Interview appears in www.oracle-class.com:
1- Why did you choose to specialize in Oracle databases?
I wanted to live in San Francisco and Oracle was the only company in 1989 recruiting on campus at Cornell from San Francisco. Living in San Francisco was my goal and Oracle got me there. At the time I thought databases were boring having majored in physics and mathematics. I had wanted to work on numerical models of trading systems and arbitrage calculations.
2- What made you specialize in Oracle Performance Tuning?
I like finding patterns in quantitative data whether it’s the stock market or databases. Oracle performance tuning has given me this opportunity.
3- Do you still remember the first day in your first job?
Not really. I do remember though starting in support and thinking how crazy it was answering customer phone calls acting like I was an expert and I’d never used Oracle!
4- Is there anybody you have regarded as role model at the beginning of your career?
Funny enough I went to high school with Micheal Dell, but I’d hardly say he was an inspiration. I was also in the computer science building at Cornell when Robert Morris released the first major internet worm in 1988, but that wasn’t much of an inspiration either, though we did go over his computer attacks in my operating system class the next day!
I’ve found several people inspirational. I met two of my biggest inspiration at the same time and place which was the Europecar Oracle 7.0 parallel server site in 1994. The two people were Roger Saunders from Oracle and Jan Simon Pendry from Sequent. Roger had written and was using code to attach to the SGA and collect information much similar to active session history and this was almost a decade before Oracle did it officially. Roger was years ahead of the curve and his work blew me away and inspired me. Jan Simon had never worked with Oracle before Europecar but with in a week he’d figured out the Oracle trace files, how to parse them and had created a stress test benchmarking system based on the trace files. On top of that, he wrote the first graphic monitoring tool I’d ever seen which led to my beginning to write graphic performance tools. Both Roger and Jan Simon changed my career.
5- What are the resources that you consult regularly to keep up-to-date with Oracle topics?
Oaktable email list and the Oaktable blog roll.
6- 3 Books that you would recommend reading to every Oracle professional?
Trouble Shooting Oracle Performance – Cristian Antognini – best overall Oracle performance book Oracle Wait Interface – Richmond Shee, Kirtikumar Deshpande and K. Gopalakrishnan – best book on Oracle wait interface which is crucial to Oracle performance tuning Practical Oracle 8i- Jonathan Lewis – old book but one of the best for understanding how Oracle works, what the important features are and most importantly for understanding how to boundary test new features to see if the will meet your needs or break before investing time and becoming dependent on a feature that might not be sufficient.
7- What was the biggest technical challenge in your career so far?
By far my biggest challenge has been and still is selling my ideas to people. My ideas have been successful but there has been a lot missed opportunities. I offered my ideas for performance tuning to Quest who turned them down, but Oracle picked them up in OEM 10g and it was a great success. At Oracle I had many more ideas that were turned down but then Embarcadero picked them up and they were successful in DB Optimizer. At Embarcadero I had more ideas that were turned down and now Delphix is picking them up. I wish I could just create a Steve Jobs reality distortion field and enroll people into my ideas. It would be more fun, efficient and stable!
8- How do you disconnect from work in your spare time?
That’s tough. I think about work too much. Connecting with my little boy is the best way.
9- What advise would you give to somebody who just started studying computer science?
Tough to say. I wish I had majored in computer science but that was 25 years ago. Now I’m not sure I’d still want to major in computer science. Computer usage is becoming ubiquitous. I’d focus more on current problems such as how to mine data and visualize data. Actually if I was in school now I’d be more interested entrepreneurship or possibly biotech and nanotech.