Monday, May 20, 2013

Hmm... Better Tools Are the Answer to Increased Complexity?

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Thanks, Craig.

You're joking. Right?

Oracle Database performance tuning and analysis has come a long way in the last 20 years. First there was the “just add more resources” approach and tuning the blatantly poor SQL. Then there was ratio analysis, followed by wait event analysis, time based analysis, and unit of work time based analysis. In addition to the performance diagnosis and analysis evolution, the Oracle Database as a product has changed, and architectures are more diverse. Yet with all this change, some things are in many ways timeless. They relate to complexity, basic mathematical statistics, efficiency, and doctrinal purity. Over the next few weeks, I'll post four different "myths". Here is the first.

Myth #1

The first myth is Better tools are the solution to increasing architecture complexity. I was attending an Oracle Corporation product demonstration a few years ago, and the presenter said something like, “Architectures are increasing in complexity. The solution is better tools.” I looked around and everyone was agreeing, like in the Apple “1984” commercial, “Yes ... Complexity is progress ... We need more and better tools ... Who will bring us these new and better tools?”

I was thinking to myself, how about we focus on reducing the complexity?! Am I alone in thinking that with each increase in complexity, there is an increase in potential problems, which means an increase in risk? Contrary to popular opinion, Oracle DBAs don't typically enjoying a 3am login to fix a down production system.

A few years ago I did some consulting for a very large and well-known ecommerce company. I was amazed at the lengths they went to keep complexity and risk low, uptime high, and performance consistently good. In addition, they architected their systems so the workload could be easily and quickly partitioned. By keeping the complexity low, they were able to manage performance more simply and adjust more quickly. Their transaction throughput levels and on-line brand presence led them to the path of minimizing architectural complexity, resulting in an amazing uptime.

While advanced tools are fantastic (see: ), the true answer is to start with simplifying the underlying architecture.

Thanks for reading!


If you enjoy my blog, I suspect you'll get a lot out of my courses; Oracle Performance Firefighting,  Advanced Oracle Performance Analysis, and my One-Day Oracle Performance Research Seminar. I teach these classes around the world multiple times each year. For the latest schedule, go to . I also offer on-site training and consulting services.

P.S. If you want me to respond to a comment or you have a question, please feel free to email me directly at craig@orapub .com. Another option is to send an email to OraPub's general email address, which is currently orapub.general@comcast .net.


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