Interview with eDB360 Author and performance expert Carlos Sierra

Today we have an interview with Oracle expert, Carlos Sierra from Accenture Enkitec Group and author of the  eDB360 toolset

Carlos will also  feature in our next iTunes podcast ‘Licence Management Today – Episode 11′The interview is with Kay Williams.

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In this interview, Carlos talks about his well know script and tool eDB360 and how it came about. Carlos believes in giving back and supports his tool in his spare time. Today as well as working full time for Accenture Enkitec Group, he encourages others in the community to build and support tools for DBAs. 

 eDB360 basically lets you  take a snapshot of the entire estate of the database on a periodic basis and then analyse this over time.  Other tools mentioned are SQLd360 by Mauro Pagano

“What I see the challenge that is coming our way is how rapidly they come. I remember the part when we were moving from, let’s say, Oracle 7 to Oracle 8, when I’m thinking back, it looked like everything was slow motion. Today, everything moves so rapidly. This new technology, take for example, engineer systems, they came a few years ago, but they move so rapidly. It looks like every year we have new technologies, new stuff that is coming our way. Just trying to keep up with that base of changes is a challenge. There is no way a DBA today, can actually master and know everything like it used to be twenty years ago. Twenty years ago a DBA could know every single piece of Oracle, not anymore. Today we only get to know a small piece of the pie and that is a challenge.”

You can learn more about Carlos on his blog Carlos-Sierra.net

Read the full interview between Carlos and Kay Williams below

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Photo courtesy of geishaboy500(CC Attribution)

Kay:                 Hello, I’m Kay Williams. I would like to introduce Carlos Sierra. Carlos is an infrastructure principal director at Accenture Enkitec Group, based in Florida, in the U.S. Carlos is an Oracle ace, with over seventeen years experience in Oracle Corporation, and many more with Oracle technology. Hello, Carlos.

Carlos:            Hello Kay, how are you?

Kay:                 Good, thank you. Carlos, you have over twenty years experience in Oracle technology and you’re well known within the DBA community as a SQL and tuning expert. For those listeners who are not DBA’s and may not know you, could you give me a little bit of background of who you are and where you’re from?

Carlos:           I have been in the industry for many years. First my name is Carlos Sierra, I was born in Mexico City. I lived there and then I lived in Michigan, in Detroit. Then I lived in Puerto Rico, for some years. Then I lived in Venezuela for some years, then I move to Orlando. I have been in Orlando for twenty years. I’m now work on seeding the next move. We may be moving to Seattle. In terms of the IT industry, my experience with Oracle is around twenty years. Before Oracle, I worked Unisys, in particular, mainframes for thirteen years. I have been around for quite some time, that is pretty much my experience.

                        Within Oracle, I did so many things. After Oracle, for the past two years, I have been within Accenture Enkitec Group.

Kay:                 Carlos, within the DBA community you’re well known for your script EDB 360, which we’ll talk about in just a moment. For those who are not DBA’s, could you explain what an Oracle ace is, please?

Carlos:            Yes, an Oracle ace is basically a recognition from Oracle, when you are quite active in the community. Someone from the Oracle ace community proposes your name, so you are basically  rated and voted and you get this recognition. This recognition has three different levels. Right now I am in the middle, which is an Oracle ace. The next level is an Oracle Ace Director. It has to do with how much you participate in the Oracle community.

Kay:                 Someone has to put you forward to Oracle?

Carlos:            Someone has to propose you within the Oracle Ace community. Usually, the way it happens is as you become known by the community, because firstly, you have to be not an Oracle employee. I was Oracle employee for seventeen years, so I couldn’t join any of the accolades. Once I joined Accenture Enkitec Group, someone proposed my participation in the Oracle Ace community, since I was a regular speaker at many conferences the community knew me, so they accepted and I became an Oracle Ace. That was maybe a year, year and a half ago.

Kay:                 Carlos, how did you get into Oracle originally? What was your background and history in terms of the Oracle technology?

Carlos:            I joined Oracle twenty years ago, and then I was there for seventeen years and then I moved to Accenture Enkitec Group. Before joining Oracle I had absolutely no experience on Oracle. My background was mainframes, I did Unisys mainframes for many years. I was very comfortable with mainframes. At some point my wife made me think saying, “You know what? Mainframes are the dinosaurs and you want to move into some new technology. This is the time.” I did that. To me, it was very hard to move from being totally comfortable with a new technology, to moving to this huge company, which was Oracle.

                        I Just started from the bottom with absolutely no knowledge of Oracle. They gave me the opportunity because I had developed a MRP, MRP is manufacturing resource planning for a big company, a automotive company, it’s Ford Motor Company, basically, for four countries. I have a lot of manufacturing experience. IT manufacturing experience. When I joined Oracle, it was because of my functional knowledge in manufacturing. I had started from scratch, I learned Oracle. My advice here is if I can do it, anyone can do it. It’s just a matter of grabbing this new technology, whatever it is and investing your time and to actually get to, first understand, and then to master the technology.

Kay:                 That’s good to know. You’re an expert in performance and SQL tuning. How did you find yourself going down that route?

Carlos:            I found myself pretty much by accident, because when I started doing a Oracle, I was working on the E-business, in the manufacturing group. Then I started noticing some patterns. I noticed that many tickets that we were receiving those days, were related to performance. It seems to be that performance is always a concern, it’s always an issue. I also noticed that no one wanted to deal with them. It was like the case that everyone was trying to avoid. I said, “You know what? I know absolutely nothing about performance and SQL tuning in particular, but I will learn.”

                        I learned the hard way, basically by going through many cases that were really tough in that time for me, but that is the way to learn. When you basically say, “You know what? I accept I do not know anything about this, but I am willing to give it a try and work my best and try to find someone to help me to begin”. Pretty much, that was the way I go into performance and then I liked it a lot. I always say that, “A SQL tuning is like sushi, you either love it or you hate it, but there’s no in between.” It happens that I love SQL tuning and performance.

Kay:                 We call that Marmite, you either love it or hate it. You have  a blog site, carlossierra.net, which contains pages and presentations about eDB360. Can you just tell me a little bit about that all, how it came about and the history of it?

Carlos:            First I developed some other tools which are widly known and utilised, like SQLTXPLAIN, that is one of them. Trace Analyzer, that’s another one. When I was a developer, I developed many tools in the area of performance. Then, when I joined Accenture Enkitec Group, I start working with database health checks. Doing the data health check is trying to understand what’s going on, on a daily base. I was moving from SQL tuning, which is very specific to a SQL statement into a database health check which is broad on the whole database. As I was moving to this base, I noticed, as I did before with SQLTXPLAIN, I noticed we had no tools to do that.

                        We had some small tools, like AWR for example. We use AWR a lot, but that is only a piece. There was no connection between many other areas on this space of database and performance analysis. I decided to write a tool, so I could use the tool and more people could actually benefit of this tool. That’s how eDB360 came to exist. I wrote the tool for myself and for the community.

Kay:                 You would use eDB360 to carry out an Oracle health check, is that correct?

Carlos:            For the entire database. Yes, when we’re thinking that a health check, we can say health check for the applications or health check for the middle tier, health check for the one SQL statement, or health check for the entire database. eDB360 is for Oracle database, 10g, or 11g, or 12c.

Kay:                 Who would, most likely, benefit from eDB360?

Carlos:            I would say two groups. Either DBA’s responsible for databases. Some DBA’s, they may have access to tools like Enterprise Manager, or Cloud Control, which is basically the same and they can see real time information which is pretty good. With eDB360 basically takes a snapshot of the entire estate of the database and we preserve the snapshot so we can analyse it later in time. Let’s say I take a snapshot of eDB360 today and I do that every month. Then next year, when let’s say on July, I have this special sale, I want to compare what happened today and what happened last year.

With eDB360 basically takes a snapshot of the entire estate of the database and we preserve the snapshot so we can analyse it later in time. Let’s say I take a snapshot of eDB360 today and I do that every month. Then next year, when I say this special event, let’s say on July, I have this special sale, I want to compare what happened today and what happened last year.

