Category Archives: General

Why I picked Postgres over Oracle, part III


This is the final episode of this short series of blog posts on some of my drivers for moving to Postgres from Oracle.
Please do read Part I and Part II of the series if you have not done so. It discussed the topics “History”, “More recently”, “The switch to Postgres”, “Realization”, “Pricing”, “Support” and “Extensibility”.

In summary:

  • Part one focused on “why not Oracle anymore, so much”
  • Part two discussed on the comparison between PostgreSQL and Oracle
  • Part three talks some more on what Postgres then actually is

Community

One of the more important things to be really, really aware of is that Postgres is “not just open source“. Postgres is “community open source“.

Now, why would that be important, you might wonder.

We all know what open source stands for. There are many advantages to an open source system, and in our case, an open open source database.
A number of arguments are in this blog post series. If you take this one step further though, and realize that Postgres is a community open source project, what are  extra advantages?

A community open source project is not limited, in any way, to any one specific group of developers (let’s call them a company). For example, let’s look at MongoDB. This is an open source database, but it is developed by MongoDB inc.
It is, in essence, controlled by MongoDB.

Postgres is developed by the Postgres Developer Community coached by the Postgres Core Team.
This makes Postgres incredibly open, independent and it enables its developers to truly focus on actual business problems that need to be solved. There is no ulterior drive to satisfy commercial goals or meet any non-essential requirements.

Development

A very important discriminator, that only became this clearly and apparent to me, after I dove into Postgres some more, is the development…

The actual development of the database core-software is done by this community, we’ve just identified.

“Well, yes…” you might say, this is what open source stands for. But the impact of this extends well beyond support, as I mentioned in part 2 of this series. The ability to be part of where Postgres goes, to have actual influence on the development, is awesome, especially for a database platform in the current “world in flux”.
Postgres users don’t necessarily have to wait until “some company” decides to put something on the road-map or develop it at their discretion. These company-decisions will mostly be driven by the most viable commercial opportunity, not necessarily the most urgent technical need.

The development of Postgres is more focused on “getting it right”.
One nice example is the Postgres query optimizer. The Postgres community hates bugs. When bugs start to get discussed, it results in many emails within the community, which stand for a lot of reading!
Many bugs are fixed very quickly, so that this email storm stops!
For optimizer bugs therefore, turn-around times (from reporting to having a production-fix) can be as low as 72 hours, so even for mechanisms as complex as a query optimizer.

Invitation

I would like to invite all of you in the Oracle community to take a look at the Postgres query optimizer and share your concerns, worries, bugs or praise with the Postgres community.
If you want to, you can share this with us at the https://www.postgresql.org/list/pgsql-hackers/ email list. We are looking forward to your contributions!

Future

Oracle

I can only speak from what I see. What I see is that Oracle is becoming an on-line services company. I see them moving away from core technology like the database and accompanying functions. Oracle is more an more and moving to highly specialized applications aimed at very big companies.
Chat-bots, social media interactions, integrated services and more, delivered from a tightly integrated but also tightly locked set of Oracle owned and operated data-centers, or rather, the Oracle cloud.

Is this useful? Of course, there will be targeted customers of Oracle who will continue to find this all extremely useful, and it will be, to them.
It this for me? No, not really.

Postgresql

In the beginning, Linux was not something anyone wanted for anything serious. I mean, who wanted to run anything mission critical on anything else than Solaris, HP-UX, VMS, IBM? No-one…
And that was just a few years ago. Imagine!
Today in any old data-center, if you would eliminate the Linux based servers, you would not have much left.
This same thing is now also happening in, what I guess is the second wave of open source. More complex engines are being replaced by open source and the ever present relational database engine is one of those.

Why? Price, extensibility, flexibility, focus, you name it. We have seen it before and we will see it again.

EnterpriseDB

If you permit me just these few words.

