What? Another post in less than a week? Yep! Don’t faint from shock! ;-) Besides, I’m overdue for a mostly serious post. Oh and as for the title of this little post? Trust me. It could have been much, much worse. ;-)
Since we’ve had Oracle for a few months now and have one production Oracle system, I thought it’s about time to write a little of what I’ve learned so far. Granted, it’s probably enough to fill a thimble since I’m mainly still supporting SQL Server. It seems a bit funny to me, in a way, but I’m learning about Oracle pretty much how I learned SQL Server – from experienced co-workers, reading, awesome people on Twitter (thank you!), more reading, and good old-fashioned playing around.
In case anyone is wondering, we are now owners of Oracle 11g R2 on Exadata Database Machines. So what’s an Exadata? It’s basically a super duper uber powerful storage server optimized specifically for Oracle Databases to run on. It appears a lot of processing is offloaded to the hardware. I’m not going to regurgitate all the nitty-gritty specs but you can read all about them here.
A Cluster O’ Fun
We also have an Oracle cluster running on said Exadata box, and I believe there is a plan to get a data warehouse going on one as well. That sounds like it could be fun actually. I had also heard something about us possibly supporting SSAS (SQL Server Analysis Services) for a department. No, that won’t get confusing at all! The Oracle cluster is actually referred to as a RAC which stands for Real Application Cluster. It’s composed of something called Oracle Clusterware and Oracle ASM (Automatic Storage Management). Together they comprise the Oracle Grid Infrastructure. As I understand it, the Clusterware is what makes the cluster. No, really? What was your first clue? That basically means you’ve got a database on shared storage and multiple servers can access it at the same time. If one node (host server) goes down, the other one(s) can still access it. The ASM part is basically the file system and volume manager. It includes striping (automatic), mirroring (optional), rebalancing and so on. It basically manages the files for you so you don’t have to.
SQL vs Oracle
So what’s an Oracle cluster like compared to a SQL Server cluster? Sorry, but I really can’t tell you just yet. Yeah, I’m bummed too. When it comes to performance, it’s my understanding that there really isn’t anything out there to compare to an Exadata box. It’s fairly unique. Therefore, one can’t really compare this particular cluster to a SQL Server cluster in terms of performance and what have you. I honestly couldn’t tell you anything about its creation or setup since I wasn’t really all that involved. Hey, someone has to make sure the SQL Servers are still behaving. :-) Once I get a better grasp on it, I may be able to write something about it as compared to a cluster from a technical aspect but not performance-wise. Time will tell. However, I would love to hear from anyone who has Exadata and/or RAC experience. :-)
So what do I think of Oracle so far? You know how some relationships start off somewhat rocky? Well, this one isn’t any different. However, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. It’s just that I really haven’t had a lot of interaction with it just yet so I really haven’t had enough experience with it to say one way or the other. My initial impression is that it is way more involved and complicated to manage than SQL Server so far. That could just be me, though. Overall, I’m viewing this as a great opportunity to learn something new which is great since I love to learn new things. :-) In my opinion, relational databases should be fundamentally the same but with differences. Yes, some are quite different than others but once you have the basic concepts down it’s just a matter of figuring out and learning how to administer and deal with them in their environments which isn’t always that easy. But that’s just my opinion. :-)