New Client – Days one, two and three

Last week was my first week onsite with a new client as the Oracle technical specialist with a remit to review the current application and to propose and plan future enhancements and developments, primarily from a database design and development perspective.

I didn’t know exactly what the application(s) would be before I arrived. I suspect that I don’t ask enough of the right questions in an interview situation. Then again, I also suspect that no matter what questions you ask, the reality can only be discovered by turning up on the day and giving it a few months. 

Anyway, where does one start in this sort of situation? This is what I have been doing so far. And I write this not as someone saying “this is what you should do” but just a review of what I have been doing, with the vain hope that someone might pipe up with some further suggestions.

Day One: Read lots and lots of documentation, some of it old, some of it new, some of it relevant, some of it not.

Day Two: Same again plus meetings with some domain experts.

Day Three: Previous incumbent comes back in for a one day handover.

So, by the end of day three, with various degrees of depth, I have a rough idea of the sort of systems and applications that I’m dealing with, some of the history of these, recent developments, recent issues and future events that have been pencilled in.

Interestingly, as well as being the point of reference in terms of the application’s database design and development, this will include providing a degree of expertise on DBA matters. More of this later.

So what are we looking at?

So, there I was. In a new job, not knowing quite what to expect. When I found myself as the database expert behind a major global website. Which was nice.

Yeah, so … Website, so primarily a content management / publishing system that has been around for a while and which has a few bits and pieces bolted on. It’s always a surprise to find the reality that lies behind.

Allegedly, the database was designed by a VB developer who had an Oracle manual chucked at them. And over the years, bits and pieces have been bolted on and now there’s a legacy database with a fair bit of content in it that most people recognises could do with a bit of an overhaul but everyone’s too scared to touch it.

To summarise, 8.1.7 moving to 10g eventually. Numerous clients, little security, lots of users with too many privileges, too many people know all the passwords, some client bind variable usage but some not. Next up – getting a high level view of what’s going on in the database with Statspack.

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