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Wanted: Database Machine Administrators

Guest Author

Today's guest blog is written by Andy Colvin, Infrastructure Principal Director, Accenture Enkitec Group, Oracle Diamond Partner.

As part of the infrastructure team at Accenture Enkitec Group (AEG), I get to work with Oracle Exadata and Engineered Systems every day.  Our teams work with clients all over the world to install, configure, and optimize Exadata.  It's a very exciting space in the technology landscape because there is really nothing else like it on the market today.

I recently had a conversation with Tim Mooney, Oracle's Director of Product Marketing for Oracle Management Cloud.  Of course we discussed one of my favorite subjects—Oracle Exadata—and how DBAs can expand their skill set to become experts at managing the Exadata environment.  Here's a recap of our conversation.

Q, Mooney, Oracle—What's your background that led you to become an Oracle Exadata expert?
A, Colvin, AEG—I started my career doing infrastructure systems admin work.  Then I shifted gears and became a DBA.  About five years ago, I started working on the Exadata platform.  Exadata has allowed me to circle back into the infrastructure work I used to do as well as utilize my database skills.

Q, Mooney, Oracle—You know your stuff because you are a co-author of one of my favorite books about Exadata, the aptly named, Expert Oracle Exadata.  Where can readers find the book?
A, Colvin, AEG—Yes, I helped write the new 2nd edition.  Working on the book with my colleagues at AEG was a great experience, and I got to share my Exadata knowledge.  It's available at apress.com and amazon.com.

Q, Mooney, Oracle—How hard is it for a DBA to become an Exadata expert?
A, Colvin, AEG—It's not difficult at all.  The most important thing is that you have a solid fundamental knowledge of Oracle technologies.  If you've worked on RAC and ASM (Automatic Storage Management), you can pick up on Exadata very quickly because it runs the same code as other 11g RAC systems.  Your existing knowledge and experience can transfer to help you master Exadata.  With Exadata, DBAs can add to their existing experience and work with storage and Linux OS.  Once you start working with the appliance, most DBAs will learn quickly.

Q, Mooney, Oracle—Will it benefit DBAs to learn Exadata?
A, Colvin, AEG—Absolutely, because you get to work with cutting edge technologies.  Every new release of Exadata is running the latest Intel processors and the fastest storage connections.  There's nothing out there that can compete on this level of innovation.  Many companies are putting their most critical Oracle Database infrastructures on Exadata.  These systems are usually the most interesting and fun to work on, and they also usually have the highest visibility within an organization.  

Once DBAs become proficient with Exadata, they will realize how much more streamlined an Exadata environment is over a traditional environment.  In a non-engineered systems environment, a DBA may be running six different versions of Oracle Database on five different OS platforms.  It's hard to remember what you can do with certain combinations of hardware and software.  Exadata, on the other hand, enforces good habits across a standardized system.  You're not worrying about custom configurations.  In fact, with Exadata, DBAs usually worry a lot less about logistics and configurations and instead focus on performance tuning and optimizing the environment for applications.  With Exadata, DBAs can also spend more time doing strategic work and less time on mundane tasks.

For the really ambitious DBAs, learning Exadata can put you in a position to work on the most important assets within an organization that have the highest visibility.

Q, Mooney, Oracle—Do you have any go-to tools that help you manage an Exadata environment?
A, Colvin, AEG—I am a huge fan of Oracle Enterprise Manager.  It's built from the ground up by Oracle to monitor the Exadata environment end-to-end.  This utility makes it really quick and easy to deploy Exadata.  And, it provides a single console that also allows you to manage and view system performance, whether you want to look at individual disk drives, how SQL is functioning, or hardware and software alerts.  A great use of Enterprise Manager is to create a dashboard for developers to request a particular environment.  Once the request is approved, the system will clone the environment, and then it's available for use very quickly.

Q, Mooney, Oracle—When a company adopts Exadata, what's the impact to the IT organization?
A, Colvin, AEG—The device does tend to be a bit disruptive to a traditional silo'ed org structure because all systems are built into one appliance.  We see that Exadata management often flows to the DBA.  If that's the case, DBAs can take on new responsibilities, such as learning how to set up OS accounts, managing security tools, and streamlining the DB patching process.

Q, Mooney, Oracle—AEG is an Oracle Diamond partner and an expert consultant in Oracle Engineered Systems.  Tell me what AEG brings to the table for prospective clients?
A, Colvin, AEG—We recently turned our Dallas office into an Oracle Engineered Systems Innovation Center.  It's a lab environment that has every Oracle Engineered System, including multiple generations of Exadata.  We use the Innovation Center to show potential clients the in's and out's of Oracle Engineered Systems, including proof of concepts with their data sets.  We can build out applications to show exactly how an environment will look if it's ported over to the Exadata stack.  We can also show prospective clients how performance tuning can improve their system.  It's a very powerful way to showcase the benefits of the Oracle Engineered Systems.  We also provide pre-sales support, implement solutions, migrate databases, provide post-production support and 24x7 monitoring as well as performance tuning as a service.  We started working with Exadata v2 in 2009.  We're very amped about Exadata and all of Oracle's engineered system products.

Q, Mooney, Oracle—I understand you'll be a presenter at Oracle OpenWorld this year.  Can you give me the details about your session so attendees can find you and hear your expertise in person?
A, Colvin, AEG—Sure, I'll be discussing an Exadata diagnostic tool, called EXAchk.  I'm presenting on Thursday, Sept. 22 from 10:45-11:30 a.m. in Moscone South, 302.  My session is called "Maximizing Oracle Exadata Database Machine Reliability with Oracle EXAchk."  When I'm at Oracle OpenWorld, I'm happy to discuss my career path with any DBAs who are interested in working with Oracle Exadata and Engineered Systems.  

If you're interested in reading more from Andy Colvin, you can find his blog here.

Andy Colvin is an Infrastructure Principal Director with Accenture Enkitec Group, based in Dallas, TX. Andy is responsible for the Infrastructure team within AEG, primarily working on Oracle Engineered Systems with a primary role in configuration, patching and systems stabilization. Andy began working for Enkitec in 2006, and has been focused on Oracle Engineered Systems since 2010.  Andy's background includes network, system, and database administration on a variety of platforms.

Andy is an Oracle ACE, and has a technical blog. He has a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Texas at Dallas. Outside of his working life, Andy likes to travel with his family.

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Comments ( 1 )
  • Kamal Mutneja Friday, May 12, 2017
    I m interested to make a career in exadata. pls advise
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