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Archive for the month “June, 2012”

ODTUG KScope: Day 5 – Happy Trails

Well the final day of KScope12 finally arrived and it was another hot one with the final sessions and the Texas heat. Another bright red sunrise greeted us as it has all week.


Today I managed to get a picture of the group that showed up for Chi Gung every day at 7 AM. We even had some new people today (officially the last day). They all enjoyed the sessions and learned (hopefully) enough to practice a bit once they return home.

I am grateful to all the participants for showing up early each morning with enthusiasm and a willingness to try something new. It made my job to lead them much easier. (There will be a You Tube video sometime next week for people to review, so stay tuned)

The first order of business for the day (after Chi Gung) was the official KScope closing session. Even though there were still two sessions to go afterward we had the closing at 9:45 AM. We were entertained, yet again, with some photo and video footage taken throughout the week, including one interview with me! We also learned who got the presenter awards for each track and for the entire event.

Then we all got beads to remind us to go to KScope13 in New Orleans.

Next was my final session for the event: Reverse Engineering (and Re-Engineering) an Existing Database with Oracle SQL Developer Data Modeler.

I had a surprising number of people for the last day after the closing session. I think there was about 70 people wanting to learn more about SDDM. Apparently most people are unaware of the features of the tool (which I have written about on several posts).

So, that was nice.

Finally I went to JP Dicjks talk about Big Data and Predicting the Future.

His basic premise is that we should now never throw away any data as it all can be used to extend the depth of analytics. We can react to events in real time and proactively change outcomes of those events.

The diagram above shows the basics of one way that data moves through the world and into the Hadoop file systems. I am oversimplifying but it is a cool diagram.

Part of the challenge is uncovering un-modeled data. I guess that is where the recent Oracle acquisition, Endeca, comes in with their Data Discovery tool (again oversimplifying) .

And that was pretty much it for the show. It was a great week with lots of learning and networking (and tweeting). We all had a good time and learned enough to make our heads explode.

I look forward to meeting folks again next year at KScope13 in New Orleans.


ODTUG KScope12: Day 4 – Another Day in Paradise

Well folks, it is really late/early so, for now I am just putting up some pictures without a lot of detail.

This was the sunrise that greeted me on the way to Morning Chi Gung. Going to be another hot one!


This is the view of the bluff and waterfall that we see every day when we practice Chi Gung on the lawn. Very soothing and relaxing. It definitely enhances the experience and feeling of connectedness to the earth.

First session of the day was Maria Colgan (the optimizer queen) talking about Tuning SQL in a Data Warehouse. A huge amount of information to digest. Mostly over my head but very useful for a data warehouse dba.

She did however forget her glasses this morning and could not really see the people in the back row too well. 🙂

Next up was Mr. Kevin McGinley (BI Track Lead) giving us his thoughts about Exalytics and what is meant by “Speed of Thought”.

This is a picture of his four kids before the session. They did Kevin’s introduction today. Quite cute.

Not sure where they got it from (just say’n). 😉

After Kevin’s entertaining talk, I went to see John Jeffries talk about Oracle Golden Gate. John is one of the world experts on Golden Gate having published the Oracle Golden Gate 11g Implementer’s Guide.

John had a nice diagram (below)  of what you can use Golden Gate for. Very useful.

After lunch I went to see Dr. Holger Friedrich who gave us a comparison between ODI 11g (Oracle Data Integrator) and OWB (Oracle Warehouse Builder). OWB is going away in the not too distant future so it is important for OWB shops to get a handle on it and start to lean about ODI. This presentation was a great start.

Holger is a very interesting and intelligent guy. He is from Switzerland and holds a PhD in Robotics and Machine Learning.

Not sure how he ended up doing Oracle data warehousing.

Tonight was our BIG EVENT: Dinner and Rodeo and Dancing at the Knibbe Ranch. It was hoot!

Here I am with my armadillo. I actually “won” an armadillo race.

We had a great BBQ dinner and a great country band to listen to. Hard find a bad band in this neck of the woods.

