Oracle Insights: Tales of the Oak Table

Oracle Insights: Tales of the Oak Table

by Cary Millsap, Anjo Kolk, Connor McDonald, Tim Gorman

Announcing a new book from Apress and the OakTable Network:

Oracle Insights: Tales of the Oak Table presents 11 world-renowned industry specialists proffering their own highly experienced views, input, and insights on Oracle—where it's been, where it's going, how (and how not) to use it successfully, the software and techniques that


Announcing a new book from Apress and the OakTable Network:

Oracle Insights: Tales of the Oak Table presents 11 world-renowned industry specialists proffering their own highly experienced views, input, and insights on Oracle—where it's been, where it's going, how (and how not) to use it successfully, the software and techniques that theyve introduced to help people achieve their goals, and some frightening tales of what can happen when fundamental design principles are ignored.

The collaborating authors have solved many of the worst Oracle performance problems in the world, and they've each saved at least one doomed flagship project. Over many years, they've been sharing their unique knowledge with each other at conferences, around the OakTable, and in coffee shops, restaurants, and bars on five continents. Now they want to share their key insights with you.

A major focus of this book concerns the ways in which you can avoid common and debilitating mistakes when building Oracle software projects. From these stories, you'll learn the simple steps that will help you avoid real pain on your next (or current) Oracle project.

Editorial Reviews
The Barnes & Noble Review
Imagine yourself sharing a late-night beer with 11 of the world’s leading Oracle experts. You’ve just imagined Oracle Insights: Tales from the Oak Table. The “OakTable Network” is an elite, invitation-only organization of consultants, architects, and developers who are determined to delve more deeply and scientifically into Oracle technology than anyone else ever has. When it comes to Oracle, they’ve seen it all, done it all. These are their stories.

Here are stories of failed projects and resurrected ones, of superior methodologies and major disasters. Best of all, these tales offer direct lessons for your next project. (There are some patterns. One is the urgent importance of application design -- as crucial now as it was when the relational database was first invented. Another is what happens when folks fail to understand the technology and create “brick walls” that make scalability difficult or impossible.)

We especially liked Connor McDonald’s discussion of optimizing databases by making sure the database isn’t wasting time on work that it needn’t be doing. Along the way, McDonald discusses everything from read consistency to lookup functions, domain loss to XML parsing. Also worth noting: Cary Millsap’s insider’s look at using extended SQL trace data; David Ruthven’s views on testing and risk management in large Oracle projects; and not least, Gaja Krishna Vaidyanatha’s wry discussion of “compulsive tuning disorder.”

Oh, and if you haven’t spent decades in the trenches, you’ll also appreciate the book’s “brief history of Oracle,” which tells you exactly how we got here and pulls no punches along the way. Bill Camarda

Bill Camarda is a consultant, writer, and web/multimedia content developer. His 15 books include Special Edition Using Word 2003 and Upgrading & Fixing Networks for Dummies, Second Edition.

Product Details

Publication date:
Edition description:
1st Corrected ed. 2004. Corr. 3rd printing 2004
Product dimensions:
7.00(w) x 9.25(h) x 7.50(d)

Meet the Author

Cary Millsap is the former vice president of Oracle's System Performance Group and the cofounder of Hotsos (, a company dedicated to Oracle system performance. Hotsos provides performance-improvement tools for Oracle environments and also delivers training in the form of clinics and the very successful Hotsos symposiums.

Anjo Kolk worked for over 16 years at Oracle and now runs He is the inventor of the YAPP technique (

Connor McDonald has worked with Oracle since the early 1990s, cutting his teeth on Oracle versions 6.0.36 and 7.0.12. Over the past 11 years, Connor has worked with systems in Australia, the U.K., southeast Asia, western Europe, and the United States. He has come to realize that although the systems and methodologies around the world are very diverse, there tend to be two common themes in the development of systems running on Oracle: either to steer away from the Oracle-specific functions or to use them in a haphazard or less-than-optimal fashion. It was this observation that led to the creation of a personal hints and tips website ( and more, presenting on the Oracle speaker circuit in an endeavor to improve the perception and usage of PL/SQL in the industry.

Tim Gorman began his information technology career in 1984 as a C programmer on UNIX and VMS systems, working on medical and financial systems as an application developer, systems programmer, and systems administrator. He joined Oracle Corporation in 1990 as a consultant, then became an independent consultant in 1998, and has worked for SageLogix since 2000. Gorman is the coauthor of Essential Oracle8i Data Warehousing and Oracle8 Data Warehousing. He specializes in performance tuning applications, databases, and systems, as well as data warehouse design and implementation, backup and recovery, architecture and infrastructure, and database administration. Gorman still considers himself a pretty good coder, although the market for C programs has dried up somewhat lately.

A bio is not available for this author.

Dave Ensor spent over 35 years in IT, almost all of it in a hands-on role as a programmer, a designer, or a researcher into the performance characteristics of specific pieces of software. He worked with Oracle databases for 15 years in all three of these roles, also building a worldwide reputation for his ability to present technical material with clarity and humor. He is coauthor of the books Oracle Design and Oracle8 Design Tips, and he's an Honorary Oracle9i Certified Master. Dave holds undergraduate degrees in both mathematics and law.

Jonathan Lewis has been working in the information technology industry for nearly 25 years, and has been using the Oracle relational database management system for more than 20. For the past 16 years, he has worked as a freelance consultant, often spending only one or two days at a time with any client to address critical performance problems. He also advises on design and implementation problems, and on how to make best use of the most appropriate Oracle features for a given project. Jonathan is also renowned throughout the world for his tutorials and seminars about the Oracle database engine and how to make best use of it. Having visited 42 countries at last count, his exceptional ability has earned him an O1 visa from the United States, allowing him to do consultancy and lecture work there. Jonathan has written two books about Oracle (Practical Oracle8i, Addison-Wesley, 2000; Cost-Based Oracle Fundamentals, Apress, 2005), and has contributed to two others (Oracle Insights, Apress, 2004; Oracle Database 10g New Features, Oracle Press, 2004). He also writes regularly for the UKOUG magazine, and occasionally for other publications around the world. In the limited amount of time he has leftover, Jonathan also publishes high-tech Oracle articles on his blog at

Gaja Vaidyanatha has more than 12 years of technical expertise, with over 11 years of industry experience working with Oracle systems. His key areas of interest include performance architectures, scalable storage solutions, highly available systems, and system performance management for data warehouses and transactional systems. He holds a master's degree in computer science from Bowling Green State University, Ohio. He has presented many papers at various regional, national, and international Oracle conferences, and is the coauthor of Oracle Performance Tuning 101 from Oracle Press.

A bio is not available for this author.

With 15 years of experience in professional computing, James Morle has been personally responsible for the architecture and implementation of some of the world's largest and most complex business systems, including a 3-node Oracle Parallel Server configuration that services 3,000 online users. James is a well-respected member of the Oracle community and is the author of the critically acclaimed book Scaling Oracle8i. He is the cofounder of Scale Abilities (, a specialist consulting and training company focusing on aspects of system engineering related to building very large and complex computer systems.

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