Book Review: Misc. Oracle Related Books

30 11 2009

Oracle Performance Tuning 101 (Oracle Press) by Gaja Krishna Vaidyanatha
This is the book which introduced me to correct methods for Oracle performance tuning through system and session level wait events. Throwing out the old methods of performance tuning (mostly cache-hit ratios), and focusing in on the real problem made significant differences in the production database (3.25 hour Scheduler run time dropped to roughly 29 minutes with the same hardware). But the book does have a couple errors. Page 44: “One of the classic myths about CPU utilization is that a system with 0 percent idle is categorized as a system undergoing CPU bottlenecks. The real issue here is how many processes are waiting for the CPU? It is perfectly okay to have a system with 0 percent idle, so long as the average runnable queue for the CPU is less than (2 x number of CPUs).” Queuing Theory, Metalink note:148176.1, Cary Millsap, Jonathan Lewis, Craig Shallahamer, and others have suggested that 100% utilization is not desirable for various reasons. But the book was written in 2001, so there are bound to be a couple mistakes which were found later.

Optimizing Oracle Performance (O’Reilly) by Cary Millsap
This is the book which introduced me to focused performance tuning methods through the use of 10046 traces, rather than just flipping a series of knobs and switches in the hope of reducing the system-wide wait events related to the knobs and switches. The book drives to the heart of the problem – what is the important process, is that important process too slow, if it is too slow exactly what is causing it to be too slow? Is it a bad execution plan, too many logical IOs, large sorts to disk, contention with other sessions, high server CPU utilization, slow redo log writing, etc. Page 264: ”But be careful: pegging CPU utilization at 100% over long periods often causes OS scheduler thrashing, which can reduce throughput. On interactive-only application systems, CPU utilization that stays to the right of the knee (queuing theory reference) over long periods of time is bad. When CPU utilization exceeds the knee in the response time curve, response time fluctuations become unbearable.”

Oracle Database Performance Tuning Guide by Oracle Corporation
The version for 11g R1/R2 for this title is much improved over previous versions. Covers wait events, execution plans, tracing, and more.

Expert One on One Oracle (Wrox, now available from Apress) by Thomas Kyte
Describes the problems related to database independent applications, differences between Oracle and other database platforms, internal architecture of Oracle, reading 10046 trace files, writing PL/SQL, and more. The most memorable part of the book for me was the Oracle war stories described in the book, and how to overcome the problems.

Expert Oracle Database Architecture: 9i and 10g Programming Techniques and Solutions (Apress) by Thomas Kyte…amming/dp/1590595300
I was initially disappointed with the book as the first chapter or two was nearly identical to those chapters in “Expert One on One Oracle”, but that disappointment faded quickly once the third chapter was reached. While the book lacked many of the Oracle war stories from the earlier title, the rest of the contents were interesting enough that I recently bought a second copy of the book. I have actually purchased two copies of “Expert Oracle Database Architecture”, and have read both book titles cover to cover. His books are excellent, highly detailed, and include a number of test cases which allow the reader to understand concepts, while reproducing the output using their databases. The test cases also offer a method to determine if something was true in Oracle 9i R1 or in 10g R1 is no longer true in 11g R2. I do not know if it is a fair comparison, but you might be able to consider his books as the Oracle “Concepts Guide” written so that it is easy to understand, with real-world examples, and real-world “war stories” (quite a number of these appear in “Expert One on One”). I consider Tom Kyte’s “Expert Oracle Database Architecture” as the critical starting point, conveying the foundation knowledge needed to understand the material presented in other books including “Optimizing Oracle Performance”, “Troubleshooting Oracle Performance”, “Cost-Based Oracle Fundamentals”, “Forecasting Oracle Performance”, and the “Expert Oracle Practices” book.