I think EnterpriseDB is extremely important for PostgreSQL. We have been fighting on the forefront since the beginning, supporting PostgreSQL’s move to the Enterprise. EnterpriseDB has been and will continue to spend a large amount of our resources to PostgreSQL. We are a PostgreSQL support company. We just have been not very good at patting ourselves on the back…
As a company we are doing extremely well, simply because Postgres is rock solid in all facets and ready to take on the word, even the most daunting tasks – and beyond.
This will continue as Postgres will continue in this second wave of Open Source.

I thank you for your attention.
If you have addition questions or comments, please do not hesitate to contact me.


Why I picked Postgres over Oracle, part II

Continuing this short series of blog posts on some of my drivers for moving to Postgres from Oracle.
Please do read Part I of the series if you have not done so. It discussed the topics “History”, “More recently” and “The switch to Postgres”.

Realization

In the last months, discussing Postgres with my Oracle peers, playing with the software and the tooling, I actually quite quickly realized Postgres is a lot cooler, at least to me. Not so much of the overly complicated technology, but rather built to be super KISS. The elegance of simplicity and it still gets the job done.
Postgres handles a lot the more complex workloads than many (outsiders) might think. Some pretty serious mission-critical workloads are handled by Postgres today. Well, basically, it has been doing this for many, many years. This obviously is very little known, because who would want to spend good money on marketing  for Open Source Software, right? You just spent your time building the stuff, let somebody else take care of that.
Well… we at EnterpriseDB do just those things, …too!

And, please, make no mistake, Postgres is everywhere, from your fridge and video camera, through TV set-top boxes up to major on-line banking software. Many other places you would not expect a database to (be able to) run. Postgres is installed in places that never get touched again. Because of the stability and the low to no-touch administrative character of Postgres, it is ideally suited for these specific implementations. Structured on some of the oldest design principles around Postgres, it doesn’t have to be easy to create the database engine, as long as it “just works” in the end.
Many years ago, an Oracle sales director also included such an overview in his pitch. All the places Oracle touches everybody’s lives, every day. This is no different for Postgres, it is just not pitched anywhere, by anyone, as much.

I have the fortunate opportunity to work closely together with (for instance) Bruce Momjian (PostgreSQL core team founding member and EnterpriseDB colleague). I also had the opportunity to learn from him some of the core principles on which Postgres was designed and built. This is fundamentally different from many other software projects I know and I feel it truly answers some of the core-requirements of database projects out there today! There is no real overview of these principles, so that’s on my to-do list.

Working with PostgreSQL

Pricing

Postgres is open source… it is true open source. It is even a true community open source project, but more about that later in the next installment.

Open source software is free to use, it does not cost nothing!

But, wait! Open source does not mean for free! How…, why…, what do you mean??

Well… you need support, right!?
The community can and will help you, answer questions, solve some of your problems. But they will not come in to install, configure and run Postgres for you. You will need to select and integrate your specific selection out of the wealth of tools. You basically have a whole bunch of additional tasks to complete to get your Postgres platform sorted out.
Companies like EnterpriseDB can help you mitigate these tasks. This allows you to focus on the things you actually want to achieve, using Postgres

In comparison to traditional database vendors, the overall price of your solution will absolutely significantly reduce when using Postgres as your open source database engine.

Support

A significant difference between Oracle (for instance) and Open Source support services is interchangeability.
In the end, Oracle support can only be given by Oracle. They are the only ones that have access to the software sources and can look up (and hopefully fix) issues. In the support of Postgres, or any true community open source product, different companies can provide support. If you don’t like the company you work with… you switch. This drives these companies to be really good at delivering support! How is that for an eye opener.

Extensibility

One of the superb advantages of Postgres is its native extensibility. I mean, think about it for a moment… having a relational database platform with the strength of Postgres, the strength of Oracle or Microsoft SQL Server for that matter. Postgres gives you more options to integrate a wealth of data sources, data types, custom operators and many more other extensions than you will ever need! The integration into Postgres is so solid, these extensions function like any other function in the core of Postgres.
And, rest assured, chances that you will ever be faced with having to built this yourself are extremely slim. There are 30 to 40 thousand developers working with larger and smaller pieces of code of Postgres. Chances are that if you find yourself challenged, somebody else faced and solved that challenge before you. That solution will then be available for you to take and use, solve your challenge and move on. That is also open source for you.

