Explain the Explain Plan: Cardinality Estimates

In last week’s post, I began a series on how to read and interpret Oracle execution plans by explaining what an execution plan is and how to generate one. This week I’m going to tackle the most important piece of information the Optimizer shares with you via the execution plan, it’s cardinality estimates.

What is a Cardinality Estimate?

A cardinality estimate is the estimated number of rows, the optimizer believes will be returned by a specific operation in the execution plan. The Optimizer determines the cardinality for each operation based on a complex set of formulas that use table and column level statistics as input (or the statistics derived by dynamic sampling). It’s considered the most important aspect of an execution plan because it strongly influences all of the other decisions the optimizer makes.

In part 4 of our series, I share some of the formulas used by the optimizer to estimate cardinalities, as well as showing you how to identify cardinalities in a plan. I also demonstrate multiple ways to determine if the cardinality estimates are accurate.

What can cause a Cardinality Misestimate and how do I fix it?

Several factors can lead to incorrect cardinality estimates even when the basic table and column statistics are up to date. In part 5 of our series, I explain the leading causes of cardinality misestimates and how you can address them.

Next weeks, instalment will be all about the different access methods available to the Optimizer and what you can do to encourage the optimizer to select the access method you want! Don’t forget more information on the Oracle Optimizer can always be found on the Optimizer blog.

How to read a Parallel Execution Plan in Oracle

The volume of data being stored in databases has grown exponentially in recent years. So too has the need to rapidly generate value or business insights from that data.

Parallel execution is the key to processing large volumes of diverse data quickly, as it subdivides complex tasks into a number of small tasks allowing multiple processes to accomplish a single complex task.

However, the use of parallelism can complicate the execution plan displayed. Oracle not only displays the operations needed to complete the SQL statement in the plan but all of the communication steps between the parallel server processes.

So, how should you go about interpreting a parallel execution plan?

In the video below, I give you a step by step guide on how to read parallel plans and what additional information you can glean from them!

How to setup VNCServer on an OCI VM?

Now we are all working from home, I’ve noticed that my MAC laptop is severely overloaded when I do live demos during webinars. After all, it’s running my camera, Zoom, PowerPoint, my Java app, and monitoring tools.

So, I decided it was time to move my demo environment to the Oracle Cloud, where I quickly provisioned a 2-OCPU VM running Linux following the instructions in my previous blog post.

Screen Shot 2020-08-11 at 12.56.23 PM

Once I had my VM up and running, I wanted a proper desktop experience, so I needed VNC.

After a quick google search, I found the video below, which provides a very easy to follow, step by step guide to installing and configuring TigerVNC VNCServer on OCI infrastructure. I followed all of these steps except for the final stage where they describe adding the VNCServer to your firewall.

I’m married to a security expert, who strongly advised against this approach. He told me it would be far more secure to use an SSH tunnel instead of opening the firewall for the VNC port.

Below the video are the full set of commands I used in my setup, including how to establish the ssh tunnel, so you can quickly cut and paste them.

Continue reading “How to setup VNCServer on an OCI VM?”

How to Provision a VM in the Oracle Cloud?

This blog post outlines the 10 simple steps necessary to provision, and connect to, a VM on Oracle Cloud Infrastructure (OCI).

          1. Confirm you have an SSH Public Key on your laptop or localhost.
            $ cd ~/.ssh
            — check if you have an existing if you have a key already
            $ ls
            id_rsa    id_rsa.pub    known_hosts

            You’re looking for a file named either id_dsa or id_rsa and a matching file with a .pub extension. The .pub file is your public key, and the other file is the corresponding private key. If you don’t have these files or you don’t remember your passphrase, you will need to complete the steps outlined here.NOTE: You can’t move on unless you have your SSH Public key.
          2. Connect to the OCI console to begin the provisioning process.
            From the hamburger menu in the upper left-hand corner select, the Compute menu item followed by the Instances option.
          3. On the Instances page, click the Create Instance button.
          4. Specify a unique name for your instance and accept the default Oracle Linux image.
          5. Scroll down and click on the Change Shape button.
          6. To run my demos I typically use Swingbench, which needs a minimum of 2 OCPUs (4 OCPUs if you use the JSON workload). So, I select a Virtual Machine with Intel Skylake processors and  2 OCPUs. Then click the Select Shape button.
          7. I use the automatic defaults in the Configure Networking and Boot Volume sections and move on to the SSH Key section.Here I select Paste SSH Keys and cut and paste my public key from my .ssh directory into the window provided.
          8. Finally hit the Create button at the end of the page.
          9. Instantly you will see a new VM is being provisioned for you. Once available, you can connect to the machine using the public IP address and the user OPC. You will find the IP address, on the main Instance console page.Step9_connect
          10. Simply ssh into the machine from your laptop using the supplied OPC user.