After dinner was the main event: rodeo. This is the big show: The board of directors for ODTUG got to ride into the arena on horseback for the opening ceremonies of the rodeo. It did appear that Edward Roske (conference chair) really knew how to ride a horse.

That’s it for now. I have to sleep a little before Morning Chi Gung. Then I have my last presentation tomorrow morning.

Good thing I tested everything and got ready before going to the special event.

Check back in a day or so as I will fill in some details on the technical presentations.

Adios for now.


ODTUG KScope12: Day 3 Recap. More Fun in the San Antonio Sun

Well it was another HOT day in San Antonio, Texas at the 2012 ODTUG KScope conference.

Really.. it was.

It was something like 104 degrees outside with a Heat Index of 107.


But it was more like 65 degrees in the session rooms.

They do like to keep it cold inside here in Texas.

But the topics and speakers were hot anyway.

After an energizing session of Chi Gung this morning, my first session to attend was Mark Rittman talking about Exalytics and the TimesTen in-memory database. Based on the number of people in the room at 8:30 AM, I would call this a hot topic for sure.

Inquiring minds want to know if this Exalytics stuff is all it is cracked up to be (and worth the $$).


Mark did his best to give us the low down, candid truth. Mostly it was good news.

With the Summary Advisor, it is pretty easy to create an In Memory Adaptive Data Mart which will hold commonly used aggregates. It leverages the existing Aggregate Assistance Wizard,

So what you ask? Well that technology tracks all the quesries run in your OBIEE server and figures out which summaries would help speed up your performance.

Now you won’t get your entire data warehouse up in memory, but you will get the most used data set up to return faster.

The biggest gotcha is that it does not know from automatic incremental refreshes, so you have to use ODI or some scripting to refresh the TimesTen database automatically.

Anyway, the future does look bright for Exalytics.

Next up was Ashley Chen, Oracle Product Manager, talking about the new features in the 3.1 release of SQL Developer and SQL Developer Data Modeler.

Notably in SQL Developer there is now some APEX Integration and TimesTen integration, along with improved DB Copy and DB Diff utilities. Plus they have re-done the Oracle web site for SQL Dev to segment the tool into more logical groupings of functionality.

On the Data Modeler side, new features include Easy Sync to DB, better versioning support, a better, modifiable meta data reporting engine, and the new Query Builder for developing and testing the code for an Oracle view (I wrote about that here).

Then it was bit of a break while I interviewed JP Dijcks in the ODTUG Social Media Lounge and then got my set of ODTUG tatoos.

Next it was lunch and the Oracle ACE and ACE Directors Lunch and Learn sessions where we divided the rooms by topic area and had the various Oracle ACEs answer questions and lead a discussion about topics in their area. Here are a few of the BI ACEs plotting their strategy for the panel.

They did end up asking me to join the panel, so I got to field a few questions about data modeling, big data, and where to build a metrics model in the OBI RPD or the database? It depends….

After lunch I attended Ron Crisco’s talk about Agile and Data Design. A favorite topic of mine!

Often a contentious topic, Ron challenged us with some very good questions:

  • Is Agile the enemy of good design?
  • What is data design?
  • Who does it?
  • How do you keep it in sync with ongoing changes and implementation?

He kept this all in context of the principles in the Agile Manifesto and the goal of delivering useful software to the business.

Best quote: “Agile is an Attitude”

I completely agree!

I finished the day hanging out with the Ashley Chen and Jeff Smith in the Data Modeler lab session as folks tried out the new features on a pre-configured Oracle VM.

Ashely and Jeff kept busy helping folks while I tried to get the new VM running on my laptop. No luck. Maybe tomorrow.

I did get to help a bit and answer a few questions for some of the participants.

No official KScope events tonight so I got to spend a little time relaxing by the pool and in the lazy river with my friend JP and his family. Saw several other friends and collegues as well with their spouses and kids playing in the pool. Then we all got to watch Despicable Me projected on a sheet on the far side of the pool.

Pretty neat. Nice way to end the day.

Tomorrow should be another exciting day of sessions and then we have the BIG EVENT:  we all saddle up and head out to the Knibbe Ranch for BBQ and a real Rodeo.