Expert Oracle Database 10g Administration (Apress) by Sam R. Alapati…xperts/dp/1590594517
This book served as the final reference for my conversion from Oracle 8i ( to Oracle 10g R2 ( The book is quite literally a dictionary for Oracle – just about any task that needs to be completed is described very well in this book. There are, however, a couple errors in the book. In addition to a couple cases where information was simply omitted, there is this quote from page 202: [i]“Indexes often become too large if there are many deletions, because the space used by the deleted values is not reused automatically by the index.” That statement is simply not true.

Oracle Insights Tales of the Oak Table (Apress) by several members of the Oak Table…-Table/dp/1590593871
Oracle war stories, performance tuning and more from the world’s most respected database tuning experts – what more could any one want except a follow up to the original book?

Oracle Database 2 Day DBA by Oracle Corporation…erver.102/b14196.pdf
The basics of Oracle database administration, helpful when upgrading from a prior release, or if suddenly pushed into a DBA role.

Oracle Database Administrator’s Guide 10g by Oracle Corporation
Essentially, covers the foundation knowledge required to properly administer Oracle 10g R2. Much of the contents of the book may be found in the “Expert Oracle Database 10g Administration” and “Expert Oracle Database Architecture: 9i and 10g Programming Techniques and Solutions” books, but sometimes it is nice to read the official documentation.

Recovery Manager Reference and Backup and Recovery Advanced User’s Guide by Oracle Corporation…ackup.102/b14194.pdf…erver.101/b10734.pdf
I read the versions of these books for Oracle 8i and was impressed with the depth of coverage in the books. At the time I felt that no book could be purchased which exceeded the depth, accuracy, nor easy of locating information as was contained in these two books. Things change.

Forecasting Oracle Performance (Apress) by Craig Shallahamer…ahamer/dp/1590598024
This is a great book, with a lot of queuing theory and mathematics. Despite the review by Donald Burleson, there is no coverage of Statspack or AWR in the book. Paraphrased from the book: Once the CPU utilization reaches around 75%, queuing becomes significant, leading to performance problems. The book also describes why a 16 CPU server might not yield 8 or even 4 times the performance of a 2 CPU server. Great book, but a little too much theory.

Oracle Database 10g Insider Solutions (SAMS) by Arun Kumar…utions/dp/0672327910
Of the Oracle books that I have read, this is the first that I read in about a week. Every page seemed to say “Hey, look at this neat feature” without a sufficient amount of supporting details to determine if the solution applies to servers costing less than ¾ of a million dollars with every available Oracle option, if the solutions are helpful or harmful, etc. This is one of the few books I read which I have never considered taking off the shelf to help implement an Oracle feature.

Oracle SQL High Performance Tuning (Prentice Hall) by Guy Harrison…sional/dp/0130123811
I was very impressed with this book when I initially read the book in 2002. Since that time I have learned that some of the book contents are just plain wrong. What is wrong? A couple quotes come to mind: “On Windows NT/Windows 2000, the maximum number of blocks that can be read [in a multiblock read] cannot exceed 128K (for 32 bit versions).” “The size of the Oracle block can have an influence on the efficiency of full-table scans. Larger block sizes can often improve scan performance.” “Improving the hit rate in the buffer cache” section title.

Applied Mathematics for Database Professionals (Apress) by Lex de Haan and Toon Koppelaars…xperts/dp/1590597451
If ever I needed a book to remind me how much mathematics I have forgotten (my major was mathematics), this is the book. I started reading this book a year ago, but had to put it down to read more exciting titles once I made it half way through the book. I will finish this book, eventually.

Special Edition Using SQL by Que
A fairly thorough book (inline views are not covered), but also a bit old. Not specific to Oracle, but does include Oracle specific content.

Joe Celko’s SQL for Smarties: Advanced SQL Programming
Contains advanced set operations performed in SQL.  Not specific to Oracle.

Oracle Database SQL Language Reference
Primarily useful to cover the items missed by the above SQL books, such as using Oracle analytical functions.

Edit December 16, 2009: Fixed a couple of non-functional links.



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