Bobby Durrett's DBA Blog
A coworker passed a test script on to me that was failing with the following memory error:
ORA-04030: out of process memory when trying to allocate 4088 bytes (PLS CGA hp,pdzgM64_New_Link)
The error occurred when initializing a PL/SQL table variable with 7500 objects. Here is my sanitized version of the code:
CREATE OR REPLACE TYPE ARRAY_ELEMENT AS OBJECT ( n1 NUMBER, n2 NUMBER, n3 NUMBER, n4 NUMBER ); / CREATE OR REPLACE TYPE MY_ARRAY IS TABLE OF ARRAY_ELEMENT; / DECLARE MY_LIST MY_ARRAY; BEGIN MY_LIST := MY_ARRAY( ARRAY_ELEMENT(1234,5678,1314,245234), ARRAY_ELEMENT(1234,5678,1314,245234), ARRAY_ELEMENT(1234,5678,1314,245234), ... ARRAY_ELEMENT(1234,5678,1314,245234), ARRAY_ELEMENT(1234,5678,1314,245234) );
The real code had different meaningful constants for each entry in the table. Here is the error:
8004 ARRAY_ELEMENT(1234,5678,1314,245234) 8005 ); 8006 8007 END; 8008 / DECLARE * ERROR at line 1: ORA-04030: out of process memory when trying to allocate 4088 bytes (PLS CGA hp,pdzgM64_New_Link) Elapsed: 00:02:51.31
I wrapped the error code manually so it would fit on the page.
The solution looks like this:
create table MY_OBJECTS ( o ARRAY_ELEMENT ); DECLARE MY_LIST MY_ARRAY; BEGIN MY_LIST := MY_ARRAY( ); insert into MY_OBJECTS values(ARRAY_ELEMENT(1234,5678,1314,245234)); insert into MY_OBJECTS values(ARRAY_ELEMENT(1234,5678,1314,245234)); insert into MY_OBJECTS values(ARRAY_ELEMENT(1234,5678,1314,245234)); ... insert into MY_OBJECTS values(ARRAY_ELEMENT(1234,5678,1314,245234)); insert into MY_OBJECTS values(ARRAY_ELEMENT(1234,5678,1314,245234)); insert into MY_OBJECTS values(ARRAY_ELEMENT(1234,5678,1314,245234)); commit; SELECT o BULK COLLECT INTO MY_LIST FROM MY_OBJECTS; END; /
Here is what the successful run looks like:
8004 insert into MY_OBJECTS values(ARRAY_ELEMENT(1234,5678,1314,245234)); 8005 insert into MY_OBJECTS values(ARRAY_ELEMENT(1234,5678,1314,245234)); 8006 8007 commit; 8008 8009 SELECT o 8010 BULK COLLECT INTO MY_LIST 8011 FROM MY_OBJECTS; 8012 8013 END; 8014 / PL/SQL procedure successfully completed. Elapsed: 00:00:21.36 SQL>
There is an Oracle document about this bug:
ORA-4030 (PLSQL Opt Pool,pdziM01_Create: New Set), ORA-4030 (PLS CGA hp,pdzgM64_New_Link) (Doc ID 1551115.1)
It doesn’t have using bulk collect as a work around. My situation could be only useful in very specific cases but I thought it was worth sharing it.
Here are my scripts and their logs: zip
This is on HP-UX Itanium Oracle 22.214.171.124.
Today I finally finished the Mathematics for Computer Science class that I have worked on since December. For the last year or two I have wanted to do some general Computer Science study in my free time that is not directly related to my work. I documented a lot of this journey in an earlier blog post.
The math class is on MIT’s OpenCourseWare (OCW) web site. It was an undergraduate semester class and I spent about 9 months on it mostly in my spare time outside of work. I wanted to test out OCW as a source for training just as I had experimented with edX before. So, I thought I would share my thoughts on the experience.
The class contained high quality material. It was an undergraduate class so it may not have been as deep as a graduate level class could be but world-class MIT professors taught the class. Some of my favorite parts of the video lectures were where professor Leighton made comments about how the material applied in the real world.
The biggest negative was that a lot of the problems did not have answers. Also, I was pretty much working through this class on my own. There were some helpful people on a Facebook group that some of my edX classmates created that helped keep me motivated. But there wasn’t a large community of people taking the same class.
Also, it makes me wonder where I should spend time developing myself. Should I be working more on my communication and leadership skills through Toastmasters? Should I be working on my writing? Should I be learning more Oracle features?
I spent months studying for Oracle’s 12c OCP certification exam and I kind of got burnt out on that type of study. The OCP exam has a lot of syntax. To me syntax, which you can look up in a manual, is boring. The underlying computer science is interesting. It is fun to try to understand the Oracle optimizer and Oracle internals, locking, backup and recovery, etc. There is a never-ending well of Oracle knowledge that I could pursue.
Also, there is a lot of cloud stuff going on. I could dive into Amazon and other cloud providers. I also have an interest in open source. MySQL and PostgreSQL intrigue me because I could actually have the source code.
But, there is only so much time in the day and I can’t do everything. I don’t regret taking the math for computer science class even if it was a diversion from my Toastmasters activities and not directly related to work. Now I have a feel for the kind of materials that you have on OCW: high quality, general computer science, mostly self-directed. Now I just have to think about what is next.
I have been using VMware Player to build test virtual machines on my laptop with an external drive for some time now. I used to use the free VMware Server. My test VMs weren’t fast because of the slow disk drive but they were good enough to run small Linux VMs to evaluate software. I also had one VM to do some C hacking of the game Nethack for fun. I got a lot of good use out of these free VMware products and VMware is a great company so I’m not knocking them. But, this week I accidentally wiped out all the VMs that I had on my external drive so I tried to rebuild one so I at least have one to boot up if I need a test Linux VM. I spend several hours trying to get the Oracle Linux 6.8 VM that I created to work with a screen resolution that matched my monitor. I have a laptop with a smaller 14 inch 1366 x 768 resolution built-in monitor and a nice new 27 inch 1920 x 1080 resolution external monitor. VMware player wouldn’t let me set the resolution to more than 1366 x 768 no matter what I did.
Finally after a lot of googling and trying all kinds of X Windows and VMware settings I finally gave up and decided to try VirtualBox. I was able to quickly install it and get my OEL 6.8 VM up with a larger resolution with no problem. It still didn’t give me 1920 x 1080 for some reason but had a variety of large resolutions to choose from.
After getting my Linux 6.8 machine to work acceptably I remembered that I was not able to get Linux 7 to run on VMware either. I had wanted to build a VM with the latest Linux but couldn’t get it to install. So, I downloaded the 7.2 iso and voilà it installed like a charm in VirtualBox. Plus I was able to set the resolution to exactly 1920 x 1080 and run in full screen mode taking up my entire 27 inch monitor. Very nice!
