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Optimizing Oracle Performance [Kindle Edition]

Cary Millsap , Jeff Holt
3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Oracle system performance inefficiencies often go undetected for months or even years--even under intense scrutiny--because traditional Oracle performance analysis methods and tools are fundamentally flawed. They're unreliable and inefficient.Oracle DBAs and developers are all too familiar with the outlay of time and resources, blown budgets, missed deadlines, and marginally effective performance fiddling that is commonplace with traditional methods of Oracle performance tuning. In this crucial book, Cary Millsap, former VP of Oracle's System Performance Group, clearly and concisely explains how to use Oracle's response time statistics to diagnose and repair performance problems. Cary also shows how "queueing theory" can be applied to response time statistics to predict the impact of upgrades and other system changes.Optimizing Oracle Performance eliminates the time-consuming, trial-and-error guesswork inherent in most conventional approaches to tuning. You can determine exactly where a system's performance problem is, and with equal importance, where it is not, in just a few minutes--even if the problem is several years old.Optimizing Oracle Performance cuts a path through the complexity of current tuning methods, and streamlines an approach that focuses on optimization techniques that any DBA can use quickly and successfully to make noticeable--even dramatic--improvements.For example, the one thing database users care most about is response time. Naturally, DBAs focus much of their time and effort towards improving response time. But it is entirely too easy to spend hundreds of hours to improve important system metrics such as hit ratios, average latencies, and wait times, only to find users are unable to perceive the difference. And an expensive hardware upgrade may not help either.It doesn't have to be that way. Technological advances have added impact, efficiency, measurability, predictive capacity, reliability, speed, and practicality to the science of Oracle performance optimization. Optimizing Oracle Performance shows you how to slash the frustration and expense associated with unraveling the true root cause of any type of performance problem, and reliably predict future performance.The price of this essential book will be paid back in hours saved the first time its methods are used.

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About the Author

Cary Millsap is the former Vice President of Oracle's System Performance Group and the cofounder of Hotsos, a company dedicated to Oracle system performance. Hotsos provides performance-improvement tools for Oracle environments and also delivers training in the form of clinics and symposiums. Cary is also a founding member of the Oak Table Network (, an informal association of "Oracle Scientists" well known throughout the Oracle community.

Jeff Holt is one of the world's most productive Oracle performance optimization specialists. He has tremendous experience in constructing training programs and software tools to optimize the system performance management process. He is a former support analyst and consultant at Oracle Corporation, where he served as a technology leader in the System Performance Group. He is the Hotsos Tools lead designer and developer, the author of several technical papers, a Hotsos founding employee, and a Hotsos Clinic principal developer.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

CHAPTER 1 - A Better Way to Optimize

For many people, Oracle performance is a very difficult problem. Since 1990, I’ve worked with thousands of professionals engaged in performance improvement projects for their Oracle systems. Oracle performance improvement projects appear to progress through standard stages over time. I think the names of those stages are stored in a vault somewhere beneath Geneva. If I remember correctly, the stages are:

Unrestrained optimism
Informed pessimism

Utter despair
Misery and famine

For some reason, my colleagues and I are rarely invited to participate in a project until the "misery and famine" stage. Here is what performance improvement projects often look like by the time we arrive. Do they sound like situations you’ve seen before?

Technical experts disagree over root causes
The severity of a performance problem is proportional to the number of people who show up at meetings to talk about it. It’s a particularly bad sign when several different companies’ "best experts" show up in the same meeting. In dozens of meetings throughout my career, I’ve seen the "best experts" from various consulting companies, computer and storage subsystem manufacturers, software vendors, and network providers convene to dismantle a performance problem. In exactly 100% of these meetings I’ve attended, these groups have argued incessantly over the identity of a performance problem’s root cause. For weeks. How can dedicated, smart, well-trained, and well-intentioned professionals all look at the same system and render different opinions—often even contradictory opinions— on what’s causing a performance problem? Apparently, Oracle system performance is a very difficult problem.

Experts claim excellent progress, while users see no improvement
Many of my students grin with memories when I tell stories of consultants who announce proudly that they have increased some statistic markedly—maybe they increased some hit ratio or reduced some extent count or some such—only to be confronted with the indignity that the users can’t tell that anything is any better at all. The usual result of such an experience is a long report from the consultant explaining as politely as possible that, although the users aren’t clever enough to tell, the system is eminently better off as a result of the attached invoice.

