Mike Ault's thoughts on various topics, Oracle related and not. Note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are not contributing to the overall theme of the BLOG or are insulting or demeaning to anyone. The posts on this blog are provided “as is” with no warranties and confer no rights. The opinions expressed on this site are mine and mine alone, and do not necessarily represent those of my employer.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Is there a DBA in the House?

No, I wasn’t recently at a theater that needed an emergency restart of the database for the show to go on. However I do watch a TV show called House. For those who haven’t seen the program House it is about an acerbic, disabled, pain pill addicted Doctor who just happens to be a genius diagnostician. Think of an anti-Marcus Welby (for those who remember the show Marcus Welby M.D.) Anyway, in each episode Doctor House and his team solve a medical problem by looking at the facts and applying logic, common sense and luck. Doctor House also has one rule, “Everyone Lies” and of course in each episode the pivotal point occurs when they find the lie that is obscuring the true source of the problem.

All of the problem solving that occurs on House reminds me of trouble shooting in the Oracle world. In many cases there are a number of symptoms with database problems and some of them are contradictory just as with problems in the human health areas. Oh, and everybody lies. “No, there weren’t any changes”, “No, nothing is different between these two test runs”, ”Yes, we used the same data/transactions/parameters”.

In almost every episode of House they go through at least three different “cures” before they find the real problem and solution. Many times in the Oracle universe we apply a fix for a problem, only to find it wasn’t really the issue, or, in fixing it we transfer the problem to another area of the database. Another similarity is that many times House and his team will take a shotgun approach when there isn’t a clear solution, applying two or more “cures” at the same time, much like a DBA will apply multiple fixes in a single pass, thus not really knowing what was fixed but just breathing a sigh of relief when performance improves.

I think the character portrayed as Dr. House would make a great DBA, but somehow I can’t see folks glued to their TV screens hoping that next index will fix the query…

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