The Oracle Relational Database Management System (RDBMS) has become one of the most powerful and flexable databases avalible. With ever expanding functionality such DataGuard replication and Real Application Clusters (RAC) the divide between database administrators (DBA) and system administrators (SA) is becoming more and more blurred. With the release of Oracle10g this division of responsability has blurred nearly into obscurity. In years past it was interesting to find that the common requirements for sysadmins managing database systems were centered around storage, high avalibility, and tuning to manage the resources needed by the database, and experience with the database itself was meerly a plus. As this wall between DBA and SA collapses its becoming essential that SAs have a solid understanding of Oracle itself in order to effectively interface with DBAs and architects. Currently there are plenty of SAs that can give 6 hour disertations on disk subsystem tuning for databases and tuning for the Oracle SGA but haven't got the foggiest idea of how to extract information for the database itself. This book was written to correct this problem and to provide experienced administrators with an accelerated overview of Oracle itself.
What this book will not cover is database tuning, sizing, or any aspect of system management itself. It is expected that the reader has some ammount of experience with database systems administration, although it is not required. If you know what an SGA is but not how to explore the internals of Oracle, then this book is for you.
The catalyst for this book was rooted in Oracle backups using RMAN. My DBA, as many others do, forbids me from interacting directly with the databse however expected me to provide offsite duplications of the database. This wasn't a problem untill I wanted to test the backups on a sepreate system in order to ensure that proper proceedures were in place should a disaster strike and, as luck would have it, my DBA didn't have time to help me with the RMAN componant. So I set out to understand RMAN, which led me to realize just how little I actually knew the database internals. So, from that simple desire to restore some RMAN offsites spawn this whole book. Even though I "wasted" a lot of time that could have been better spent on other tasks I've finally gained the added knowladge that makes a world of diffrence when I interface with my DBA.
This book won't teach you everything about Oracle, and its not intended to. There are plenty of "Oracle for Dummies" (or equivelent) books on the market. Instead, your going to get an overview of all the major componants of Oracle, specifically Oracle10g, in a practical start-to-finish linear fashion from chapter to chapter. As a sysadmin I've focused on topics that are of most practical interest to my needs whether it be for practical use or simply to better understand and guide my DBA. Even though you might never export an Oracle database its essential that you understand what it is, so that when your DBA uses them you know what they are doing and how to provide for their requirements. Throughout the book you'll find URL's to Oracle documentation which will provide you with more information on a given topic.
By the end reading this book you'll have the confidence to login to Oracle, configure basic networking, manipulate user access, understand the programming interfaces, utilize major tools for importing and exporting data, interface with the backup system, but most importantly you'll leave with the knowladge required to allow you to learn the database in more detail for yourself. Any mature RDBMS today requires a large amount of knowladge about to simply get you into a position to "poke around" and learn for yourself. Unlike your first UNIX account, its not so easy as just logging in, typing "ls" and learning from there, you need to be able to understand the login proccess, enviromental variables, connection methods, some basic SQL, and possibly some basic network configuration before you can even just explore the internals of the database. The most important thing to take away is the confidence and basic skills required to let you learn for yourself.