Open Insights 37 – A Real Open Book

OPEN INSIGHTS Newsletter
Issue 37 – A Real Open Book
October 1, 2007

by Sean Hull

Founder and Senior Consultant
Heavyweight Internet Group

It’s hard to believe we’re approaching the end of our third year publishing the Open Insights newsletter. We have a lot of new topics coming up, and plenty planned for the new year, so stay tuned.

Like what you see here? Forward us to a friend. And let us know if you have any suggestions or comments. They are always welcome.


In This Issue:

1. Feature:A Real Open Book

2. Speaking Engagements

3. New Articles
4. Audio Interviews
5. Current Reading
6. Lightweight Humor

7. Miscellaneous

8. Past Issues
9. Technical Articles
10. About Heavyweight Internet Group


1. Feature: A Real Open Book

They’re all over the news these days, the latest community networking site to make a lot of waves, Facebook. If you’re watching from the outside, you might see another in the long string of community networking sites, from Friendster to Tribe, MySpace and all the rest. So why is facebook pulling any surprises?


Well for starters Facebook recently opened up it’s platform in 2006 to non .EDU domains. That was a big change, but what’s driving things now is it’s open API. It’s all about applications on Facebook now, with almost 5000 to choose from. And that number is growing.

On Facebook there are applications to integrate flixter, your movie watching preferences, or twitter, your moment by moment update of your movements. There’s a skype app, and one for various instant messengers. Like to use Yelp as a platform for restaurant reviews, there’s a plugin for you too. Want to remember birthdays, Facebook is there for you. From purity tests, to gifts, to vampires, to “poking” the virtual knock at the cubicle next door, facebook is becoming a one stop shop for your internet life. That’s something that is certainly different.


Stu Philips argues that it’s like Fruit Flies for Applications. It allows developers to try out their ideas quickly and easily, and see which ones take off, and which ones fall by the wayside. With a huge community base of users it’s no wonder.


Back in 2004 Joel Spolsky argued that Microsoft had already lost the API wars and clearly they are less at the forefront these days. But another force might be at work here. One that comes into play as systems, and their interconnectedness becomes ever more complex. In those cases, standards or “open standards” become more and more crucial to all players on the field. This is exactly what the Economist has said recently in an article Stay Vigilant that although “the computing world has now become so interconnected that it will be hard for a single company to control it” we should still keep an eye on the monopolies anyway.


With all that said, it’s clear that a company like facebook may be building a proverbial dashboard that in some ways Google Homepage now iGoogle and Netvibes tried to do with some success. The thing is with Facebook, it has a much wider application because so many different types of content can be integrated there.


With the web 2.0 landscape changing everyday it is anyones quess where the cards will fall. But one thing is for sure, the companies that are more open, and interoperate better, seem to be holding on stronger, and that’s to everyone’s benefit.



** Sponsored Ad ** Sponsored Ad **


2. Speaking Engagements

Last April was the

Collaborate 2007 conference in Las Vegas Nevada. I ended up giving two talks, one on Monday, and one on Tuesday. I’ve uploaded video of both of them.

3. New Articles

Oracle 10g RAC versus DataGuard for High Availability

4. Audio Interviews

In our most recent interview we had the opportunity to talk with Norman Yamada CTO of Millburn Corporation.

Norman shares with us his experiences providing world-class computing solutions, and the pros and cons of doing it with open source.

We’ve also moved our podcast to Odeo for Audio Podcast hosting. It is a great service, and provides all the RSS and subscribe links automatically. So please subscribe if you haven’t already!

5. Current Reading


What Color Is Your Parachute – Richard Nelson Bolles

For all job hunters out there, and on some level we’re all job hunters, this book is about stepping up to the plate with the right preparation, helping you answer those questions about problem solving, and personality that interviewers love to throw at you.


Crazy Busy – Edward Hallowell

Should you read a book about how to give yourself a guilt free break? Well that all depends on you. If you sleep with your blackberry under your pillow, it might not be a bad book for you. I heard an interview with this guy on NPR, and thought he had some really great observations.


6. Lightweight Humor

It seems The Onion has

found some factual errors on the internet. Impossible!

7. Miscellaneous


I’ve turned up some interesting links from the Economist. Enjoy!


Various Charts

From internet security risks, to the smoking habits of asians, the prices of illicit drugs to the toll of the war in Iraq. For the numbers, it’s all here.


Mark Penn’s Microtrends

Mark Penn has authored a book called Microtrends, and in it he uncovers counterintuitive ideas which are shaping the world in front of us.


Technology Monitor

This section is a new feature offering articles on emerging technologies, from alternative energy to nanotech and forensic science.

8. Past Issues

Issue 33: Market For Experts

Issue 32: Different Heritages

Issue 31: Auto or Traffic Engineer

Issue 30: Crowdsourcing

Issue 29: Mainroads or Sidestreets

Issue 28: High Availability

Issue 27: Fragile Foundations

Issue 26: Logistical Fitness

Issue 25: Which Red Button
Issue 24: Consulting Conflicts of Interest
Issue 23: Devil In The Details
Issue 22: Beware of Software Fashion
Issue 21: Open Season, Open Sesame?
Issue 20: Better Web Better Business
Archive: Past Issues

9. Technical Articles

Oracle DBA Interview: click here
Tools for the Intrepid DBA: click here
Oracle9i + RAC on Linux/Firewire: click here
Migrating MySQL to Oracle: click here
MySQL Disaster Recovery: click here

10. About Heavyweight Internet Group

In a nutshell, Oracle. Everything related to and surrounding the database technology we specialize in, but specifically setup, admin and tuning of Oracle technology. I have 10 years experience with Oracle, wrote a book on the technology, and write and lecture frequently. I’m founder and senior consultant of the company. In capacities where your company might hire Deloitte, AIG, or Oracle Consulting we can bring the same level of service and experience, at about half the price. Simple equation.

Looking for a top-flight DBA? Visit us on the web at iheavy.com.

Open Insights 36 – Rarity of Excellence

OPEN INSIGHTS Newsletter
Issue 36 – Rarity of Excellence
September 10, 2007

by Sean Hull

Founder and Senior Consultant
Heavyweight Internet Group

It’s hard to believe we’re approaching the end of our third year publishing the Open Insights newsletter. We have a lot of new topics coming up, and plenty planned for the new year, so stay tuned.

Like what you see here? Forward us to a friend. And let us know if you have any suggestions or comments. They are always welcome.


In This Issue:

1. Feature:Rarity of Excellence

2. Upcoming Speaking Engagements

3. New Articles
4. Audio Interviews
5. Current Reading
6. Lightweight Humor

7. Miscellaneous

8. Past Issues
9. Technical Articles
10. About Heavyweight Internet Group


1. Feature: Rarity of Excellence

Excellence is a funny word. It sounds really big on paper, but how often do we stop and think of what it really is?


I was recently at dinner and I was noticing how our waiter was particularly attentive. They were asking us what we wanted, but also noticing things, whether we had napkins, or whether our glasses were clean, or what type of extras we wanted with our order. After taking the order they were still paying attention, and obviously in the kitchen they were as well because our food came out promptly, and was cooked well and still steaming hot.


I was talking with my mother about it, we were having dinner together. I said you know it seems so obvious, things like showing up on time, and doing the job you say you’ll do, yet it seems more rare that we actually encounter this. This got me thinking that excellence starts with someone who dots all the i’s and crosses all the t’s, not necessarily someone who knows the most, or who has the hottest resume.