I have not yet tried it, but VirtualBox seems to come with the ability to take a snapshot of a VM and to clone a VM. To get these features on VMware I’m pretty sure you need to buy the $249 VMware Workstation. I have a feeling that Workstation is a good product but I think it makes sense to try VirtualBox and see if the features that it comes with meet all my needs.
I installed VirtualBox at the end of the work day today so I haven’t had a lot of time to find its weaknesses and limitations. But so far it seems to have addressed several weaknesses that I found in VMware Player so it may have a lot of value to me. I think it is definitely worth trying out before moving on to the commercial version of VMware.
P.S. Just tried the snapshot and clone features. Very neat. Also I forgot another nuisance with VMware Player. It always took a long time to shut down a machine. I think it was saving the current state. I didn’t really care about saving the state or whatever it was doing. Usually I just wanted to bring something up real quick and shut it down fast. This works like a charm on VirtualBox. It shuts down a VM in seconds. So far so good with VirtualBox.
P.P.S This morning I easily got both my Linux 6.8 and 7.2 VM’s to run with a nice screen size that takes up my entire 27 inch monitor but leaves room so I can see the menu at the top of the VM window and my Windows 7 status bar below the VM’s console window. Very nice. I was up late last night tossing and turning in bed thinking about all that I could do with the snapshot and linked clone features.
Still tweaking my Python based Oracle database performance tuning graphs.
I kind of like this new version of my “sigscpuio” graph:
The earlier version plotted IO, CPU, and Elapsed time summed over a group of force matching signatures. It showed the components of the time spent by the SQL statements represented by those signatures. But the IO and CPU lines overlapped and you really could not tell how the elapsed time related to IO and CPU. I thought of changing to a stacked graph where the graph layered all three on top of each other but that would not work. Elapsed time is a separate measure of the total wall clock time and could be more or less than the total IO and CPU time. So, I got the idea of tweaking the chart to show IO time on the bottom, CPU+IO time in the middle, and let the line for elapsed time go wherever it falls. It could be above the CPU+IO line if there was time spent that was neither CPU or IO. It could fall below the line if CPU+IO added up to more than the elapsed time.
So, this version of sigscpuio kind of stacks CPU and IO and just plots elapsed time wherever it falls. Might come in handy.
I made a new graph in my PythonDBAGraphs program. Here is an example with real data but the database name blanked out:
My graphs are all sized for 1920 x 1080 monitors so I can see all the detail in the lines using my entire screen. The idea for this graph is to show how the performance of the queries that matter to the users changes as we add more load and data to this production database. I knew that this database had many queries with literals in their where clauses. I decided to pick a group of SQL by FORCE_MATCHING_SIGNATURE and to graph the average elapsed run time against the total number of executions.
I used this query to list all the SQL by signature:
column FORCE_MATCHING_SIGNATURE format 99999999999999999999 select FORCE_MATCHING_SIGNATURE, sum(ELAPSED_TIME_DELTA)/1000000 total_seconds, sum(executions_delta) total_executions, count(distinct sql_id) number_sqlids, count(distinct snap_id) number_hours, min(PARSING_SCHEMA_NAME) from DBA_HIST_SQLSTAT group by FORCE_MATCHING_SIGNATURE order by number_hours desc;
This is an edited version of the output – cut down to fit the page:
FORCE_MATCHING_SIGNATURE TOTAL_SECONDS TOTAL_EXECUTIONS NUMBER_HOURS ------------------------ ------------- ---------------- ------------ 14038313233049026256 22621.203 68687024 1019 18385146879684525921 18020.9776 157888956 1013 2974462313782736551 22875.4743 673687 993 12492389898598272683 6203.78985 66412941 992 14164303807833460050 4390.32324 198997 980 10252833433610975622 6166.07675 306373 979 17697983043057986874 17391.0907 25914398 974 15459941437096211273 9869.31961 7752698 967 2690518030862682918 15308.8561 5083672 952 1852474737868084795 50095.5382 3906220 948 6256114255890028779 380.095915 4543306 947 16226347765919129545 9199.14289 215756 946 13558933806438570935 394.913411 4121336 945 12227994223267192558 369.784714 3970052 945 18298186003132032869 296.887075 3527130 945 17898820371160082776 184.125159 3527322 944 10790121820101128903 2474.15195 4923888 943 2308739084210563004 265.395538 3839998 941 13580764457377834041 2807.68503 62923457 934 12635549236735416450 1023.42959 702076 918 17930064579773119626 2423.03972 61576984 914 14879486686694324607 33.253284 17969 899 9212708781170196788 7292.5267 126641 899 357347690345658614 6321.51612 182371 899 15436428048766097389 11986.082 334125 886 5089204714765300123 6858.98913 190700 851 11165399311873161545 4864.60469 45897756 837 12042794039346605265 11223.0792 179064 835 15927676903549361476 505.624771 3717196 832 9120348263769454156 12953.0746 230090 828 10517599934976061598 311.61394 3751259 813 6987137087681155918 540.565595 3504784 809 11181311136166944889 5018.309 59540417 808 187803040686893225 3199.87327 12788206 800
I picked the ones that had executed in 800 or more hours. Our AWR has about 1000 hours of history so 800 hours represents about 80% of the AWR snapshots. I ended up pulling one of these queries out because it was a select for update and sometimes gets hung on row locks and skews the graph. So, the graph above has that one pulled out.
I based the graph above on this query:
select sn.END_INTERVAL_TIME, sum(ss.executions_delta) total_executions, sum(ELAPSED_TIME_DELTA)/((sum(executions_delta)+1)) from DBA_HIST_SQLSTAT ss,DBA_HIST_SNAPSHOT sn where ss.snap_id=sn.snap_id and ss.INSTANCE_NUMBER=sn.INSTANCE_NUMBER and ss.FORCE_MATCHING_SIGNATURE in ( 14038313233049026256, 18385146879684525921, 2974462313782736551, 12492389898598272683, 14164303807833460050, 10252833433610975622, 17697983043057986874, 15459941437096211273, 2690518030862682918, 6256114255890028779, 16226347765919129545, 13558933806438570935, 12227994223267192558, 18298186003132032869, 17898820371160082776, 10790121820101128903, 2308739084210563004, 13580764457377834041, 12635549236735416450, 17930064579773119626, 14879486686694324607, 9212708781170196788, 357347690345658614, 15436428048766097389, 5089204714765300123, 11165399311873161545, 12042794039346605265, 15927676903549361476, 9120348263769454156, 10517599934976061598, 6987137087681155918, 11181311136166944889, 187803040686893225 ) group by sn.END_INTERVAL_TIME order by sn.END_INTERVAL_TIME;
Only time will tell if this really is a helpful way to check system performance as the load grows, but I thought it was worth sharing what I had done. Some part of this might be helpful to others.
