Although my initial thought was that you would need to be an Oracle DBA to get much out of this book, I now think that CIOs, CTOs, systems administrators, DBAs, analysts, and programmers should all read Oracle9i High-Performance Tuning with STATSPACK. This is an excellent book that contains a wealth of information on Oracle database performance issues—not all of them solely the concern of DBAs.

Oracle9i High-Performance
Tuning with STATSPACK

By Don Burleson
Oracle Press
645 pages
ISBN: 007222360X

The introduction and first couple of chapters address external performance issues of servers, disk I/O subsystems, and networks that can directly impact the database—all issues that don’t necessarily fall into the realm of the Oracle DBA. The author, Don Burleson, then cuts to the chase on the real issues of Oracle performance and tuning and discusses the information and utilities you need. He provides the reader with the pertinent information along with realistic examples and scripts that are on the money.

How much does STATSPACK cost?

Oracle’s Performance Pack was pricey when it first came out; so you may be asking, “How much is this going to hurt?” In its basic form, STATSPACK replaces the Utlbstat/Utlestat utilities from previous Oracle versions. STATSPACK delivers with the Oracle software and it’s free.

Installing STATSPACK
The author does a great job of covering the installation prerequisites, the installation, and configuring of STATSPACK. And he offers some extensions that really beef up the usability of STATSPACK.

The book also provides the URL to the site where you can download scripts for STATSPACK, and the extensions are included—you don’t even have to retype the scripts from the book; just modify some statements for your hardware and other personalized attributes.

I especially appreciated the coverage of the server utilities (e.g., sar, vmstats, glance, top, nice, priocntl). The book discusses why you need to know about these utilities, how to get information on them, and what to do with that information. The author also provides the information needed to execute and understand the output on several platforms including Linux, AIX, HP/UX, and Solaris.

Reorganizing Oracle tables
The book discusses traditional reorganization utilities as well as the pros and cons of Create Table…As Select (CTAS) with scripts to accomplish this task.

The author also provides excellent coverage of freelists, percent free, and percent used. This topic is critical to understanding table and index performance issues and considerations. I found this to be very informative and a great refresher.

Good proactive vs. reactive approach to performance and tuning
It has been my strategic directive to proactively monitor and tune the database environment. It is refreshing to see this same approach embraced and reinforced as the de facto standard as it is in this book. It is true that from time to time, reactive tuning may be dictated or may make sense under some circumstances. Having the proactive history in STATSPACK tables should be an asset in your decision-making process as you proceed.

Add this book to your library
Although the first chapter may seem elementary, it offers an excellent review of the correct approach to tuning your database and a firm foundation for understanding the progression of the book.

I read early in the book that the author has extensive experience as a senior-level expert in Oracle, editor in chief of Oracle Internals, and as a professor. His experience is obvious by the placement of helpful hints and tips that are sprinkled throughout, including undocumented parameters, such as QUEUESIZE, used in the Listener.ora file. His vast experience on multiple platforms is unselfishly shared, which enhances the versatility of this text (e.g., UNIX is the platform of choice for examples, but commands for other platforms are included or discussed, such as HP-UX, AIX, Solaris, Linux, NT, and DEC-UNIX).

The information here is presented in a very readable and understandable format. The scripts alone are worth the cost of the book. This book is a valuable reference in my technical library, and I highly recommend it to other developers and IT pros.