The same conversation had come up earlier. I had a very close family member in the hospital, and spent a few days there after surgery. Every so often an attendant would come in to check on something, make sure some numbers weren’t too high, or there wasn’t any pain and so on. It was my mother again who was keeping an eye on things, asking lots of questions, and double-checking. I asked, naively if all of that checking was really necessary. I mean don’t they have all of this down on checklists, and don’t they perform these same duties day in and day out, I asked? No, but you really need to keep on them, she said. And it was true, as I watched, I noticed little things. This resident didn’t like this other one, this one tended to be more carefree and forgetful, this one maybe not so friendly. There were even inconsistencies with what the doctor said, and what they had down on their computer printouts, food, and even prescriptions. I was surprised to say the least.


A while back I was reading Anthony Bourdain’s “Kitchen Confidential”. It is a hilarious tale, a behind the scenes look at the restaurant industry. I remember one point he made. He said one employer he worked for had a very particular way of hiring candidates. He didn’t much care about resumes, or what was on paper. He was interested in the person’s character. Were they on time, were they honest, were they loyal etc. He said those are character traits you pickup when you are young, and they are much harder to fix or learn. Any skill or knowledge can be learned, if the individual puts their mind to it.

I may be oversimplifying things a bit, but really a large part of excellence involves just a few basics. 1. Showing up on time 2. Doing what you say you will do. and 3. Paying attention to details which includes listening well, and communicating. In a nutshell those are the big ones. So if we are looking for that rare candidate that will really excel, we should look well beyond the resume at these characteristics to find them.



** Sponsored Ad ** Sponsored Ad **


2. Speaking Engagements

Last April was the

Collaborate 2007 conference in Las Vegas Nevada. I ended up giving two talks, one on Monday, and one on Tuesday. I’ve uploaded video of both of them.

3. New Articles

Oracle 10g RAC versus DataGuard for High Availability

4. Audio Interviews

In our most recent interview we had the opportunity to talk with Norman Yamada CTO of Millburn Corporation.

Norman shares with us his experiences providing world-class computing solutions, and the pros and cons of doing it with open source.

We’ve also moved our podcast to Odeo for Audio Podcast hosting. It is a great service, and provides all the RSS and subscribe links automatically. So please subscribe if you haven’t already!

5. Current Reading


Joseph Finder – No Hiding Place

The Economist once again brought a great author to my attention. Joseph Finder writes very intriguing fictional tales of corporate culture gone wrong. Layoffs, out-sourcing, technology and security, he hits on a lot of these topics, in a fast-paced dime-store mystery kind of way that is easy to digest and enjoyable.


Chip Heath – Made to Stick

If you haven’t already had enough of all of the how-do-I-get-my-great-idea-out-there type of books, this one is definitely worth a read. Folks who like Gladwell’s books will probably like this one as well.


6. Lightweight Humor

It seems The Onion has

found some factual errors on the internet. Impossible!

7. Miscellaneous


I’ve turned up some interesting podcasts this month to share with readers. Enjoy!


SpikeSource is an interesting company that specializes in packaging, supporting, and in a sense certifying reliable combinations of those projects for the enterprise customer. I found that they have an excellent podcast series, which I’ve been listening too. Definitely worth your time:

The Business of Open-source Podcast


NPR – Technology Podcast

If you enjoy NPR, you might like their technology show. It comes out every Wednesday.


This Week In Tech

This series has been around for a while, and interviews some of the heavies in the technology space.

8. Past Issues

Issue 33: Market For Experts

Issue 32: Different Heritages

Issue 31: Auto or Traffic Engineer

Issue 30: Crowdsourcing

Issue 29: Mainroads or Sidestreets

Issue 28: High Availability

Issue 27: Fragile Foundations

Issue 26: Logistical Fitness

Issue 25: Which Red Button
Issue 24: Consulting Conflicts of Interest
Issue 23: Devil In The Details
Issue 22: Beware of Software Fashion
Issue 21: Open Season, Open Sesame?
Issue 20: Better Web Better Business
Archive: Past Issues

9. Technical Articles

Oracle DBA Interview: click here
Tools for the Intrepid DBA: click here
Oracle9i + RAC on Linux/Firewire: click here
Migrating MySQL to Oracle: click here
MySQL Disaster Recovery: click here

10. About Heavyweight Internet Group

In a nutshell, Oracle. Everything related to and surrounding the database technology we specialize in, but specifically setup, admin and tuning of Oracle technology. I have 10 years experience with Oracle, wrote a book on the technology, and write and lecture frequently. I’m founder and senior consultant of the company. In capacities where your company might hire Deloitte, AIG, or Oracle Consulting we can bring the same level of service and experience, at about half the price. Simple equation.

Looking for a top-flight DBA? Visit us on the web at iheavy.com.

Open Insights 34 – Hindsight Is Always 20/20

OPEN INSIGHTS Newsletter
Issue 34 – Hindsight Is Always 20/20
August 1, 2007

by Sean Hull

Founder and Senior Consultant
Heavyweight Internet Group

It’s hard to believe we’re approaching the end of our third year publishing the Open Insights newsletter. We have a lot of new topics coming up, and plenty planned for the new year, so stay tuned.

Like what you see here? Forward us to a friend. And let us know if you have any suggestions or comments. They are always welcome.


In This Issue:

1. Feature:Hindsight Is Always 20/20

2. Upcoming Speaking Engagements

3. New Articles
4. Audio Interviews
5. Current Reading
6. Lightweight Humor

7. Miscellaneous

8. Past Issues
9. Technical Articles
10. About Heavyweight Internet Group


1. Feature: Hindsight Is Always 20/20
I love listening to people talk about the stock markets. It always amuses me. Even otherwise intelligent people, PhDs, MBAs, deli owners, and taxi drivers, endless streams of people will tell you what they know about the stock market. Buy low, sell high, or some other such ancient wisdom.
Personally I always retell the story I remember of the dot-coms, of how making money had changed, and how all the rules had changed, and so on and so forth.
The only thing I think I’ve learned in that time is that you can’t predict the future, things change and things get messy. So be prudent, expect it, anticipate things getting bigger than you imagine up front.
The saying “hindsight is always 20/20” is apt in so many scenarios, it’s hard to count. From stock market wisdom, to project management and scope creep and from planning your weekend full of events, to getting to dinner on time. Plan for things to get mixed up, leave yourself extra time, leave in some extra money for your budget, or more hours for your project. Because if I’ve learned nothing else in life and in business it is that simple maxim… hindsight is always 20/20.


** Sponsored Ad ** Sponsored Ad **


2. Speaking Engagements

Last April was the

Collaborate 2007 conference in Las Vegas Nevada. I ended up giving two talks, one on Monday, and one on Tuesday. I’ve uploaded video of both of them.

3. New Articles

Oracle 10g RAC versus DataGuard for High Availability

4. Audio Interviews

In our most recent interview we had the opportunity to talk with Norman Yamada CTO of Millburn Corporation.

Norman shares with us his experiences providing world-class computing solutions, and the pros and cons of doing it with open source.

We’ve also moved our podcast to Odeo for Audio Podcast hosting. It is a great service, and provides all the RSS and subscribe links automatically. So please subscribe if you haven’t already!

