How an Oracle DBA Works in Sydney

Posted in: Technical Track

Updated 16-FEB-09: I moved to Australia in Sep-08. I realized that quite a few people are coming to this page while seeking to resource their DBA needs. Now you know where to call. ;-)

I’m going to present couple sessions at the Australian Oracle User Group Conference in Melbourne next week. It’s the first time I’m presenting Down Under and I’m looking forward to it, although I’m still not sure if I should start from the last slide and proceed backward . . .

Since it’s more than a day of flying only one way, it wouldn’t be smart to go for only two days, so I’m taking the opportunity to spend this week with my Sydney colleagues — Paul Moen and Andrey Goryunov. I should mention that Australia is the first country I ever visited. I fell in love with this country seven years ago when I came from Russia in February. Culture shock and dramatic weather change set the tone for how I feel about Australia for the rest of my life. So hello Sydney — I’m back!

I was supposed to fly Ottawa-Vancouver-Honolulu-Sydney, my flight leaving from Ottawa at 8:00AM on Saturday. I was packing until very late and finished only by 3 AM. No surprise that, although I set my alarm clock to 6:00AM, I forgot to switch it on for the weekend days. The net result: Olga woke my up at 7:30. Anyway, Air Canada was very nice to re-route me through Toronto so that I still could make my connection in Vancouver . . . so $50 for an additional 1.5 hour sleep — not a bad trade at all!

(By the way, the last week was really unlucky for me and travel. On Thursday, I was flying to New York City for a day to visit a few clients, and at the airport checking counter, it turned out that my ticket was actually booked for Friday. Fortunately, United Airlines was able to change the ticket for me, but I paid for it with 50 minutes of my time on the phone and nearly missing the plane. But I digress . . .)

I arrived in Sidney on Monday morning at 7:30. I was saving sleep until the very last leg Honolulu-Sydney. It was the longest segment and the flight was during Sydney nighttime, so I slept most of it and that helped me switching to the local time zone. I had almost no jet lag and was up by 6AM at the first morning.

I’m staying at Travelodge Sydney Hotel, which is at Wentworth and Commonwealth. They didn’t check me in when I showed up at 8:30, so I just left my bag and without any shower–sorry Paul and Andrey–took a train to Pythian office in Gordon, NSW. It’s to the north of Sydney, between Chatswood and Hornsby, and it’s only 30-40 minutes by train. I was very glad to meet Paul and Andrey and see how they work. I should say that Paul is simply a highly-efficient-page-processing-machine — he holds on-call for all 8 teams. Andrey, who joined Pythian recently, is helping now (slacker — takes on-call for teams that hardly page), but Paul still handles most of pages. Oh — and there is a nice Swiss Deli coffee shop in the building and they make very nice Espresso and Cappuccino.

I finished before 6PM and my plan for the evening was to catch up (after the shower, of course) with Natasha Khan, working now at Amadeus in Australia. The evening was an absolute success. We had a very nice chat over a glass of good red house wine in a pub next to Centennial Plaza. This is where Amadeus is located, and it’s very convenient to reach with trains since all trains go through Central Station.

On Tuesday evening, we went for dinner in a hotel restaurant not far from Hornsby. I ordered the Roast of the Day and enjoyed a huge portion of roast pork. As my former colleague Mike Atkins said, “You can’t go wrong with pork.”

Wednesday, I decided to take it easy and left after lunch. Oh . . . I almost forgot the lunch — it was the best beef I ever tried. It simply melts in your mouth. As we say in Russia, I almost ate my tongue. The chef prepared Teppanyaki-style food right in front of us:


The place is called Fujiya Japanese Teppanyaki Restaurant:

Fujiya Japanese Teppanyaki Restauran

Paul lent me a nice USB modem (I think it’s UMTS), and I had reasonable internet even on the train. On the way to the city, I helped Andrey with one client that was affected by severe storage problems. Well, I took the easy part and picked up the hosts that had no database corruption, whereas Andrey had to actually fiddle with a corrupted controlfile on a Windows box. (By the way, the customer had the same problem in a few hours and our Ottawa DBAs had to restore couple databases after that.)