We are moving a production database from 10.2 Oracle on HP-UX 64 bit Itanium to 11.2 Oracle on Linux on 64 bit Intel x86. So, we are upgrading the database software from 10.2 to 11.2. We are also changing endianness from Itanium’s byte order to that of Intel’s x86-64 processors. Also, my tests have shown that the new processors are about twice as fast as the older Itanium CPUs.
Two SQL queries stand out as being a lot slower on the new system although other queries are fine. So, I tried to understand why these particular queries were slower. I will just talk about one query since we saw similar behavior for both. This query has sql_id = aktyyckj710a3.
First I looked at the way the query executed on both systems using a query like this:
select ss.sql_id, ss.plan_hash_value, sn.END_INTERVAL_TIME, ss.executions_delta, ELAPSED_TIME_DELTA/(executions_delta*1000), CPU_TIME_DELTA/(executions_delta*1000), IOWAIT_DELTA/(executions_delta*1000), CLWAIT_DELTA/(executions_delta*1000), APWAIT_DELTA/(executions_delta*1000), CCWAIT_DELTA/(executions_delta*1000), BUFFER_GETS_DELTA/executions_delta, DISK_READS_DELTA/executions_delta, ROWS_PROCESSED_DELTA/executions_delta from DBA_HIST_SQLSTAT ss,DBA_HIST_SNAPSHOT sn where ss.sql_id = 'aktyyckj710a3' and ss.snap_id=sn.snap_id and executions_delta > 0 and ss.INSTANCE_NUMBER=sn.INSTANCE_NUMBER order by ss.snap_id,ss.sql_id;
It had a single plan on production and averaged a few seconds per execution:
PLAN_HASH_VALUE END_INTERVAL_TIME EXECUTIONS_DELTA Elapsed Average ms CPU Average ms IO Average ms Cluster Average ms Application Average ms Concurrency Average ms Average buffer gets Average disk reads Average rows processed --------------- ------------------------- ---------------- ------------------ -------------- ------------- ------------------ ---------------------- ---------------------- ------------------- ------------------ ---------------------- 918231698 11-MAY-16 06.00.40.980 PM 195 1364.80228 609.183405 831.563728 0 0 0 35211.9487 1622.4 6974.40513 918231698 11-MAY-16 07.00.53.532 PM 129 555.981481 144.348698 441.670271 0 0 0 8682.84496 646.984496 1810.51938 918231698 11-MAY-16 08.00.05.513 PM 39 91.5794872 39.6675128 54.4575897 0 0 0 3055.17949 63.025641 669.153846 918231698 12-MAY-16 08.00.32.814 AM 35 178.688971 28.0369429 159.676629 0 0 0 1464.28571 190.8 311.485714 918231698 12-MAY-16 09.00.44.997 AM 124 649.370258 194.895944 486.875758 0 0 0 13447.871 652.806452 2930.23387 918231698 12-MAY-16 10.00.57.199 AM 168 2174.35909 622.905935 1659.14223 0 0 .001303571 38313.1548 2403.28571 8894.42857 918231698 12-MAY-16 11.00.09.362 AM 213 3712.60403 1100.01973 2781.68793 0 0 .000690141 63878.1362 3951 15026.2066 918231698 12-MAY-16 12.00.21.835 PM 221 2374.74486 741.20133 1741.28251 0 0 .000045249 44243.8914 2804.66063 10294.81
On the new Linux system the query was taking 10 times as long to run as in the HP system.
PLAN_HASH_VALUE END_INTERVAL_TIME EXECUTIONS_DELTA Elapsed Average ms CPU Average ms IO Average ms Cluster Average ms Application Average ms Concurrency Average ms Average buffer gets Average disk reads Average rows processed --------------- ------------------------- ---------------- ------------------ -------------- ------------- ------------------ ---------------------- ---------------------- ------------------- ------------------ ---------------------- 2834425987 10-MAY-16 07.00.09.243 PM 41 39998.8871 1750.66015 38598.1108 0 0 0 50694.1463 11518.0244 49379.4634 2834425987 10-MAY-16 08.00.13.522 PM 33 44664.4329 1680.59361 43319.9765 0 0 0 47090.4848 10999.1818 48132.4242 2834425987 11-MAY-16 11.00.23.769 AM 8 169.75075 60.615125 111.1715 0 0 0 417.375 92 2763.25 2834425987 11-MAY-16 12.00.27.950 PM 11 14730.9611 314.497455 14507.0803 0 0 0 8456.63636 2175.63636 4914.90909 2834425987 11-MAY-16 01.00.33.147 PM 2 1302.774 1301.794 0 0 0 0 78040 0 49013 2834425987 11-MAY-16 02.00.37.442 PM 1 1185.321 1187.813 0 0 0 0 78040 0 49013 2834425987 11-MAY-16 03.00.42.457 PM 14 69612.6197 2409.27829 67697.353 0 0 0 45156.8571 11889.1429 45596.7143 2834425987 11-MAY-16 04.00.47.326 PM 16 65485.9254 2232.40963 63739.7442 0 0 0 38397.4375 12151.9375 52222.1875 2834425987 12-MAY-16 08.00.36.402 AM 61 24361.6303 1445.50141 23088.6067 0 0 0 47224.4426 5331.06557 47581.918 2834425987 12-MAY-16 09.00.40.765 AM 86 38596.7262 1790.56574 37139.4262 0 0 0 46023.0349 9762.01163 48870.0465
The query plans were not the same but they were similar. Also, the number of rows in our test cases were more than the average number of rows per run in production but it still didn’t account for all the differences.
We decided to use an outline hint and SQL Profile to force the HP system’s plan on the queries in the Linux system to see if the same plan would run faster.
