Oracle Application Server

One month ago, I attended an Oracle Application Server course in Geneva, Switzerland. We were a group of 3 students and the 5-days lesson has been extremly interesting and intense. Starting at 9am, we used to finish at 5:30pm or later.

At LC Systems, we have a few customers using OAS, that is why I did jump into this non-database product cursus.

As I experienced in the course, it is quite different from Oracle Database. Technically speaking, you do not need much database know-how to administer an application server.

There are basically two parts. One is the Infrastructure. It contains a Directory Server (LDAP) which is stored physically on a database. As for the Grid Control, you can just click Next->Next->Next->Install to have it up and running (if you are lucky). You do not specify the size of the memory, the location of the files, the logging mode, nothing. Just the database passwords.

The second part is called the Middle Tier. It contains a J2EE engine. There you can “hotplug” your application : portal, forms, reports, discoverer…

The consistency, availability, backup strategy are not as clearly defined as in the db world I know. In the “online backup” mode, you should just hope that nothing is going to modify the xml configuration files at the time you edit them. If your file system is getting full of logs, it can well happen that your config file get truncated. If you think you are not modifying anything during the backup, it could well be Oracle itself that updates the xml files. What did also sound dubious to me is the point in time recovery. It sounds like : “Well, I will try to recover until time your repository with rman, and if I found your backup sets on the disk, it may work. If the config changed since that time, well, this is probably not the best thing to try…”

The security concept made me hurl more than one time. For example Portal. There is a superuser called PORTAL in the Oracle Internet Directory (OID). To my surprise, you can see his database password in clear text in the OID. This user has, no joke, DBA role in the database. You can “revoke” the DBA role from PORTAL in the Application Server Console, but, believe me, it does not revoke the DBA at the db level. The mod_plsql enables you to encrypt passwords in files. This is a 2-ways encryption, I doubt the algorythm is very strong. The concept rather rely on “No one should ever log-in neither on the application server (with telnet) nor on the repository database (with sqlplus).

This morning I passed my 1Z0-311 exam with success (0 error).

OCP Column

There is a new INSIDE OCP column in the Oracle Magazine this month (May-June 2006 Edition).

It is about the Application Server exam. In the magazine, it is referenced as 1Z1-311, but the beta phase ended half a year ago, so the exam is now production 1Z0-311. I could guess most answers, and I hope I can succeed at first try, which is no sure thing. Anyway, I will try it next Friday at Oracle University in Baden/Zurich.

New PC

I bought a new PC at Eastern. I have installed 100Gb partition for Linux and 100Gb for Windows. I tried Fedora Core 5 and OpenSuse 10.0, in 64bit mode.

I currently spend most of my “free” time to prepare the OCA Application Server certification, next friday (28th).

Tonight I borrowed a game from a friend : Unreal Tournament 2004. I haven’t play such a game since a long time, and I must say, I enjoyed it very much. I am just overtired now. The graphic is fast, it is easy to master (well, I played at the novice level) and it is something I would never recommend to my kids ! Just shooting everywhere …

Well, they are just too young now, but Dora is really mastering Memory Game and she can even write her name when she achieved a high score! Yesterday she had her fourth birthday.