This capability is what makes Postgres ultimately suited to fit the central role in any polyglot environment, we see being built today.
Maximizing the amount of information from data available in multiple data silos in an organization. This is a challenge we see more and more often today. Integrating traditional  applications as ERP, CRM, with data-warehousing results, again combined with Big-data analysis and event-data-capture aggregates. This generates additional decision-driving information out of the combination of these silos. Postgres, by design, is ultimately suited for this. It saves you for migrating YUGE amounts of data from one store to another, just to make good use of it.
The open source Dogma “Horses for courses” eliminates double investments, large data migrations or transformations, it just enables you to combine and learn from what you already have.

End of part II

A link to part three of this blog post will be placed here shortly.

Why I picked Postgres over Oracle, part I

As with many stories, if you have something to tell, it quickly takes up a lot of space. Therefore this will be a series of blog posts on Postgres and a bit of Oracle. It will be a short series, though…

Let’s begin

History

 I have started with databases quite early on in my career. RMS by Datapoint… was it really a database? Well, at least sort of. It held data in a central storage, but it was a typical serial “database”. Interestingly enough, some of this stuff is maintained up to today (talk about longevity!)
After switching to a more novel system, we adopted DEC (Digital Equipment Corporation) VAX, VMS and Micro VAX systems! Arguably still the best operating system around… In any case, it brought us the ability to run, the only valid alternative for a database around, Oracle. With a shining Oracle version 6.2 soon to be replaced by version 7.3.4. Okay, truth be told, at that time I wasn’t really that deep into databases, so much of the significance was added later. My primary focus was on getting the job done, serving the business in making people better. Still working with SQL and analyzing data soon became one of my hobbies.
From administering databases, I did a broad range of things, but always looping back to or staying connected to software and software development using databases.
Really, is there any other way, I mean, building software without using some kind of database?
At a good point in time, we were developing software using the super-trendy client-server concept. It served us well at the time and fitted the dogma of those days. No problems whatsoever. We were running our application on “fairly big boxes” for our customers (eg. single or double core HP D 3000 servers) licensed through 1 or 2 Oracle Database Standard Edition One licenses, and the client software was free anyway…
Some rain must fall
The first disconnect I experienced with licensed software was that time we needed to deploy Oracle Reports Server.
After porting our application successfully to some kind of pre-APEX framework, we needed to continue our printing facilities as before. The conclusion was to use Oracle Reports Server, which we could call to fulfill the exact same functionality as the original client-server printing agent (rwrbe60.exe, I’ll never forget) did. There was only no way we could do this, other than buying licenses for (I though it was) Oracle BI Publisher, something each of our clients had to do. This made printing more expensive than the entire database-setup, almost even the biggest part of the entire TCO of our product, which makes no sense at all.

More recently

This disconnect was the first one. Moving forward I noticed and felt more and more of a disconnect between Oracle and, what I like to call, core technology. Call me what you will, I feel that if you want to bring a database to the market and want to stay on top of your game, your focus needs to be at least seriously fixed on that database.

Instead we saw ever more focus for “non-core” technology. Oracle Fusion, Oracle Applications (okay, Oracle Apps had been there always), and as time progressed, the dilution became ever greater. I grew more and more in the belief that Oracle didn’t want to be that Database Company anymore (which proved to be true in the), but it was tough for me to believe. Here I was, having spent most of my active career focused on this technology, and now it was derailing (as it felt to me).

We saw those final things, with the elimination of Oracle Standard Edition One, basically forcing an entire contingent of their customers either out (too expensive) or up (invest in Oracle Standard Edition Two, and deal with more cost for less functionality). What appeared to be a good thing, ended up leaving a bad taste in the mouth.
And, of course… the Oracle Cloud, I am not even going to discuss that in this blog post, sorry.

