Dangerous Dilettantes Destroy Databases
Oracle Database Tips by Donald Burleson
A magazine reporter recently asked me what
the "gotchas" were for Oracle11g, and I was hard-pressed to give
an answer. Oracle is the world's most sophisticated
database, and in the properly trained hands, it's the most
robust and flexible database on the planet. But in
Oracle's powerful tuning tools are like
giving a loaded gun to a child.
Back before Oracle introduced
their easy GUI interfaces and intelligent advisors, it was much
more difficult for neophytes to "pose" as Oracle experts and human
error was much lower than it is today. Lured by the
promise of glamorous work and high pay, thousands of inept
people (without any formal education in either IT or computer
science) are flocking into Oracle technology. Oracle's easy front-end tools have
enabled low-aptitude neophytes to enter the booming DBA job
market, often with disastrous results.
The lucrative lifestyle of the
Oracle profession attracts thousands of inept dilettantes
It can be very difficult to spot
an inept or reckless Oracle professional, and my company does a
booming business in helping corporation vet potential job
candidates. The influx of inept and reckless Oracle
professionals is due to several factors:
Expanding demand - As the need for
computer professionals outstripped supply, desperate companies were forced
to lower their hiring standards.
No barriers to entry - Unlike other
professions that require licensing and certification (e.g. Engineers,
Accountants, Architects), anyone can hang out a shingle proclaiming
themselves to be an experienced DBA.
The root cause of unplanned Oracle
In this age of unbreakable Oracle
and super-reliable hardware, human error is responsible for the
vast majority of Oracle outages. I agree with Oracle Corporation
that human error is the single greatest threat to database
stability, but I see rates far higher than 79%. In my experience
supervising an Oracle emergency
support center, I see a percentage closer to 95%. In a
bull market, reckless or inept Oracle professionals are hired
and placed into job far beyond their experience level.
The problem of inexperience and
human error has several root causes. On one hand we see desperate job candidates who
"puff" their job experience, often claiming that their unpaid
years of dabbling with Oracle on a PC constitutes real experience.
Oracle "posers" can be hard to spot at the job
Sadly, the problem is getting worse, and
we see an alarming increase in
willful deception, "fake Oracle experts", whose goal
is to fleece the unsuspecting IT shop.
Lying and deception are becoming commonplace as I show in my notes on
evaluating Oracle professionals for dishonesty.
While some questionable Oracle
experts carefully hide their resumes and verifiable work
history, others resort to outright deception, like scum who
create fictional Oracle experts, complete with a photograph
and convincing credentials!
"My name is Robert Allen,
and I?m the Founder of OraSecure, Inc. With over 9
years of trial and error from painstaking research, I?m now
acknowledged as a promising top expert in the field of
Oracle database security.
For the past 7 years, I've consulted dozens of Fortune 1000
companies on all areas of Oracle Database Administration.
The areas I've focused my most attention to are Oracle
Security Features and Security Audits.
I've personally audited over 400 Oracle
instances over the years, as well as taught and mentored
more than 80 DBAs to do the same."
here from eWeek how I helped to uncover this scammer.
But fakers aside, the real danger
are the dilettantes and neophytes whose naive use of Oracle's
powerful productivity tools can cause great damage to
mission-critical Oracle systems.
The double-edged sword of easy
In my experience doing
Oracle emergency support
I see case after case where a script kiddie has blindly run a
powerful Oracle script, just to "see what it does", crashing an
Note: You have heard the old saying
"Damning with feint praise", but the major gotchas of Oracle 11g
is more like "Praising with feint damn" because the main pitfall
of Oracle is also one of its greatest strengths.
Over the past five years Oracle
has been introducing powerful automation and advisory tool to
relieve the tedium for the busy DBA. But unfortunately
these tools, while useful for the experienced DBA are very
dangerous those without the proper education and training:
OEM - Someone with little or no
knowledge of Oracle can click merrily away, dropping tablespaces and
deleting schemas with free abandon.
SPA - The Oracle 11g SQL Performance
Analyzer is an amazing holistic tuning tool, but it's extremely dangerous
for the neophyte.
Oracle Performance Pack - The Oracle
performance pack requires a deep knowledge of the
proactive Oracle tuning, stochastic methods and multivariate correlation analysis,
not to mention an in-depth knowledge of the machinations of Oracle's "Silver
Bullet" tuning knobs.
In experienced hands, these are
amazing tools which can increase Oracle performance many times over, but
they can easily be abused, often with disastrous results.
Another problem with Oracle is the ease that inept
people can get copies of Oracle 11g to "play with". Oracle makes it very
easy to download their database, yet this benefit also has the unintended
side-effect of encouraging beginners to get-in over their heads, far beyond
their experience level.
These inexperienced DBA's" can be very dangerous
when using the powerful Silver Bullet techniques, and
I've witnessed the carnage when when dilettantes
use Oracle intelligent advisors that are smarter than they are!
As a responsible author, I have a stern warning to
junior DBA's about about getting in over your head. The holistic techniques in
Silver Bullets", are intended only for experienced Oracle DBA's, working
professionals who understand the holistic concepts of Oracle tuning. To learn
best practices for Oracle tuning, see my book "Oracle
Tuning: The Definitive Reference".
But we must remember that even the most well-read
students can be dangerous. There is no substitute for years of real-world
work experience to fully appreciate the power of Oracle.
My related References: