Practice using Oracle's Remote Diagnostic Agent before you need it

Oracle provides a tool called Remote Diagnostic Agent that documents your Oracle installation. Becoming familiar with this tool before you need it can save time when you work with Oracle Support.

Although the DBA can resolve most problems that arise with Oracle databases, there are times when you need to file a Service Request (SR) with Oracle Support. (The old term Technical Assistance Request, or TAR, is still used by many DBAs to refer to SRs). Once an engineer has been assigned to work on the SR, he or she often asks questions about what version you are running, parameter settings, machine environment, etc. Each time the engineer posts a response asking for more information, he or she moves on to another customer's SR until you answer. After you answer, there may be a delay before the engineer reads your response. Then, all too often, the engineer finds yet another question to ask.

Remote Diagnostic Agent (RDA) shortens the time it takes for the Oracle engineer to become familiar with your system. The name "agent" is misleading because it's not a background process that runs all the time; it's a set of scripts written in Perl that documents your Oracle software environment as a series of output reports. These outputs form a package (in zip or tar format) that can then be uploaded to Oracle Support via Oracle's online support service, MetaLink. The result is fewer cycles of messaging back and forth and faster resolution of issues.

You can download the latest version of RDA, RDA 4, from MetaLink. (RDA 4 is platform independent. Earlier versions had separate editions for different platforms, which were updated independently.) If you have not registered for MetaLink, you'll need to supply a valid Customer Support Identifier and a current e-mail address. Then search for article #330363.1, which is an overview of RDA. It provides a FAQ, a link to the download page, documentation pages, and a troubleshooting guide.

Once you download the utility in zip, tar.gz, or tar format, uncompress it into a new directory on the Oracle server. This creates a subdirectory or folder named rda. You'll find instructions for your platform in a README document in that directory. All of the scripts are viewable, so you can look at what is being executed before you run it. Only the most basic Perl functions are used so, in most cases, you will not need to install anything else to run the scripts. If you have a problem with Perl on your system, though, there are binary versions of the tool you can download instead.

Download RDA and practice using it before you need it. Then, when a problem comes up that requires Oracle Support, you'll be ready to quickly run the tool and attach its output to your initial SR. But, remember, it's just a tool. The goal is to get your problem resolved, with or without RDA.

Bob Watkins (OCP, MCITP, MCDBA, MCT) is a computer professional with 25 years of experience as a technical trainer, consultant, and database administrator. He is a Senior Consultant and Managing Partner at B. Watkins, a database consulting and training firm in the Dallas / Fort Worth area. Visit Bob's site.

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