Kamran Agayev’s Oracle Blog

Kamran Agayev’s Oracle Blog

Archive for February, 2010

Exclusive Interview with Hemant K Chitale

Posted by Kamran Agayev A. on February 2, 2010

Hemant K Chitale has 17 years of experience as an Oracle DBA. He has been a DBA on a wide variety of Unix platforms (some of them extinct now), Linux and Windows, from V6 to 10g. His career has spanned organisations from the Financial Services Industry to Manufacturing to Consulting. He has been a guide to junior DBAs and is in the habit of writing notes and case studies on technical issues in Oracle Database Administration. Portions of his spare time are spent on Oracle forums and on testing features of the Database. Database Performance and Backup and Recovery are his areas of interest. However, he does also have other interests in Non Fiction books and Serious Movies. “To learn and share knowledge” is a constant driver..

Could u please provide answer to the following questions as follows:

  • Brief information about yourself and your family

I have a wife and a 14 year old son in Secondary School.

  • Your education

My formal degree is in Finance.  However, I have done a Post  Graduate Diploma in Software Technology after I began working in I.T.

  • Your experience with Oracle. When you started first? Has it been interest of your side or just a coincidence?

I began with Oracle5 on DOS and Xenix.   When I joined Stock Holding Corporation of India Ltd, I began in Securities Trading Market Operations.  However, the systems we were using intrigued me.  The architecture was ahead of it’s time : Distributed Databases with Oracle5 on DOS sharing data with a “central” Oracle5 database on a Xenix server.

I moved to the I.T. department after my first year and soon started working on the Database sometime in 1991.

  • What was the motive behind to prefer Oracle? Who you have been influenced by?

Other than Oracle, the only “Database” I had seen was dBASE-III+  !  I liked Oracle for it’s multi-user support in V5.  V6 and V7 introduced Rollback Segments, Redo Logs, Row Locking (the “Transaction Processing Option”), PLSQL and I was hooked.

Years ago, before Oracle books came out, I read Steve Adam’s postings on newsgroups.   Then, later, Cary Millsap’s book “Optimizing Oracle Performance” Jonathan Lewis’s book “The Cost Based Optimizer”.

  • What would your preference of profession if not Oracle?

Teaching.  I like sharing knowledge.

  • What motivates you in your job?

The opportunities to “discover” different facets of databases and application design.  Some implementations really leave you with “awe” while others are “shocking”.  It’s always something new, exciting, challenging or disappointing or frustrating.  It is much more intellectual than Finance.

  • Do you give lectures on Oracle?

When I have had the occasion to.  I have conducted a 5 day DBA-I course once and a course in Advanced Replication (both in the 8i days).   Besides these, I have, on occasion, conducted 2-4 hour sessions.

  • Have you authored any book in Oracle?

Unfortunately, no.  I wish to and intend to.

  • Do you manage with your time as to read books on Oracle? What is the name of the book that you read recently?

I read non-Oracle books as well !  See my recommendations page http://web.singnet.com.sg/~hkchital/Recommendations.htm

The most recent Oracle books that I have been reading have been “Refactoring SQL Applications”  (ok, not strictly Oracle-only) by Stephane Faroult and “Advanced SQL Functions in Oracle 10g” by Richard Walsh Earp and Sikha Saha Bagui.

However, I am currently reading “The Professional” by Subroto Bagchi and “Fool’s Gold” by Gillian Tett.

  • What do you think on OTN forums?

A very useful platform, still underused.  There are many people I know that should be on OTN forums but, for whatever reasons that I cannot fathom, are averse.  I guess you have to have a certain attitude before you open up or spend time on forums.  This is an infinitely better way to spend your time than something silly as Facebook.

  • Do you refer to the documentation? And how often does it happen?

Very frequently.   Most often the SQL Reference (because I don’t  — and do not intend to – memorise syntax.  Syntax has to be understood rather than memorized). Also, the RMAN Reference (known as the “Backup and Recovery Reference”) and the Database Reference.

  • What is the biggest mistake you have ever made during your DBA career?

There was this time when I deleted an Online Redo Log when re-organising Logs. Fortunately, it wasn’t a CURRENT file but an INACTIVE one, so there was no harm done.  I could clear that quickly enough but did also bounce the database instance “to be safe”.