It was a pain to run the query with bind variables that are dates for my test so I kind of cheated and replaced the bind variables with literals. First I extracted some example values for the variables from the original system:
select * from (select distinct to_char(sb.LAST_CAPTURED,'YYYY-MM-DD HH24:MI:SS') DATE_TIME, sb.NAME, sb.VALUE_STRING from DBA_HIST_SQLBIND sb where sb.sql_id='aktyyckj710a3' and sb.WAS_CAPTURED='YES') order by DATE_TIME, NAME;
Then I got the plan of the query with the bind variables filled in with the literals from the original HP system. Here is how I got the plan without the SQL query itself:
truncate table plan_table; explain plan into plan_table for -- problem query here with bind variables replaced / set markup html preformat on select * from table(dbms_xplan.display('PLAN_TABLE', NULL,'ADVANCED'));
This plan outputs an outline hint similar to this:
/*+ BEGIN_OUTLINE_DATA INDEX_RS_ASC(@"SEL$683B0107" ... NO_ACCESS(@"SEL$5DA710D3" "VW_NSO_1"@"SEL$5DA710D3") OUTLINE(@"SEL$1") OUTLINE(@"SEL$2") UNNEST(@"SEL$2") OUTLINE_LEAF(@"SEL$5DA710D3") OUTLINE_LEAF(@"SEL$683B0107") ALL_ROWS OPT_PARAM('query_rewrite_enabled' 'false') OPTIMIZER_FEATURES_ENABLE('10.2.0.3') IGNORE_OPTIM_EMBEDDED_HINTS END_OUTLINE_DATA */
Now, to force aktyyckj710a3 to run on the new system with the same plan as on the original system I had to run the query on the new system with the outline hint and get the plan hash value for the plan that the query uses.
explain plan into plan_table for SELECT /*+ BEGIN_OUTLINE_DATA ... END_OUTLINE_DATA */ * FROM ... Plan hash value: 1022624069
So, I compared the two plans and they were the same but the plan hash values were different. 1022624069 on Linux was the same as 918231698. I think that endianness differences caused the plan_hash_value differences for the same plan.
Then we forced the original HP system plan on to the real sql_id using coe_xfr_sql_profile.sql.
-- build script to load profile @coe_xfr_sql_profile.sql aktyyckj710a3 1022624069 -- run generated script @coe_xfr_sql_profile_aktyyckj710a3_1022624069.sql
Sadly, even after forcing the original system’s plan on the new system, the query still ran just as slow. But, at least we were able to remove the plan difference as the source of the problem.
We did notice a high I/O time on the Linux executions. Running AWR reports showed about a 5 millisecond single block read time on Linux and about 1 millisecond on HP. I also graphed this over time using my Python scripts:
Linux db file sequential read (single block read) graph:
HP-UX db file sequential read graph:
So, in general our source HP system was seeing sub millisecond single block reads but our new Linux system was seeing multiple millisecond reads. So, this lead us to look at differences in the storage system. It seems that the original system was on flash or solid state disk and the new one was not. So, we are going to move the new system to SSD and see how that affects the query performance.
Even though this led to a possible hardware issue I thought it was worth sharing the process I took to get there including eliminating differences in the query plan by matching the plan on the original platform.
Our Linux and storage teams moved the new Linux VM to solid state disk and resolved these issues. The query ran about 10 times faster than it did on the original system after moving Linux to SSD.
HP Version: END_INTERVAL_TIME EXECUTIONS_DELTA Elapsed Average ms ------------------------- ---------------- ------------------ 02.00.03.099 PM 245 5341.99923 03.00.15.282 PM 250 1280.99632 04.00.27.536 PM 341 3976.65855 05.00.39.887 PM 125 2619.58894 Linux: END_INTERVAL_TIME EXECUTIONS_DELTA Elapsed Average ms ------------------------- ---------------- ------------------ 16-MAY-16 09.00.35.436 AM 162 191.314809 16-MAY-16 10.00.38.835 AM 342 746.313994 16-MAY-16 11.00.42.366 AM 258 461.641705 16-MAY-16 12.00.46.043 PM 280 478.601618 The single block read time is well under 1 millisecond now that the Linux database is on SSD. END_INTERVAL_TIME number of waits ave microseconds -------------------------- --------------- ---------------- 15-MAY-16 11.00.54.676 PM 544681 515.978687 16-MAY-16 12.00.01.873 AM 828539 502.911935 16-MAY-16 01.00.06.780 AM 518322 1356.92377 16-MAY-16 02.00.10.272 AM 10698 637.953543 16-MAY-16 03.00.13.672 AM 193 628.170984 16-MAY-16 04.00.17.301 AM 112 1799.3125 16-MAY-16 05.00.20.927 AM 1680 318.792262 16-MAY-16 06.00.24.893 AM 140 688.914286 16-MAY-16 07.00.28.693 AM 4837 529.759768 16-MAY-16 08.00.32.242 AM 16082 591.632508 16-MAY-16 09.00.35.436 AM 280927 387.293204 16-MAY-16 10.00.38.835 AM 737846 519.94157 16-MAY-16 11.00.42.366 AM 1113762 428.772997 16-MAY-16 12.00.46.043 PM 562258 510.357372
The developers complained that their test database was so much slower than production that they could not use it to really test whether their batch processes would run fast enough when migrated to production. They did not give me any particular queries to check. Instead they said that the system was generally too slow. So, I went through a process to find SQL statements that they had run in test and that normally run in production and compare their run times. I thought that I would document the process that I went through here.
First I found the top 100 queries by elapsed time on both the test and production databases using this query:
column FORCE_MATCHING_SIGNATURE format 99999999999999999999 select FORCE_MATCHING_SIGNATURE from (select FORCE_MATCHING_SIGNATURE, sum(ELAPSED_TIME_DELTA) total_elapsed from DBA_HIST_SQLSTAT where FORCE_MATCHING_SIGNATURE is not null and FORCE_MATCHING_SIGNATURE <>0 group by FORCE_MATCHING_SIGNATURE order by total_elapsed desc) where rownum < 101;
The output looked like this:
FORCE_MATCHING_SIGNATURE ------------------------ 944718698451269965 4634961225655610267 15939251529124125793 15437049687902878835 2879196232471320459 12776764566159396624 14067042856362022182 ...
Then I found the signatures that were in common between the two lists.
insert into test_sigs values (944718698451269965); insert into test_sigs values (4634961225655610267); insert into test_sigs values (15939251529124125793); ... insert into prod_sigs values (3898230136794347827); insert into prod_sigs values (944718698451269965); insert into prod_sigs values (11160330134321800286); ... select * from test_sigs intersect select * from prod_sigs;
This led to 32 values of FORCE_MATCHING_SIGNATURE which represented queries that ran on both test and production, except for the possible difference in constants.