The switch to Postgres

For me the switch was in two stages. First, there was this situation that I was looking for something to do… I had completed my challenge and, through a good friend, ran into the kind people of EnterpriseDB. A company I only had little knowledge of doing stuff for PostgreSQL (or Postgres if you like, please, no Postgré or things alike please, find more about the project here), a database I had not so much more knowledge of. But, their challenge was very interesting! Grow and show Postgres and the good things it brings to the market.

Before I knew it, I was studying Postgres and all the things that Postgres brings. Which was easy enough in the end, as the internal workings and structures of Postgres and Oracle do not differ that much. I decided to do a presentation on the differences between Postgres and Oracle in Riga. I was kindly accepted by the committee even when I told them, my original submission had changed!
A very good experience, even today, but with an unaccepted consequence. -> The second part of the switch was Oracle’s decision to cut me out of the Oracle ACE program.

It does free me up, somehow, to help database users across Europe, re-evaluate their Oracle buy-in and lock-in. Look at smarter and (much) more (cost)-effective ways to handle their database workloads. This finalized “the switch”, so to speak.
Meanwhile more and more people are realizing that there actually are valid alternatives to the Oracle database. After the adoption of the Oracle database as the only serious solution back in the early 1990’s, the world has changed, also for serious database applications!

End of Part I

Please follow this link to the second part of this blog post.

PGConf.EU, Postgres Rocks!!

On a rainy Tuesday morning we set off on a Polish Airlines flight to Warsaw.
Our target: PGConf.EU with some of the biggest crew EnterpriseDB ever sent off.
Our goal: spread the love of EDB within the PostgreSQL community, where EDB is such an intrinsic part of.

The evening before the conference promises to be an interesting one. We have rented off the Hard rock Cafe in Downtown Warsaw for the kickoff of our European Tour. During this tour we will visit Hard rock Cafes throughout Europe to talk about the future of Postgres.
With 80 people present, our space at the Cafe was a full house! With food and drinks it was a perfect place for networking and sharing stories about Postgres. After the drinks, Warsaw city tour-guides took us on a walking sightseeing tour through the city. This inevitably led us to Vodka and Herring, which formed the crown on the day.

For me personally it was the perfect opportunity to submerge myself in the Postgres community, feel the energy and meet some of the leading names like Bruce Momjian, Dave Page, Robert Haas, Andreas Scherbaum, (“Blame”) Magnus Hagander and many, many more.

Second day in Warsaw, first day of PGConf.EU. The EDB crew slept well and is ready to roll!
At the EDB stand we are hosting a quiz where participants can contest to actually win an electric guitar and free access to one year of on-line Postgres training. The challenge: by means of speed and correctness answer 11 questions on PostgreSQL!
In a busy and energetic there are loads of very good sessions going down, making hard to single out the sessions to follow…

The second day of PGConf.EU continues the flow of excellent talks and fierce competition at our Postgres Rocks Quiz. EDB Postgres Experts are sharing their knowledge abundantly at this conference.
Day two also is my presenting debut at a Postgres-conference. Together with friend and partner in crime Daniel Westermann of DBI-services. Our talk was well received and we were able to share some of our experiences of entering the PostgreSQL world, coming from Oracle.
EDB concluded the second day of PGConf.EU with a team-dinner in the heart of Warsaw. A unique opportunity to bring all the facets of EnterpriseDB togehter. This ranges from our community foundation to our strategic business vision, all together in one place to exchange ideas and enjoy good company over a very good meal.

As with all good things, we inevitably reach the closing day, no difference there for PGConf.EU!
More excellent talks on general Postgres development and the influence of various projects on the future of the leading Open Source database project.

We also had a very exciting final to our EDB Postgres Quiz, with a surprise victory for Rafal Hawrylak of TomTom and an excellent runner up Matthijs v/d Vleuten of Hendrikx ITC.

 

On behalf of the entire EnterpriseDB, I would like to thank the PostgreSQL conference board for an excellent experience in Warsaw!

Live free or die!!


If you like to relive pgconfeu, simply review the comprehensive tweet-timeline.

Open Source? We have been here before… right!

Since over half a year I have made an adjustment in my course… nothing too dramatic, but still it has had some impact.

