RE: Operational Excellence - True or False? (Feel free to explain if so inclined)

From: Taylor, Chris David <>
Date: Fri, 29 Jul 2011 07:19:20 -0500
Message-ID: <>

2 things:

1.) I think you are right it is relative, BUT how often do companies hire based on what they think they want and then realize that person is not meeting objectives? A company may "think" they only need 2/3 years of experience only to realize that their database systems are down 10% of the time and that is unacceptable. So, yes, operational excellence is relative based on either the explicit or implicit objectives of the organization. Very few companies will allow their data management systems to just "get by" for very long as more and more companies live and die by their data.

2.) It seems I should have included a link to the philosophy of operational excellence in my original post so we might all have a common starting point. That is not to say we would all end at the same understanding of the idea since each individual/organization would likely define what operational excellence is for themselves. Here's a Wikipedia entry as a starting point:

Chris Taylor
Sr. Oracle DBA
Ingram Barge Company
Nashville, TN 37205
Office: 615-517-3355
Cell: 615-663-1673

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From: Stephane Faroult [] Sent: Friday, July 29, 2011 6:24 AM
To: SUzzell_at_MICROS.COM
Cc: ''; Taylor, Chris David; Subject: Re: Operational Excellence - True or False? (Feel free to explain if so inclined)

I think most people on this list seem to have a somewhat exalted understanding of "excellence". "Excellence", like "outstanding", is a relative notion. And I don't believe that the bar is that high. Just go to any job site, and search for "Oracle expert", then count how many times it is followed by "2/3 years experience".

For most managers, "operational excellence" mostly means "I have nothing to show but green indicators to my boss". Worked some years ago on a replicated trading system that had a hub and spoke topology, with the ability to switch any spoke to the hub and the hub to a special spoke that was able to become the hub (all in house development). Everything had been carefully scripted and tested, we could switch in under 15 minutes. One day, a hardware problem occurred. It took more than half an hour to DECIDE to switch. You might have thought it was a merely technical problem but it implied some minor configuration changes on the side of the application support people, and you always have some more or less functional project manager who wants to be seen as a "decision taker" (looks fine in a CV). When you have someone whose main experience of computer failure is the Blue Screen of Death, it may takes some time convincing him that, no, rebooting should not fix the problem. Just like performance issues, really - whether the switch could have been performed in 30 seconds (which would have really been "excellent") or half an hour would not have much affected the whole "we have a problem with the database" (since it's always the database) episode. Absolute technical performance may be the wrong issue in the vast majority of cases. And sometimes you just discover that mysteriously end-users managed to survive a crash of the hyper-critical system.

"Operational excellence" basically means, at the middle-management level, OCP-grade knowledge, hardly more (upper the food chain it becomes a very abstract concept). If you have some decent knowledge of the basics, your being qualified as "excellent" is merely a matter of luck and not being drawn by circumstances and faulty hardware or vicious bugs out of your comfort zone.

Of course, this isn't the official discourse. Was browsing a corporate website the other day and found a quote from the Global Head of Human Resources that was stating "We believe that a company's most valuable assets are its people", really an original and truly insightful thought that I was happy to discover. I have no idea what, in my slightly pervert mind, draw me to the site of the North Korean New Agency, but I found there, in a rebuke of a South Korean report on human rights in the North

Man is regarded as the most valuable being in the DPRK under Korean-style socialist system centered on the popular masses. Exactly. And I assume that the DPRK thrives for operational excellence.


Stephane Faroult
RoughSea Ltd<>
RoughSea Channel on Youtube<>

On 07/29/2011 12:26 PM, Uzzell, Stephan wrote:

Norm, Norm,

You can verb anything, dontcha know?

To the question at hand - I think people have said it better than I could. But my feeling tends to be that while many people may be able to achieve some level of competence in both Oracle and SQL Server, true excellence in the both of them is out of the range of us mere mortals.

Just my $.02

Stephan Uzzell

-----Original Message-----

From:<> [] On Behalf Of Dunbar, Norman (Capgemini)

Sent: Friday, 29 July, 2011 02:55


Subject: RE: Operational Excellence - True or False? (Feel free to explain if so inclined)

Morning all,

... (That is, to achieve operational excellence in regard to

enterprise data management of large data stores managed by

both Oracle and SQL Server, you need individuals who

specialize in each technology).

I tend to disagree, but as ever, it depends. It depends on who the

person in question actually is. If it was me, for example, then my brain

is getting far too old to remember everything I already know about

Oracle (and Firebird) to add even more to the pile with SQL Server.

In fact, I recently turned down some free (And I'm a Jock living in

Yorkshire!) SQL Server training for this very reason (plus the fact that

I actually have an inbuilt hatred for SQL Server - don't ask me why, I

just do!).

If, on the other hand, the person was Jonathan Lewis, then I'd expect

him to end up as a person of excellence in both disciplines. Simply

because he can (or appears to) dedicate large periods of time in

research mode testing things, investigating and learning what goes on

under the covers.

Tanel Poder, I think, would also be another guru if he decided he wanted

to be. There are others, some on this list, who would also be able (in

my opinion) to take on the roles of Oracle & SQL Server DBA to a high


I often wonder, when I read Tanel or Jonathan's blogs, just *how* they

find out information about the internal workings of Oracle.

And I also have to add, I absolutely loathe and detest the use of

certain words as verbs when they are simply not verbs, a thing much

loved by "right on" management - "we are going to leverage ....", "we

need to architect a new ...." and this morning's one from another post,

luckily tongue in cheek, "I shall have to socialize (socialise) this in

the office" - Aaargh!

Maybe I'm just a grumpy old codger? ;-)



Norman Dunbar

Contract Senior Oracle DBA

Capgemini Database Team (EA)

Internal : 7 28 2051

External : 0113 231 2051

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-- Received on Fri Jul 29 2011 - 07:19:20 CDT

Original text of this message