            $ ssh opc@XXX.XXX.XX.XXX
            Enter passphrase for key '/Users/sqlmaria/.ssh/id_rsa':
            Last login: Tue Jul 28 16:39:35 2020 from XXXXX

Generating an AWR report for Autonomous Databases

Oracle Autonomous Database automates the lifecycle management of a database, everything from provisioning, scaling, backups and patching, but what it doesn’t do yet is fully tune your application.

You are still on the hook to make sure your app doesn’t have any concurrency bottlenecks or poorly written SQL that Auto Indexing can’t address.

So, what can you do to monitor your app while it’s running on an Autonomous Database?

The first place you can start is the Performance Hub tab on the cloud console. Here you’ll find both real-time and historical performance data in the form of Active Session History (ASH) information for the last seven days, and SQL Monitor reports for the high-load SQL. You can aggregate the ASH data several different ways including by wait class, database service, resource group or SQL ID. The same information is also available in Oracle Management Cloud (OMC), and SQL Developer Web.

But if you are trying to get a holistic view of how your app is behaving on a database, nothing beats an Automatic Workload Repository report or AWR report.

Continue reading “Generating an AWR report for Autonomous Databases”

What are Query Block Names and how to find them

I got a lot of follow-up questions on what Query Block names are and how to find them, after my recent post about using SQL Patches to influence execution plans. Rather than burying my responses in the comment section under that post, I thought it would be more useful to do a quick post on it.

What are query blocks?

query block is a basic unit of SQL. For example, any inline view or subquery of a SQL statement are considered separate query blocks to the outer query.

The simple query below has just one sub-query, but it has two Query Blocks—one for the outer SELECT and one for the subquery SELECT.

Oracle automatically names each query block in a SQL statement based on the keyword using the following sort of name; sel$1, ins$2, upd$3, del$4, cri$5, mrg$6, set$7, misc$8, etc.

Given there are two SELECT statements in our query, the query block names will begin with SEL. The outer query will be SEL$1 and the inner query SEL$2.

How do I find the name of a query block?

To find the Query Block name, you can set the FORMAT parameter to ‘+alias’ in the DBMS_XPLAN.DISPLAY_CURSOR command. This will display the contents of the OBJECT_ALIAS column in the PLAN_TABLE, as a new section under the execution plan.

The new section will list the Query Block name for each of the lines in the plan.

SQL_ID 4c8bfsduxhyht, child NUMBER 0
SELECT e.ename, e.deptno FROM emp e WHERE e.deptno IN (SELECT d.deptno 
FROM dept d WHERE d.loc='DALLAS')
Plan hash VALUE: 2484013818
| Id  | Operation	   | Name | ROWS  | Bytes | Cost (%CPU)| TIME	  |
|   0 | SELECT STATEMENT   |	  |	  |	  |	5 (100)|	  |
|*  1 |  HASH JOIN SEMI    |	  |	5 |   205 |	5  (20)| 00:00:01 |
|   2 |   TABLE ACCESS FULL| EMP  |    14 |   280 |	2   (0)| 00:00:01 |
|*  3 |   TABLE ACCESS FULL| DEPT |	1 |    21 |	2   (0)| 00:00:01 |
Query Block Name / Object Alias (IDENTIFIED BY operation id):
1 - SEL$5DA710D3
2 - SEL$5DA710D3 / E@SEL$1
3 - SEL$5DA710D3 / D@SEL$2
Predicate Information (IDENTIFIED BY operation id):
1 - access("E"."DEPTNO"="D"."DEPTNO")

As you can see, @SEL1 is the Query Block name for the outer query, where the EMP table is used, and @SEL2 is the Query Block name for the sub-query, where the DEPT tables is used.

