Wednesday 24 August 2011

Insync 2011 Day 3

First you may be thinking - hang on, there was only 2 days in the Insync conference, wasn't there?

Just like a PL/SQL boolean, there is true, false, and unknown to that statement.
Ooh, did I really go there?

True - there was two days of scheduled presentations.

False - like any conference, there are often fringe events scheduled before or after the main event.

Unknown - for those unfortunate enough not to have heard of the event, in the Sydney Convention & Exhibition Centre there was an extra day-long session entitled "A Day of Real World Performance". More information can be found here.

It was co-presented by
  • Tom Kyte - author of AskTom - directing the core of the discussion with slides in a centre screen, providing a developer perspective.
  • Graham Wood - Oracle Database Performance Architect - dishing out Enterprise Manager output as an Exadata box is manipulated
  • Andrew Holdsworth - Head of Oracle's Real World Performance team.
It was less of your usual seminar style format, more of a conversational piece - which made it much easier to concentrate after two days of conference presentations. This style also made it more engaging. There was a general script, but Graham mentioned to me at one point that after nine roadshows, none ever really come out the same - I'm not surprised!

They kicked off by loading a terabtye of data into a remote Oracle Exadata box, then used that as a platform to discuss performance issues from compression to statement parsing to index use - but nothing like you've ever really seen before. Andrew kept tweaking settings in the exadata machine to show how they can affect performance - accompanied by a screen full of numbers whaling up and down; Graham showed pretty graphs that illustrated what was going on post-change; and Tom get adding his pearls of wisdom with his easy listening voice.

Mark Lancaster also described the event in his blog and I must agree - if this roadshow comes to a town near you, it is a must see. If you can't, try out the videos. They don't do it any justice, but apparently they have been used to sway decisions by the powers that be in the correct direction.

A little tip - don't book flights for conferences without checking/looking out for these events - I know a few people who missed out because they booked flights too early. Mind you, I also know there are a few people who flew up from Melbourne specifically for this day.

And to cap it off - Tony, Barbara & I finished the day with a beer overlooking Darling Harbour in a wonderful sunny Sydney afternoon.

... but then we had to head to the airport to go home...


Sunday 21 August 2011

Insync 2011 Day 2

My tip for surviving an interstate conference - sleep in the second day until as late as possible.

I walked in with time to grab a cup of tea and walk up to the first session. I chose Alex Peattie talking about an introduction to SOA for application integration to see where Oracle are pitching these days for their grand world of SOA. It was fairly entry level, but a thorough overview - a nice way to warm up.

It certainly would have been tough to warm up with Shan Nawaz talking about the top ten 11g features that aren't your usual top ten. It was a good idea for a presentation as one does get bored with hearing about the same glossy features all the time. For those curious, here are my interpretations of my quick scratches on the day

  3. Reproduce SQL test case (DBMS_SQL_DIAG)
  4. Advanced compression (costed option)
  5. Diagnose/Resolve failure with DRA
  6. Multi-section backups
  7. Database resident connection pool
  8. Server consolidation
  9. SQL*Plus error logging (sperrorlog)
  10. Preprocessor
And yes, some of those are very cool.

The post-morning tea slot saw me torn again between Francisco Munoz on Oracle security tips and Marcelle Kratochvil convincing us to store unstructured data in the database. I ended up in Marcelle's, and while I can't compare to Francisco's session (Barbara thought it was excellent), I think Marcelle's was up there for the most engaging and thought provoking of the conference. It reminded me of Guy Harrison in Perth last year - his was less Oracle and more commentary on the direction of the computing world, but Marcelle really hit the nail on the head for the issues of tomorrow. Our technology isn't there yet for searching videos/images, protecting copyright etc, but Marcelle certainly convinced me by not putting this information into our database, we aren't exactly heading in the right direction! 

Before lunch, again two slots I wanted to see. I ended up with Connor McDonald talking statistics, which I will say is my favourite from his catalogue. I saw it previously in Perth, but was more than happy to be entertained once again. If you've never seen one of his presentations - it doesn't matter what the topic - you must see him at least once.

After lunch, torn again - sense a trend? I almost went to see an Australia Post case study on SOA, which apparently was packed - but I thought I'd learn a thing or two about Exadata from Tony Jambu, and get myself a mintie. Tony assessed the facts and myths to see if Oracle was pulling the wool over our eyes or if they really have the beez neez of hardware/software integration - turns out Oracle really does have the right stuff.
And we all saw some magic that involved Guy Harrison wondering if he was going to walk out of that session with a cup of water drained over his head. Great work, Tony.

After three sessions of indecision, I found myself struggling to pick something in the penultimate session. I ended up seeing Clancy Bufton introduce flashback queries and total recall. Not a new topic, but one I'm not completely familiar with. 

Now for the biggest scheduling issue of the conference - we had Mark Lancaster talking advanced Apex 4 UI; Tim Hall on edition-based redefiition; and Tom Kyte on SQL techniques.
I went the big name, which is a shame because it turns out I had seen this one before, and was very happy with my use of his suggested better practice. I was however glad to see and hear the younger generation (did I really say that?) talk about some of his suggestions and seek clarification with Tom afterwards. To me that indicates some success and progress within a conference. 
Tom certainly drew the crowd as Marc and Tim suggested afterwards some smaller than expected numbers. But that's ok, those who were there got an up close & personal, interactive discussion with them both.