I have chosen the path of the more pure technique again. Not in a sense that I don’t manage anymore, though I don’t, but that’s more of a side effect
I have chosen the path of the more pure technique in a sense that the change from Closed Source software to Open Source software allows you to actually work with and solve things by creating solutions rather than trying to figure out how something, someone created for some issue, can reconfigured so it resembles a solution for your actual problem.

Okay… okay… this of course is exaggerated, but it serves to help think about the issue.

No one ever got fired for buying Oracle” is one of the phrases I have heard numerous times over the past period.
Well, no… but it’s also no free pass to –sorry for the phrase– waste money on technology you either never going to use.

Over 80% of the installed base uses less than
20% of the technology they are paying for!

I have followed a number of the brightest mind in the industry (our industry, the database industry) for many years investing vast amounts of time in reverse-engineering pieces of technology that have been built, in order to explain certain behavior.
Of course, very necessary, no argument there, but wouldn’t it be so much more cool if this overwhelming amount of brain-power could be used to actually create stuff??

Open Source in stead of Closed Source…
The answer, I think!

Sure, I am raised with vendor created solutions, that was the default MO when I got trained. VMS, MS-DOS, HP-UX… (are you _that_ old, yes, I am _that_ old) and a number of applications that did the work.
Well, those days are gone… operating systems in data centers have (nearly) all been replaced by Linux distribution installs. And I mean like, as good as all of them.

Sufficiently stable, cost effective and they get the job done.

Next wave?
Databases!

With the current explosive growth of Open Source databases, brace yourselves. Or rather, embrace!

All the exact same arguments that are there for Operating Systems apply. There is no difference, and you, the industry, chose! And you will choose this again. Simply because “it is good enough”, it is much more cost effective and it gets the job done.
The extensibility, the agility of Open Source database software gives you the ability to let your database, be it OLTP, OLAP, Big Data, Polyglot, or whatever we come up with, do what needs to be done.
The current leader of the Open Source relational database systems is PostgreSQL. A platform developed in over 30 years to become an absolutely stable data processing engine for a fraction of the costs of the Closed Source players in this market.

Conclusion:

  1. We have seen wave 1 of Open Source where we all choose to replace the operating system standard with Linux.
  2. We will now see wave 2 of Open Source where we will choose to replace the database management system standard with… PostgreSQL (or in specific cases one of the other, more specialized systems, depending on the need).
Hope this helps!

EnterpriseDB Summerschool 2017

I have been meaning to write a lot of posts, meanwhile. With the new challenges, and all, it just hasn’t happened.

But!!

although I don’t tend to do much advertising here, I really do need to share this (unique) opportunity,

I (and my other colleagues across EMEA) really want to meet you and share some of the knowledge on EDB Postgres with you. Especially targeted at Oracle DBA’s!
It will cost you one day and there is even a certificate (which you need to earn during the day) to show “I have walked the walk”.

It starts real soon, there are just very few places available, it’s free (!!) and it is – just down right plain cool – technoloy without hassle…
Bring your laptop, we provide a VM with a lot of tech pre-installed, a little bit like RAC-Attack or #RepAttack!

Visit this link: http://info.enterprisedb.com/EDB-Postgres-Summer-School and sign up!

Looking forward to seeing you personally in either Frankfurt, Munich or Hamburg.

Riga Dev Days 2017, new experiences in many ways.

Riga Dev Days 2017

General

It has been a while since my last blog-post.
One of the reasons is my shift from closed to open source software, databases more specifically. More on that in a later blog-post.

The reason for already mentioning this is this strange hybrid (what a popular word, these days) situation that I am in at the moment.
Thanks to the super enthusiastic, flexible and tenacious organization-team of the Riga Dev Days, I was able to participate.
Happily boarded the Air Baltic flight, I went on my way to Riga!!

Being new at the broader conference scene, I enjoyed being at a mixed source developer conference. Besides the usual suspects – some of which are my best friends – I got to meet many interesting new people.
One of the key phrases of the day is: “the more you learn, the more you realize you know nothing – John Snow…” and it’s true! You never stand to think about it, but the wealth of subjects is just tremendous and the combined knowledge at events like these is down right “Yuge, it’s awesome, tremendous!”