5. Current Reading
The Soulful Science: What Economists Really Do and Why It Matters by Diane Coyle

Economics is so interesting, because it stands at the interesting corner between math + statistics, those sciences we can understand well, and that of the ever illusive human behavior. Being interested in a lot of different topics, books like this one may interest me more than others. But if you’re looking for another contemporary discussion about economics, this book of interviews may fit the bill.
The 33 Strategies of War – by Robert Greene

I have yet to pickup this title, though I plan to shortly. Greene’s books, I’ve found, triumph at laying out human nature in all it’s painful, nefarious detail. From his “Art of Seduction”, to the famous “48 Laws of Power”, he underlines with endless literary and historical examples how human behavior works. Use these books as guides for avoiding being overpowered or seduced by the wrong people, or to your own advantage as you choose. But whatever you do, be sure to read them.


6. Lightweight Humor

More onion this month…

Apple New iPhone

7. Miscellaneous

I’ve turned up some interesting podcasts this month to share with readers. Enjoy!
SpikeSource is an interesting company that specializes in packaging, supporting, and in a sense certifying reliable combinations of those projects for the enterprise customer. I found that they have an excellent podcast series, which I’ve been listening too. Definitely worth your time:

The Business of Open-source Podcast
NPR – Technology Podcast

If you enjoy NPR, you might like their technology show. It comes out every Wednesday.
This Week In Tech

This series has been around for a while, and interviews some of the heavies in the technology space.

8. Past Issues

Issue 33: Market For Experts

Issue 32: Different Heritages

Issue 31: Auto or Traffic Engineer

Issue 30: Crowdsourcing

Issue 29: Mainroads or Sidestreets

Issue 28: High Availability

Issue 27: Fragile Foundations

Issue 26: Logistical Fitness

Issue 25: Which Red Button
Issue 24: Consulting Conflicts of Interest
Issue 23: Devil In The Details
Issue 22: Beware of Software Fashion
Issue 21: Open Season, Open Sesame?
Issue 20: Better Web Better Business
Archive: Past Issues

9. Technical Articles

Oracle DBA Interview: click here
Tools for the Intrepid DBA: click here
Oracle9i + RAC on Linux/Firewire: click here
Migrating MySQL to Oracle: click here
MySQL Disaster Recovery: click here

10. About Heavyweight Internet Group

In a nutshell, Oracle. Everything related to and surrounding the database technology we specialize in, but specifically setup, admin and tuning of Oracle technology. I have 10 years experience with Oracle, wrote a book on the technology, and write and lecture frequently. I’m founder and senior consultant of the company. In capacities where your company might hire Deloitte, AIG, or Oracle Consulting we can bring the same level of service and experience, at about half the price. Simple equation.

Looking for a top-flight DBA? Visit us on the web at iheavy.com.

Open Insights 33 – Market For Experts

OPEN INSIGHTS Newsletter
Issue 33 – Market For Experts
July 2, 2007

by Sean Hull

Founder and Senior Consultant
Heavyweight Internet Group

Welcome back to our Open Insights newsletter. Our readership is now north of 3000 subscribers and growing everyday. Thanks to everyone for your support and for forwarding us on to friends and colleagues!

Reading from your blackberry or other handheld device? We’ve made some formatting changes which we hope improve the appearance on mobile devices. Let us know if you have any suggestions or comments.


In This Issue:

1. Feature:Market For Experts

2. Upcoming Speaking Engagements

3. New Articles
4. Audio Interviews
5. Current Reading
6. Lightweight Humor

7. Miscellaneous

8. Past Issues
9. Technical Articles
10. About Heavyweight Internet Group


1. Feature: Market For Experts

Experts are specialists in their field. Folks who have differentiated themselves both in knowledge or skill, but also in marketing their services, specialty or method of solving problems. Often a conceptual shift in thinking about a problem provides a whole new business opportunity, or a better way of solving a business problem.

The market for experts is growing according to Monster.com’s stats, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics puts the number of “alternative employment” workers in the range of 10 percent.

Clearly the trend towards independent contractors is not slowing despite the market and demand for overseas outsourced talent. Indeed those workers can be thought of as another resource of experts, albeit further afield, and perhaps with some other limitations.

There are lots of sites positioning themselves to capitalize on this trend in demand for experts. Gerson Lehrman Group Councils

for example specializes in educating business and investment leaders. Experts apply or are sent invitations by existing members, fill in their profile, and may also write articles, and answer expert questions. Clients of GLG can search the database and find experts, then contact them, and hire them for telephone consultations on topics from Accounting to Healthcare, Law, Real Estate, and everything in between.

Round Table Group is another such service, targeted at attorneys and portfolio managers.

Expert Pages is a service more geared towards attorneys and law firms looking for experts in their respective fields.
Linkedin Experts is another recent addition, which quotes right on it’s frontpage hourly fees for experts. How they might provide a value add here is more difficult to figure, since their database is accessible by all linkedin.com registered users already.


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In the Boston area, we seek to fill multiple Technical Services Engineers for a new Database product. Need SQL, mainstream RDBMSs such as Oracle, DB2 and MySQL and have programming or scripting experience in either C++, Python, or Perl and Shell scripting. Knowledge of Linux and VMware is a plus. Responsibilities will include technical account management, pre-sales support, working on proof of concept, and product management while interacting with organizations throughout our company including sales, and engineering. Expect 10 to possibly 20% travel.
Also need support engineers with Application and admin experience in database systems: ORACLE, SQL Server, DB2; Senior Database QA Engineer with 5+ years experience in QA, 3+ years experience in Unix/Linux environment, and strong Oracle database experience. See e-placers.com – or send your resume to patrick@e-placers.com.


2. Speaking Engagements

Last April was the

Collaborate 2007 conference in Las Vegas Nevada. I ended up giving two talks, one on Monday, and one on Tuesday. I’ve uploaded video of both of them.

3. New Articles

Oracle 10g RAC versus DataGuard for High Availability

4. Audio Interviews

In our most recent interview we had the opportunity to talk with Norman Yamada CTO of Millburn Corporation.

Norman shares with us his experiences providing world-class computing solutions, and the pros and cons of doing it with open source.

We’ve also moved our podcast to Odeo for Audio Podcast hosting. It is a great service, and provides all the RSS and subscribe links automatically. So please subscribe if you haven’t already!

5. Current Reading
Blue Ocean Strategy by Kim & Mauborgne

Set sail on the uncharted blue oceans instead of the competition laden red oceans. Blue oceans being uncharted, can be challenging, and full of unknown risks, but also offer up a huge and uncontested marketplace.
Everything is Miscellaneous by David Weinberger

I just finished this title recently, and found it to be an interesting, though perhaps a bit drawn out, discussion of categorization, in the age of computing. Where once we had card catalogs, and rigid structure for organizing libraries of yore, now we have the infinite variability, and maleability of sites like amazon to categorize, and recategorize to our hearts content. Weinberger also discusses the recent struggle among astronomers to categorize planets and small bodies out past Pluto, and what this means for the future of categorizing knowledge.
What’s Your BQ? by Sandra Sellani

Brand Quotient is like an IQ for understanding your businesses brand, how you are positioned in the market, whether that is best, and how to transform your business for success.


6. Lightweight Humor

More onion this month…

Apple Unveils New Product-Unveiling Product

7. Miscellaneous

I’ve turned up some interesting podcasts this month to share with readers. Enjoy!
SpikeSource is an interesting company that specializes in packaging, supporting, and in a sense certifying reliable combinations of those projects for the enterprise customer. I found that they have an excellent podcast series, which I’ve been listening too. Definitely worth your time:

The Business of Open-source Podcast
NPR – Technology Podcast

If you enjoy NPR, you might like their technology show. It comes out every Wednesday.
This Week In Tech

This series has been around for a while, and interviews some of the heavies in the technology space.

