyzer, which is part of Oracle Real Application Testing. SQL performance analyzer makes it easy for database administrators to manage and execute changes that are critical to their business while minimizing the potential risks associated with these changes.
Q: Why is it innovative?
A: First, most SQL manageability features introduced in Oracle Database 10g and Oracle Database 11g are rather unique and none of our database competitors offer anything similar. So in that sense, these features are innovative. But more than that, it is the way these features are built that makes them truly innovative.
Manageability has been traditionally thought of as something you add on top of an existing system and several database management vendors are offering solutions to make Oracle easier to manage. We started the self-managing database initiative in Oracle Database 10g on the premise that, to be fully effective, management should instead be built directly inside the database server and only externalized through system management solutions like Oracle Enterprise Manager. This is mainly because our long-term goal was to eliminate database management problems rather than hiding them behind a tool. A good example of this is the automatic management of SQL memory, where we have completely eliminated the need for database administrators to tune parameters like "sort_area_size" or "hash_area_size." These parameters are now dynamically and individually adjusted by the SQL execution engine based on the load of the system and the amount of data each SQL operator needs to process. Also, we wanted to limit the potential performance overhead of manageability and the only way one can do this is by building manageability directly inside the kernel. Real-time SQL monitoring is a very good example of this. It cannot be built outside the server because it uses very fine grain statistics that are directly collected by the SQL execution engine while the query executes.
Finally, another innovative aspect of our solutions is that they leverage and fully integrate with the existing database components. This is illustrated by the automatic SQL tuning advisor, which is built directly inside the Oracle optimizer. This makes it possible to fully leverage the Oracle optimizer during the tuning process and in turn enables the Oracle optimizer to directly consume tuning recommendations and transparently generate a better execution plan without any change to the package application code.
Q: Why do you think innovation is important?
A: I think there is a big parallel between innovation in the software industry and the theory of evolution in the biological world. Our software, in this case the Oracle Database software, needs to evolve constantly to survive in the very competitive environment we are in. The only difference with the biological world is that everything goes way faster in the software industry, where one of our release cycles is probably the equivalent to a million years in the biological world. So many changes are made to our product based on customer requirements, mostly to address their ever-changing needs. You can think of these changes as us adapting to the changing environment and evolving with it.
Many of the changes made in this context are true innovation because we need to find innovative ways to address a specific requirement and incorporate it into our existing software. But the ultimate innovation for me is really when we invent and build a new feature that no one even thought about. This is the equivalent of a mutation in the biological world. Basically, we try to reinvent ourselves, go where our customers are not expecting us to go to create new opportunities for them. For example, innovation like Oracle Real Application Testing with database replay and SQL performance analyzer belong to this category of innovation. But whether we innovate by evolution or revolution, innovating is a constant theme that Oracle promotes at all levels.
Q: What's the most innovative project or product you've ever worked on?
A: From a technological standpoint, I would say SQL memory management was one of the most innovative projects I worked on. For this project, we had to invent everything from scratch. First, we developed a new model to globally manage SQL memory, or PGA memory as we like to call it. Then we had to design new adaptive algorithms for each SQL operator whose memory is automatically managed. This was really technically challenging and innovative. The other very innovative project is real-time SQL monitoring for which we introduced the concept of active reports. Active reports is a new type of report introduced in Oracle Database 11g Release 2 and generated via PL/SQL [see for example dbms_sqltune.report_sql_monitor]. The content of an active report is highly graphical and the report can be explored interactively by the end user using any Web browser. Code to interact with the report is hosted on Oracle Technology Network and transparently loaded by the browser when the report is first viewed.
Q: What do you think is the key attribute of an innovative person?
A: I think that innovative people never worry about changing the status quo. They are hungry for change and ready to lead for that change. Also, it's someone with a very good vision of the future and a very creative mind set to get there faster than anyone else.