Day one

With a day like this, time flies. Between session (and during sessions) there are discussions, a bit of work and catching up to do.
Still I managed to catch a few sessions, like the one from Michael Hüttermann who made a clear and well rounded case regarding CI/CD in a DevOps world. A nice insight into the effort that goes into what’s behind the proverbial “push of a button”.
Another example was that by Marcos Placona about the many (and very basic) things that you have to keep in mind wen building apps. There is no silver bullet and the best you can achieve is to discourage the hacker so much, they move on. Much like securing your house, do to speak.

The day ended in the medieval basements of Riga, where we had some really good medieval food. Life is good…, well…, it has it’s moments!

Day two

The keynote address by Edson Yanaga, which kicked off day two of the Riga Dev Days, was quite interesting.
Shortening development and deployment cycles and shrinking feature release sets actually helps improving software and deployment quality by creating faster and more accurate feedback loops. By looking at these concept in this way, buzzez like DevOps and Agile actually get some hands and feet. One of the lessons, though, is that doing things this way do not eliminate work or automagically solve various issues for you! It will help in getting predictability and continuity into your software development processes.
A nice eye-opening remark finally, was… “no, I don’t pay you to make something work on your computer, I pay you to make something work on my computer(s)!!”

Another talk I was able to attend was around Blockchains. Something I knew nothing of and was actually quite interested in. Nick Zeeb took us through a very lively and very animated tour of what actually a Blockchain is and what the awesome potential of this technology can be. I was impressed.

With this, the second day draw to and end and therewith also my turn “in the pit”. As this event is held in a movie-theater, every room had a sloped tribune, which was often packed with enthusiastic participants. I had the opportunity to share my thoughts on the comparison between PostgreSQL and Oracle.
The session was very well attended with a lot of questions regarding the possibilities of using these other technologies in scales that were not really considered before. You can find a recording of the actual presentation here as soon as it comes available.

Riga Dev Days was a good conference. I would recommend everyone to either attend or submit an abstract for their event in 2018!!

#Oracle cutting in inspiration and new business?

Over the many years Oracle has been leading the database world, I guess they are now taking something of a wrong turn.
Let me briefly fill you in on my thoughts.

Basically I see two “minor” shifts that are significantly indicative of this:

  1. Oracle Standard Edition 2
  2. Oracle ACE Program

Okay, so you might think I am crazy, but let me try to explain.

Oracle Standard Edition 2

Sometime last year, the long expected, anticipated…, dreaded perhaps even, change to the Oracle database licensing strategy was there.

Oracle Standard Edition (SE) and Oracle Standard Edition One (SE1) licenses were addressed.
There was A LOT of debate on this, I mean, A LOT. Discussions which ran all the way back to HQ, and were driven by passionate people inside and outside of Oracle, inside and outside of the Oracle community… To no avail.

It had been very clear for quite a long time that the SE / SE1 strategy was nothing short of unsustainable inside the Oracle licensing realm. Even though, Oracle SE and SE1 enabled many projects and customers to adopt the phenomenal Oracle technology for their projects. It has some limitations, but with smart thinking and smart planning, a lot of projects could be run with Oracle SE(1). “I am such a good DBA, I can even do it with Oracle Standard Edition!”
Alas, we now have Oracle Standard Edition 2 (SE2) with a new and upgraded price of US 17k (!!) making this solution rather out of the question for many of the projects meant in the above. Please note that SE1 already was a significant investment for some of the projects I have learned to know over the years in regions as the Baltics and Africa.
Yes, of course, I know you can do all of this “In the cloud”. But with the limitation that there are hardly any CSPs (Cloud Service Providers 😉 that enable you to make use of the “cheaper” Oracle license. If you want to leverage your local cloud vendor (mind my word-choice here) it’s BYOL (Bring Your Own License) and, voila, you’re done in for anyway.