So that concluded the conference proper - however I still had the evening and an extra day to survive. The evening made it easy. After a quick revival back at my room, 14 of us headed out for dinner. We tried once place only to find we wouldn't fit, but plan B was superb. We headed to South Styne - a floating restaurant in Darling Harbour. I enjoyed perfectly cooked kangaroo fillet with lovely spices and mash, chased down with a few king browns and good company. Thanks people, and I remember someone taking a group photo so no doubt I'll stumble across that in the near future - hopefully I can post it up.

Stay tuned, I have some more thoughts on this week to come.

Insync 2011 Day 1

Yeah, these posts are a little late, but boy - what a busy week it's been!

After a delayed flight from Perth (isn't that the norm?) I spent me late hours on Monday night tidying up my presentation. Unfortunately that lead to me staying up waaay past my bedtime, but nothing a fresh morning and a cup of tea wouldn't fix...

That, and a pretty sizzling conference intro by Dan Thurman! The introduction from Martin Power and Ian White was relatively brief, then John Bushell introduced Dan and advised us to sit back and enjoy. When Dan came out with his strut, Bill Paxton sounding accent and unwavering zeal, I think most of the audience was wondering what sort of cheesy slop were we in for.

It was however a very thought provoking display by a man who knew exactly who he was and how he was probably being judged. He tied in his thoughts and messages with the IT world quite well, no doubt with as much practice as he spends on his juggling and unicycling. Kudos to the user groups involved in bringing him over.

To the real content, however:
Tim Hall showed a decent group a new hidden way of cheaply cloning your database. The content was somewhat outside my area of expertise, but I enjoyed it regardless. I enjoy Tim's presentations and I'm glad he made it back to Australia.

Damien Bootsma from Embarcadero followed morning tea with a reminder to all about the best practices of capturing meta data for productive database development. That was pretty much his title, and while some of his messages may not have been new material for many, I'm never opposed to drilling into people the better ways of designing and managing your database.

Which is exactly what Tom Kyte did in his "Efficient PL/SQL" presentation before lunch. I heard a few people commenting afterwards that there wasn't the sizzle and awe they expected from and Oracle celebrity, but I thought Tom's message was loud and clear, and always needed. So many times do I see people coding without contemplating the messages Tom was delivering. I had seen a similar presentation from him before, but I didn't mind seeing it again and I hoped some of the newer Oracle people in the crowd took many notes!

After lunch I was torn between a database security talk by Victorian AUSOUG president Barbara Rabinowicz and 10 things I possibly didn't know about Oracle indexes by Canberra ACE Richard Foote. Tony Jambu somehow leaned me towards seeing Richard's show - which I must say was really interesting. A little esoteric, but I learned a few things to think about in future. Having met Barbara during the welcome reception later, I was a little disappointed I didn't see her security talk - but isn't that the peril of having many streams at a conference!

There was one more session before mine, and I ducked my head into Angus MacDonald from Oracle talking about what's next. I couldn't find the abstract, and it was quite hardware centric so I ducked back out to run through my "slides" before I was up.

I'll suspend commenting on my own presentation until another post - I'd like to go into some detail on things and not let it get lost amongst this commentary. The turnout was unfortunately a little low, I'm curious where all the people were - although Craig Shallahamer was on at the same time...

Afterwards I steeled myself for the final keynote of the day on cloud computing strategies by Roland Slee and Doug Hughes. I hadn't seen Doug speak before, and I liked his attitude. Let me suggest it was one of the least cliche Oracle keynotes I've attended ;-) I look forward to him coming to Perth soon.

As usual, the welcome reception was a welcome end to the first day. I found the right position to get quick dibs on the beer trays, although the food was a little exotic for my simple tastes. I formally met Barbara who was a delight to communicate with and get to know for the remainder of my time in Sydney. I also caught up with other interstate fellows such as Tony Scholefield & Tony Jambu - and we ended up deciding to meet up for dinner with some Oracle specialists who had earlier snuck away for a Sydney Meetup, which I meant to attend but got lost in the mayhem.

So we had a nice dinner with a group of very skilled technologists. I enjoyed some spanish cuisine sitting nearby Connor McDonald, Marcelle Kratochvil & Barbara. However Tony, Barbara and I thought we'd nick away afterwards to the IBM/RedRock party down the road. It had quietened by the time we got there, but it was a good opportunity to wind down after a very long day. Yep, that was only day one.

Wednesday 10 August 2011

Australian Conference Presentations?

Attention all Oracle technologists interested in presenting at an Australian conference in 2011.

Today is officially the final day for abstract submissions for the Perth conference in November.

Without letting too much out of the bag, it looks like we'll have a ripping line-up this year. Get your abstract ASAP in so we can consider you for selection!

Anyone interested in simply attending, the earlier you register the cheaper it will be. It sounds cliché, but this will hopefully be one of the best we've ever had.

Next week is the InSync11 Conference in Sydney.

Of course it's a little late to get your submissions in for that, but I'll be there presenting on performance in Application Express. I'll be moving away from (death by) powerpoint and trying something a little different this time. If that sounds interesting, I'm currently slotted in the final session for day one.

I'll also be attending the bonus Thursday session involving Tom Kyte. Hope to see you there!

update - I had flagged this post as something to read, thanks to Chris Muir's twitter feed - should have read it before posting this entry. Well worth a read of you're still considering presenting: