Cary Millsap

This is my third of four posts about people who have made a major impact on my Oracle database performance tuning journey.  This post is about Cary Millsap.  The previous two were about Craig Shallahamer and Don Burleson.

I am working through these four people in chronological order.  The biggest impact Cary Millsap had on me was through the book Optimizing Oracle Performance which he co-authored with Jeff Holt.  I have also heard Cary speak at conferences and we had him in for a product demo one time where I work.

I have delayed writing this post because I struggle to put into words why Cary’s book was so useful to me without repeating a long explanation of the book’s contents.  Just before reading the book I had worked on a system with high CPU usage and queuing for the CPU.  I had just read the paper “Microstate Response-time Performance Profiling” by Danisment Gazi Unal which talked about why CPU measurements in Oracle do not include time spent queued for the CPU.  Then I read Cary Millsap’s book and it was very enlightening.  For one thing, the book was very well written and written in a convincing way.  But the key concept was Cary Millsap’s idea of looking at the waits and CPU time that Oracle reports at a session level and comparing that to the real elapsed time.  This performance profile with waits, CPU, and elapsed time formed the basis of my first conference talk which I gave at Collaborate 06: PowerPoint, Word, Zip

Here is an example of a session profile from my presentation:

--------------------------- ---------------
REALELAPSED                             141
CPU                                   44.81
SQL*Net message from client            9.27
db file sequential read                 .16

This is a profile of a session that spent roughly two-thirds of its time queued for the CPU.

Since reading Optimizing Oracle Performance I have resolved many performance problems by creatively applying the concepts in the book.  The book focuses on using traces to build profiles.  I have made my own scripts against V$ views and I have also used Precise.  I have used traces as the book suggests but only with TKPROF.  I have not had a chance to use the tool that the book describes, the Method R Profiler.

However I do it the focus is on waits, CPU as reported by Oracle, and real elapsed time all for a single session.  It is a powerful way to approach performance tuning and the main thing I learned from Cary Millsap.  I highly recommend Cary Millsap and Jeff Holt’s book to anyone who wants to learn more about Oracle database performance tuning because it made such a profound impact on my career.

– Bobby

About Bobby

I live in Chandler, Arizona with my wife and three daughters. I work for US Foods, the second largest food distribution company in the United States. I've been working as an Oracle database administrator and PeopleSoft administrator since 1994. I'm very interested in Oracle performance tuning.
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