The story is funny unless, of course, you’re either the owner of a company who’s paying for all this wasted time, or the consultant who won’t get paid because he didn’t actually accomplish anything meaningful. Maybe this story seems funny because most of us at some time or another have been that consultant. How is it possible to so obviously improve such important system metrics as hit ratios, average latencies, and wait times, yet have users who can’t even perceive the beneficial results of our effort? Apparently, Oracle system performance is a very difficult problem.

Hardware upgrades either don’t help, or they slow the system further. Since first picking up Neil Gunther’s The Practical Performance Analyst in 1998 [Gunther (1998)], I have presented to various audiences the possibility of one particularly counterintuitive phenomenon. "Do you realize that a hardware upgrade can actually degrade the performance of an important application?" Every audience to which I’ve ever presented this question and the facts pertaining to it have had virtually identical reactions. Most of the audience smiles in disbelief while I describe how this can happen, and one or two audience members come to the podium afterward to rejoice in finally figuring out what had happened several months after their horrible "upgrade gone wrong."

Hardware upgrades may not often cause noticeable new performance problems, but they can. Very often, hardware upgrades result in no noticeable difference, except of course for the quite noticeable amount of cash that flows out the door in return for no perceptible benefit. That a hardware upgrade can result in no improvement is somewhat disturbing. The idea that a hardware upgrade can actually result in a performance degradation, on its face, is utterly incomprehensible. How is it possible that a hardware upgrade might not only not improve performance, but that it might actually harm it? Apparently, Oracle system performance is a very difficult problem.

The number one system resource consumer is waste
Almost without exception, my colleagues and I find that 50% or more of every system’s workload is waste. We define "waste" very carefully as any system workload that could have been avoided with no loss of function to the business. How can completely unnecessary workload be the number one resource system performance is a very difficult problem.

These are smart people. How could their projects be so messed up? Apparently, Oracle system optimization is very difficult. How else can you explain why so many projects at so many companies that don’t talk to each other end up in horrible predicaments that are so similar?

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A change of viewpoint 11 Dec. 2003
By A Customer
To me this was a revolutionary way of looking at the performance of the various databases within our organisation.
Was the book helpful - yes.
Did it solve our performance problems - well, not all of them, but it did show us where to go and look, in the network rather than the database itself.
Was it a worthwhile investment - absolutely! The ability to provide the statistics in the book has enabled me to be teflon-shouldered a number of times already, rather than wasting my time looking for problems outside of the database. If only all aspects of an end-to-end solution were as well instrumented and timed as this shows Oracle to be, then finding the real source of performance problems would be so much easier....developers take note!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding 28 Jan. 2005
I found Cary's book outstanding.
1. Coverage on generating and understanding extended sql trace is excellent.
2. One of the very few book on Oracle tuning, which deals with a "methodology". I have read several books before this on optimizing Oracle performance and none explains any methodology. This book instead of diving straight into v$ view and statspack data, first makes a ground of what approach should be taken. So its like, what needs to be done and then how to do that.
I find this book incredibly useful.
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Format:Kindle Edition
I seen this, noted the publication date, quickly noticed good reviews and nearly purchased.

I then became concerned this may be a simple 2013 kindle re-publication of an old book.

This book was probably great when first published, but I suspect it has not been updated to Oracle 11gR2. So some things will remain timelessly relevant, others may not, and some current features from recent Oracle versions may be missing.