Next I looked at the overall performance of these 32 queries in test and production using this query:
create table common_sigs (FORCE_MATCHING_SIGNATURE number); insert into common_sigs values (575231776450247964); insert into common_sigs values (944718698451269965); insert into common_sigs values (1037345866341698119); ... select sum(executions_delta) total_executions, sum(ELAPSED_TIME_DELTA)/(sum(executions_delta)*1000), sum(CPU_TIME_DELTA)/(sum(executions_delta)*1000), sum(IOWAIT_DELTA)/(sum(executions_delta)*1000), sum(CLWAIT_DELTA)/(sum(executions_delta)*1000), sum(APWAIT_DELTA)/(sum(executions_delta)*1000), sum(CCWAIT_DELTA)/(sum(executions_delta)*1000), sum(BUFFER_GETS_DELTA)/sum(executions_delta), sum(DISK_READS_DELTA)/sum(executions_delta), sum(ROWS_PROCESSED_DELTA)/sum(executions_delta) from DBA_HIST_SQLSTAT ss,common_sigs cs where ss.FORCE_MATCHING_SIGNATURE = cs.FORCE_MATCHING_SIGNATURE;
Here is part of the output:
TOTAL_EXECUTIONS Elapsed Average ms CPU Average ms IO Average ms ---------------- ------------------ -------------- ------------- 5595295 366.185529 241.92785 59.8682797 430763 1273.75822 364.258421 1479.83294
The top line is production and the bottom is test.
This result supported the development team’s assertion that test was slower than production. The 32 queries averaged about 3.5 times longer run times in test than in production. Also, the time spent on I/O was about 25 times worse. I am not sure why the I/O time exceeded the elapsed time on test. I guess it has something to do with how Oracle measures I/O time. But clearly on average these 32 queries are much slower on test and I/O time probably caused most of the run time difference.
After noticing this big difference between test and production I decided to get these same sorts of performance metrics for each signature to see if certain ones were worse than others. The query looked like this:
select ss.FORCE_MATCHING_SIGNATURE, sum(executions_delta) total_executions, sum(ELAPSED_TIME_DELTA)/(sum(executions_delta)*1000), sum(CPU_TIME_DELTA)/(sum(executions_delta)*1000), sum(IOWAIT_DELTA)/(sum(executions_delta)*1000), sum(CLWAIT_DELTA)/(sum(executions_delta)*1000), sum(APWAIT_DELTA)/(sum(executions_delta)*1000), sum(CCWAIT_DELTA)/(sum(executions_delta)*1000), sum(BUFFER_GETS_DELTA)/sum(executions_delta), sum(DISK_READS_DELTA)/sum(executions_delta), sum(ROWS_PROCESSED_DELTA)/sum(executions_delta) from DBA_HIST_SQLSTAT ss,common_sigs cs where ss.FORCE_MATCHING_SIGNATURE = cs.FORCE_MATCHING_SIGNATURE having sum(executions_delta) > 0 group by ss.FORCE_MATCHING_SIGNATURE order by ss.FORCE_MATCHING_SIGNATURE;
I put together the outputs from running this query on test and production and lined the result up like this:
FORCE_MATCHING_SIGNATURE PROD Average ms TEST Average ms ------------------------ ------------------ ------------------ 575231776450247964 20268.6719 16659.4585 944718698451269965 727534.558 3456111.6 * 1037345866341698119 6640.87641 8859.53518 1080231657361448615 3611.37698 4823.62857 2879196232471320459 95723.5569 739287.601 * 2895012443099075884 687272.949 724081.946 3371400666194280661 1532797.66 761762.181 4156520416999188213 109238.997 213658.722 4634693999459450255 4923.8897 4720.16455 5447362809447709021 2875.37308 2659.5754 5698160695928381586 17139.6304 16559.1932 6260911340920427003 290069.674 421058.874 * 7412302135920006997 20039.0452 18951.6357 7723300319489155163 18045.9756 19573.4784 9153380962342466451 1661586.53 1530076.01 9196714121881881832 5.48003488 5.13169472 9347242065129163091 4360835.92 4581093.93 11140980711532357629 3042320.88 5048356.99 11160330134321800286 6868746.78 6160556.38 12212345436143033196 5189.7972 5031.30811 12776764566159396624 139150.231 614207.784 * 12936428121692179551 3563.64537 3436.59365 13637202277555795727 7360.0632 6410.02772 14067042856362022182 859.732015 771.041714 14256464986207527479 51.4042938 48.9237251 14707568089762185958 627.586095 414.14762 15001584593434987669 1287629.02 1122151.35 15437049687902878835 96014.9782 996974.876 * 16425440090840528197 48013.8912 50799.6184 16778386062441486289 29459.0089 26845.8327 17620933630628481201 51199.0511 111785.525 * 18410003796880256802 581563.611 602866.609
I put an asterisk (*) beside the six queries that were much worse on test than production. I decided to focus on these six to get to the bottom of the reason between the difference. Note that many of the 32 queries ran about the same on test as prod so it really isn’t the case that everything was slow on test.
Now that I had identified the 6 queries I wanted to look at what they were spending their time on including both CPU and wait events. I used the following query to use ASH to get a profile of the time spent by these queries on both databases:
select case SESSION_STATE when 'WAITING' then event else SESSION_STATE end TIME_CATEGORY, (count(*)*10) seconds from DBA_HIST_ACTIVE_SESS_HISTORY where FORCE_MATCHING_SIGNATURE in ('944718698451269965', '2879196232471320459', '6260911340920427003', '12776764566159396624', '15437049687902878835', '17620933630628481201') group by SESSION_STATE,EVENT order by seconds desc;
The profile looked like this in test:
TIME_CATEGORY SECONDS ------------------------ ------- db file parallel read 207450 ON CPU 141010 db file sequential read 62990 direct path read 36980 direct path read temp 29240 direct path write temp 23110
The profile looked like this in production:
TIME_CATEGORY SECONDS ------------------------ ------- ON CPU 433260 PX qref latch 64200 db file parallel read 35730 db file sequential read 14360 direct path read 12750 direct path write temp 12000
So, I/O waits dominate the time on test but not production. Since db file parallel read and db file sequential read were the top I/O waits for these 6 queries I used ash to see which of the 6 spent the most time on these waits.