Yee haw!

See ‘ya at the round-up tomorrow, y’all.


ODTUG KScope12: Day 2

So another extraordinary, information filled day in San Antonio, with a bit of pathos thrown in for depth.

Started the day again with Morning Chi Gung. Another nice group of folks dropped by to try it out and a few hardy souls returned to try again. I think they are all getting the hang of it and enjoying it. We will do it again in the morning.

First session of the day from me was OBIEE Answers vs BI Publisher from Borkur Steingrimsson of Rittman-Mead.


Borkur did a great job of highlighting the pros and cons of each toolset and outlining some of the use cases for the two tools. While there is some overlap, there are definitely some best practices to follow to help decide which to use for what.

One tool does not fit all.

Next session was mine: Introduction to Data Vault Modeling for an Oracle BI Environment.

I had a good crowd (below) to pitch data vault modeling to. Talked about where it fits and how this modeling approach can be leveraged in OBIEE and with Oracle’s Exalytics platform. The audience was small but I think they got a lot out of the talk.

Lots of note taking going on!

Next another information packed session from Tom Kyte about the various options in the Oracle database for securing your data.

He talked about many things including Oracle Total Recall, Audit Vault, and Database Vault (not to be confused with Data Vault Modeling), and Oracle Advanced Security option. Yes most of these cost more money for licenses but you really do need to think about how you protect your data and from whom.

Tom gave us a lot to think about.

Next, my favorite, lunch! Sort of a cook out style lunch with hamburgers, slaw and the fix’ns just in the exhibit hall.

In the picture you have some of the BI crowd (Stewart and Kevin) chatting with the Optimizer Queen (Maria). Lunch at Kscope is where many questions get answered and problems solved.

After lunch we had the official KScope12 (or was it 2022?) General Session complete with “special” effects and time travel.

Edward did a “this is your life” style interview with ODTUG President Mike Riley. Along with some good-natured ribbing, we also got some serious announcements:

  1. Mike Riley stepped down as President
  2. Monty Latiolais was appointed the new President
  3. Edward got “fired” as conference chair
  4. Mike got named conference chair for 2013
  5. Our long time executive director Kathleen McCasland handed the reins over to Crystal Walton so she could focus more on managing the great meeting company she has built, YCC.

There were many awards given including a Lifetime Achievement award to Kathleen (bravo!) and one to Mike for all he has done as President. Oracle Contributor of the year went to Kris Rice; volunteer of the year to Karen Cannel; editors choice award to Peter Koletzke and Duncan Mills.

And the BIG announcement was that KScope13 will be in New Orleans. Registration is open at

But wait there is more… I attended more great sessions in the afternoon and evening including another session from Tom Kyte on SQL secrets.

And Steward Bryson’s riveting session on how to use OBIEE against a transactional schema. (I did have a hard time getting a good picture because he NEVER STOPPED MOVING!)

Yes, that is Stewart in a suit…

He has nailed the approach to making OBIEE treat just about any schema design like a dimensional model. Very cool, a bit tricky. Next year we may do a joint session about making a data vault model work in OBIEE without having to instantiate a star schema data mart first. Stay tuned…

To end the day (sort of), we had an excellent and inspiring keynote from Cary Millsap (@carymillsap).

He had lots of inspiring and  insightful things to tell us based on his own life experiences as a father, husband, and business man. I can’t really do it justice so I will give you a few quotes from his slides:

Thinking clearly is more important than the right answer

To teach, test the code path, not just the memory

The goal of a parent: Kids who are interested in figuring out how to use what they are learning

Life is not linear (one of my favorites)

And the biggy:

Happiness is not a state. Happiness is a state change.

So do something BIG.

It really was a great talk.

And to finish out the day (for me anyway) I went to the BI Mad-Dashboard networking event. With Kevin McKinley as the host and Rittman-Mead providing the adult beverages, we had a good time networking and playing some interesting games.

There are actually even more networking events going on into the wee hours but that is it for me today (or I would not have gotten this blog post done).

But that is one of things that makes ODTUG and KScope so great is the opportunity to network and bond with colleagues old and new from around the globe in a relaxed setting.