Continue reading “What are Query Block Names and how to find them”

How to use a SQL Plan Baseline or a SQL Patch to add Optimizer hints

In a recent chat with Connor McDonald, we discussed if it is realistic to have applications that don’t contain Optimizer hints. Ideally, the answer to this question is “yes”, you don’t need hints if you have a well-written application and you have supplied a representative set of statistics and all the possible constraint information (NOT NULL, Primary keys, Foreign Keys, etc.) to the Optimizer.

But in reality even with all of this in place, there can be cases where something goes wrong with the execution plan for a critical SQL statement and you get called in to fix.

During our chat, Connor used a very apt analogy to describe this situation. He said it was like having a patient arrive in the emergency room, who is bleeding profusely. Your first priority is to stop the patient from bleeding by slapping a band-aid on the wound.

The same is true for our poorly performing SQL statement. Our initial response is to add an optimizer hint to get the SQL statement’s execution plan back to a reasonable response time or acceptable performance.

But once a patient has been stabilized in the emergency room, medical professionals normally take that patient into surgery to make a permanent fix or at the very least stitch up the wound properly.

We need to make sure we do the same thing for our SQL statements.

Rather than leaving a band-aid in the application code in the form of an optimizer hint, we should either fix the root cause or at the very least, make a permanent fix that can be easily traced and ideally can evolve over time.

That’s why you often hear me say, “if you can hint it, you can baseline or patch it”.

What do I mean by that?

I mean we should capture the hinted plan as a SQL plan baseline or at the very least insert the hints via a SQL Patch so that we know that this statement is patched (the use of a SQL patch is visible in the note section of the plan).

Continue reading “How to use a SQL Plan Baseline or a SQL Patch to add Optimizer hints”

SQL Tuning Workshop

Last week I had the pleasure of delivering a five-part SQL Tuning Workshop for my local Oracle User Group –  Northern California Oracle User Group. The workshop explains the fundamentals of the cost-based optimizer, the statistics that feed it, the hints that influence it and key tools you need to exam executions plans.

The workshop also provides a methodology for diagnosing and resolving the most common SQL execution performance problems. Given the volume of interest in this content, I want to share all of the material from the workshop here and give you links to additional material on each of the 5 topics.

Part 1 Understanding the Oracle Optimizer

The first part of the workshop covers the history of the Oracle Optimizer and explains the first thing the Optimizer does when it begins to optimize a query – query transformation.

Query transformations or the rewriting of the SQL statement into a semantically equivalent statement allows the Optimizer to consider alternative methods of processing or executing that query, which are often more efficient than the original SQL statement would allow. the majority of Oracle’s query transactions are now cost-based, which means the Optimizer will cost the plan with and with the query transformation and pick the plan with the lowest cost. With the help of the Optimizer development team, I’ve already blogged about a number of these transformations including:

You can also download the slides here.

Part 2 Best Practices for Managing Optimizer Statistics

Part 2 of the workshop focuses on Optimizer Statistics and the best practices for managing them, including when and how to gather statistics, including fixed object statistics.
Continue reading “SQL Tuning Workshop”

How do I scale an Autonomous Database?

Traditionally database deployments have been designed and provisioned for the peak possible workload. And in reality, a substantial margin of safety was also provisioned on top of that in order to make sure the system could cope with any unforeseen demands.

But peak workloads tend to occur infrequently, leaving most of this costly capacity idle the majority of the time.

In order to enable customers to pay for only the resources they need, Oracle Autonomous Database allow customers to elastically adjust their compute and storage resources when necessary.

An Autonomous Database can be scaled through the UI as shown in the video below or via our cloud APIs or CLI commands. In the video, you see how I can scale a 2 CPU  configuration to an 8 CPU configuration in under a minute to accommodate 48 concurrent users running a JSON workload.

Continue reading “How do I scale an Autonomous Database?”

Getting started with Oracle Autonomous Transaction Processing

Getting started with Oracle Autonomous Transaction Processing is actually much easier than you might think. In fact, with Oracle’s $300 in free cloud credits you can probably get your first 30 days on the service for free. Please note, you will require an active email address and credit card in order to sign up for a trial account. Of course, if you have existing cloud credits you can skip this step.

Once you sign up for trail account you’ll get an email with your tenancy, username and password. Armed with this information, head on over to https://cloud.oracle.com to sign in. The video below explains in detailed the simple steps needed to provision a new Autonomous Transaction Processing database. I’ve also listed these steps below the video, for  easy reference.

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