db file parallel read:
select 2 sql_id, 3 (count(*)*10) seconds 4 from DBA_HIST_ACTIVE_SESS_HISTORY 5 where 6 FORCE_MATCHING_SIGNATURE in 7 ('944718698451269965', 8 '2879196232471320459', 9 '6260911340920427003', 10 '12776764566159396624', 11 '15437049687902878835', 12 '17620933630628481201') and 13 event='db file parallel read' 14 group by sql_id 15 order by seconds desc; SQL_ID SECONDS ------------- ---------- ak2wk2sjwnd34 159020 95b6t1sp7y40y 37030 brkfcwv1mqsas 11370 7rdc79drfp28a 30
db file sequential read:
select 2 sql_id, 3 (count(*)*10) seconds 4 from DBA_HIST_ACTIVE_SESS_HISTORY 5 where 6 FORCE_MATCHING_SIGNATURE in 7 ('944718698451269965', 8 '2879196232471320459', 9 '6260911340920427003', 10 '12776764566159396624', 11 '15437049687902878835', 12 '17620933630628481201') and 13 event='db file sequential read' 14 group by sql_id 15 order by seconds desc; SQL_ID SECONDS ------------- ---------- 95b6t1sp7y40y 26840 ak2wk2sjwnd34 22550 6h0km9j5bp69t 13300 brkfcwv1mqsas 170 7rdc79drfp28a 130
Two queries stood out at the top waiters on these two events: 95b6t1sp7y40y and ak2wk2sjwnd34. Then I just ran my normal sqlstat query for both sql_ids for both test and production to find out when they last ran. Here is what the query looks like for ak2wk2sjwnd34:
select ss.sql_id, ss.plan_hash_value, sn.END_INTERVAL_TIME, ss.executions_delta, ELAPSED_TIME_DELTA/(executions_delta*1000) "Elapsed Average ms", CPU_TIME_DELTA/(executions_delta*1000) "CPU Average ms", IOWAIT_DELTA/(executions_delta*1000) "IO Average ms", CLWAIT_DELTA/(executions_delta*1000) "Cluster Average ms", APWAIT_DELTA/(executions_delta*1000) "Application Average ms", CCWAIT_DELTA/(executions_delta*1000) "Concurrency Average ms", BUFFER_GETS_DELTA/executions_delta "Average buffer gets", DISK_READS_DELTA/executions_delta "Average disk reads", ROWS_PROCESSED_DELTA/executions_delta "Average rows processed" from DBA_HIST_SQLSTAT ss,DBA_HIST_SNAPSHOT sn where ss.sql_id = 'ak2wk2sjwnd34' and ss.snap_id=sn.snap_id and executions_delta > 0 and ss.INSTANCE_NUMBER=sn.INSTANCE_NUMBER order by ss.snap_id,ss.sql_id;
I found two time periods where both of these queries were recently run on both test and production and got an AWR report for each time period to compare them.
Here are a couple of pieces of the AWR report for the test database:
Here are similar pieces for the production database:
What really stood out to me was that the wait events were so different. In production the db file parallel read waits averaged around 1 millisecond and the db file sequential reads averaged under 1 ms. On test they were 26 and 5 milliseconds, respectively. The elapsed times for sql_ids 95b6t1sp7y40y and ak2wk2sjwnd34 were considerably longer in test.
This is as far as my investigation went. I know that the slowdown is most pronounced on the two queries and I know that their I/O waits correspond to the two wait events. I am still trying to find a way to bring the I/O times down on our test database so that it more closely matches production. But at least I have a more narrow focus with the two top queries and the two wait events.
I am finally getting around to finishing my four-part blog series on people who have had the most influence on my Oracle performance tuning work. The previous three people were Craig Shallahamer, Don Burleson, and Cary Millsap. The last person is Jonathan Lewis. These four people, listed and blogged about in chronological order, had the most influence on my understanding of how to do Oracle database performance tuning. There are many other great people out there and I am sure that other DBAs would produce their own, different, list of people who influenced them. But this list reflects my journey through my Oracle database career and the issues that I ran into and the experiences that I had. I ran into Jonathan Lewis’ work only after years of struggling with query tuning and getting advice from others. I ran into his material right around the time that I was beginning to learn about how the Oracle optimizer worked and some of its limits. Jonathan was a critical next step in my understanding of how Oracle’s optimizer worked and why it sometimes failed to pick the most efficient way to run a query.
Jonathan has produced many helpful tuning resources including his blog, his participation in online forums, and his talks at user group conferences, but the first and most profound way he taught me about Oracle performance tuning was through his query tuning book Cost-Based Oracle Fundamentals. It’s $30 on Amazon and that is an incredibly small amount of money to pay compared to the value of the material inside the book. I had spent many hours over several years trying to understand why the Oracle optimizer some times choses the wrong way to run a query. In many cases the fast way to run something was clear to me and the optimizer’s choices left me stumped. The book helped me better understand how the Oracle optimizer chooses what it thinks is the best execution plan. Jonathan’s book describes the different parts of a plan – join types, access methods, etc. – and how the optimizer assigns a cost to the different pieces of a plan. The optimizer chooses the plan with the least cost, but if some mistake causes the optimizer to calculate an unrealistic cost then it might choose a poor plan. Understanding why the optimizer would choose a slow plan helped me understand how to resolve performance issues or prevent them from happening, a very valuable skill.
There is a lot more I could say about what I got from Jonathan Lewis’ book including just observing how he operated. Jonathan filled his book with examples which show concepts that he was teaching. I think that I have emulated the kind of building of test scripts that you see throughout his book and on his blog and community forums. I think I have emulated not only Jonathan’s approach but the approaches of all four of the people who I have spotlighted in this series. Each have provided me with profoundly helpful technical information that has helped me in my career. But they have also provided me with a pattern of what an Oracle performance tuning practitioner looks like. What kind of things do they do? To this point in my career I have found the Oracle performance tuning part of my job to be the most challenging and interesting and probably the most valuable to my employers. Jonathan Lewis and the three others in this four-part series have been instrumental in propelling me along this path and I am very appreciative.
I got a chance to use my onewait Python based graph to help with a performance problem. I’m looking at slow write time from the log writer on Thursday mornings. Here is the graph with the database name erased:
We are still trying to track down the source of the problem but there seems to be a backup on another system that runs at times that correspond to the spike in log file parallel write wait times. The nice thing about this graph is that it shows you activity on the top and average wait time on the bottom so you can see if the increased wait time corresponds to a spike in activity. In this case there does not seem to be any increase in activity on the problematic database. But that makes sense if the real problem is contention by a backup on another system.
Anyway, my Python graphs are far from perfect but still helpful in this case.
I decided to get rid of the Github repository that I had experimented with and to create a new one. The old one had a dump of all my SQL scripts but without any documentation. But, I have updated my Python graphing scripts a bit at a time and have had some recent value from these scripts in my Oracle database tuning work. So, I created a Github repository called PythonDBAGraphs. I think it will be more valuable to have a repository that is more focused and is being actively updated and documented.
It is still very simple but I have gotten real value from the two graphs that are included.
We have had problems with set of databases over the past few weeks. Our team does not support these databases, but my director asked me to help. These are 126.96.36.199 Windows 64 bit Oracle databases running on Windows 2008. The incident reports said that the systems stop working and that the main symptom was that the oracle.exe process uses all the CPU. They were bouncing the database server when they saw this behavior and it took about 30 minutes after the bounce for the CPU to go back down to normal. A Windows server colleague told me that at some point in the past a new version of virus software had apparently caused high CPU from the oracle.exe process.
