On Grids and Groups

Three peers navigate trends in virtualization, database monitoring, and social media.

By Blair Campbell

July/August 2011

Bob Mycroft Headshot
Bob Mycroft
Peer Specs

Company: Capgemini, an IT services and business consultancy company

Job title: Senior Oracle DBA, working on the team overseeing Capgemini’s U.K. Environment Agency account

Location: Leeds, England

Oracle credentials: Oracle Certified Professional (Oracle8i Database through Oracle Database 10g) and Oracle Certified Expert (Oracle Real Application Clusters 10g), with 15 years of experience using Oracle products

Oracle ACE Oracle ACE
Which new features of Oracle Database are you currently finding most valuable? I’m playing with the Flashback Data Archive and Flashback Transaction Query features at the moment. With every new version of the database, we’ve been increasingly able to get the system back to an old point in time, or look at data at an old point in time, without the nastiness of doing a point-in-time recovery. Anything that saves us time is good.

Any other products or features currently piquing your interest? Oracle VM. It’s really the only truly supported virtualization platform for Oracle products. The ability for us to potentially use Oracle technologies for the whole stack and then to virtualize the hardware itself is seriously attractive, as it means a single vendor for support.

If you were going to the International Space Station for six months and could only take one Oracle reference book, what would it be? The Art and Science of Oracle Performance Tuning, by Christopher Lawson [Apress, 2003]. It’s quite an old book now, but I really like the way Lawson approaches the subject.

Julian Dontcheff Headshot
Julian Dontcheff
Peer Specs

Company: Accenture, a management consulting, technology services, and outsourcing company

Job title/description: Head of database management, overseeing a global team of DBAs

Location: Helsinki, Finland

Oracle credentials: Oracle Certified Master, Oracle Certified Professional (Oracle8i Database through Oracle Database 11g), and Oracle Certified Professional Developer (Oracle Forms 6, Oracle Forms 6i), with 23 years of experience using Oracle products

Oracle ACE Director Oracle ACE Director
What’s your favorite tool or technique on the job? Oracle Grid Control—it’s the best tool Oracle has ever created. Oracle Grid Control is a must for DBAs who need to manage a lot of databases. It can drastically reduce database administration time and significantly improve a DBA’s productivity and efficiency. I most like the fact that you are able to monitor the complete database stack from one consolidated view.

What advice do you have about how to get into database and application development? Attend an Oracle University [OU] class! It’s the best place to get Oracle knowledge. I’ve taken dozens of OU classes, always in the classroom, and I used them to prepare for my Oracle certification exams. OU is the place where information, study materials, and training are all provided from the very heart of Oracle. And I’ve always admired the enthusiasm and dedication of Oracle trainers.

What technology has most changed your life? The TV set and the computer. Both equally—and almost all for the better.

Sheeri Cabralf Headshot
Sheeri K. Cabral
Peer Specs

Company: PalominoDB, a remote database management company

Job title/description: Community manager and DBA, working in the field to handle all database tasks for PalominoDB clients

Location: Boston, Massachusetts

Oracle credentials: MySQL 4.0 Core certified and Oracle Certified Professional DBA (MySQL 5.0), with 10 years of experience using Oracle products

Oracle ACE Director Oracle ACE Director
How did you get started in IT? In college I wanted to major in neuroscience. Math and computers were interesting, so I was going to minor in computer science just for fun. However, I ended up getting a D– in Introductory Neuroscience in the middle of my junior year, so with three semesters left to go I changed my major to computer science, got all As and Bs, and then went on to get a master’s degree in computer science as well.

What’s your favorite tool or technique on the job? Lately I’m very enamored with mk-query-digest and EXPLAIN to do query reviews of the MySQL general logs. As for query reviews themselves, I find they are extremely helpful in finding queries to optimize before they become a problem in production.

How are you using social media in your work? I’m on LinkedIn and Twitter. I try to keep Facebook personal, although I do participate in MySQL groups and events on Facebook. I have a blog, and I’m also the cohost of OurSQL: The MySQL Database Community Podcast [listen to the show at]