                        If I have taken in eDB360 periodically, then I can go back in time and look at the file from a year ago, and I can see exactly what happened, which SQL estimate we executed, which issues I had. It’s basically a way to freeze the history and make it available anytime. The thing about especially with eDB360, is that it doesn’t connect to the database. I can see that later without having to access the database. That is the first benefit. The second benefit is for consultants, as myself, that we have to make an assessment of a database and enter the run in isolated script, I just run one tool and it gives me everything I need to know about the database. It’s for assistance. I will say, DBA’s and consultants.

Kay:                 Carlos, you said you built the tool for yourself and for the community. Is this something you built in your spare time?

Carlos:            Yes, that is something I have been doing for twenty years. Since I started working at Oracle, basically I was feeling, and I still feel like I received so much from my employers and from the community. This is basically my way to pay back, is through writing tools for the community. Today, it’s eDB360, in the past it was Trace Analyzer or SQLTXPLAIN. Now, in the future it’s changing a little bit and what I’m doing is basically, yes, it’s my spare time and this is just contribution to the community.

Kay:                 You started working on it twenty years ago?

Carlos:            Yes, not with eDB360, twenty years ago I started with something that was called COE explain, and after that it became SQLTXPLAIN, and at some point I also developed Trace Analyzer and some other tools. Some for Peoplesoft some for Siebel. For the past three years, I have been working on eDB360.

Kay:                 When do you find time to support this? Is it part of your day job or is it a hobby in your spare time?

Carlos:            It’s hobby in a spare time. If I make it part of my daily job, then my employer may want to take ownership or partial ownership on it. If I do it on my own computer, my own time, and I have no interference with my daily job, then basically I can do whatever I want with the tool, which is provided too for free, for anyone to use, which is what I want.

It’s hobby .. basically I can do whatever I want with the tool, which is provided too for free, for anyone to use, which is what I want.

Kay:                 It’s great it’s for free Carlos, but it seems a lot of work. Have you considered selling the tool or have you ever been approached by your employer or anybody else to turn this into a paid tool?

Carlos:            No, to me, that would be unthinkable. No, that is not what I want. It’s like when you’re doing community service. It’s like, “Okay. I’m doing community service, but now I want to get paid for doing community service.” It defeats the purpose.

Kay:                 Interesting. I see from your blog site that you’ve created another tool, eAdam, what is the difference between the two tools and why would I use eDB360 rather than eAdam?

Carlos:            eAdam, basically is like a warehouse for AWR data. eAdam is doing extraction of AWR data into flat files, and then I take those flat files and put them on a different repository. I do my analysis on a different repository, which basically puts all the processing outside the source database. eDB360, on the other hand, is when all the processing of the AWR data on the source database. It puts a little more load on the source database, but it’s more comprehensive. My first choice is eDB360, because it takes some time to accept you but it gives me everything in one shot. My second choice is eAdam, when the resources of the source system are very constrained.

eAdam, basically is like a warehouse for AWR data.

                        I have had to use eAdam only one time for a real client. I will say hundreds of time, I used eDB360. From the two tools, eDB360 is the one that has been used all the time and eAdam is only on special cases, important cases.

Kay:                 Carlos, your name came up in a previous interview I’d done with Ann Sjokvist. She mentioned eDB360 and yourself. This is around Oracle’s standard edition. Does your tool work with both Oracle Standard Edition and Enterprise Edition?

Carlos:            The answer is yes and no. It does work, but it works much better with Enterprise Edition. On the Standard Edition, it would rely on a statspack and we do very little with the statspack inside the eDB360. Most of the clients, the modem of the size where they use EDB 360, they are Enterprise Edition.

Kay:                 Carlos, what is the future? Have you got anything in the pipeline in terms of new scripts or are you working to maintain your existing products?

Carlos:            The future is interesting because there is synergy going on and my goal these days is to influence all this to my good friend, Mauro Pogano. Mauro is another professional that works with me today, we worked together at Oracle. When I left Oracle, he’s the one that was supporting all the tools that I left behind at Oracle. Now, he joined Accenture Enkitec Group, I asked him and he was willing to develop something himself. He developed this other wonderful tool, which is called SQLd360, SQL Diagnostics 360. Which we can see as an extension of eDB360, but at the same time is a stand alone.

 eDB360 is to one database, where SQLd360 is to one SQL statement

                        eDB360 is to one database, where SQLd360 is to one SQL statement. What I’m doing today, I’m trying to encourage others, and good friends, and good people, people that really know the technical stuff to actually follow the same mentality. Give something back to the community, develop some tools, try helping others. That is my challenge. My challenge today is basically how to motivate, DBA’s, friends, whoever, to develop things for the community. Do I have any other tool in mind? Yeah, I have a few of them in mind. Right now, my priority is basically to get others to do the same, and then at the same time, maintain my tools.

