Article development led by
Improving the performance of complex
software is difficult, but understanding some
fundamental principles can make it easier.
BY CaRY miLLsaP
When i JOined Oracle Corporation in 1989,
performance—what everyone called “Oracle tuning”—
was difficult. Only a few people claimed they could
do it very well, and those people commanded high
consulting rates. When circumstances thrust me into
the “Oracle tuning” arena, I was quite unprepared.
Recently, I’ve been introduced to the
world of “MySQL tuning,” and the
situation seems very similar to what I
saw in Oracle more than 20 years ago.
It reminds me a lot of how difficult
beginning algebra seemed when I was
about 13 years old. At that age, I had
to appeal heavily to trial and error to
get through. I can remember looking
at an equation such as 3x + 4 = 13 and
basically stumbling upon the answer,
x = 3.
The trial-and-error method
worked—albeit slowly and uncomfort-
ably—for easy equations, but it didn’t
scale as the problems got tougher—
for example, 3x + 4 = 14. Now what? My
problem was that I wasn’t thinking
clearly yet about algebra. My introduc-
tion at age 15 to teacher James R. Har-
key put me on the road to solving that