CHAPTER 1: Database Fundamentals

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CHAPTER 1: Database Fundamentals

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Database you say—now there's a word you hear all the time! In a nutshell, a database is an electronic collection of information designed to meet a handful of needs:  Databases provide one-stop shopping for all your data storage requirements. The database contains any amount of data, from the small to the huge.  Databases must provide mechanisms to retrieve data quickly as applications interact with their contents.  Databases allow the sharing of corporate data such that personnel data is shared amongst one's payroll, benefits, and pension systems....

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  1. m.vOracle Database 10g: A Beginner's Guide CHAPTER 1: Database Fundamentals CRITICAL SKILL 1.1: Define a Database Database you say—now there's a word you hear all the time! In a nutshell, a database is an electronic collection of information designed to meet a handful of needs:  Databases provide one-stop shopping for all your data storage requirements. The database contains any amount of data, from the small to the huge.  Databases must provide mechanisms to retrieve data quickly as applications interact with their contents.  Databases allow the sharing of corporate data such that personnel data is shared amongst one's payroll, benefits, and pension systems. CRITICAL SKILL 1.2: Learn the Oracle Database 10g Architecture Oracle Database 10g is said to be started when the appropriate commands have been invoked to make it accessible on a day-to-day basis to applications. The act of stopping Oracle Database 10g is called shutdown. When Oracle Database 10g is shut down, nobody can access the data in its files. An instance is a set of processes that run in a computer's memory and provide access to the many files that come together to define themselves as Oracle Database 10g. A background process supports access to a started Oracle Database 10g, playing a vital role in Oracle's database implementation. Various background processes are spawned when starting the database and each performs a handful of tasks until a database is shut down. The Control Files These are binary files containing information about the assortment of files that come together to support the Oracle Database 10g. They contain information that describes the names, locations, and sizes of the database files. As the Oracle Database 10g is started, the control files are read and the files described therein are opened to support the running database. The Online Redo Logs As sessions interact with the Oracle Database 10g, the details of their activities are recorded in the online redo logs. Many think of these as the transaction logs. A transaction is a unit of work, passed to the database for processing. The following shows a few activities that can be referred to as two transactions. -- Begin of transaction #1 create some new information update some existing information create some more new information
  2. delete some information save all the work that has been accomplished -- End of transaction #1 -- Begin transaction #2 update some information back out the update by not saving the changed data -- End transaction #2 Oracle Database 10g insists that there are at least two online redo logs to support the instance. In fact, most databases have two or more redo log groups with each group having the same number of equally sized members. The SYSTEM Tablespace Tablespace is a space where a table resides. As an Oracle Database 10g is created, a system tablespace is built that contains Oracle's data dictionary. As Oracle Database 10g operates, it continually gets operational information out of its data dictionary and, as records are created, this system tablespace defines attributes of the data it stores, such as:  The data type of pieces of information.  The maximum allowable size of fields as they are populated by the applications.  Who owns the information as the database data files are populated?  Who is allowed to look at each other's data and what types of activities each user of the database can perform on that data? The SYSAUX Tablespace Many of the tools and options that support the Oracle Database 10g activities store their objects in this sysaux tablespace. This is mandatory as a database is created. The Oracle Enterprise Manager (OEM) Grid Control repository used to go in its own oem_repository tablespace, but with Oracle Database 10g its objects now reside in sysaux. Default Temporary Tablespace As the dbca does its thing, a tablespace is created that serves as the default location for intermediary objects Oracle Database 10g builds as it processes SQL statements. SQL stands for the structured query language, an industry standard in the database arena, used to retrieve, create, change, and update data. Most of the work Oracle does to assemble a result set for a query operation is done in memory. A result set is a collection of data that qualifies for inclusion in a query passed to Oracle. If the amount of memory allocated for query processing is insufficient to accommodate all the activities required to assemble data, Oracle uses this default temporary tablespace as its secondary work area for many activities including sorting. Undo Tablespace
  3. As sessions interact with the Oracle Database 10g, they create, change, and delete data. Undo is the act of restoring data to a previous state. Suppose one's address is changed from 123 Any Street to 456 New Street via a screen in the personnel application. The user who is making the change has not yet saved the transaction. Until that transaction is saved (referred to as committed in the world of Oracle Database 10g) or abandoned (referred to as rolled back in the same world), Oracle maintains a copy of the changed row in its undo tablespace. The System Parameter File Oracle Database 10g sometimes calls the system parameter file its spfile. This is where its startup parameters are defined and values in this file determine the environment within which the database operates. As one starts an Oracle instance, the spfile is read and various memory structures are allocated based on its contents. Background Processes Database writer (dbwr) processes are responsible for writing the contents of database buffers to disk. As sessions interact with the Oracle Database 10g, all the information they use passes through Oracle's database buffers, a segment of memory allocated for this activity. The log writer (lgwr) process