Archive for the 'SAN' Category

Gun Violence in Oracle IT Shops

I won’t blog at all about the actual array they are doing this to because I have never tested one. In the video a bullet is fired through the SAN array and it is portrayed to continue operations. The part of the video I like is the disclaimer at the end.

Whew, close call for the goldfish. Can you imagine the anxiety it felt not knowing it was to be scooped off to safety? No worries, there is treatment. Perhaps preventive treatment would be more effective?

Oracle RDBMS Technology is Old. It Must Be Obsolete! Disk Drives Forever!

I ran across an interesting quote on that challenged my appreciation of relational database technology—and most particularly Oracle. The article states:

Relational databases started to get to be a big deal in the 1970’s, and they’re still a big deal today, which is a little peculiar, because they’re a 1960’s technology.

Forget the “started to get to be” bit for a moment. Uh, yes, RDBMS technology became important in the 70s (ISI, PRTV and Honeywell MRDS). However, since E.F. Codd didn’t write the defining paper until 1970 it is a stretch to call it “1960’s technology.” Oh well, that article was written in 1999 after all.

What a Great Idea: I Want to Force Some New, “Cool” Technology into My IT Shop
The bit in the quote that got me thinking was how astonished the author was that 1960’s—well, 1970’s actually—technology was “still a big deal” way back in 1999. You see, I think one thing that actually hurts IT shops is the nearly absurd rate of new technology injection. It seems to me that the datacenters with the highest level of success are those that take new technology as slowly as possible. Am I talking about newer versions of, say, the Oracle database server? No, absolutely not. Adopting a newer revision of Oracle is not radical. Those of us who revere the code rest soundly at night knowing that deep down in kernel are bits and pieces that haven’t really changed much in the last 20+ years—perhaps even 30 years given the KCB role in multi-block read consistency (if in fact MBRC was there in the first version of Oracle).

Why is there a mindset in IT that all old technology must go? Folks, we still use little round, brown spinning things (hard drives). Now there’s a bit of information technology that has been around longer than relational databases and ripe for a fond farewell. DBAs are asking for “disk space” from their storage administrators and that is exactly what they are getting. Forget for a moment that roughly 30 drives worth of large, sequential read throughput can saturate the bandwidth of most high-end FC SAN array controllers. Yes, there are exceptions, but I’m trying to make a point. The point is, here we are 27 years after the introduction of the ST506 5.25” and we are not getting full utilization of our drives—at least not when they are provisioned the way most space is provisioned these days. That is, you ask for 2TB of “space” for your Oracle database and you get it—allocated from something like 6 disks in the same enclosure as dozens of other disks. You are getting space, not bandwidth.


What’s This Have to Do with Oracle?
Someone should ask the author of that article if old technology deserves the rubbish heap simply because it is old. Ask him if he has tires on his car (powered with an internal-combustion engine no less). Yep, pneumatic tires for cars date back to P. Strauss circa 1911. No, really, what does this have to do with Oracle? You see, it is software from companies like Oracle—with their “old” RDBMS front and center—that will first help us tackle this problem we have with untapped hard-drive bandwidth and eventually move us along to whatever replaces those little, round brown spinning things in the future. Yes I am hinting, but I’m not saying anything more.

That’s right, that old crusty Oracle RDBMS technology—created to efficiently manage data stored on hard drives—will outlive hard drives and, quite likely, whatever replaces hard drives. That isn’t so hard to accept. After all, P. Strauss’ pneumatic tire will certainly be getting us to and fro long after we move beyond the internal combustion engine.

Dry, Techno-Geek Humor
The article also contained some humor. The following definition was given for what an RDBMS is:

A relational database is a bunch of rectangular tables. Each row of a table is a record about one person or thing; the record contains several pieces of information called fields.

Couldn’t a table be square? Somebody please tell that guy that tables have columns (attributes). Files, being hierarchical, have fields.


I work for Amazon Web Services. The opinions I share in this blog are my own. I'm *not* communicating as a spokesperson for Amazon. In other words, I work at Amazon, but this is my own opinion.

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All content is © Kevin Closson and "Kevin Closson's Blog: Platforms, Databases, and Storage", 2006-2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Kevin Closson and Kevin Closson's Blog: Platforms, Databases, and Storage with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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