Kellyn Pot’vin (pronounced Poet-Vaughn) has been a Database Administrator for 11years, specializing in large database performance tuning. In the last year she’s been working with large SSD databases and Exadata, taking advantage of the newest technology and performance tuning features. Kellyn is known for her technical blog, dbakevlar.com and is the director of membership and vendors for Rocky Mountain Oracle User Group, (RMOUG). She’s performed numerous presentations on performance tuning and written articles for various technical newsletters and websites, starting out as an active participant on the Oracle-L list. She is a current contributer to oradbpedia.com and will be attending Oracle Open World 2011 as one of the lucky few who were granted a blogger pass. Kellyn lives with her three children in Broomfield, CO and currently is honing her technical skills at I-behavior, a marketing firm in Louisville, CO.
1- Why did you choose to specialize in Oracle databases?
I’ve often had the official title of “Multi-Platform DBA”, having just as many years in SQL Server as I do in Oracle and numerous years in other platforms, such as Informix and MySQL. In all honesty, I just don’t have the technical challenges or large databases to work with in other platforms that I have in Oracle. Business’ know that Oracle has the “horse power” to do what other database platforms can not. It has, (in my honest opinion…) the features built in to support robust databases, along with forward thinking solutions like Exadata that other companies are either technically behind or stagnate in. I may come across aspects in MySQL, Informix and SQL Server that I appreciate, but none of them compare to Oracle’s CBO, Recovery Manager, Dataguard, Exadata and others.
2- Is there anybody you have regarded as role model at the beginning of your career?
I can clearly admit that I have my “Oracle Gods”, a role granted to 9 experts, even after 11 years as a DBA. I had the opportunity, as a Junior DBA to work with my first “Oracle God”, Tim Gorman, while he worked on a few contract with the company I was employed with and he quickly became the standard as to what I expected DBA God to be. He was technically brilliant, cool under pressure and easy to learn from. Our roles have changed in the 9 years I have known him, but he will always be my first DBA God and a standard I also hold myself to. There are a ton of brilliant DBA’s out there, but if they spend too much of their time attempting to prove they “are the smartest person in the room” or simply stagnating another’s growth as a DBA, I find less value in them than other’s might. Arrogance and closing another’s mind to knowledge is not an asset- it’s a liability in the database arena. Our best teachers are other DBA’s, so those who monopolize this to make themselves feel superior do not achieve DBA Godhood in my book. I have slowly added others to the DBA God list, (James Koopman, Tanel Poder, Wolfgang Breitling, Alex Gorbachev, Cary Millsap, Kerry Osbourne, Martin Widlake, Kevin Closson and various demi-God’s that I won’t list here…:)) They have all shown to be great teachers, willing to share their knowledge and commonly known for their desire for other’s to succeed as they have.
3- What are the resources that you consult regularly to keep up-to-date with Oracle topics?
As many DBA’s that have discovered social networking and through social media, such as Twitter and Facebook, they then discover database blogs, I wish even more would. The value of the technical expertise, real-life insight and that they lack sales-pitch or often a political allegiance is fantastic. Experts and many of the new, up-and-coming DBA’s are documenting the newest features out on their blogs with high accuracy and if it isn’t accurate, you can usually find three others who have also blogged about the subject and can decipher what is right or test it yourself to find the difference. As I said earlier, I do believe DBA’s are the best teacher’s of other DBA’s, so having these blogs available on the web and knowing how to get to them, either through social networks, search engines, (Google is your friend…), etc. is the key. I read Kerry Osbourne’s, Martin Widlake’s, Kevin Closson’s and Frits Hoogland’s blogs almost religiously and refer to Tanel Poder’s and Cary Millsap’s consistently.
4- What was the biggest technical challenge in your career so far?
Ensuring that I continue to have technical challenges in my workplace to keep me interested. I joke about having ADHD, but I really do get bored quite easy and need the “big shiny and intriguing” task to keep my interest- then you can pepper it with some less impressive tasks. As a senior level database administrator, I’ve been quite successful in only taking positions with large databases and interesting challenges to keep me, (and my boss) happy. Having me bored is good for no one, so one of the first things I do, at any given position, is sit down with my manager and give him/her the “care and feeding of Kellyn which will result in the most productive results for the business” speech. A manager that takes this talk to heart and tries to give me what I need to, in return, give the company the best from me is always a sign of a good manager.
5- What advise would you give to somebody who just started studying computer science?
The database world, especially in America is not showing a lot of young DBA’s. I’m unaware of anyone who said, “I want to grow up and be a Database Administrator” and it is a wonderful career choice. The technical opportunities and variety of challenges are impressive, yet we don’t see the younger generation coming around to conferences or getting involved in the database community. I’ve just joined the board of directors for the Rocky Mountain Oracle User Group, (RMOUG) after a couple years of presenting, along with my presence in the database social network, I’m still considered “new blood” and I’m in my 40′s. I consider this very odd, although a bit flattering, to be considered part of the “new kids on the block” for the database world. We need to find ways to get the techies coming out in the professional world to embrace careers in Oracle. I’m not sure how to make the career look more enticing, but I know many who give an awful good sales pitch!