The Blog from the DBA Classroom

By: Joel Goodman

Skills that are Seen with the DB Machine

Posted by Joel Goodman on 27/01/2011


I just finished teaching the Oracle Exadata and Database Machine three day course for the first time in EMEA and enjoyed  the challenge of teaching to a mixed audience. The course covers the following topics about the Exadata Database machine:

  • Exadata architecture and functionality
  • Smart Storage operations
  • Flash Cache
  • Hardware 1/4, 1/2 and full rack options
  • InfiniBand and ethernet network connectivity
  • Installation and first time boot by SUN and ACS engineers
  • Configuration and administratio0n of Exadata Storage Servers
  • Configuration of ASM Disk Groups
  • Performance Monitoring of Exadata Storage servers
  • Performance Monitoring of RAC Database Instance I/O
  • SQL Plan monitoring using Exadata based ASM Disk Groups
  • Exadata Storage server diagnostics
  • Migration techniques for existing databases
  • Bulk loading techniques
  • Backup and recovery strategies
  • RMAN Tape Backup configuration with Media Managers
  • Database Machine maintenance

Looking at the list, the skills needed to administer the Database Machine cover many areas of technology:

  • Linux System Administration for X2-2 or X2-8 Database Servers
  • Solaris-X86 Adminstration if Solaris chosen for the x2-8 Database Servers
  • Network Administration including DNS, NTP and Optionally Firewalls
  • Exadata Storage Server Administration
  • ASM Storage Administration
  • RAC Database Administration
  • SQL Statement Tuning
  • RMAN

The list is not comprehensive but shows the range of skills required to look after the Database Machine. Some customers divide the responsibility amongst the OS, Network, storage and Database administrators, whilst some apply a vendor based “silo-ing” to the technology and have the DBAs administer everything.

My colleague, Uwe Hesse from Oracle University has recently posted some articles on Exadata features that you may find of interest, covering Smart Scan operations, Storage Indexes and Hybrid Columnar Compression (HCC).

One of the difficulties faced operationally, is that of performance monitoring and administration of the Exadata Storage servers or “Cells” as they are sometimes called. The Databases on the Database servers within a Database Machine may be administered as usual by the DBAs. Installation, configuration, backup and recovery, patching and all the usual activities required for Oracle databases are done as normal. The Operating System on the Database Servers is also maintained as usual for systems admin, package administration, monitoring etc..

But in the Storage Servers, the person administering them must know how the Oracle Database works, how ASM works and be familiar with tablespaces, SQL ids, database object numbers, SQL statement processing and many other Oracle centric concepts. Additionally, one must know about disks, flash cards, networks and many storage administration concepts.

Whilst teaching customers over the past 18 months, I have seen different solutions to this operational support challenge. Some customers have the DBAs do it all, some have the OS administrators look after the Storage Servers, having them learn enough about Oracle to understand monitoring the cells using the CELLCLI utility. In none of the cases have I seen storage administrators look after the cells, but that does not preclude it from happening.

Which ever solution is chosen, skills that cross traditional boundaries are required to manage and maintain the Database Machine. Two years ago, I co-authored a booklet “Performing an Oracle DBA 1.0 to DBA 2.0 Upgrade”  together with my friend and colleague Harald van Breederode. Supporting the Database Machine and Exadata Storage servers is a perfect example of using this expanded skillset.

For those DBAs working with Exadata I hope you enjoy working with the expanded skillset i referred to and that you enjoy the technology.

Joel

1/2011

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