8. Past Issues

Issue 31: Auto or Traffic Engineer

Issue 30: Crowdsourcing

Issue 29: Mainroads or Sidestreets

Issue 28: High Availability

Issue 27: Fragile Foundations

Issue 26: Logistical Fitness

Issue 25: Which Red Button
Issue 24: Consulting Conflicts of Interest
Issue 23: Devil In The Details
Issue 22: Beware of Software Fashion
Issue 21: Open Season, Open Sesame?
Issue 20: Better Web Better Business
Archive: Past Issues

9. Technical Articles

Oracle DBA Interview: click here
Tools for the Intrepid DBA: click here
Oracle9i + RAC on Linux/Firewire: click here
Migrating MySQL to Oracle: click here
MySQL Disaster Recovery: click here

10. About Heavyweight Internet Group

In a nutshell, Oracle. Everything related to and surrounding the database technology we specialize in, but specifically setup, admin and tuning of Oracle technology. I have 10 years experience with Oracle, wrote a book on the technology, and write and lecture frequently. I’m founder and senior consultant of the company. In capacities where your company might hire Deloitte, AIG, or Oracle Consulting we can bring the same level of service and experience, at about half the price. Simple equation.

Looking for a top-flight DBA? Visit us on the web at iheavy.com.

Open Insights 32 – Different Heritages

OPEN INSIGHTS Newsletter
Issue 32 – Different Heritages
June 1, 2007

by Sean Hull

Founder and Senior Consultant
Heavyweight Internet Group

Welcome back to our Open Insights newsletter. Our readership is now north of 3000 subscribers and growing everyday. Thanks to everyone for your support and for forwarding us on to friends and colleagues!

Reading from your blackberry or other handheld device? We’ve made some formatting changes which we hope improve the appearance on mobile devices. Let us know if you have any suggestions or comments.


In This Issue:

1. Feature:Different Heritages

2. Upcoming Speaking Engagements

3. New Articles
4. Audio Interviews
5. Current Reading
6. Lightweight Humor

7. Miscellaneous

8. Past Issues
9. Technical Articles
10. About Heavyweight Internet Group


1. Feature: Different Heritages


It’s always refreshing to hear a new word in a speech, or other opening address. L

ast month at Collaborate, listening to Charles Phillip’s keynote, he talked among o

ther things, about “different heritages” when referring to the various acquisitions

that Oracle has made in the past year.


Heritage is a great word, for it refers to things that are past on, but carries the

cultural value of tradition, so it’s not a word often used to refer to technologie

s that are passed on. It really speaks to the ideas of open and closed with respec

t to software solutions. These are seperate and distinct traditions with different

heritages which are not encountering a clash of civilizations. We talked in Open

Interviews 01 with Paul Vallee, and how open source databases are providing a downw

ard pressure on licensing fees to commercial products. In some cases there is also

a pressure to innovate, with more players producing solutions with more features.

And on the open source side there’s pressure to assimilate for companies to provid

e add-ons for fees, or build some parts with proprietary components. And there’s a

lso the pressure to iron out meaning in the legal arena.


As I’ve always emphasized to clients, we’re a big proponent of the “whatever works”

philosophy. That is, whatever best solves the problem at hand, be it commercial,

open-source, or some combination thereof, considering all the short term (licensing

), and long-term (supply of skills, time + cost to maintain) factors. As these two

worlds continue to intersect and collide it can only serve to benefit end users an

d the rest of us in business. We will continue to report on those technology fragm

ents, and conglomerates as they emerge. So stay tuned.

2. Speaking Engagements

Last month was the

Collaborate 2007 conference in Las Vegas Nevada. I ended up giving two talks, one on Monday, and one on Tuesday. I’ve uploaded video of both of them.

3. New Articles

Oracle 10g RAC versus DataGuard for High Availability

4. Audio Interviews

In our most recent interview we had the opportunity to talk with Norman Yamada CTO of Millburn Corporation.

Norman shares with us his experiences providing world-class computing solutions, and the pros and cons of doing it with open source.

We’ve also moved our podcast to Odeo for Audio Podcast hosting. It is a great service, and provides all the RSS and subscribe links automatically. So please subscribe if you haven’t already!

5. Current Reading


The Dip – By Seth Godin

Seth’s books always illuminate something in a new light, and his latest title is no exception. In it he talks about the controversial idea of quitting, but not the kind where one gives up, but rather the one where someone jumps to the right opportunity when they are no longer contributing and growing where they are.


A Demon of Our Own Design: Markets, Hedge Funds, and the Perils of Financial Innovation by Richard Bookstaber

Bookstaber’s title illustrates a concept that financial markets will continue to surprise and behave chaotically as they are driven by that interminable and forever fickle, human behavior.


Forecasting Oracle Performance – Craig Shallahamer

APress strikes again with this great title on Oracle Performance Tuning by a very able writer Craig Shallahamer. Recommended.


6. Lightweight Humor

More onion this month…

Apple Unveils New Product-Unveiling Product

7. Miscellaneous


I’ve turned up some interesting podcasts this month to share with readers. Enjoy!


SpikeSource is an interesting company that specializes in packaging, supporting, and in a sense certifying reliable combinations of those projects for the enterprise customer. I found that they have an excellent podcast series, which I’ve been listening too. Definitely worth your time:

The Business of Open-source Podcast


NPR – Technology Podcast

If you enjoy NPR, you might like their technology show. It comes out every Wednesday.


This Week In Tech

This series has been around for a while, and interviews some of the heavies in the technology space.

8. Past Issues

Issue 31: Auto or Traffic Engineer

Issue 30: Crowdsourcing

Issue 29: Mainroads or Sidestreets

Issue 28: High Availability

Issue 27: Fragile Foundations

Issue 26: Logistical Fitness

Issue 25: Which Red Button
Issue 24: Consulting Conflicts of Interest
Issue 23: Devil In The Details
Issue 22: Beware of Software Fashion
Issue 21: Open Season, Open Sesame?
Issue 20: Better Web Better Business
Archive: Past Issues

9. Technical Articles

Oracle DBA Interview: click here
Tools for the Intrepid DBA: click here
Oracle9i + RAC on Linux/Firewire: click here
Migrating MySQL to Oracle: click here
MySQL Disaster Recovery: click here

10. About Heavyweight Internet Group

In a nutshell, Oracle. Everything related to and surrounding the database technology we specialize in, but specifically setup, admin and tuning of Oracle technology. I have 10 years experience with Oracle, wrote a book on the technology, and write and lecture frequently. I’m founder and senior consultant of the company. In capacities where your company might hire Deloitte, AIG, or Oracle Consulting we can bring the same level of service and experience, at about half the price. Simple equation.

Looking for top-flight a DBA? Visit us on the web at iheavy.com.

Open Insights 31 – Auto or Traffic Engineer?

OPEN INSIGHTS Newsletter
Issue 31 – Auto or Traffic Engineer
May 4, 2007

by Sean Hull

Founder and Senior Consultant
Heavyweight Internet Group

Welcome back to our Open Insights newsletter. Our readership is now north of 3000 subscribers and growing everyday. Thanks to everyone for your support and for forwarding us on to friends and colleagues!