  • What was your greatest achivement as an Oracle DBA?

 Single-greatest ?  Actually multiple great ones.  Cross-Platform Migration from V6 to V7 in a short time-frame was one – although most DBAs would laugh at this now, back in those days it was my first Upgrade + Cross Platform + Cross Location migration.  Another one was implementing Oracle OPS in V7.   Building a Standby Database in V7 (DataGuard was a decade in the future !).  There have been a few Oracle Ebusiness Suite (10.7 and R11) upgrades that have been significant achievements.  As also storage-based D.R. implementations.

  • What is you priority to manage the challenges you face?

 Staying cool.  I can handle technology failures.  People’s unwillingness  to learn and/or share knowledge, particularly when it is needed, is something which makes me despair.  What makes me angry pushing a “never-live” project and continuing it as if it were a success.  I have seen instances of refusal to acknowledge that corrective action is required and that responsibility must be owned.

  • How would you describe the essence of your success? According to your definition of success, how successful have you been so far?

I wouldn’t say that I am successful yet !  I am trying to do a good job but am not near achieving my potential.

  • What are your best skills which make you differ from others?

Understanding the technology

  • What’s your major weakness?

Not understanding people – what motivates one person but not another, why does a person or a group of people behave in a certain manner ?  Humans just are weird !

  • Have you ever lost your spirit? If so, what has been the reason and how have you overcome it?

Yes.  Leading to depression.  The best person to talk to is your wife.  The next best person is someone outside the organization you work for.  However, fortunately, I have had good supervisors throughout my career, only that I have approached them too late.

  • What is the next success you would like to attain and your efforts to this end?

Ah!  That would be telling. 

  • How do you balance your daily life with your career?

“Work-Life balance” is an  empty phrase.  What you really need to do is to be happy – whether at work or at home or on OTN forums  (or, I wouldn’t say this about myself, playing computer games !)

  • Please describe your one day summary of activities?

Get up.   Read the newspaper.  Get ready for work.  Commute to work.  Do some work.  Return home.  Watch Television.  Spend time on the Internet (forums, lists, news etc).

Work should not be the most important part of the day – everything is equally important.

  • How many hours do you work and sleep in a day?

 4 to 6.  Sometimes I wake up in the night and can’t go back to sleep. 

  • Where and how do you spend your daily, weekly and annual holidays?

 Annual holidays in India with my parents, brothers and in-laws.  An additional visit to some other neighbouring country in the region, about once in two years.

  • Do you think about Oracle during vacations?

Only on rare occasions.

  • Do you have time or motivation to go in for any sports? If yes, which kind of sport do you go in for?

No.

  • What’s your favorite meal and non-alcoholic drink?

Indian Vegeterian  (which covers a whole gamut of different foods, believe me !).  Tea.

  • What foreign languages do you know?

Foreign to which country ?  Hindi, Marathi and Gujarati are Indian languages that are Foreign outside of India !

  • What’s your average typing speed?

I have a certified speed of 40 wpm on manual typewriters from 1981.   Computer keyboards nowadays are different from those typewriters but I have heard people say that I am “fast on the keyboard”.

  • Have you ever get involved in politics?

No.

  • What are your hobbies? 

Reading.  Non-fiction – economics, history, politics, science/technology and Oracle – besides a bit of  crime / detective fiction.

  • How do you spend your free time?

Television.  Crime Channels,  Knowledge Programs, News Programs and a few family programmes.

Reading. 

On Internet Forums and Email lists.

Internet News.

  • What’s your biggest ambition?

I am not known to be ambitious. 

  • What would be your advice to the beginners in Oracle?

Read the documentation, practice Oracle, learn, keep an open mind.

  • Would you like your children to follow in your footsteps or take a different path in life?

My son will NOT be an Oracle DBA.  That is 100% certain !  He knows what the job requires.

  • Do you have any followers of you?

Define “followers”.  I do not like any possible definition of the word.

  • What is your vision on the future of Oracle?

Cheaper licencing for the Database products.

  • Could you please take a photo in your office near to your desktop?

That’s not possible.

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