Friday, May 8, 2009


Last day of the conference and I had the pleasure of attending RAC Attack! Unfortunately for me it was at 8:30 AM, but my excitement for the class got me there ahead of schedule (that and I finally learned how to get to the OCCC).

What is RAC Attack!?
Here's the official conference abstrace (stolen from Mr. Norris):
Whether you’re new to or familiar with Real Application Clusters (RAC), you do not want to miss the IOUG RAC Attack! hands-on lab. The hands-on lab will cover: cluster installation prerequisites on Linux, installing Oracle clusterware, installing Oracle RDBMS, creating RAC database, failure testing and backup/recovery testing.

Also, you’ll have a chance to interact with some RAC experts from IOUG, Oracle and the RAC SIG, as they’ll be available to help you as you navigate the hands-on exercises. These volunteers are sharing their knowledge to help you be successful with your learning experience. This opportunity doesn’t come along often, so don’t miss a chance to pick the brains of our experts!
Who are these so-called experts?

The Organizer, Dan Norris. Oracle Certified Master, winner of thousands of awards, future Oracle employee and overall good guy.

The Class Master, Jeremy Schneider. Also known as Doogie Howser. Also known as the mad scientist. See his experience here.

RAC Experts:
Michelle Malcher, member of the IOUG Board of Directors.
Barb Lundhild [ linkedIn ], Product Manager for RAC (Oracle naturally).
George Trujillo, [ blog ] MySQL and Oracle DBA, Presenter at COLLABORATE 09.
The Other Guy, whose name I did not write down unfortunately. I'm sure Dan or Jeremy will chime in for me.

The Class
Here's the setup. Each participant is given a laptop with VMServer, Oracle Enterprise Linux and a bunch of scripts to build and teardown the installations, at different points in the process. From memory, here are the different points at which you could start:
1. Load the OS (OEL)
2. Load the Clusterware
3. Load the Oracle Database software
4. I can't remember 4...I said this was from memory. Oh wait, 4 was everything installed and configured with a series of labs to perform.

I decided on starting at #3 and #5 (yes, I know it's not listed above). From a bird's eye view, I can understand what RAC is, but I wouldn't be able to give any specifics other than Oracle Database installed on 2 or more computers that talk to each other. For instance, I had no idea that Clusterware sat on top of the OS and below the database. Something learned? Check.

Like I said, #3 and #5. I commandeered another laptop so I could multi-task. I wanted to install the Oracle Database so that I could see how the installation works and get a better idea of how they talk to each other. I also wanted to try out some of the SQL (Parallel Query) and PL/SQL tests to see how it worked.

Sadly, I have virtually no non-Windows experience. I had to ask how to get out of vi (stop laughing). I just tested it again (exitting vi), Escape + : + q + !

At least I hope that's right.

Back to class.

As I waited for #3 to complete (about 15 minutes or so to rebuild), I read the lab on SQL and PL/SQL. After blowing up my #5 computer, I continued reading through the lab. Number 3 finished so I was back there. Error. What did I do wrong? I'm installing the Oracle software and it can't find the second instance. Why not? Maybe I messed up the build. I went back and read up on installing the Clusterware and made sure all the pieces were in the right spot, whatever that means.

I ended up not completing a single lab. But that was OK. It forced me to read through the entire lab manual and got me thinking about other things. I now possess the rough knowledge of a RAC installation...well, I could do it, if given more time (this was a half day class, a little more than 3 hours for me). Anyone wanna hire me to architect and install their future RAC systems? :)

I learn by doing. Trial and error. Throw it against the wall and see if it sticks. Once I do that, I backfill the reading and research on how to do it right. This class was perfect for me, albeit short. I doubt however, that any of them would have wanted to hang out for at least 3 more days until I got it right. The other highlight of the class is that it forces you to learn and step outside your safe zone. You really can't do anything wrong because you will learn something.

It was definitely worth it for me to wake up (super) early and take part in the class. Once I get it working at home, I'll try again so I can impress my friends and colleagues with my super big "DBA" skills (I'm just a "dba").

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