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Some of the Better Aspects of Oracle 10g

Article by Rampant author Chris Foot

Oracle 10G has been Oracle's flagship release for some time now. I thought it might be beneficial to focus on some of the benefits that 10G has to offer. They aren't in order of importance. Its just a general list that may help readers remember that there are some pretty cool features in Oracle 10G. Hopefully you will find it to be both informational and an interesting read.

Ease of Installation
I remember the good old days. When I began my career, the Oracle installers were just screen painters that forced you to use the TAB key to navigate back and forth between selections and screens.

Installations used to take hours and experiencing problem after problem was commonplace. Successfully installing Oracle became a rite of passage as a DBA. Four hours after you started the installation (and fighting through errors, warnings and placing a half dozen CDs in the reader), you would finally finish.

With each new release, the installer became easier to use, installation speeds increased and the number of installation problems decreased. When our first set of 10G CDs arrived a couple of years ago, the DBA opened up the package and said "Hey, where's the rest of them? I think they forgot to send me all of the CDs I need to do the install." We checked MetaLink and found that Oracle10G only needs a couple of CDs. One main CD and another called "The Companion CD" which really should be called "The Companion CD that is required for all installs" since it pretty much has to be installed when you install Oracle.

The team here really likes the fact that the installer now performs pre-installation requirement checks before laying down the software. The installer itself now determines if the O/S environment is configured to correctly run the Oracle software. Having the installer verify that you have performed "your pre-installation" duties is very beneficial.

10G Data Pump
I'm a big fan of 10G Data Pump. Once you become accustomed to the new environment, it's a pretty good utility. There is a learning curve - like the first time you try to restart a Data Pump job by just rerunning the script again. You'll quickly find out that Data Pump has a command for that. At least it provides you with the "Master table exists" error message to point you to your mistake.

Here's a quick list of some of the features I like:

·         The utility IS faster than Export and Import. Maybe not as much faster as Oracle says it is - but it is faster. I have personally seen Exports and Imports run for hours - and days.

·         I like being able to use parallelism to improve performance.

·         You can stop and restart jobs. The master table knows where you left off so you don't have to spend all of that time trying to code a new Import statement that won't duplicate rows in tables that were successfully loaded. This is really helpful.

·         Data Pump provides an option that estimates the output dump file size that would be created by a Data Pump Export.

·         What I believe is one of the best features is the network transfer option that allows administrators to attach to any source database that can be accessed from the network, transfer the data and write it to the target database. No dumpfile required! Administrators use the NETWORK_LINK parameter to specify a pre-created database link that points to the source database.

·         You can use the Data Pump Flashback feature to go back in time and export data how it looked in the past. This helps when you get a visit from one of your developers stating "I think I might have updated 47 production tables by mistake, but I won't know until I see the data." Use the flashback feature during the Data Pump Export and use the Data Pump Import utility to pump the data into a new schema for the developer to review.

·         You can use the EXCLUDE parameter to exclude specific objects using custom syntax. For example, EXCLUDE=INDEX:"LIKE 'DEPT%'" would exclude indexes that start with the name "DEPT".

10G Automatic Alerting
Oracle10G provides early warning mechanisms to alert administrators of possible error conditions. The database itself collects numerous metrics that were previously collected by 9i's Oracle Enterprise Manager. Administrators are able to select from dozens of server-generated alerts. Server generated alerts are activated by a new background process called MMON. MMON is able to access the SGA directly and perform the metrics calculations and threshold monitoring.

10G Grid Control enhances these capabilities by providing administrators with a GUI interface to administer alerts and configure notification mechanisms. Administrators are able to use Grid Control or the standalone version, Database Control to set up e-mail and pager notifications. In addition, all server-generated alerts are displayed on the Database Control/Grid Control home pages.

I'm a huge fan of 10G Grid Control. Although the database alerts can be set up in the database using the archaic command line interface, if I can do it using Grid Control with a few clicks of the mouse, that's the tool I will use.

Setting up 10G's "early warning system" places you in the proactive DBA category as opposed to reactive. The term we us to describe a pure reactive DBA is "firefighter". That's the DBA or DBA team that runs from one fire to the next. I will acknowledge that we are ALL firefighters from time to time.

During my career as an Oracle instructor, one of the most common recommendations I used to provide to my Oracle students was the benefits of database monitoring. My catch phrase was "We monitor by day so we don't get called at night." By the end of the DBA I class, all I would have to say is "We monitor by day…" and the class would respond accordingly. I would then award them with a set of scripts that allowed them to do database connect checks and track datafile free space.

10G Grid Control does all that (and more) for you automatically. The set of checks range the spectrum, from agent unable to connect to target (that means either the database, server or agent broke), to tablespace freespace and alert log errors. As I stated previously, 10G provides dozens of alert choices and is your one-stop-shop for proactive database monitoring.





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