Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Note to Newbies: Know when it's time to call Oracle Support

This thread on the OTN forums caught my eye today.

Whilst I love the forums and think they are a great place to go for help and advice, there are times when they are not the best medium for support and this was one of them.

Forum questions are answered by volunteers, people who have day jobs to do themselves, that are happy to share their experience and help out others with queries. That’s why you will often see people getting flamed for posting subject titles with ‘URGENT’ or ‘PLEASE HELP NOW’.

In this thread there were a lot of people wiling to help, but with the OP seemingly not fully understanding some of the responses and even admitting in one post that they were ‘in a panic’ the confusion led to the problem being made worse.

If you’ve screwed up production and are in a panic, there’s a good chance that you may not have explained the issue clearly. Responses can only be given based on the information that you have provided and if that is not accurate, or you misread some of the instructions, then you could very quickly end up in an even bigger mess.

It’s too easy to say ‘don’t panic’.
I’ll admit that I’ve experienced that awful feeling in the pit of your stomach when you realise you have done something you shouldn’t have done, especially in production. I’m sure many others have too. But panic is generally what makes things worse (this especially applies to my diving as well as DBA work!).

Instead, take a deep breath and put in that call to Oracle Support.

The last post in the thread pretty much sums up the best response:

My first advice would have been:
Shutdown both databases and take a cold backup of everything if you have the time & space for that.
Contact Oracle Support!
Wait patiently for their advice and do not simply everything anybody tells you over the internet !

Unfortunately, the ‘Too late now for that’ also rings true and I just hope that the OP was able to get this resolved.


Blogger Gary Myers said...

Yes, Oracle Support is an excellent recommendation. But also, if you've made a few friends in your local Oracle community, that may be another resource available to you. It is technically possible to be licensed without a support/maintenance contract, though I wouldn't advise it.

It may cost you a meal out or a few beers (or whatever the local currency is for a big favour between friends).

Wednesday, August 04, 2010 10:47:00 pm  
Blogger Lisa said...

Good point Gary.

I should have thought about that, considering it is something I do myself!

That's also why I am a strong advocate of User Groups - they are great for networking which is how you get to make friends in the community.

Beer tends to be a very strong currency over here for helping out fellow DBA's :)

Thursday, August 05, 2010 11:21:00 am  
Anonymous James said...

Yes, can go for oracle support but social network will also help you.

Friday, August 06, 2010 2:02:00 am  
Blogger Joel Garry said...

One thing about support, they often don't like doing the job of Oracle Education. An individual analyst may like to show off a tricky answer, or may feel good about some hand-holding of basic stuff, but often they (or their bosses) rightfully have an expectation of a basic understanding of the concepts, as well as what to expect from support in all of its forms.

I have to wonder when I see someone say they have a valid backup, and in the same thread an issue with overwriting redo. Did they backup the redo? Should they have?

Response time from support is no trivial matter, either.

word: opbon

Monday, August 09, 2010 10:01:00 pm  
Blogger Lisa said...

Fair comments Joel.

I have always said in the past that nobody should expect assistance from Oracle Support or the forums without first doing some work of their own.

In the example I have posted about, the notion to call support was based on a lone Newbie with a downed production system. He was clearly out of his depth and pretty much following all instructions given over the internet without fully understanding what he was doing.

I posted in another thread of his (in which you also commented) that

“Yes, it is tough being a lone DBA, especially as a Newbie. But that is exactly why you have to be aware of your own limitations and call in Oracle Support when needed.
They are your back-up in the absence of any senior colleagues.”

Turns out that Oracle Support was not an option for this guy, but it seems it has been a wake-up call anyway.

As you pointed out it can be as much about the right staffing and infrastructure as having a support contract.

Gary Myers has since blogged about this also and talked about the importance of talking to colleagues.

Oh, and he mentions buying beer too – which is always a good thing!

Friday, August 13, 2010 9:35:00 am  
Blogger Joel Garry said...

Depends on the beer. :-)

word: unnarr

Wednesday, August 18, 2010 9:12:00 pm  
Blogger Martin Berger said...

2 things to add:
1) I have not read the thread, but do NOT shut down the instance! if you do not need to. There are 2 reasons. If you shutdown the instance, a lot of in-memory information os lost forever. But more important - a running instance has a LOT of informations in any kind of ache which might NOT be at disk. Use it as long as possible 8for exports, whatever)
2) I agree the comment-discussion about knowledge. But at a state a customer calls support and cries 'Prio1 - I've lost my data' - there is nothung about education. The only goal must be the best recovery available.

Sunday, November 21, 2010 8:32:00 pm  

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