The day wasn’t over yet and I felt I need still to do some work. Fair enough — I recalled that I still had a draft blog post from the plane and I had to finish and publish it. Instead of going to the hotel, I had a much better idea for my working place:

My new office

Can anyone name the beach? (Locals don’t count!)

This is where I finished the previous blog post and started this one, before my batteries died. Which was good timing — I had to catch the train back to the hotel and drop my bag before meeting Stephen Roberts, my former DBA colleague from Amadeus. While waiting for Steve, I bumped into Dieter Zorn. I worked together with Dieter for Amadeus in Germany, and he was here in Sydney for few months. Dieter is a very nice chap and is great company to enjoy few beers with — even if he is a System Administrator. ;-)

It turned out that Dieter was staying in an apartment across the road from my hotel, and the pub was right on the same corner. This pub brews a beer in the basement that was very close to a good German beer I enjoyed so much back in Munich. (I don’t know how official that business was, as it was called “Schwartz Brauerei” if you know what I mean.) I ordered the Jungle Curry and it was delicious. We hadn’t even finished the dinner when the band started to play. What could be better than nice chat with old mates, good beer, tasty food, and live music?

Dieter, please pass my greetings to your teammates. If they don’t believe you met me, here is the proof (for others, from left to right: Dieter, Steve, and one slightly drunk Russian):

Dieter, Steve & Alex

Uh . . . it seems like I never finish this blog post so I will be brief now and simply hint you what you can find in the next one. Nuno Souto, aka Noons, was very kind to invite me to his place for a dinner, and I can tell you it was fantastic evening. But this is a topic for the next photo-blog. Stay tuned!

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About the Author

What does it take to be chief technology officer at a company of technology experts? Experience. Imagination. Passion. Alex Gorbachev has all three. He’s played a key role in taking the company global, having set up Pythian’s Asia Pacific operations. Today, the CTO office is an incubator of new services and technologies – a mini-startup inside Pythian. Most recently, Alex built a Big Data Engineering services team and established a Data Science practice. Highly sought after for his deep expertise and interest in emerging trends, Alex routinely speaks at industry events as a member of the OakTable.

8 Comments. Leave new

Great post Alex, nice to see you’re having fun.

-a very jealous Paul


“This pub brews a beer in the basement that was very close to a good German beer ”
Out of interest, which pub was that ? The Nelson in the Rocks has some good brews, and the Australian (also in the Rocks) is connected with a micro-brewery south of Sydney which is good too. James Squire is pretty widely available (mostly bottled) and a good choice. The mass-produced stuff is generally best left alone.



I am not going to say anything about presentations anymore (see you in two weeks time)


The beach looks like Bondi – facing North towards the Bondi Icebergs. It’s been a long while since I hit the surf there :o(

The weather doesn’t look so great – it’s supposed to be Summer over there!

Mathew Butler


Hey Alex – it was good to meet up with you and Paul on Friday, and, despite
my first thoughts that you had all slacked off early, was impressed to see you
still working, albeit from your second “office” :)

Enjoy the rest of your time in Oz. !

Alex Gorbachev
November 25, 2007 3:53 am

Let’s submit joint abstract for the next conference and we can make it here if your family survives a week. Mine hardly manages that…

Looking forward to that as well. And yeah… don’t mention your presentation for now. ;-)

Bingo! Next pictures should be more puzzling but not for a good surfer. ;-)
That was the last sunny day and by the time I made it there, the weather moved on.

Thanks for making it out that evening. It was so nice to catch up with you.
You know we couldn’t stop this damn pager so there is no way we could go somewhere without laptop and internet. :)



LOL. I mend your presentation.


Pythian Penal Colony: Inmate #8777984426
August 29, 2008 4:26 pm

[…] Australia. Last year, I had the pleasure to travel there to present at the AUSOUG conference and work from our office in Sydney. It’s been a huge pleasure, especially if you consider what was going on back in Ottawa at […]


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