Reading from your blackberry or other handheld device? We’ve made some formatting changes which we hope improve the appearance on mobile devices. Let us know if you have any suggestions or comments.


In This Issue:

1. Feature:Auto or Traffic Engineer

2. Upcoming Speaking Engagements

3. New Articles
4. Audio Interviews
5. Current Reading
6. Lightweight Humor

7. Miscellaneous

8. Past Issues
9. Technical Articles
10. About Heavyweight Internet Group


1. Feature: Auto or Traffic Engineer

I was out for drinks last week with a friend, and per usual in New York, the discussion of profession came up. The Ferrazzi’s and Carnegie’s of the world will remind you to always have your elevator speech at the ready. I do, though I tend to hone it a bit each time I share it.


As I was discussing the intricacies of internet applications, from the Database to the Webserver, to the browser that we all use and work with everyday, I sensed there was a bit of a gap between us. I needed a deeper, or better analogy that was more within reach.


Imagine you are venturing out of your house to travel the highways of LA to get to work. You might drive a Toyota, or Volkswagon, or even a Honda. Your criteria might be the fuel efficiency, cost of the vehicle, or ease of parking. Someone else might own a BMW, or even a Lexus, or even a Maserati. Each of these cars has different characteristics, different handling, and different cost tradeoffs. These are primarily determined by the automobile engineer who designed it.


True a car that handles better, might get you there a little faster, but what matters most, far and away more than the car itself, is what another individual behind the scenes has done for you. That person is the traffic engineer. From routing more lanes in the busier direction, to putting onramps and offramps in key locations, to timing traffic lights, these folks study the flows of cars, to keep them moving, and adjust the components in the network to make them all interoperate better.


Although my specialty is databases, in a lot of ways I am often tasked with the traffic engineers job. Looking at the whole, the big picture, the 300 ft view, and seeing where the bottlenecks are, what their root cause is, and how to release them. Often these signs first show up in the database, as overtaxing your limited, single repository of data is something you’ll see first. But often those issues are signs and symptoms of something more removed, and further afield. That investigation leads DBAs to look at application code, SQL that makes specific requests of the database resources, and how much data is moving back and forth between the application server, and the database.


Here is a great example where the right analogy really does bring something that might be esoteric to most, firmly into focus. And with that focus I hope comes new understanding of what troubleshooting systems, and internet applications, is all about.

2. Speaking Engagements

Last week was the

Collaborate 2007 conference in Las Vegas Nevada. I ended up giving two talks, one on Monday, and one on Tuesday. I’ve uploaded video of both of them.

3. New Articles

Oracle 10g RAC versus DataGuard for High Availability

4. Audio Interviews

In our most recent interview we had the opportunity to talk with Norman Yamada CTO of Millburn Corporation.

Norman shares with us his experiences providing world-class computing solutions, and the pros and cons of doing it with open source.

We’ve also moved our podcast to Odeo for Audio Podcast hosting. It is a great service, and provides all the RSS and subscribe links automatically. So please subscribe if you haven’t already!

5. Current Reading

A Demon of Our Own Design: Markets, Hedge Funds, and the Perils of Financial Innovation by Richard Bookstaber

Bookstaber’s fascinating look at financial markets concludes that we will see more financial disasters in the future. He concludes they are inevitable. I guess it is the nature of complexity, in any complex systems, like the weather, or bugs and vulnerabilities in software.


Leading Geeks – How to Manage and Lead the People Who Deliver Technology

by Paul Glen, David H. Maister, Warren G. Bennis.

Glen, Maister, and Bennis over a different take on management, herding the cats that are at the core of every technology company!


Better: A Surgeon’s Notes on Performance

by Atul Gawande

Gawande opens up his surgeons notebook to delve into the dilemmas and challenges of medicine in our modern world. Questions of ethics, malpractice, changing rules of propriety, and a lot more are covered in this interesting read.


6. Lightweight Humor

More onion this month…

iTunes To Sell You Your Home Videos For $1.99 Each

7. Miscellaneous


I’ve turned up some interesting podcasts this month to share with readers. Enjoy!


SpikeSource is an interesting company that specializes in packaging, supporting, and in a sense certifying reliable combinations of those projects for the enterprise customer. I found that they have an excellent podcast series, which I’ve been listening too. Definitely worth your time:

The Business of Open-source Podcast


NPR – Technology Podcast

If you enjoy NPR, you might like their technology show. It comes out every Wednesday.


This Week In Tech

This series has been around for a while, and interviews some of the heavies in the technology space.

8. Past Issues

Issue 30: Crowdsourcing

Issue 29: Mainroads or Sidestreets

Issue 28: High Availability

Issue 27: Fragile Foundations

Issue 26: Logistical Fitness

Issue 25: Which Red Button
Issue 24: Consulting Conflicts of Interest
Issue 23: Devil In The Details
Issue 22: Beware of Software Fashion
Issue 21: Open Season, Open Sesame?
Issue 20: Better Web Better Business
Archive: Past Issues

9. Technical Articles

Oracle DBA Interview: click here
Tools for the Intrepid DBA: click here
Oracle9i + RAC on Linux/Firewire: click here
Migrating MySQL to Oracle: click here
MySQL Disaster Recovery: click here

10. About Heavyweight Internet Group

In a nutshell, Oracle. Everything related to and surrounding the database technology we specialize in, but specifically setup, admin and tuning of Oracle technology. I have 10 years experience with Oracle, wrote a book on the technology, and write and lecture frequently. I’m founder and senior consultant of the company. In capacities where your company might hire Deloitte, AIG, or Oracle Consulting we can bring the same level of service and experience, at about half the price. Simple equation.

Looking for top-flight a DBA? Visit us on the web at iheavy.com.

Open Insights 30 – Crowdsourcing

OPEN INSIGHTS Newsletter
Issue 30 – Crowdsourcing
April 1, 2007

by Sean Hull

Founder and Senior Consultant
Heavyweight Internet Group

Welcome back to our Open Insights newsletter. Our readership is now north of 3000 subscribers and growing everyday. Thanks to everyone for your support and for forwarding us on to friends and colleagues!

Reading from your blackberry or other handheld device? We’ve made some formatting changes which we hope improve the appearance on mobile devices. Let us know if you have any suggestions or comments.


In This Issue:

1. Feature:Crowdsourcing

2. Upcoming Speaking Engagements

3. New Articles
4. Audio Interviews
5. Current Reading
6. Lightweight Humor

7. Miscellaneous

8. Past Issues
9. Technical Articles
10. About Heavyweight Internet Group


1. Feature: Crowdsourcing

Crowdsourcing, there’s that word again, source. Open-source, out-source, source-code. The idea behind crowdsourcing is for a company to capitalize on a vast network of internet workers where ordinarily they might rely on a small group of dedicated individuals. The internet makes this possible, as it is decentralized, and pervasive. Crowdsourcing is different than open-sourced projects, because everyone doesn’t benefit from the results of that work.

Wikipedia – Crowdsourcing

Crowdsourcing can allow innovation, and encourage solutions to problems previously difficult to solve. Take Amazon’s Mechanical Turk, where internet legions are encouraged to perform tasks much better solved by people than computers. In return, “turk workers” are reimbursed small amounts depending on the task. Bezos, Amazon’s founder, is also investing in ChaCha which is dubbed “human assisted” search.

