By Blair Campbell
Company: ViON Corporation
Job title: Advanced technical consultant
Oracle credentials: Oracle Certified Professional (Oracle Database 11g, Oracle Database 12c)
Length of time using Oracle products: 16 years
How did you get started in IT? Back in 1981, I took advantage of an offer to learn all about a fourth-generation hierarchical database tool called FOCUS to build some shadow IT for my company’s growing end-user reporting demands. I fell in love with programming and went on to get really involved with Oracle database administration. I eventually became an Oracle University instructor—training more than 2,000 DBAs during my 10-year tenure.
What advice do you have about getting into database development? Read through the 2-Day DBA guide to learn the basics. Then build your own Oracle VM VirtualBox environment, download the Oracle infrastructure and database software, build your own Oracle database, and learn how to back it up properly. Next you’ll want to destroy that environment and recover from its loss. In other words, just go do it.
What’s the most common cause you see when IT projects go wrong? I’ve never forgotten something I read in Gerald Weinberg’s book The Secrets of Consulting [Dorset House, 1986]. “No matter what your client tells you, it’s always a people problem.” Having excellent cohesion between every team member is key.
Which features in Oracle Database are you currently finding most valuable? I’m exploring pluggable databases, notably the cloning possibilities, for use with fast-paced development teams. Using the pluggable database cloning feature for so-called thin cloning, or thin provisioning, allows me to very quickly make a copy of a database based on what storage engineers know as the “copy-on-write” principle. In the near future, I hope to have this process working on a semiautomated self-service basis, and timed down to minutes.
What technology has most changed your life? Every solution that has enabled mobile working. I do a lot of work remotely—it’s why I work for myself—and I love having the freedom to go wherever work takes me. I prefer traveling by motorcycle, which is much more fun, and it’s what I use for most of my transport these days, including my visits to customers. But the best trips are the visits to Oracle user groups in countries farther away. I do two to five longer “touring” trips every year, visiting places such as Helsinki, Paris, Vienna, Belgrade, Bucharest, and Sofia. On these trips I present at user group and SIG [special interest group] meetings, at meetups, and at OTN Developer Days.
What are your go-to Oracle reference materials? I really rely on, in this order, AskTom; the official documentation, which I never skip reading; support.oracle.com; and the blogosphere. Blog-wise, I particularly like ORACLE-BASE and blog.dbi-services.com. I also closely follow blogs by Richard Foote, Martin Widlake, and Frits Hoogland. Tim Hall’s ORACLE-BASE has been around since the early days, and it’s always informative.
Job title: Senior database consultant
Oracle credentials: Oracle Database 12c Administrator Certified Master; Oracle Certified Expert
Length of time using Oracle products: Eight years
What technology has most changed your life? Definitely databases, especially Oracle Database. It has been my livelihood for the past eight years, and I’ve also started blogging and becoming more active in the Oracle community by presenting at Oracle technology conferences. The conferences represent a unique way of learning and sharing knowledge with other experts. They are a great opportunity to meet new friends and visit different countries.
You’ve taken Oracle University [OU] classes in the past. What led you to do this? I live by the motto “Invest in your future.” Educational investment is crucial for every professional. We have to upgrade our knowledge on a daily basis in order to stay in touch with fast-evolving technologies. I’ve taken both in-classroom and online OU classes, and I like both, for different reasons. In a classroom you can get in-person feedback from the instructor, but with online classes you can review and watch the session multiple times.
What’s the next big thing driving change in your industry? Automation. Oracle recently announced Oracle Database 18c as the first autonomous database, which opens a new direction in the future of the database world. The idea is to enable the database to be self-managing; it will support fully automated patching, backups, and upgrades, and also the ability to perform routine maintenance tasks. These automation capabilities integrated in the database software will free us up to focus more on architectural and performance type of work.
Illustration by iStock.com/Giii