OOW16 – Are we failing or will performance rise?

img_1390The last session I attended at OpenWorld 2016 was “Thinking Clearly About Database Application Architecture”. A panel discussion with Toon Koppelaars, Cary Millsap, Gerald Venzl, Bryn Llewellyn and Connor Mcdonald. The panelists promotes that the business logic should be moved into the database, and implemented using PL/SQL. And yes – I do get the message, but I just don’t really agree with the rapping. I don’t think this is a one way street, and I think the message fades away because of the way this is presented. It’s a matter of expediency! Sometimes using ORM API’s like Hibernate, and running your business logic outside the database, can be a good solution. Nobody argues whether Ferrari is a very fast car, but this doesn’t mean that everybody have to ride a Ferrari. Sometimes a Fiat or Lada is more than good enough. My advice is: “Don’t let this become a silver bullet!”

In another session the following question was asked: “How could I convince my developers to not use Hibernate?”. The question was actually answered with the same arguments proposes by the panelists. I think the question is totally wrong, and the obvious answer would be “You shouldn’t!”. Instead – the DBA should explain the importance of knowing what goes on inside the database. Performance is about code path, and this is the developer’s responsibility (not Hibernate). Additionally the DBA could explain some of the dangers with using Hibernate. For instance – how does Hibernate handle varying IN-lists? How does Hibernate handle batch inserts? Inserting 50000 rows using batch insert (which is a good thing) could end up doing 50000 selects towards a sequence nextval (which is definitely not a good thing). Where is it ok to use Hibernate, and when should the developer really think twice before using such APIs? This way the DBA becomes a team player; instead of somebody to fight. I really agree with Tim Hall when he commented that DBAs actually must take a part of the blame. What do we do for our developers? Do we really contribute and make their life better, or are we just a pain in their ass? 

Somebody in the panel stated “Nothing has really changed in the last 20 years. We are still facing the same issues”. Unfortunately I think this will continue into the next 20 years too, if DBAs continues to face these issues the way the panel did today. Saying this – I do have a feeling that several of the panelist are just trying to make a point, and maybe overemphasis the view on this.

Toon Koppelaars presentation (“Noplsql and thick database approaches: which one do you think requires a bigger database?”) at OakTable World on tuesday was fantastic. Toon showed – very visually and with great explanations – how a thick database approach, running business logic in the database with PL/SQL, actually makes the database use less CPU. Together with Cary Millsap’s presentation at OakTable World, this actually made the whole travel from Norway worth every penny. One of the slides in Cary’s presentation showed a license plate with something like: “I H8 XPRTS”.
And I think he’s really touching something very important. Several times I’ve seen very confident developers, controlling a project completely, deciding everything around tools, architecture, design and etc, leaving no room for discussion or cooperation.

So – are projects doomed to fail forever? No. I think someone will succeed. I think the companies that do the following have a fair chance of success:

  • puts the right resources together, which are willing to actually work together, not only fronting their silver bullet
  • realize that the work around Oracle databases is more than operation and DBAs
  • realize that performance is a feature – that must be designed and implemented
  • give the projects room and time for testing and failing

Once again I have had a great time in San Francisco at both Oracle OpenWorld and OakTable World. I think my presentation “Real World Experience with Oracle End-to-end Metrics” on Sunday morning went really well. The 8 o’clock presentation on sunday is not the hottest time, but about 30 people came to my presentation. “You are my heros! Thank you for listening to my thoughts around performance!”.

Goodbye San Francisco. Maybe I’ll see you again next year!

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