This is the first in a series of interviews with prominent experts in the Oracle world.Ann will also feature in our next podcast ‘Licence Management Today – Episode 07 . The interview is with Kay Williams.
For me Oracle Database is just the Database – “Crème de la Crème”. The Standard Edition Database is like a Rolls-Royce or Maserati Ghibli without the air-condition. This database edition is still a “wow”. The Maserati I do not yet have, but the Oracle Standard Edition (=SE) Database I know how to “drive”. Ann Sjokvist
In this interview, Ann shares her vast experience of using Oracle Standard edition over the years. Ann shows that with some creativity the shortfalls in not being able to use the enterprise options can be overcome. Ann sees Oracle Standard edition as a very viable option that should be considered by large and small enterprises alike. Unless the customer really needs Advanced Security most other requirements can be handled through additional scripting or the use of third-party tools. The price of Oracle Standard Edition plus the potential cost of additional people hours and third party tools still provides excellent value for customers.
Ann also shares some useful tools and sources:
Kay: Good morning Ann, can you just start by introducing yourself please?
Ann: Good morning Kay and thank you for giving this opportunity. Yes, Ann Sjokvist. I’m living in Finland. Moved here in 1985.
Kay: For our audience, just explain what you do and how much experience you have with Oracle.
Ann: My big passion is, Oracle Standard Edition. I think it’s just an amazing product. I’ve been working with it since Oracle version 6 … actually, my first book on Oracle was from Sydney. I bought a book on Oracle 6 and started working with that one a little bit, but started as a programmer and developed then my DBA skills a little from Oracle 7 and then Oracle 8. Actually, a lot in Oracle 9.
I started to have the possibilities to create from zero to production a health care system or health care service for a PDM/PLM/MDM company here in Finland. That was awesome. That was really awesome.
Kay: Ann, can you tell me why you chose to become a specialist in Standard Edition rather than pursuing the typical Oracle DBA route?
Ann: I guess, it’s because of all the companies I’ve been working with have just implemented their application for Standard Edition or Standard Edition One. There has been no need for any other database edition actually. That has given me the opportunities to keep my innovation and stay creative because, it’s not like in Enterprise Edition, where you can get so many nice gadgets out of the box.Yes, I love it. It’s a challenge. Before, when I started programming, I had a period where I was able to program in C-language and that’s also an amazing program, because it requires more thoughts than maybe just a click, click, click. That’s, I guess, that’s why I have had the opportunities here.
Kay: Ann, Standard Edition is often viewed as an alternative to Microsoft Sql Server or the database for smaller companies. However, at Madora we’ve seen Standard Edition, increasingly adopted by larger firms as economics can be very much in its favor. Have you seen a similar adoption?
Ann: Yes, I have. It’s just amazing and lovely to see now all around Twitter and everywhere that people are actually taking this database as an option, because it’s just, for me, Oracle is the database. I think Standard Edition should get the credits it’s worth. I think, as I said, I started with Oracle 9 creating this health care service for a company, and they had multinational companies here in Finland using this PDM software. It depends on the business and it depends on the application. Is it possible to use Standard Edition? As I said, I don’t really believe in the fact that IT should just do the demands. I prefer the other way around. The business should look at their own business requirements. If there are laws et cetera, of course, they need the Enterprise Edition, because it’s the big brother as I call it. It’s the best what you can get, but if your business doesn’t need it, or you can justify the big costs with that kind of database, then I would love to see people use more Standard Edition, because it’s anyhow, one in the family.
It’s completely compatible with the Enterprise Edition, since it’s a core code, it’s the same. At least until now, 220.127.116.11 where they have split it to two packages.
Otherwise, yes, if the business can handle it, if the application can handle it, I think there should be no need to go to any other database.
Kay: Ann, my understanding is that, Standard Edition is pretty much the same as Enterprise Edition in terms of the core code base with only a few difference. Is my understanding correct?
Ann: Yes. I have seen it and I’ve used it, and that’s why it’s a little more demanding to use the Standard Edition, because you are able to do some things with the database if you have a Standard Edition that actually will violate the license agreement. You can’t just go around and make a query on some tables or use some packages without actually violating, but it’s the same. There is lots of good things in the database. The basics, the core stuff, it’s there.
Kay: Now, a lot of customers buy Enterprise Edition because the database options such as Advanced Security, partition and diagnostics require it. Or because we need Data Guard for disaster recovery. If a customer’s applications don’t need these options then is Standard Edition a realistic option for bigger enterprises?
Ann: I think so. I think it’s really much in a … because you can have, as I’ve shown on my blog, because I love to blog about the Standard Edition opportunities and its possibilities, we can have partitioning. It’s not that fancy as in Enterprise Edition. We do need to do a little more stuff. It’s like going back to Oracle 7.3.3, but we can do it. We can accomplish some things.Like Data Guard, Standard Edition d-base, I’m sure, many who’d say the same thing. We would love to buy Data Guard to the customer, but since Oracle says no can do, so we have fortunately, a good option in Dbvisit Standby. Like in Advanced Security, it’s the fact. If we need Advanced Security, we can’t go and use the Standard Edition. Then we need to ask our manager to step up and purchase the Enterprise Edition.Partitioning, I told you, and diagnostic and tuning tools. There are restrictions, but there is also so many softwares out there like Tanal Poder’s Snapper You can use it. You have this from Carlos Sierra. He has developed some EDB360 and there is his SQL 360 kind of tool that you can use. Even, I remember back in 2008, when I started to implement this health care service for this company, we had the opportunity to use Toad . Toad, it’s an amazing tool. If you have the opportunity to use it, to buy it, then I think it’s a nice opportunity. In the beginning, when I started to install it, it didn’t bother me with any questions about, “Okay, can you use this tuning and diagnostic tools? Could you just make a click, click, click and violate the license document?” I asked them and luckily, they put it in a dialogue where they tell you about these things. The only thing you need to remember when you are using Standard Edition as DBA,you have a huge responsibility, because you really need to look into the facts. What can you do and what can’t you do? There is opportunities. There is possibilities. Yes, I think it’s for a bigger company, there is opportunity.
Kay: For some reasons, DBAs are maybe reluctant to use Standard Edition because the lack of functionality to address monitoring, diagnostics, tuning and disaster recovery. Now, as a Standard Edition expert, how would you address these deficiencies in the product? You’ve already mentioned Dbvisit.
Kay: Could you talk about that? Would you use coding or scripting? Or would you use, or have you used third party tools?
Ann: Mm-hmm. (Affirmative) I have them, both actually. As working with Standard Edition, there are many, maybe … I guess, other DBA’s would say, the old fashion way you could use, you need to do manual lead. More coding or scripting to get maybe the stuff out of monitoring. There is also a possibility. I once asked Spotlight to tell me, are they using in their projects, some kind of views or tables that might violate the license document or license agreement, but I didn’t get an answer.There are, Toad for example, it will show you some stuff and I was told it doesn’t violate the license document. By coding yourself, the easiest way for me, since I’m an old programmer, PLSQL. I love the language, it’s very amazing. You can make some small stuff in there. Statspack, of course, you use this one. The old way of doing stuff. By adding some owned tables to Statspack schema, you can then afterwards make some reports.It’s try to make things a little more easier. Because by automating stuff that you should, because now you have to do many things again and again. Then, this is the way how you can handle all this monitoring. RMAN is also a thing. Of course, in Standard Edition, you need RMAN in Enterprise Edition.You only need to remember that the problem is what isn’t there, but there are other ways you can do it. Using high-availability, the Dbvisit Standby, gives you a lot of options. You can just implement all these small pieces of scripting and coding into administrative tool to be able to even see the performance tuning issues that might come up.
Kay: You said that RAC is included free … with Standard Edition?
Ann: Yes it is.
Kay: Which is I understand, sometimes, a forgotten benefit.
Ann: Yes. If you have a 1-core server and you have 4 nodes, and there are so many … The amount of performance that today’s servers can give you, will maybe not make, take a decision that in favor for the Enterprise Edition, because there is really a good performance in these new servers. I’ve been told. I’m not an expert on servers, but it’s what I’ve been told. There is that, if you can’t justify the need for other parts from Enterprise Edition, but you would like this RAC in Standard Edition, you have it. It’s an opportunity.
Kay: You’ve mentioned health care service that you implemented. Could you give an example of a customer success story?
Ann: Yes. It’s quite amazing, this company Model TEC is, I guess, the big provider for PDM/PLM and also somehow the MDM software in Finland and they had a problem that their customer were always telling them that this is no good. It’s too slow, et cetera, et cetera. We thought it is health care service, and it was implemented from the point of view that it was prevented. It should only be prevented by a very high synergy. That was my goal for this service all the time, between customer IS/DBA and the R&D department. We were able to tackle lots of questions.After a while, the customer service department just took some statistics out of the amount of calls that they got from different kind of customers. It was dramatically going down. It was a proven concept by working altogether. Because that’s what I think is very important. If I look at an issue only from a DBA point of view, I might see some performance issue. If the customer says that, “No,” we are doing fine, there is no need to change that one.On the other hand, sometimes the customer said, “We have a trouble and could you look into it?” By helping each other, understanding each other better, we were able to tackle quite a lot of problems. Yes, it’s a proven concept. You don’t need to do it the hard way. Sometimes, the old saying, “KISS. Keep it simple stupid.” It’s quite amazing what you can achieve with that one.
Kay: Thank you Ann. Now, you’re currently freelancing I understand. Could you just tell me how people could get a hold of you if they would like getting help from you?
Ann: I guess, the easiest way would just send me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. It’s my new site. I had before just my name and since my surname is a little odd and maybe a little difficult to pronounce, I just changed it and I’m converting everything to this new site. I’m more than gladly will help tackling these, because after doing this for so many years, I have had the opportunity to just refine my eye for these things.I do believe, the bigger your understanding of what to do and what not to do, is needed. I’ve seen so many DBA’s just go ahead, clicking and searching and doing, because out there in Google, they had all these amazing people sharing all these amazing stuff. If you just go ahead and implement it, you might not get a Christmas card as a DBA afterwards, because it must cost … It’s possible at that some kind of team will come and check how are you using the database on us.
Kay: Ann, is there anything else you would like to add to the recording?
Ann: Keep on thinking about opportunities. Put Standard Edition into the spotlight where it belongs. It’s a part of Oracle amazing family, and I think it should get more credit, because it’s amazing product.
Kay: Okay. Thank you very much.