So blogs, and sites like wikipedia then, would not really be crowdsourcing per se, because everyone gets to enjoy and benefit from the end product. A recent NYTimes article mentions two main objections. First, like wikipedia, harnessing the knowledge of crowds means you’re only as good as the smartest member. The other objection leveled against crowdsourcing likens the idea to a virtual internet based sweatshop. Though certainly companies like Amazon hold the strings with services like mturk, it seems to share little of the more nefarious qualities of a real sweatshop. Then again, how long until turk workers start putting together a unions?


Another very flatening (to use Tom Friedman’s term) aspect of crowdsourcing is in it’s ability to turn a once scarce resource into a commodity. Some would argue this is happening with stock photography, and even progamming with sites like Rent-a-coder.


For more info, see this Wired News article.

2. Upcoming Speaking Engagements


April 15th, Collaborate 2007 – Las Vegas Nevada


in bed with Oracle – Lifting The Covers On Database Creation

Database creation, because of better GUI tools, has become a more & more overlooked area of Oracle. We pull back the covers, revealing what Oracle is doing at each stage. Why do we have startup nomount, mount, restrict, and open? What OS resources is Oracle using at each step? How do we issue CREATE DATABASE? What is the simplest init.ora file? How many file descriptors does Oracle use and why? From conception to birth, our microscope will reveal the secrets.

3. New Articles

Oracle 10g RAC versus DataGuard for High Availability

4. Audio Interviews

This month we have the opportunity to talk with Norman Yamada CTO of Millburn Corporation.

Norman shares with us his experiences providing world-class computing solutions, and the pros and cons of doing it with open source.

5. Current Reading

Tangram Puzzles – Chris Crawford

The mind is a muscle, and like any other, it needs to be exercised. If thinking outside the box has got you hitting a wall, the Tangram puzzle, also known as the seven-board, will surely help you. These puzzles are a constant challenge, pushing you to think in spatial, unconventional and creative ways.


Number Freaking by Gary Rimmer

Asking funny and surprising questions about numbers, this book puts a new perspective on statistics, and numerical thinking.


Firing Back by Jeffrey Sonnenfeld and Andrew Ward

Those who succeed have fall down often enough. But what separates them is that time after time, they get back up to fight again. This book is full of real-life stories of leaders of industry who crashed and burned, and then turned around and rebuilt their careers.


6. Lightweight Humor

Visit Gaping Void’s funny entry:

Fake Walmart Blog.

7. Miscellaneous


Improve Body Language:


Presentation Zen – Lessig Method


Dick Hardt’s famous Identity 2.0 presentation

8. Past Issues

Issue 28: High Availability

Issue 27: Fragile Foundations

Issue 26: Logistical Fitness

Issue 25: Which Red Button
Issue 24: Consulting Conflicts of Interest
Issue 23: Devil In The Details
Issue 22: Beware of Software Fashion
Issue 21: Open Season, Open Sesame?
Issue 20: Better Web Better Business
Archive: Past Issues

9. Technical Articles

Oracle DBA Interview: click here
Tools for the Intrepid DBA: click here
Oracle9i + RAC on Linux/Firewire: click here
Migrating MySQL to Oracle: click here
MySQL Disaster Recovery: click here

10. About Heavyweight Internet Group

In a nutshell, Oracle. Everything related to and surrounding the database technology we specialize in, but specifically setup, admin and tuning of Oracle technology. I have 10 years experience with Oracle, wrote a book on the technology, and write and lecture frequently. I’m founder and senior consultant of the company. In capacities where your company might hire Deloitte, AIG, or Oracle Consulting we can bring the same level of service and experience, at about half the price. Simple equation.

Looking for top-flight a DBA? Visit us on the web at iheavy.com.

Open Insights 29 – Mainroads or Sidestreets

OPEN INSIGHTS Newsletter
Issue 29 – Mainroads or Sidestreets
March 2, 2007

by Sean Hull

Founder and Senior Consultant
Heavyweight Internet Group

Welcome back to our Open Insights newsletter. Our readership is now north of 3000 subscribers and growing everyday. Thanks to everyone for your support and for forwarding us on to friends and colleagues!

Reading from your blackberry or other handheld device? We’ve made some formatting changes which we hope improve the appearance on mobile devices. Let us know if you have any suggestions or comments.


In This Issue:

1. Feature:Mainroads or Sidestreets

2. Upcoming Speaking Engagements

3. New Articles
4. Audio Interviews
5. Current Reading
6. Lightweight Humor

7. Miscellaneous

8. Past Issues
9. Technical Articles
10. About Heavyweight Internet Group


1. Feature: Mainroads or Sidestreets

Choosing Mainroads or Sidestreets?

Recently I was doing a bit of traveling for vacation. I had heard great things about Costa Rica, with it’s untouched wilderness, and jungle in the middle of tropical Central America. After doing the requisite research, arranging travel & accomodations, I hopped on a plane bound for San Jose. From there a bus took me on the precipitous journey through the jungles, out of the mountains and down to the Caribean coast to a little town known as Puerto Viejo de Limon.
The town is quite small consisting of four or five mainroads which are paved, and then many sidestreets off of those, dirt roads with little shops, soda restaurants, cafes and adventure tour guides. While walking down some of the sidestreets I happened into one of the adventure shops, and struck up a conversation with one of the guides. He started telling me a story about the time he was traipsing through the jungle and tripped, twisting his ankle, and finding himself face to face with a rather large and menacing snake. Then without skipping a beat, he went on to explain that although the tours go through the jungle, they are all quite safe & so on.
I thought about this whole story a moment. My minds gears began to spin. A guide with such real-world experience affords extra confidence that if something does happen, he will know how to handle the situation. There are parallels here with consulting, and experience. I’ve talked in the past about certifications, being quite a bit overrated. A strong foundation is crucial, yes. But truely nothing can substitute for experience gained in the trenches. In searching for consulting resources – in any field really, not just technology related – you want someone who has taken the systems apart and put the proverbial motorcycle back together piece by piece. You want someone who has traveled the sidestreets, and backstreets, knows what to look out for, but also who will steer for the mainstreets to avoid seeking out trouble.
In computing you want someone who enjoys taking the systems apart component by component, hardware and software, and then putting them back together. One who has deliberately broken, hacked, or disassembled, then troubleshooted and put humpty dumpty back together. This is not experience normally gained in the classroom but rather by getting ones hands dirty, figuring out how all those pieces actually work and fit together – not just how they are supposed to operate in principal or on paper.
Keep this in mind the next time you interview a candidate. Ask their opinion & preferences and ask for a war story or two. Don’t overemphasize degrees and certifications or let them blind you to a candidate’s lack of street smarts. Sooner or later your systems will step out of line, and having that real-world experience will come in very handy.
Also checkout: Oracle DBA Interview Questions and our past newsletter, Issue 09 – IT Certifications.

2. Upcoming Speaking Engagements
March 15th, New York Oracle User Group
in bed with Oracle – Lifting The Covers On Database Creation

Database creation, because of better GUI tools, has become a more & more overlooked area of Oracle. We pull back the covers, revealing what Oracle is doing at each stage. Why do we have startup nomount, mount, restrict, and open? What OS resources is Oracle using at each step? How do we issue CREATE DATABASE? What is the simplest init.ora file? How many file descriptors does Oracle use and why? From conception to birth, our microscope will reveal the secrets.
April 15th, Collaborate 2007 – Las Vegas Nevada
in bed with Oracle – Lifting The Covers On Database Creation

Database creation, because of better GUI tools, has become a more & more overlooked area of Oracle. We pull back the covers, revealing what Oracle is doing at each stage. Why do we have startup nomount, mount, restrict, and open? What OS resources is Oracle using at each step? How do we issue CREATE DATABASE? What is the simplest init.ora file? How many file descriptors does Oracle use and why? From conception to birth, our microscope will reveal the secrets.