I simply suggest any relevant purchaser check for themselves prior to purchase to avoid disappointment.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.6 out of 5 stars  32 reviews
15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Leading edge 17 Feb. 2004
By A Customer - Published on
It's surprising how often people say things without knowing what they're talking about. That's a good, short description of almost everything that's been said about Oracle tuning over the last 15 years.
Surprisingly, the facts about tuning Oracle are pretty simple. Most of the results you will achieve come from doing one thing -- tuning individual SQL statements.
The author of this book is one of the few Oracle experts around, and he has created a product called HOTSOS, which is essentially an enhanced version of TKPROF. At times this book reads like the world's best infomercial, designed to promote the author's product.
Still, 99% of Oracle professionals will benefit from this book, even if you don't buy the author's product. It explains very clearly how to DIAGNOSE Oracle performance problems, and it shows an entire approach to tuning that's invaluable.
By the way, there's absolutely no need to know calculus or any other advanced math to understand this book. This rumor apparently got started by some blowhard, pretending to be an expert, but mainly interested in self promotion and telling the world, "I know calculus!" In fact, anyone with basic knowledge of SQL could understand this book and benefit from it.
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is an Oracle classic.... 26 Sept. 2003
By Robert G. Freeman - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
In a style that will be appreciated by the beginner, intermediate and advanced DBA/Developer, Cary and Jeff introduce the reader to the world of the Oracle wait interface. This book has depth, the contents are full of meat, and it's not a rehash of every other Oracle book published in the last 10 years. In these pages is something for everyone. Cary introduces the wait interface, and how it can be used for tuning. The book presents the topic in a clear and concise fashion.
The book is full of detail such as concise information on the internal workings of Oracle trace files and how to use them to your advantage when tuning your Oracle database. They demonstrate the power of the 10046 event and it's potential.
Putting all of this together into a performance tuning method he calls Method-R, they lead us from tuning by guess work into a world of facts and using accurate measures to generate appropriate tuning responses.
This book IS required reading for any DBA who wants to be elevated to the level of a tuning deity. I've already dog eared a goodly number of pages!
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great Book 24 Mar. 2004
By Kireet M Reddy - Published on
This book is a great starting point for beginners (like myself) or a good reference for even experienced Oracle DBAs. It is just what you would expect from an O'Reilly book, it is very readable and presents information in a logical manner. It is refreshing to finally find a book about Oracle performance that does more than provide a collection of "tips" that you can try and then cross your fingers hoping it will improve things. I enjoyed this book thoroughly and it will definitely stay in my library.
I give it only 4 stars instead of 5 because of a couple reasons.
1. The author really pushes his hotsos profiler, which I don't mind too much. What did bother me a little bit is that in his case studies and any time showed "Method R" in action, he used the output of the profiler as a starting point. It would have been nice to assume the reader is not going to purchase the profiler and proceed from that point instead of always starting at the resource profile which the profiler outputs. This is a little nitpicky I admit.
2. I would have liked to see an expanded section on seeing Method R in action, or even downloadable sql scripts that you could run on a database and then find the bottleneck in its execution.
Overall, I definitely would recommend this book. It is well worth the money and time.
15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Revolutionary 22 Oct. 2003
By Niall Litchfield - Published on
If you want a quick checklist of whats wrong with your Oracle systems - do not buy this book.
If you want validation of your existing tuning techniques - so not buy this book.
If you want to be told what to do without thinking - do not buy this book.
If on the other hand you are fed up with received wisdom that does not work, you recognize that performance tuning is a valuable skill for your business and you wish to learn an effective scientific and repeatable approach to improving the performance of your business systems, don't just buy this book but live it. Cary and Jeff take a rigorous, scientific approach to performance tuning that is especially suited to Oracle systems and by both formal proof and real world example show that the mystery of Oracle performance is controllable by you.
The only downside comes from explaining to your boss that the thousands you spent on automated performance tools were wasted.
A word about the Math. 2/3 of the book has no math at all in it. The remainder of the book was perfectly understandable to this reader, whose academic background is Economics and Philosophy not maths or computer science. Don't be put off by the idea that the book has equations, a competent High School student can follow the relevant mathematical arguments.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent performance book 6 Dec. 2005
By George A. Loewenthal - Published on
I purchased this book and did not open it for about 4 months. After reading the first 25 pages or so I became motivated to read more and finish it. It took me about 2 weeks to read through the entire book. The author does a really good job of detailing how to use Oracle tracing to troubleshoot performance related issues. With no shortage of Oracle performance tuning books this is definitely one of the better ones. This book must be one of the best performance related books because you can read it cover to cover. The book is packed with detail so you will reread several pages a few times, kind of like being in college and spending a couple of hours reviewing a couple of pages out of Calculus book.

If you are at all serious about becoming better at Oracle tuning this is a great book to read.
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