My challenge today is basically how to motivate, DBA’s, friends, whoever, to develop things for the community.

Kay:                 That’s really interesting, Carlos, thank you. You’ve been involved in Oracle for a long time. You’ve obviously seen lots of changes from a company that now has a much bigger portfolio. You’ve witnessed changes as an employee, as well as an outsider, in terms of IT, technology changes from client server to the adoption of Cloud. What challenges do you see that will be impacting DBA’s and users of Oracle technology?

Carlos:            What I see the challenge that is coming our way is how rapidly they come. I remember the part when we were moving from, let’s say, Oracle 7 to Oracle 8, when I’m thinking back, it looked like everything was slow motion. Today, everything moves so rapidly. This new technology, take for example, engineer systems, they came a few years ago, but they move so rapidly. It looks like every year we have new technologies, new stuff that is coming our way. Just trying to keep up with that base of changes is a challenge. There is no way a DBA today, can actually master and know everything like it used to be twenty years ago. Twenty years ago a DBA could know every single piece of Oracle, not anymore. Today we only get to know a small piece of the pie and that is a challenge.

 What I see the challenge that is coming our way is how rapidly they come. I remember the part when we were moving from, let’s say, Oracle 7 to Oracle 8, when I’m thinking back, it looked like everything was slow motion. Today, everything moves so rapidly. This new technology, take for example, engineer systems, they came a few years ago, but they move so rapidly. It’s looks like every year we have new technologies, new stuff that is coming our way. Just trying to keep up with that base of changes is a challenge. There is no way a DBA today, can actually master and know everything like it used to be twenty years ago. Twenty years ago a DBA could know every single piece of Oracle, not anymore. Today we only get to know a small piece of the pie and that is a challenge.

Kay:                 What challenges do you see for Oracle customers in the Oracle world?

Carlos:            Well, it’s quite similar. In the past an Oracle customer used to have one DBA and that was it for the Enterprise. Today, there is no way. They either need a lot of DBA’s because they have different expertise, or they need to move to different technologies, like moving to the Cloud. On the Cloud, clients they have the benefit. They don’t have to staff as they did in the past. By moving to the Cloud, they may get into these companies that offer these kind of services, Cloud services, where the provider of the service, they may have twenty, fifty, a hundred, maybe a thousand people with different expertise.

                        There is no way a client can afford that many IT professionals to support the ever increasing technology that we have. I can see the Cloud as a way of allowing the institution to handle the technology that we cannot handle anymore, just because it’s so diverse.

Kay:                 One final question, Carlos. If you were Larry Ellison, what would you do tomorrow?

Carlos:            That’s a very good question because if I were Larry Ellison, if I were yourself, I were anyone else, what I would do is to be happy. I am a happy person and I think happiness depends on ourself. On my daily job, I’m extremely happy, I like what I do. I always tell people, “Do what you like and like what you do.” Right? If I enjoy doing tools , I go ahead and do my tools. Larry Ellison, of course, he likes running a company and I think he does an excellent job, running a company. In terms of business, of course, the business we can see has been changing for the past twenty years and he continues growing the company.

                        The only thing I may do differently, is putting more emphasis on the people. We have, within the Oracle community, we have a lot of experience and sometimes I feel like the people that have the most knowledge in the industry, especially those that work for Oracle, they may need a little more motivation and recognition so they can keep up with innovation. Innovation is something that’s really hard to keep up, unless the people are really happy. I would try to continue to be happy myself, what I would try to spread the motivation among all the Oracle employees, that’s what I would do, focus on motivation.

Kay:                 Sounds great, thank you. Carlos, thank you very much for your time. It’s really good to come across somebody who wants to help others and to put something back into the community.

Carlos:            Thank you Kay, for having me here.

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