Hence, the first significant “shift” in Oracle’s span of attention for new business, creativity and growth…

Oracle ACE Program

More recently there was also a change in the Oracle ACE Program. Which has also led to much debate. But… that bit of the change I am not referring too, I am referring to the bit that does not affect me directly…

Oracle has a small number of very highly appreciated and “industry leading” community advocates called “Oracle ACE Directors”. These people not only have a deep knowledge of everything that is happening in this corner “of the industry”, but are also very passionate about sharing this knowledge. Sharing with Oracle Users, sharing with stakeholders within the Oracle organization, basically, with everyone with a hunger for knowledge around the technology.

For this, these Directors had a few privileges. When the invested their time and their energy in traveling this globe to share, Oracle would support them in some of their travel expenses. This always had the air of “wow, they are paid”. Believe me, it was bare minimal support, just a flying ticket and a hotel-bed to a previously approved conference, when they actually were accepted to do a talk. Nothing shiny, nothing business-classy…

Until now. With the changes to the system, also these modest privileges for the Directors have seized to be.

There was my second significant “shift” in Oracle’s span of attention for new business, creativity and growth…

It has me worried… I should not worry, as it does not affect my day-to-day business… yet.

Albeit we have this cool tech, with PL/SQL, with APEX, with all the features, options and what not, to create solutions that could really better the word (I also firmly believe this).

Oracle is just closing this door, and my toes were still in the doorway, so that hurts.

This was my rant, hope it helps.

Password validation takes a while, how cool is that!!

You log in to your favorite web app and it takes a little while to get your login validated, or your password consumed, depending on your take on things,
or
You log in to your favorite APEX application, and after every 3rd shot, it takes a bit longer to retry

You are sure what you are doing and you are surely not drunk, but just mistyped the ****-password.

It is annoying, but is it?

I was at DOAG2016 and one of the closing keynotes was by the amazing Thobias Schrödel. He had an amazing show – as you need to call it – on IT Security and he also did some life hacking examples. Amazing to see how quickly an account can be hacked!

One of the examples shown there was how to quickly “break” a password by just letting a password hacking tool run randomly (brute-force attack).
And, of course, there are many ways to make your secure your environment with a lot of different opinions, for example;

  • Change your password regularly
  • Make it 16 characters, using at least two capitals letter, 4 numbers, two extended characters, at least 4 lower case characters, and so on
  • Salt it
  • Single Sign-on
  • Pepper it
  • Hash it
  • and so on and so forth

And I am relatively convinced some of these countermeasures actually add to security in a real-world scenario. You know, the kind of place where users en up having to create an elaborate booklet of those traditional yellow post-its with password, just to be able to do their daily job.

What is the point?

Well, actually, in the battle against complexity, just waiting a couple of seconds before your get your next try to enter your password already adds a whole bunch of security.
Your brute-force tool can generate and enter a gazillion different password in matter of minutes, but if each next attempt makes it had to wait 3 seconds, or even 2 for that matter, will slow it down in a way that it makes no sense at all anymore to even try.

It’ just a thought, hope it helps.

#DOAG2016, definitely a crazy week.

#DOAG2016, the largest Oracle Community gathering in Europe. Taking place in Nuremberg, at the Nuremberg Convention Center NCC, one of the more impressive places to hold such a conference, towering 4 stories high, with a big central atrium!!
It is a huge effort to get all of this together!

In this blog-post I want to highlight some of the crazy things I experienced this week… And… I did try to follow my own schedule, but I wasn’t overly successful.

Young talent

One of the things that was somehow quite clear this week, is that we have a lot of young talent out there, eager to learn and share experiences. It is not just the #NextGen “movement” of DOAG, of which Carolin Hagemann made me aware, but just young people on the conference itself.

Discussing “Young PL/SQL” at the unconference session made us all aware that our part of the IT trade is no very sexy and popular with the youngsters. This all despite what was mentioned above. In universities we train SQL, but we don’t train to create real-life business applications, leveraging the power of the one language that keeps SQL close to the data it feasts on, PL/SQL. But, more on that below (Thick Database Paradigm).
To promote PL/SQL, basically two ground requirements were defined:

  1. Create a free ‘PDB as a Service’ for schools;
  2. Inspire teachers to talk about data centric computing

By finding somebody to be regionally or globally owner of this quest, it should be possible to get young professionals as familiar using PL/SQL for creating performant and business-ready applications as they were familiar using Microsoft Excel to do their accounting “back in the days”

ACE program

“There is a disturbance in the force!”

