Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Interview Questions for Collaborate #c10

After much deliberation and thought, I finally decided to go a completely different direction for Collaborate 10 and do something for Professional Development. In the past I have presented on Clusterware, Data Guard, Oracle Portal, and, most recently, the PeopleSoft Management Pack for Grid Control. So, now for something completely different, I thought it would be fun to do something on interviewing.

Over the years, I have probably been on more than my fair share of interviews. Fortunately, so far, all have been by choice. The thing that always strikes me is the different types of questions that are asked. Some really make you think about your own experience and can trigger some good discussion. Others almost make you laugh. Not that I think it is a good thing to laugh at an interviewer, but at the same time they really make you wonder if this is a place you want to work. I have gathered several of these and have put together an abstract of the best and worst questions to ask or be asked in an interview. Some are down right funny and some should be standard because they show how people think and what their real experiences are.

If you want to hear what I think are good or bad, you'll have to attend Collaborate and check it out. What I would like are other examples from people that might be good to put into the presentation. Shoot me an e-mail or leave a comment and let me know if you have some really good, or really bad, interview questions. It should be kind of fun!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Back to the Real World and RAC Architecture

I find it amazing that my last post was nine days ago already. It really seems like yesterday that I was still in San Francisco for OpenWorld. To close out that thought, the Aerosmith concert was pretty good, but not great. The could have played a little longer and done some more of the older stuff... (I was really hoping to hear "Big 10 Inch"). It is pretty amazing that they are able to put on that kind of a show at that age. I can only hope to be that active.

Thursday was actually not too bad mostly because I knew I had to be up early so I took it easier at the party than in past years. I was invited to the Inner Circle event for Oracle Fusion Applications because of my involvement on the Board of Directors with IOUG. This was my first event like this and it was very interesting. Most of what we saw and heard was not new to many in the audience because they had been taking part in the testing, but to me it was mostly new. The development and testing cycle they have been using was the most interesting part to me. It seems that Oracle is taking customer input very seriously. They have had users looking at the applications all along the way and taking the feedback and putting it into the applications. Hopefully that makes a better product for all of us.

For my company, the best part I heard was the ability to run Fusion apps along side existing applications. We are looking at adding some new modules to PeopleSoft and also bringing in some project management software. From what they showed us, the Fusion applications are built so we could bring in HR and Primavera on Fusion and seamlessly integrate with our existing PeopleSoft Financials system until we are ready to move that over. This sounds pretty nice and makes the switch seem easier than doing a full "fork lift" migration. I closed the trip with a PeopleSoft on RAC presentation and a late night trip home. All in all OpenWorld 09 was a great experience. Reconnecting with many people and putting faces to the phone voices make the trip worthwhile. Adding the content and the new people to be met are icing on the cake!

So, back to the real world. Part of the reason for attending the PeopleSoft on RAC session is that we are currently looking at replacing/upgrading our database infrastructure for PeopleSoft. I have spent part of the last couple of days researching and pricing a few different options for RAC. We currently have a shared HP Rx6600 that has eight cores and is virtualized. The database only has access to four cores and we are almost at capacity. The original plan was to purchase another Rx6600 and continue on that platform, but we are unsure of our growth over the next few years and think RAC would be a better option to give us the ability to scale as needed. That and the fact that the Rx6600 is Itanium are leading us to look at Intel based servers running Linux.

My main research points now are whether to go with more sockets with fewer cores or fewer sockets with more cores. I can see the pros and cons to both and will probably end up with fewer sockets with more cores, again because it gives us more flexibility for growth in the future. The other question is the interconnect. I'm sure gigabit ethernet would be okay, but I want to make sure there are no issues moving to a brand new platform. I'm including Infiniband switches into my design and figure I can always look at something less if we need to cut costs.

I have had to architect new solutions in the past and I always feel a little like I am putting my career on the line. That is where good research and good professional networks come into play. As long as I can back up my recommendations with multiple sources I am comfortable that things will work out. The user groups help here quite a bit (you didn't actually think I'd finish this without a user group plug). I have contacted three different people over the last couple of days for advice on my architecture. All have given me good advice and other sources of relevant information. I still haven't submitted an abstract for Collaborate 10 yet and they are due by midnight. Maybe this architecture research would be a good option...

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Wednesday at OpenWorld

So, today has been a busy day for me. Several meetings with Oracle execs. IOUG is very fortunate to be supported by such great people within Oracle. The day started with a breakfast meeting with a Director in the BI area. He will be supporting us in our regional BI efforts. Mark is totally supportive of what we are doing and will be helping to promote the event within Oracle.

My next meeting was with a senior manager in Oracle North American User Groups. I have worked with Tina over the last six months on our regional user group programs. She is totally supportive of us and we had a great meeting talking about where we are going with the programs and how to better support the members in the regional areas. This support structure within Oracle has been great for IOUG as we grow our membership. They give us the support we need while letting us remain independent. Excellent partnership...

