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Keywords: Oracle, 11g, Database, Enterprise applications, SOA
Title: Oracle Essentials
Author: Rick Greenwald, Robert Stackowiak and Jonathan Stern
Verdict: A good general introduction to Oracle
Oracle may or may not be the best RDBMS in the world, but it's certainly not the simplest. For the first time user, the Oracle landscape is a scary place to be. There are so many layers, tools, terminologies and technologies crowding the Oracle eco-system that it's all too easy to get that dazed and confused feeling. Add to that the moving targets created by each of the main releases (10g, 11g etc) and you'd be forgiven for seeking out some kind of guide book. Which is what Oracle Essentials pretty much sets out to be.
The book is billed at helping new users, DBAs, developers and managers find there feet in the world of Oracle - which means not just the RDBMS itself, but some of the supporting infrastructure and tools, including management, middleware and DBA tools. In all that's a tall order, especially as some of these target readers (developers being the obvious example), have needs that are very different from others (DBAs, for example). And, truth be told, the results is that the book does indeed deliver more for some targets audiences than others…
To begin with, however, the book does do a good job of pointing out the lay of the land for the new user. There's a combination of history, high-level architectural over-view and all-round introductory stuff to help orientate the new user. It does a good job of piecing together where all of the big pieces fit, and in getting the reader used to the terminology (for example defining what an Oracle table-space is).
The writing is clear and easy to follow, and there's good use of diagrams and schematics to help things along. It probably helps that this is the fourth edition of the book (pitched at Oracle 11g), so there's been time to hone the writing to the right level of the target readership.
The more obviously introductory chapters quickly give way to those focused on specific issues and topics, such as transaction processing, data warehousing and business intelligence, building high-availability systems and so on. There's no disputing the choice of topics, but to be honest those readers wanting detailed information on these topics have probably already moved on from the level where this book is aiming. Which is a round-about way of saying that there's probably not enough detailed hands-on information for the more experienced user wanting to delve deep.
It's also worth mentioning that the Oracle developer might feel that the book is geared more towards DBAs, administrators and architects. That's not to say that the developer won't find the book useful, but once the big picture of how all of the Oracle components fit together is in place there's not much detailed information for the developer to get hold of. Of course that's not the aim of the book, and on the whole the authors do a find job of shining a light on a large and complex set of applications that make up Oracle.