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:

TIMESOURCE                  ELAPSED_SECONDS
--------------------------- ---------------
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 have worked in the Information Technology field since 1989. I have a passion for Oracle database performance tuning because I enjoy challenging technical problems that require an understanding of computer science. I enjoy communicating with people about my work.

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