manages the writing of information to the online redo logs. A log buffer area is set aside in memory where information destined for the online redo logs is staged. The transfer of this information from memory to disk is handled by the lgwr process. The checkpoint process (ckpt) is responsible for updating information in Oracle Database 10g's files during a checkpoint activity. A checkpoint is the activity of writing information from memory to the appropriate locations in the Oracle Database 10g. Think of a checkpoint as a stake in the ground allowing the restoration of a system to a specific point in time. The checkpoint process may trigger lgwr and dbwr to do their specialized tasks. The system monitor (smon) process is the gatekeeper of consistency as the Oracle Database 10g runs. Consistency defines the interrelatedness of the database components with one another. A consistent instance must be established every time the Oracle Database 10g starts and it is smon's job to continually enforce and reestablish this consistency. Plainly put—an inconsistent database is trouble! The process monitor (pmon) is responsible for cleaning up any resources that may have been tied up by aborted sessions interacting with the database. The famous CTRL-ALT- DEL that people tend to use to reboot a personal computer can leave resources tied up in the Oracle Database 10g. It is pmon's job to free up these resources. The job queue coordination (cjq0) process is responsible for spawning job processes from Oracle Database 10g's internal job queue. Oracle Database 10g does some self- management using its job queue, and users of the database can create jobs and have them submitted to this cjq0 coordinator.
  4. The archiver (arc0) process is responsible for copying online redo logs to a secondary storage location before they are reused by the next set of transactions. In the ''Online Redo Logs" section of this chapter, we discuss how Oracle Database 10g insists there are at least two online redo logs. Suppose we call these groups A and B. Oracle Database 10g uses these two groups in a cyclical fashion, moving back and forth from A to B to A to B and so on. The arc0 process, when and if instructed, will make a copy of a file from log group A before allowing it to be reused. Figure 1-1 illustrates the way the architecture components we have described come together to support the Oracle Database 10g. The Oracle Database 10g is started, the control files are read to get its bearings. Then the online redo logs and the assortment of tablespaces listed in the control files are acquired. As the instance comes to life, the background processes take over and manage the operations of the database from there. Project 1-1 Reviewing the Oracle Database 10g Architecture There are many types of files that come together to support the Oracle Database 10g. In this section, we have discussed control files, online redo logs, the system tablespace, and an assortment of tablespaces that support the database. As well, we have looked at the series of background processes that allow users to interact with Oracle Database 10g. In this brief project, you will apply what you have learned about the processes that support the Oracle Database 10g. As you descend into the land of Oracle Database 10g, this information is crucial to your understanding of this remarkable software solution. Step by Step 1. There are a few pieces missing in the following diagram of the infrastructure of files that support the Oracle Database 10g. Fill in the missing text where required. You can confirm your answers by reviewing BEGP1-1a.tif online.
  5. 2. The second diagram shows a partial makeup of the background processes with Oracle Database 10g. Complete the missing text where indicated by broken lines. Again, you can check your answers online by viewing BEGP1-2a.tif. FIGURE 1-1. The Oracle Database 10g architecture Project Summary The reader need not master the Oracle Database 10g architecture to become fluent with the software. Just as an electrician needs the assistance of a good set of blueprints, the Oracle Database 10g technical person should understand some of the inner workings of the software. A peek under the covers, as brief as it may have been in this section, is a good path to follow while becoming familiar with what Oracle Database 10g is all about. Before moving on to discuss Oracle Database 10g data types, let's spend a minute looking at the database administrator, the ultimate director of the operations of the database.
  6. The Database Administrator This privileged user of the Oracle Database 10g is commonly the most experienced technician in the shop, with some exceptions. Often, recent adopters of the Oracle technology have little or no in-house experience, and one or more employees may find themselves targets of the familiar directive ''So, you're the new Oracle Database 10g DBA!" One scrambles to find sources for technical knowledge when thrust into this role and, what better place to be than reading Oracle Database 10g: A Beginner's Guide? The following list outlines common responsibilities of the Oracle Database 10g DBA:  Install and configure the Oracle Database 10g software.  Create tablespaces within which application data will reside.  Create and manage accounts.  Tweak the environment within which the Oracle Database 10g operates by adjusting initialization parameters using the system parameter file.  Configure backups and carry out recovery tests to ensure the usability and integrity of system backups.  Work with developers to ensure the code they write is optimal, and use the server's resources as efficiently as possible.  Keep abreast of the emerging technology and be involved in scoping out future direction based on enhancements delivered with new software releases.  Work with Oracle Support Services, initiating technical assistance requests (iTARs) to engage support analysts in problem-solving endeavors. The front-end to the iTAR creation process is called MetaLink.  Tune the Oracle Database 10g so applications can coexist with one another on the same server and share that machine's resources efficiently.  Work with the system administrators to ensure the appropriate disk space and processor power are available and properly utilized. As with most lists, after reading the preceding bullet points, you may wonder what else DBAs do with their time. As you work with the Oracle Database 10g, you will experience other activities that will plug the loopholes that may exist in the previous list.
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