my (planned) activities for OpenWorld 2011

Only two more weeks until a red wave of Oracle enthusiasts rolls over the city of San Francisco for their annual summit. There will be sessions, demo booths, exhibition halls, beer taps, parties, concerts and so much more. I am getting excited just developing my schedule these days. I already know that at the end, I will be a little sad because as always I will propably not be able to attend all the sessions events that I wanted to. Anyway, here are some highlights of what I will be up to in San Francisco:

First of all, there is my session about Managing Planned Downtime With Oracle RAC. Please come and see if I can show you something new at 2:00 pm, Moscone West room 2001. The rest of the day will be some smaller meetings and the OPN partner lunch and breakout sessions. Sunday night I will attend the welcome keynote and I have to make sure to cheer for Judy Sim when she kicks it all off. I met her in Cascais a few weeks ago ans she was pretty disappointed when I told her that I remembered all the other Sunday night speakers of the last years except for her.
I won’t be able to party too hard at the welcome reception since my plan is to attend the 6:00 AM Monday morning partner fun run on monday morning. I have planned to attend on previous years but I feel like this year I will not simply fly my running shoes across the pond without actually using them.

After a well-needed shower I will head out to the OTN Lounge which will be in the Howard Street tent right in front of the Moscone Center. Jeremy Schneider managed to bring his RAC Attack lab to the event and of course, people from the RAC SIG are more than happy to help out. Bring your own laptop (and ideally an external harddrive) and we will help you walk through a bunch of labs covering everything from basic installation to tuning and maintenance.

“Burning Man” is the motto for OTN Night on Monday and I am very curious as to how this turns out and if the motto means that this party is clothing-optional just like the festival. Tuesday night is the only one without a huge party which was an opportunity to get some rest last year. Not any more. This time I am invited to the German Community Night. For some reason that I cannot recall today, I promised to show up in a white suit, so this should be interesting. After all, I am not someone who breaks a promise.

Wednesday night will start two hours before the appreciation event with the annual blogger meetup. Thanks to Vanessa Simmons who put this event together and still had time to dye her hair. I am looking forward to getting back together with a lot of fun people. While I am still struggling to understand how exactly twitter works, don’t forget to sign in for the OOW twitter list maintained by Chet Justice/oraclenerd. I guess that is something you just do.

From what I have written so far, one might get the impression that this will be all play and no work. But that is not the case. The days are going to be packed with sessions, demos and the occasional visit to the exhibition halls. I have not really looked at the session schedule too much but will sign up for things in the next days and update this blog once I have figured this out myself.

Konferenz-Hattrick für RAC-Vortrag und Expertenpanel

Mein Vortrag zum Umgang mit geplanter Downtime bei Real Application Clusters wurde neben OOW und UKOUG auch für die Konferenz der DOAG angenommen. Dieses größte europäische und deutschsprachige Event findet vom 15. bis 17. November in der Frankenmetropole Nürnberg statt. Das dortige Messe- und Kongresszentrum bietet nun schon seit einigen Jahren einen tollen Rahmen für diese Veranstaltung.

Neben meinem eigenen Vortrag konnte ich auch noch ein RAC SIG Expertenpanel organisieren. Dieses Format veranstaltet die RAC SIG schon seit Jahren erfolgreich auf den US-Amerikanischen Konferenzen OpenWorld und Collaborate. Besucher haben hier die Chance, live Fragen an ein Podium aus Oracle Mitarbeitern sowie Partnern und Kunden zu stellen. Diese erfahrenen RAC-Experten können am 17. November gelöchert werden:

Christian Antognini, Trivadis AG
Daniel Dibbets, Allianz AG
Markus Michalewicz, Oracle USA
Robert Bialek, Trivadis AG
Sebastian Solbach, Oracle Deutschland

Bei der Moderation wird mich DOAG Vorstandsmitglied und Oracle ACE Christian Trieb unterstützen. Ich freue mich also, viele alte und neue Bekannte in Nürnberg zu treffen.

America’s Cup World Series kick-off in Cascais

At portrix, we share a passion for sports and being from Hamburg, sailing of course has a top spot on our list. I have been following the America’s Cup roughly from 2007 when Team Oracle and Larry Ellison showed great spirit and commitment to winning this cup but were defeated early in the qualifying races.
In 2010, we set the race broadcast up in our meeting room and were blown away by the power, speed and precision of the winged trimaran USA-17. But the races itself were rather boring and could not live up to our expectations. The starts were postponed again and again due to changes in wind conditions and once the boats were underway, there were only few maneuvers and certainly no close racing. The trimaran was much faster and sailed much smoother than Alinghi’s catamaran, so spectators were left with beautiful pictures of a race that was dominated by Team Oracle.