More tomorrow…


ODTUG KScope12: Day 1 Symposium Sunday

Wow. What a day!

Started off with leading a Chi Gung class at 7 AM to about 18 attendees. Great start to the day.

Then it was off to the races with the kick off of the BI Symposium, chaired by Kevin McGinley. I got to be “interviewed” about my  Data Vault Modeling session on Monday ( I will report on that tomorrow) , along with several other presenters. That was followed by a lively talk show-style discussion led by Kevin and Stewart
Bryson. Below see the room and audience in attendance at 9:00 AM on a Sunday. (pretty good turn out – way better than last year!)


The panel discussion was followed by a series of talks from Oracle BI product management. There was lots of talk about mobile BI, Oracle’s acquisition of Endeca and of course BI in the Cloud.

(At this point I switched tracks to the Db development symposium chaired by Chet Justice aka @Oraclenerd)

The next talk I attended was by Kris Rice (@krisrice) who gave an intro to Oracle SQL Developer Data Modeler. (Nicely he plugged my Data Modeler talk on Thursday)

Some review (for me) and some new stuff too. I learned his trick for showing the joins between views – use the view to table utility to convert the views to tables, add PKs, then use the Discover Foreign Keys feature. This creates FKs based on column names and know PKs.

Cool trick. Just gotta remember to set “generate DDL” to “No”.

Quick switch back to the BI Symposium to see some screen shots of a new look and feel for OBIEE with modern mobile themes.

More coolness…especially if you are an iPad sort of geek.

Back to DB dev land (is it lunch yet?) to hear Oracle product manager Jeff Smith (@thatjeffsmith) take about full lifecycle development using SQL Developer.

Lots of great tips from Jeff about generating table api’s, using version control, doing schema diffs, and unit testing.

SQL Developer definitely has lots of features I did not know about. Being able to define unit tests inside the tool seems like a valuable option. I will be getting folks at my client site to try it out next week!

Oh yeah – he also mentioned DB Doc for creating HTML documentation  on your code because code is never really self-documenting. Gotta check into that more too…

<Lunch break – yummy Italian selection of salads and food>

Post-lunch back to BI and Mike Donohue from Oracle talking about reporting on data from “beyond the data warehouse.”

Heaven forbid! (well I guess we gotta deal with it now)

So, Mike talked a bit about how Endeca Information Discovery can be used to gain understanding and build analytics on big and unstructured data. Mentioned “faceted data model” and generating a key value store. Sounds cool. Have to look into that too.

Mike also discussed using BI Publisher to allow users access to local data (in Excel, XML, OLAP, etc)  so they can build their own reports. Scary thought but, in some businesses it will make sense because in reality not all data is in an ERP system or a well built RDBMS.

Whata gonna do?

<Back to DB Dev>

No to hear the world-famous Tom Kyte (of Ask Tom fame) talk about his approach to tuning. It was, as expected, a full house.

Tom’s main point was not to necessarily tune the specific problem query but more holistically to look at the overall algorithm (or approach) that was taken to solve the problem in the first place.

In his experience many queries can’t be tuned all that much when what was written was not even the best way to solve the problem. He gave quite a few eye-opening examples where there was simply a much better way to accomplish a task than the SQL that was originally written. Seems many situations really require re-engineering the solution.

A nice take away (that makes you go “duh”):

More code = More bugs

Less code = Less bugs

Moral of the story – find the simplest solution. If the code is really complex, you are probably wrong (or at least over complicating it). Try again.

Last symposium session for the day (for me) was Maria Colgan (Oracle) talking about tips to get the most out of the Oracle Cost Based Optimizer.

Maria is the queen of the optimizer. She explained what the optimizer will do in several situations and why and if it is wrong, what you need to change to get it right.

Okay – already on brain overload (and it is just day 1!).

Need sleep.

Have my own presentation tomorrow.

And Chi Gung at 7AM.

C ‘ya


P.S. There were lots of tweets all day with more pictures of the event. To see them look for #kscope and @ODTUG on Twitter (or follow me @kentgraziano).

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