3. New Articles

Oracle 10g RAC versus DataGuard for High Availability

4. Audio Interviews

This month we have the opportunity to talk with William Hurley aka Whurley, the Chairman of the Open Management Consortium.

In our interview, we discuss open-source, and it’s impact on commercial software and solutions, and wrestle head on with some of the concerns people have on both sides of the fence.

William Hurley is the CTO at Qlusters, where he launched the openQRM project. He has been awarded IBM’s Master Inventor title, multiple awards for innovation at Apple Computer. Prior to joining Qlusters he was CTO and founder at Symbiot. He holds 11 patents for research and development at IBM, Tivoli Systems, and Apple Computer. He was recently elected Chairman of the Open Management Consortium.

5. Current Reading

Set Your Voice Free: How To Get The Singing Or Speaking Voice You Want by Roger Love

Want to improve your voice for a better and stronger presence in public speaking + lecturing? Or perhaps you just want to build up a better and more consistent voice for telephoning clients, and building rapport. Whatever the reason, this book provides exercises and techniques for beginners and advanced alike.
The 33 Strategies of War by Robert Greene

Robert Greene’s books all take an insightful if slightly dark view of human nature to illuminate behavior. His Strategies of War, as his Laws of Power before, put you on a stronger footing in a world that is not always friendly. Ignore his wisdom at your own peril!
The Oracle Hacker’s Handbook: Hacking and Defending Oracle by David Litchfield

The world of hacking, and computer security has finally and abruptly caught up with databases, and Litchfield’s latest book brings into stark contrast the vulnerabilities, back doors, and general risk that your database and consequently your data, may be in. Sobering reading.


6. Lightweight Humor

Visit Gaping Void’s funny entry:

Fake Walmart Blog.

7. Miscellaneous

Improve Body Language:
Presentation Zen – Lessig Method
Dick Hardt’s famous Identity 2.0 presentation

8. Past Issues

Issue 28: High Availability

Issue 27: Fragile Foundations

Issue 26: Logistical Fitness

Issue 25: Which Red Button
Issue 24: Consulting Conflicts of Interest
Issue 23: Devil In The Details
Issue 22: Beware of Software Fashion
Issue 21: Open Season, Open Sesame?
Issue 20: Better Web Better Business
Archive: Past Issues

9. Technical Articles

Oracle DBA Interview: click here
Tools for the Intrepid DBA: click here
Oracle9i + RAC on Linux/Firewire: click here
Migrating MySQL to Oracle: click here
MySQL Disaster Recovery: click here

10. About Heavyweight Internet Group

In a nutshell, Oracle. Everything related to and surrounding the database technology we specialize in, but specifically setup, admin and tuning of Oracle technology. I have 10 years experience with Oracle, wrote a book on the technology, and write and lecture frequently. I’m founder and senior consultant of the company. In capacities where your company might hire Deloitte, AIG, or Oracle Consulting we can bring the same level of service and experience, at about half the price. Simple equation.

Looking for top-flight a DBA? Visit us on the web at iheavy.com.

Open Insights 28 – High Availability

OPEN INSIGHTS Newsletter
Issue 28 – High Availability
February 1, 2007

by Sean Hull

Founder and Senior Consultant
Heavyweight Internet Group

Welcome back to our Open Insights newsletter. Our readership is now north of 3000 subscribers and growing everyday. Thanks to everyone for your support and for forwarding us on to friends and colleagues!

Reading from your blackberry or other handheld device? We’ve made some formatting changes which we hope improve the appearance on mobile devices. Let us know if you have any suggestions or comments.


In This Issue:

1. Feature: High Availability

2. Upcoming Speaking Engagements

3. New Articles
4. Audio Interviews
5. Current Reading
6. Lightweight Humor

7. Miscellaneous

8. Past Issues
9. Technical Articles
10. About Heavyweight Internet Group


1. Feature: High Availability

What is High Availability?


In enterprise applications, that is internet websites, or payroll systems, or other large computing systems we talk about high availability when we need those systems to be available all the time. So High Availability is the catch phrase to discuss that, what does it mean, what can I expect, what are some solutions, and so forth.


One phrase you might hear a lot is Five-9’s. This means systems that are available 99.999% of the time. In a year there are 24×365 hours, so that is about 8 3/4 hours downtime per year. Why not 100%, you might ask? Well we will discuss that too.


Why does it matter?


If your money isn’t available when you go to an ATM, it might be obvious there’s a problem. What about if your favorite search engine, google, isn’t available when you try to reach it? How about online banking? For these day-to-day needs, you can usually tolerate some downtime.


In the corporate environment, however, there is much more at stake. Suppose a large bank does not have access to it’s database systems, and can’t perform transactions. Maybe their customers will go elsewhere. Perhaps some trading systems are down for a few minutes, and can’t conduct transactions, they can lose big time. In each case we have tradeoffs, between the costs of more perfect systems, and the costs of not being able to do business.


How do various risks play a part?


There are all sorts of events that can get in the way of a transaction. Segments of the internet can go down, name services (DNS) can be interrupted, the data center could have a fire, or an earthquake could bring things to a halt. We can even experience a power grid failure. But beyond all these external forces, we can have hardware failure, data corruption, software bugs, and even operator error. Considering all of these factors, the spectrum of risks becomes clearer, as we understand how many interconnected parts come into play.


Take for example the power grid. The entire Northeast lost power for 24 hours. Now that happened once in

roughly 24 years. That means on average one hour per year. That’s not even including other various smaller outages that we’re likely to experience.


In computing systems themselves, we can build redundant databases, and all sorts of parallel or grid solutions, but in so doing we introduce more moving parts, more points of failure, and more software bugs. We even introduce more chance for operator error, and potentially more complex upgrades, leading to more downtime.


Reasonable Goals and Practical Expectations


For those not accustomed to thinking about risk in these terms, a sense of perspective is very very important. Our gut instinct is to go for perfect systems, with 100% uptime, and start selecting solutions based on that. But we may miss a lot of important and relevant facts when we do that. If the bar is already lowered by factors completely outside of our control, we get a better perspective on what we can reasonably expect to have in terms of uptime, and plan accordingly. Much better to fall well within our expected goals, than have the real world come crashing into our forecasts.


Bruce Schneier publishes an excellent newsletter on risk, and security called Cryptogram. Here’s the latest issue.


What are some commercial and open-source solutions that provide it?


Since we work in the Oracle world, as well as the open-source database world, we’ll describe a few solutions available for Oracle and for MySQL.


Oracle Clustering (SE & EE)


Also know as RAC or Real Application Clusters, this is evolved from the former parallel server product. RAC is implemented with shared disk between two or more locally connected computers. That is they’re in the same room, rack, or hosting facility. Based on the discussion above, there are some real-world disasters that you would be vulnerable to here, but what does it help you with? Well it helps you scale your application on commodity hardware, albeit with a few more moving parts, and somewhat more complicated administration. But with rolling upgrades, and smart load balancing, as well as distributed caching scheme called cache fusion, Oracle has taken this technology to the next level, and made it work.


