Don Burleson

This is the second in a series of posts about different performance tuning authors and speakers who have had a big impact on my career.  My first post was on Craig Shallahamer.  I am ordering these posts chronologically.  Craig was the first to impact my career by improving my Oracle performance tuning knowledge.  The next person was Don Burleson.

I have heard Don Burleson speak at several user group conferences and got a lot out of these talks, but I got the most benefit from his book titled “Oracle 9i High-Performance Tuning with STATSPACK“.  Don’s 9i Statspack book helped me understand what was in the various v$views that Statspack captures. I mentioned in an earlier post that a coworker of mine asked how to learn about the different parts of an AWR report. I learned about these initially from Don Burleson’s book. Today, three major database versions later, on Oracle 12c and with the more full featured AWR reports I still use information I learned about v$ views from Don’s 9i Statspack book.  The idea of taking snapshots of the v$views like v$system_event and getting the difference between the values captured in two snapshots remains a critical component to Oracle database tuning.

In addition to understanding the v$views I learned how to add operating system metrics like CPU utilization, disk I/O latency, and network latency to the database metrics captured by Statspack. A very cool connection occurred when I realized that Don Burleson’s approach to augmenting Statspack database v$ information with Unix operating system metrics mirrored the way Craig Shallahamer’s OSM Toolkit stores both v$information and Unix OS metrics. It has been a huge help to understand what the operating system tools like sar and vmstat are telling you and compare that to what Statspack is saying as you observe the changes in v$ view values over time.

Lastly, I remember learning about database internals and their impact on performance.  One example that stands out is that I learned from Don Burleson’s book that indexes are more effective if rows in the table are ordered by the indexed columns.  Later I learned more about “clustering factor” and how this value attempts to quantify how ordered the rows are relative to the indexed columns.  But, Don’s 9i book first opened my eyes to the relevance of the way the rows are sorted in the table relative to the columns in the index.  I’m sure I learned other key things but the relationship between the indexed columns and the order of rows really opened my eyes to how data organization on the disk can impact performance.

In conclusion, Don Burleson was the second major figure in my Oracle performance tuning journey.  His 9i Statspack book in particular improved my knowledge of v\$ tables, operating system performance metrics, and Oracle database tuning topics and internals.  Each of these three types of knowledge have proven invaluable in developing my performance tuning skills.

– Bobby

p.s. I believe this is the expanded more current AWR based version of the 9i Statspack book: Oracle Tuning: The Definitive Reference, Third Edition