Inaugural post – Pythian and DBD::Oracle

Posted in: Technical Track


I am happy to present the very first post to my new group blog, where I will be inviting Pythian DBAs with interesting thoughts to contribute to prepare blogs of their own. You can read the group blog either one author at a time, by clicking the author’s name in the right-hand side of this column, or if you prefer, you can see all the posts on one page by going to the main group blog page.

My subject for this first posting: DBD::Oracle. If you have used perl to interact with a database, you are aware of the DBI that Tim Bunce and his collaborators first developed in the 1990s in order to interact with a database abstraction layer. DBD::Oracle is one of the database layer drivers that allows the DBI to communicate with Oracle. Pythian is a big user of perl and DBD::Oracle internally, as our problem tracking groupware, Support Track, and our availability monitoring software, avail, are all written using the DBI to communicate with the underlying database.

Late last year, Tim posted to the DBI users’ mailing list looking for a volunteer that would become the maintainer for DBD::Oracle. He explained that as he was no longer a user of Oracle, the task of keeping the software current was becoming increasingly difficult and distracting for him. Pythian volunteered and I am proud to announce that we made our first release, DBD::Oracle 1.17 last month. This release adds support for Oracle XE, Oracle’s free low-end database, and for installation using the Oracle Instant Client, as well as troubleshooting a variety of installation gotchas and bugs in the makefile.

Seah Hull at the Oracle Open Source blog interviewed me on the subject of Pythian taking on the stewardship of DBD::Oracle and even has a podcast of the interview available on his site.

We cover the following material:

1. Why don’t you tell us a bit about yourself, and your company?
2. When a perl programmer wants to interface with a database, what
technology do they use?
3. How did that DBI project get started, and by whom?
4. How does the DBD::Oracle component come into play? What language is it written in, and how does it interface with Oracle’s own libraries?
5. What has Pythian’s role been with this project in the past, and how has that changed recently?
6. From a business perspective, why would a company like Pythian want to contribute to this project for free? What is the advantage?
7. How have Open Source technologies benefited Pythian?
8. Do you have any other comments on Open Source, benefits, industry
threats, myths, and so on? Is everything really just free? And
furthermore won’t everyone eventually go the way of a free database?

Check it out!





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About the Author

As Pythian’s Chief Executive Officer, Paul leads this center of excellence for expert, outsourced technical services for companies whose systems are directly tied to revenue growth and business success. His passion and foresight for using data and technology to drive business success has helped Pythian become a high-growth global company with over 400 employees and offices in North America, Europe, and Asia. Paul, who started his career as a data scientist, founded Pythian when he was 25 years old. In addition to driving the business, Paul is a vocal proponent of diversity in the workplace, human rights, and economic empowerment. He supports his commitment through Pythian’s hiring and retention practices, his role as board member for the Basic Income Canada Network, and as a supporter of women in technology.

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