How "Oracle Essentials" will continue to change

By Robert Stackowiak
August 24, 2008

Thanks for reading this, my first blog post on the O'Reilly site. My intent is to use this blog to provide updates regarding the Oracle database that will supplement what you will find in the latest "Oracle Essentials" book, the 4th Edition that covers Oracle Database 11g. We have written each Edition to coincide with a new full version release, so this Edition was published by O'Reilly Media just as Oracle Database 11g Release 1 reached the market. Of course, we also added database updates from Oracle Database 10g Release 2 that were subsequent to the previous edition of the book.

Some of the comments we often received from reviewers when the book was first published indicated some confusion as to what this book was about. Experienced DBAs were sometimes looking for coding examples, as were programmers. Yet this book is something quite a bit different. It is more of a holistic guide how Oracle can be used in a variety of ways and what is behind some of the features. I have sometimes refered to it as a concepts guide.

So why such a book? When first published, all of the authors were working at Oracle and visiting customers who seemed to be experts in various Oracle database practices, but had trouble putting it all in perspective. This may surprise some of you given the popularity of Oracle, but that is still a problem. Much of the time I spend with customers today is describing how various features might be applied to meet technical and business requirements. Part of the challenge is the large number of features and feature improvements that Oracle continues to maintain and release. Once we've had those discussions, the folks I talk to can generally figure out the rest by going back to their Oracle documentation. The problem is often that they didn't know where to look to begin with.

I sense that something else is afoot here as well. Expectations have grown in terms of ease of management and installation of software over the years. Oracle put quite a bit of resource into making the database more self-managing and self-tuning, particularly with Oracle Database 10g and Database 11g. As we noted in the most recent edition, we removed a lot of the old technical descriptions of procedures that are no longer needed from the book.

One of the areas we touch on in the new book is the Optimized Warehouse Initiative. This is a fairly recent development within Oracle in recognizing that one of the reasons for popularity of Appliance-like configurations and offerings is that it further simplifies deployment practices and assure balanced hardware providing better performance. Since the book was published, Oracle has announced additional reference configurations with Dell / EMC, HP, IBM, SGI, and Sun. The number of Optimized Warehouses also has grown.

One focus of upcoming blog entries will be updates in each of these areas, including covering some of the usual avalanche of information coming out of Oracle OpenWorld. However, a couple of reminders are relevant here. To take advantage of the improved manageability, you should be using Oracle Database 10g or a more recent release. The Automatic Database Diagnostics Monitor and Automatic Storage Management features introduced make a huge difference. Second of all, you need to leverage these features through Enterprise Manager. Your management techniques may require a reevaluation if you are using very old techniques.

I'll look forward to hopefully helping you make sense of all of this. I'll also provide some observations regarding what I am seeing regarding the effectiveness of IT organizations that you should find interesting.

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