Oracle DataGuard (Enterprise Edition)


For many enterprises, Data Guard is the high availability solution you want and need. It requires Enterprise Edition of the database, so is not cheap, but provides near instantaneous shipping of transaction data to one or more remote databases, keeping them up to the second in sync with the production instance. These standby databases can be very remote, across the country, or around the globe.


Oracle Standby Database (Standard Edition)


The Standby technology is the heart of Oracle’s Data Guard solution, and is available with all versions of the software, including Standard Edition. However the standard edition does not provide the software layering on top to make it seemless, synchronous, and trivial to install. With standard edition you must settle with manual standby database. For many enterprises, the cost savings is worth being behind the production system by perhaps fifteen minutes.


Heavyweight Internet Group has just such a solution, so if you’re looking to implement a standby database, and don’t want to buy Oracle EE, please contact us for details.


Tom Kyte’s article on standby versus RAC and another standby on Oracle SE


MySQL Clustering


In the MySQL realm, you have clustering available to you. Using the NDB storage engine (as opposed to MyISAM or InnoDB), you get clustering built in. Performance on those clustered tables is likely to be a bit slower than other storage engines, but you have the confidence that your data is redundant. This however, does not provide a geographically remote solution. For that you will need to look at MySQL Replication.


MySQL Replication


MySQL Replication can keep various tables in sync, but is best used with a single master. Your databases can be geographically remote, however it is best to modify the application to point all changes towards one master node.


Conclusions


High Availability can be, like everything in computing a loaded term, or the proverbial can of worms. However, having a good sense of real-world risks, as well as what can fail in your computing environment, from hardware to software bugs, to human error, all taken together you will get a better perspective on what is achievable. Only then can you formulate reasonable expectations, and plan for your business needs.

2. Upcoming Speaking Engagements


March 15th, New York Oracle User Group


in bed with Oracle – Lifting The Covers On Database Creation

Database creation, because of better GUI tools, has become a more & more overlooked area of Oracle. We pull back the covers, revealing what Oracle is doing at each stage. Why do we have startup nomount, mount, restrict, and open? What OS resources is Oracle using at each step? How do we issue CREATE DATABASE? What is the simplest init.ora file? How many file descriptors does Oracle use and why? From conception to birth, our microscope will reveal the secrets.


April 15th, Collaborate 2007 – Las Vegas Nevada


in bed with Oracle – Lifting The Covers On Database Creation

Database creation, because of better GUI tools, has become a more & more overlooked area of Oracle. We pull back the covers, revealing what Oracle is doing at each stage. Why do we have startup nomount, mount, restrict, and open? What OS resources is Oracle using at each step? How do we issue CREATE DATABASE? What is the simplest init.ora file? How many file descriptors does Oracle use and why? From conception to birth, our microscope will reveal the secrets.

3. New Articles

Oracle 10g RAC versus DataGuard for High Availability

4. Audio Interviews

This month we have the opportunity to talk with William Hurley aka Whurley, the Chairman of the Open Management Consortium.

In our interview, we discuss open-source, and it’s impact on commercial software and solutions, and wrestle head on with some of the concerns people have on both sides of the fence.

William Hurley is the CTO at Qlusters, where he launched the openQRM project. He has been awarded IBM’s Master Inventor title, multiple awards for innovation at Apple Computer. Prior to joining Qlusters he was CTO and founder at Symbiot. He holds 11 patents for research and development at IBM, Tivoli Systems, and Apple Computer. He was recently elected Chairman of the Open Management Consortium.

5. Current Reading

How to Win Friends and Influence People – Dale Carnegie

Carnegie’s classic book is a great read. It is full of anecdotes, and simple rules to help you understand people better, get along with people better, and allow you to think as though you were in their shoes.


The Meaning of Lost and Mismatched Socks – Perditus Pedale

Dr Pedale takes us along a humorous and enlightening tale, using the metaphor we’re all familiar with, lost socks. A lighthearted read, it nevertheless underlines some of our more quirky human habits, and lets us see them in a new light.


The Wal-Mart Effect: How the World’s Most Powerful Company Really Works – Charles Fishman

Fishman brings the much maligned company to light, discussing them in the context of globalization, and how they impact our economy. As one reviewer notes, “like it or not” they are a mega-corporation that has turned many things, including everyday prices, upside down.


6. Lightweight Humor

Visit Gaping Void’s funny entry:

Fake Walmart Blog.

7. Miscellaneous


Improve Body Language:


Presentation Zen – Lessig Method


Dick Hardt’s famous Identity 2.0 presentation

8. Past Issues

Issue 27: Fragile Foundations

Issue 26: Logistical Fitness

Issue 25: Which Red Button
Issue 24: Consulting Conflicts of Interest
Issue 23: Devil In The Details
Issue 22: Beware of Software Fashion
Issue 21: Open Season, Open Sesame?
Issue 20: Better Web Better Business
Archive: Past Issues

9. Technical Articles

Oracle DBA Interview: click here
Tools for the Intrepid DBA: click here
Oracle9i + RAC on Linux/Firewire: click here
Migrating MySQL to Oracle: click here
MySQL Disaster Recovery: click here

10. About Heavyweight Internet Group

In a nutshell, Oracle. Everything related to and surrounding the database technology we specialize in, but specifically setup, admin and tuning of Oracle technology. I have 10 years experience with Oracle, wrote a book on the technology, and write and lecture frequently. I’m founder and senior consultant of the company. In capacities where your company might hire Deloitte, AIG, or Oracle Consulting we can bring the same level of service and experience, at about half the price. Simple equation.

Looking for top-flight a DBA? Visit us on the web at iheavy.com.

Part 2: RAC/Linux/Firewire – Basic Costs + Hardware Platform Outline

Basic Costs + Hardware Platform Outline

In my test environment, I bought the following equipment. Note that although RedHat Advanced Server seems to be required, I worked with the development team to get it working without that distribution, and included RPMs. If you want to get a copy, get the developer release. I listed that as well, though I didn’t use it.

  • 2x emachines T2460 $650 each link
  • 2x Inland Firewire PCI card $25ea from Fry’s (includes 6pin to 4pin cables) link
  • 1 Pyro 1394 Firewire cabinet $150 (includes 2 + 1 6pin to 6pin cable) ** link
  • 1 Maxtor 7200RPM 60GB ADA/EIDE harddisk $80 link
  • 1 2meter 6pin to 6pin 1394 cable ($10)
  • 1 copy of RedHat AS 2.1 Developer Edition $60 link
  • 1 firewire hub (only for 3+ nodes) $40-$80

You can use just about any EIDE HD which is compatible with the cabinet you get, and these are just the ones I got, so there is some flexibility in cost. Also, I got this stuff from a Fry’s store when I was in California. They have an online store at Fry’s. I would also recommend checking Sparco online as they have pretty good prices, and I’ve had a lot of luck with them here.

** Arup Nanda notes that you must use a firewire enclosure which has a chipset that supports multi-user. I would suggest

checking Tom’s Hardware Guide for details.

Part 1 – Introduction

Part 2 – Basic Costs + Hardware Platform Outline

Part 3 – Software Requirements, Versions, etc

Part 4 – Initial Oracle Setup

Part 5 – Firewire + OCFS Setup

Part 6 – Cluster Manager Setup

Part 7 – Cluster Database Setup

Part 8 – Review of Clustered Features + Architecture

Part 9 – A quick 9iRAC example

Part 10 – Summary