IOUG president Ian Abramson and I met with a database development director to talk about offerings in the DBA developer space. Oracle has been working on some specific training for DBA's to introduce them to some of the development tools. This training is also good for developers, but in general they are targeting the training to the database development tools. APEX, PL/SQL, JDBC, C, C++, etc are all on the radar screen. Oracle feels they are losing some database development because people are setting up smaller database environments to do the development and then going to production with those instead of moving to the enterprise RDBMS. This makes complete sense and the IOUG can work very will with this team to promote the training and hopefully even deliver some of it.

I did make it to one session today which was PeopleSoft BI Tools. This was pretty good and was timely for me since we are looking at some PeopleSoft BI options at my "real job". There are some great tools out there that can be implemented quickly without building a bunch of new stuff. I also went to my first "unconference" session ever. This was on Oracle Warehouse Builder and even though a lot of it was over my head it was great information.

Larry seems to be finally winding down... wait, maybe not. Anyway, tonight is the big party. I'm looking forward to some more networking opportunities. Last night I was at the Oracle Publisher's reception and met someone from Land's End in Dodgeville, WI. He is an Oracle Press author and wants to get involved with the Wisconsin regional Oracle users group. Amazing how small the world really is and part of why I like being here. Limitless opportunities to meet with peers.

I should be closing out tomorrow as I head home to the family. A couple days away are nice, but it is always better to go home to Mary, Grace, and Abigail. See you tomorrow Sheetz girls!

Monday, October 12, 2009

OpenWorld Monday...

Day two for me starts in the keynote with Safra Catz and Charles Phillips. We just had the intro from Judy Sims, the Chief Marketing Officer, and not it feels a little like a rock concert! Always interesting to see the new announcements and directions. Charles has been supporting the user groups a lot and has been at Collaborate for the last several years. It still amazes me the number of people they cram into this room. Great energy for a Monday morning.

Today is presentation day for me along with meetings with a couple regional user groups and special interest groups. These groups are the back bone to the user community and I encourage anyone that is interested in Oracle technology to find your local group and get involved. I'm looking forward to meeting these leaders and finding out how the IOUG can support and work together. My presentation this afternoon will be fun assuming the internet connection in the room works. I have screen shots for my demo, just in case, but that is far less interesting.

Safra Catz is talking about the amount of money they spend on R&D to help us get the right software that works. Interesting how they spend all this money to work on R&D and testing, and we still have lots to do when it comes to us. Charles just gave a shout out to user groups! They actually do listen and work with us so get involved and you can make a difference in the direction of Oracle. More later... demos coming.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

OpenWorld Day 1 - User Group Sunday

What a great start to OpenWorld. The User Group Forum has been a huge success. Great content and discussion around many Oracle technologies. My day started meeting new people and talking about the IOUG at the User Group Pavilion. If you need more information about any of the user groups, stop by the pavilion and check out the offerings. Linux and virtualization are two hot topics and the expert round table session proved that. We had two people from the Oracle Linux and VM teams that answered many questions about the environments. We also had several users on the panel that have experience implementing Linux in both virtualized and non-virutalized environments. There are several more sessions this week so check them out!

My other session this afternoon was a Town Hall meeting with the Oracle Software Security Assurance team. What a group of security minded people these guys were! Critical Patch Updates, My Oracle Support, and PSU's were all hot topics. Watch for announcements from IOUG for some future follow-up webcasts. We will probably be going more in depth into My Oracle Support and how to read the risk matrices for CPUs.

I'm off to listen to Larry Ellison and Scott McNealy. Should be in interesting presentation. More to come tomorrow. I have my PeopleSoft/Grid Control plug-in presentation tomorrow. I'm looking forward to a big crowd and some more good discussion. If you are around Moscone West tomorrow, stop by the User Group Pavilion and say Hi!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Oracle Critical Patch Update Questions? #ioug #oow09

Ever since Oracle started a quarterly patch cycle for security patches, it seems that people are more confused than ever. Should I be installing these things right away? What about testing? Are there functionality patches that are "snuck" into the security patches? My company has a four month testing cycle and it would be a full time job just to keep up with quarterly patches so can I just do them once a year?

These are all questions that can be asked and answered at the IOUG/Oracle Software Security Assurance Town Hall. We will have Senior Managers and Directors from all the security teams to answer these and any other security assurance questions. This does not mean that they will be trying to sell you new tools, but rather will be there to give you as much information as they can about security and how Oracle is trying to make all the software as secure as possible.

Have you wondered where the Configuration Manager information that is gathered goes? Have you not allowed the installer to gather information or include your e-mail because you don't want a more spam? Make sure to come to the session and ask how this information is really used.

I will be moderating this session on Sunday, October 11 at 10:30 in room 2003 in Moscone West. This will be an excellent opportunity to discuss any Oracle security questions with the people that know, or can find, the information. The database, applications, middleware, and My Oracle Support teams will all be represented. Check out the session information here. Make sure to reserve your seat through Content Builder today and get your questions answered!