Open Insights 31 – Auto or Traffic Engineer?

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!

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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