At first I looked for some known bugs related to high CPU and virus checkers without much success. Then I got the idea of just checking for query performance. After all, a poorly performing query can eat up a lot of CPU. These Windows boxes only have 2 cores so it would not take many concurrently running high CPU queries to max it out. So, I got an AWR report covering the last hour of a recent incident. This was the top SQL:
The top query, sql id 27d8x8p6139y6, stood out as very inefficient and all CPU. It seemed clear to me from this listing that the 2 core box had a heavy load and a lot of waiting for CPU queuing. %IO was zero but %CPU was only 31%. Most likely the rest was CPU queue time.
I also looked at my sqlstat report to see which plans 27d8x8p6139y6 had used over time.
PLAN_HASH_VALUE END_INTERVAL_TIME EXECUTIONS Elapsed ms --------------- --------------------- ---------- ----------- 3067874494 07-MAR-16 09.00.50 PM 287 948.102286 3067874494 07-MAR-16 10.00.03 PM 292 1021.68191 3067874494 07-MAR-16 11.00.18 PM 244 1214.96161 3067874494 08-MAR-16 12.00.32 AM 276 1306.16222 3067874494 08-MAR-16 01.00.45 AM 183 1491.31307 467860697 08-MAR-16 01.00.45 AM 125 .31948 467860697 08-MAR-16 02.00.59 AM 285 .234073684 467860697 08-MAR-16 03.00.12 AM 279 .214354839 467860697 08-MAR-16 04.00.25 AM 246 .17147561 467860697 08-MAR-16 05.00.39 AM 18 .192 2868766721 13-MAR-16 06.00.55 PM 89 159259.9 3067874494 13-MAR-16 06.00.55 PM 8 854.384125 2868766721 13-MAR-16 07.00.50 PM 70 1331837.56
Plan 2868766721 seemed terrible but plan 467860697 seemed great.
Our group doesn’t support these databases so I am not going to dig into how the application gathers statistics, what indexes it uses, or how the vendor designed the application. But, it seems possible that forcing the good plan with a SQL Profile could resolve this issue without having any access to the application or understanding of its design.
But, before plunging headlong into the use of a SQL Profile I looked at the plan and the SQL text. I have edited these to hide any proprietary details:
SELECT T.* FROM TAB_MYTABLE1 T, TAB_MYTABLELNG A, TAB_MYTABLE1 PIR_T, TAB_MYTABLELNG PIR_A WHERE A.MYTABLELNG_ID = T.MYTABLELNG_ID AND A.ASSIGNED_TO = :B1 AND A.ACTIVE_FL = 1 AND T.COMPLETE_FL = 0 AND T.SHORTED_FL = 0 AND PIR_T.MYTABLE1_ID = T.PIR_MYTABLE1_ID AND ((PIR_A.FLOATING_PIR_FL = 1 AND PIR_T.COMPLETE_FL = 1) OR PIR_T.QTY_PICKED IS NOT NULL) AND PIR_A.MYTABLELNG_ID = PIR_T.MYTABLELNG_ID AND PIR_A.ASSIGNED_TO IS NULL ORDER BY T.MYTABLE1_ID
The key thing I noticed is that there was only one bind variable. The innermost part of the good plan uses an index on the column that the query equates with the bind variable. The rest of the plan is a nice nested loops plan with range and unique index scans. I see plans in this format in OLTP queries where you are looking up small numbers of rows using an index and join to related tables.
----------------------------------------------------------------- Id | Operation | Name ----------------------------------------------------------------- 0 | SELECT STATEMENT | 1 | SORT ORDER BY | 2 | NESTED LOOPS | 3 | NESTED LOOPS | 4 | NESTED LOOPS | 5 | NESTED LOOPS | 6 | TABLE ACCESS BY INDEX ROWID| TAB_MYTABLELNG 7 | INDEX RANGE SCAN | AK_MYTABLELNG_BY_USER 8 | TABLE ACCESS BY INDEX ROWID| TAB_MYTABLE1 9 | INDEX RANGE SCAN | AK_MYTABLE1_BY_MYTABLELNG 10 | TABLE ACCESS BY INDEX ROWID | TAB_MYTABLE1 11 | INDEX UNIQUE SCAN | PK_MYTABLE1 12 | INDEX UNIQUE SCAN | PK_MYTABLELNG 13 | TABLE ACCESS BY INDEX ROWID | TAB_MYTABLELNG -----------------------------------------------------------------
The bad plan had a gross Cartesian merge join:
Plan hash value: 2868766721 ---------------------------------------------------------------- Id | Operation | Name ---------------------------------------------------------------- 0 | SELECT STATEMENT | 1 | NESTED LOOPS | 2 | NESTED LOOPS | 3 | MERGE JOIN CARTESIAN | 4 | TABLE ACCESS BY INDEX ROWID | TAB_MYTABLE1 5 | INDEX FULL SCAN | PK_MYTABLE1 6 | BUFFER SORT | 7 | TABLE ACCESS BY INDEX ROWID| TAB_MYTABLELNG 8 | INDEX RANGE SCAN | AK_MYTABLELNG_BY_USER 9 | TABLE ACCESS BY INDEX ROWID | TAB_MYTABLE1 10 | INDEX RANGE SCAN | AK_MYTABLE1_BY_MYTABLELNG 11 | TABLE ACCESS BY INDEX ROWID | TAB_MYTABLELNG 12 | INDEX RANGE SCAN | AK_MYTABLELNG_BY_USER ----------------------------------------------------------------
Reviewing the SQL made me believe that there was a good chance that a SQL Profile forcing the good plan would resolve the issue. Sure, there could be some weird combination of data and bind variable values that make the bad plan the better one. But, given that this was a simple transactional application it seems most likely that the straightforward nested loops with index on the only bind variable plan would be best.
We used the SQL Profile to force these plans on four servers and so far the SQL Profile has resolved the issues. I’m not saying that forcing a plan using a SQL Profile is the only or even best way to resolve query performance issues. But, this was a good example of where a SQL Profile makes sense. If modifying the application, statistics, parameters, and schema is not possible then a SQL Profile can come to your rescue in a heartbeat.
I feel like I have not been posting very much on this blog lately. I have been focused on things outside of Oracle performance so I haven’t had a lot of new scripts to post. I have been quietly updating my Python source code on GitHub so check that out. I have spent a lot of time educating myself in various ways including through the leadership and communication training program that comes from Toastmasters. My new job title is “Technical Architect” which is a form of technical leadership so I’m trying to expand myself beyond being an Oracle database administrator that specializes in performance tuning.
In addition to developing my leadership and communication skills I have gotten into a general computer science self-education kick. I took two introductory C.S. classes on edX. I also read a book on Linux hacking and a book on computer history. I was thinking of buying one of the Donald Knuth books or going through MIT’s free online algorithms class class 6.006. I have a computer science degree and spent two years in C.S. graduate school but that was a long time ago. It is kind of fun to refresh my memory and catch up with the latest trends. But the catch is that both the Knuth book and MIT’s 6.006 class require math that I either never learned or have forgotten. So, I am working my way through some math resources that I wanted to share with those who read this blog.