For everybody not acquainted with the Oracle ACE Program by the Oracle Technology Network… You should be!! Please read up, as it is an incredible cool initiative.

The disturbance, you ask?
Well, to retain your “status”, Oracle expects you to do “stuff” and this “stuff” is then evaluated on a yearly basis. Basically the initiative, the disturbance, is to get some transparency in “the stuff”. And, as always, everybody wants change, but few actually are good at “change”. There are rimples and things that change, but in the end; everything will be fine, unless, obviously, when it will not be fine.

Talks

I was honored to (co)host to talks at #DOAG2016:

Bad Boys of Replication – Changing everything…
With Oracle ACED and good friend Björn Rost, about an intense migration project we did some time ago. We were even offered to host our talk in Tokio, the biggest hall at DOAG!

Saving lives at sea at an industrial scale using Oracle Cloud Technology
An insightful (at least I like to think so) talk with my colleague Oliver Limberg. The talk is about the rapid development of a global portal for the maritime logistics branch.

I had a blast, and I hope you did too!

Community spirit

Oracle User Group conferences are about sharing and are about fun. Mr. Martin Widlake wrote a good post about that.

Apart from all the “more formal” things that happened, there were quite a few extracurricular activities, mostly involving an Irish Pub or a restaurant.

This all may sound quite funny and exciting, and, yes, it is alto talk with your co-workers: “Oh, hey, you are going to have fun and party all week!” Of course it is not a drag and a bore, but it has very profound function!
Whenever you run into trouble, these are the exact same people that are not only able, but probably also inclined to help you out, as you would help them out, as friends do among each other. In the end, they, you, your boss and your clients benefit. This is not to be underestimated too much.

The extra, special bit, that DOAG offers are the so called “unconference sessions”.
Not scheduled, no slides, nothing official, just getting together and discussing subjects of interest. Our “Young PL/SQL” was one of these “unconference session”, which turned out to be a great (and valuable) success!

Meeting people

Just to name a few, heroes of long and of yet to come for #DOAG2016:

Dietmar Neugebauer
Frank Dernoncourt
Joel Kallman
Johannes Ahrends
Kamil Stawiarski
Laurent Leturgez
Maja Veselica
Marcel Hofstetter
Piet de Visser
Sabine Heimsath
Stefan Kinnen
Stew Ashton
Uwe Hesse
Zoran Pavlovic
And alle the ones I forget to mention here!!

Thick Database Paradigm

Noting new in IT…

Well, no.

The Thick Database Paradigm (opposed to the “No PL/SQL Paradigm”) is nothing new. We have actually all been doing this since the eighties. Program your business rules, your constraints, everything that makes sure that your data is all that you want it to be, close to that data.
There are so many reasons that speak in favor of this approach that it is nearly overwhelming and deserves at least a book in itself. But, let me make a small attempt to highlighting a few here:

  • spare yourself network bandwidth, by not sending data all over your network to be processed
  • safeguard your data inside the (Oracle) database, so it can be protected by all that has been invented to do so
  • Transact data where it lives and combine and aggregate it there, you will be amazed by the efficiency
  • Remind yourself why you used to think “business logic in middle teer” was a good idea

If you leave possibile religious believes aside, there is no other conclusion possible then that the reinvention of “Thick Database” is the (re)discovery of 2016, right from the time when IT still made sense.

Yes, there are cases where an “Enterprise Service Bus” makes sense, but, as with every technology withing IT, it has a very specific area where it actually adds value or even makes sense. At best, a lot less than all the places where it is used currently!
Not to get carried away in this joyful blog-post, I will leave this topic at this.

The end

I hope to see you at the next Oracle User Group conference, somewhere… Please watch for the asterisk at his page for the conferences that I will attend.