Oracle Racing SpithillAfter winning the old mug, it was up to the Golden Gate Yacht Club and Larry Ellison to come up with new rules and a new concept for America’s Cup sailing to bring the excitement back. The next cup will take place in 2013 in San Francisco on 72-foot wing-sailed catamarans and the challenger will be determined in the Louis Vuitton Cup. Until then nine teams are touring around the world in what is called the America’s Cup World Series, racing with winged 45-feet catamarans to get accustomed to a new style of racing

Fortunately, Knud and I had the chance to visit the first stop of the brand new America’s Cup World Series so we could see and experience all of these changes ourselves. First of all, the boats may look like small versions of the trimaran but they are still huge and the wings make them look very unique. I was already able to spot the race course from the plane on the approach to Lisbon. One of the main goals that Larry had in mind was to make the sport more appealing to spectators. They moved the race course very close to shore so that all events could easily be followed from the beaches, piers and streets of Cascais. We set up at our hotel’s pool with a laptop so we could also follow the excellent live stream online. While GPS maps have been standard in sailing races for a while now, there were cameras everywhere. On the boats, on other boats and on three helicopters. The sailors were equipped with microphones to provide live audio of on-board communications including swearing.

I was very impressed by the professionalism and dedication of Team Oracle and the organizers of the cup. It became clear in every detail of the event that these guys are serious about changing the style of Cup Racing to make it more exciting, televisable, accessible to a wider audience and bring together the fastest boats and best sailors. Experiencing this drive for excellence is fascinating and provides an insight into the mentality that led to not only domination in sailing but the database world aswell. Rest assured: If Larry has a vision, he will commit to get it right.

And in my opinion, it all paid out. The whole event is packed with fun and excitement and so were the races. There were lots of lead changes and close calls, tight maneuvers and passionate sailors that pushed their boats to the edge.

The official website has a ton of information and breathtaking video coverage. Check it out! Go to any of the upcoming venues, follow the races from the beach, boats or bars. It will be worth your time and there is also a lot going on on shore. You can get really close to the team bases and admire the technology and watch the teams prepare. The race is broadcast to a huge stage and screen which hosts DJs and live music at night.

Diagnosing “random” connection resets in 11g

This was a pretty weird problem I have dealt with in the past few days. We migrated a database system from 10g to 11g a while back and almost everything worked just fine. Of course, we also rolled out new clients to the app servers and things pretty much worked. But occasionally, servers would get a “Connection reset” error/exception when trying to connect. All information we had on this issue was the stacktrace from the driver which really does not tell you a whole lot.

Caused by: Connection reset

So eventually, this landed on my desk and we checked the sqlnet logfiles and settings but things looked good there. We also checked network settings and statistics in the OS but things looked good there aswell. I would have liked to blame this on the networking guys but all systems are on the same subnet so this could not be an issue with a firewall or router.

So in all my desperation I asked the mighty google machine which came up with this OTN forum thread which suggested that this could be related to the implementation of random number generation on linux systems.

At some point during the connection establishment, the driver requires some random numbers which by default are generated by /dev/random on linux systems. But this pseudo-device blocks when there is not enough entropy in the system to ensure “real randomness”. Entropy is generated by mouse and keyboard input aswell as some network drivers. It looks like our machines in trouble were not generating entropy fast enough as they needed to at some points and this caused the jdbc driver to fail connecting. Anyway, the suggested workaround of setting the default source of randomness to the non-blocking /dev/urandom helped.

There is also a quite well hidden metalink note on this which also links to this really good blog article.

I remember that this has bitten me in the ass before about 10 years ago where an SSL-enabled apache webserver refused to start under certain conditions. Our first workaround was to send someone to go to the box and move the mouse or type stuff on the keyboard…

Speaking at UKOUG in Birmingham

This year’s event calender is quickly filling up with my presentation “Setting up RAC for planned downtime” being accepted at the UK’s user group conference in December. I have not been to this conference before and am thrilled to finally check out Europe’s largest english speaking Oracle event. I have heard only good things about this event and I am sure that there will be lots of smart, nice and interesting people to meet and exchange ideas with.

This might also be a good chance to get together with other RAC SIG members from the UK and Europe. Let me know if you are interested in setting something up.