The first thing I did was to buy a computer math book, called Concrete Mathematics, that seemed to cover the needed material. Reviews on Amazon.com recommended this book as good background for the Knuth series and one of the Oracle performance experts that I follow on Twitter recommended it for similar reasons. But, after finishing my second edX class I began exploring the MIT OCW math class that was a prerequisite to MIT’s 6.006 algorithms class. MIT calls the math class 6.042J and I am working through the Fall 2010 version of the class. There is a lot of overlap between the class and the book but they are not a perfect match. The book has some more difficult to follow material than the class. It is probably more advanced. The class covers some topics, namely graph theory, that the book does not. The free online class has some very good lecture videos by a top MIT professor, Tom Leighton. I even had my wife and daughters sit down and watch his first lecture with me on our family television for fun on my birthday.
The book led me to a great free math resource called Maxima. Maxima has all kinds of great math built into it such as solving equations, factoring integers, etc. Plus, it is free. There are other similar and I think more popular programs that are not free but for my use it was great to simply download Maxima and have its functionality at my fingertips.
The last resource that I wanted to mention is the Mathematics section of Stack Exchange. It is a pretty structured online forum with a question and answer format. It is helpful to me since I am going through 6.042J without a professor or teaching assistant to answer my questions. The people on math stack exchange are very helpful if you at least try to follow the etiquette for their forum. For example, they have an easy to use way to format math formulas in your questions and answers and the users of the forum expect you to use it. But it isn’t hard. I had one question from the Concrete Math book where I couldn’t understand the answer key in the back. I asked about it on stack exchange and got a great answer in no time.
Anyway, maybe all of this math and computer science study is a departure from my bread and butter Oracle database work and performance tuning. But the free online resources like the OCW web site, the Maxima program, and the stack exchange forum along with the book that I paid for are a great set of resources. I have already used some of the concepts that I have learned about number theory and its application to RSA encryption. But, at the same time I am enjoying studying these things and mostly see it as something fun to do in my spare time. (I’m weird I know.)
So, I have written this blog post to share the math related things that I am studying and using to those who might benefit from them. I am not a math expert, but I am getting a lot out of these materials. I hope that others find these resources as enjoyable and educational as I have.
Delphix support helped me resolve an issue yesterday and the experience gave me the idea of writing this post about several general computer issue troubleshooting tips that I have learned down through the years. Never mind that I ignored these lessons during this particular problem. This is more of a “do as I say” and not a “do as I do” story. Actually, some times I remember these lessons. I didn’t do so well this week. But the several mistakes that I made resolving this recent Delphix issue motivate me to write this post and if nothing else remind myself of the lessons I’ve learned in the past about how to resolve a computer problem.Don’t panic!
I’m reminded of the friendly advice on the cover of the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy: “Don’t panic!”. So, yesterday it was 4:30 pm. I had rebooted the Delphix virtual machine and then in a panic had the Unix team reboot the HP Unix target server. But, still I could not bring up any of the Delphix VDBs. We had people coming over to our house for dinner that night and I was starting to worry that I would be working on this issue all night. I ended up getting out of the office by 5:30 pm and had a great dinner with friends. What was I so stressed about? Even the times that I have been up all night it didn’t kill me. Usually the all night issues lead to me learning things anyway.Trust support
The primary mistake that I made was to get my mind fixed on a solution to the problem instead of working with Delphix support and trusting them to guide us to the solution. We had a number of system issues due to a recent network issue and I got my mind set on the idea that my Delphix issue was due to some network hangup. I feel sorry for our network team because it seems like the first thought people have any time there is some issue is that it is a “network issue”. I should know better. How many times have I been working on issues when everyone says it is a “database issue” and I’m annoyed because I know that the issue is somewhere else and they are not believing me when I point to things outside the database. Anyway, I opened a case with Delphix on Monday when I couldn’t get a VDB to come down. It just hung for 5 minutes until it gave me an error. I assumed that it was a network hangup and got fixated on rebooting the Delphix VM. Ack! Ultimately, I ended up working with two helpful and capable people in Delphix support and they resolved the issue which was not what I thought at all. There are times to disagree with support and push for your own solution but I did this too early in this case and I was dead wrong.Keep it simple
I’ve heard people refer to Occam’s razor which I translate in computer terms to mean “look for simple problems first”. Instead of fixing my mind on some vague network issue where the hardware is not working properly, how about assuming that all the hardware and software is working normally and then thinking about what problems might cause my symptoms? I can’t remember how many times this has bit me. There is almost always some simple explanation. In this case I had made a change to a Unix shell script that runs when someone logs in as the oracle user. This caused Delphix to no longer be able to do anything with the VDBs on that server. Oops! It was a simple blunder, no big deal. But I’m kicking myself for not first thinking about a simple problem like a script change instead of focusing on something more exotic.What changed?
I found myself saying the same dumb thing that I’ve heard people say to me all the time: nothing changed. In this case I said something like “this has worked fine for 3 years now and nothing has changed”. The long-suffering and patient Delphix support folks never called me on this, but I was dead wrong. Something had to have changed for something that was working to stop working. I should have spent time looking at the various parts of our Delphix setup to see if anything had changed before I contacted support. All I had to do was see the timestamp on our login script and I would see that something had recently changed.Understand how it all works
I think my Delphix skills are a little rusty. We just started a new expansion project to add new database sources to Delphix. It has been a couple of years since I’ve done any heavy configuration and trouble shooting. But I used to have a better feel for how all the pieces fit together. I should have thought about what must have gone on behind the scenes when I asked Delphix to stop a VDB and it hung for 5 minutes. What steps was it doing? Where in the process could the breakdown be occurring? Delphix support did follow this type of reasoning to find the issue. They manually tried some of the steps that the Delphix software would do automatically until they found the problem. If I stopped to think about the pieces of the process I could have done the same. This has been a powerful approach to solving problems all through my career. I think about resolving PeopleSoft issues. It just helps to understand how things work. For example, if you understand how the PeopleSoft login process works you can debug login issues by checking each step of the process for possible issues. The same is true for Oracle logins from clients. In general, the more you understand all the pieces of a computer system, down to the transistors on the chips, the better chance you have of visualizing where the problem might be.
Well, I can’t think of any other pearls of wisdom from this experience but I thought I would write these down while it was on my mind. Plus, I go on call Monday morning so I need to keep these in mind as I resolve any upcoming issues. Thanks to Delphix support for their good work on this issue.