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November 4, 2005

Oracle PL/SQL for DBAs: The Complete Guide to Security, Scheduling, Performance, and More

Sebastopol, CA--For the past fifteen years, Oracle Corporation's proprietary procedural language, PL/SQL, has been used mainly for application development. Many programmers use PL/SQL as the primary tool for building entire web sites on top of Oracle databases, and until recently, they also were responsible for maintaining these sites once they got them up and running. But now, according to Oracle expert Arup Nanda, coauthor of Oracle PL/SQL for DBAs (Nanda and Feuerstein, O'Reilly, US $39.95), the line between developers and database administrators has blurred.

"The scope of a DBA's work is increasing," Nanda explains. "These days, DBAs are generally responsible for anything that is in, and executes in, their databases, including the code. PL/SQL is a big part of that total picture, but there hasn't been a single book that they can look to for fulfilling their specific needs. Steven Feuerstein and I both felt we could deliver specific content DBAs are looking for."

Currently, there are at least a million Oracle DBAs worldwide, and "a solid working knowledge of PL/SQL is crucial for them," Nanda asserts. Named the Oracle Magazine 2003 DBA of the Year, Nanda and his coauthor Steven Feuerstein, one of the world's foremost PL/SQL experts, are both well known and respected in the community. Both contribute regularly to Oracle Magazine and the Oracle Technology Network, and in fact, Nanda and Feuerstein penned the network's most frequently accessed articles over the past two years.

"General purpose books on PL/SQL don't have enough coverage on topics like security, which has become prominent in the past couple of years with the passing of several laws such as Sarb-Ox, GLBA, HIPAA, and guidelines such as VISA CISP," Nanda points out. "The concepts we have chosen to include in the book--security, performance, and scheduling--are of most concern to DBAs. They'll get enough to get started and complete a project on their own."

Oracle PL/SQL for DBAs offers a quick tour of the PL/SQL language, packed with code and usage examples to cover the latest Oracle version, Oracle Database 10g Release 2. On security issues, the book covers encryption (using both traditional methods and Oracle's new Transparent Data Encryption), row-level security, fine-grained access control, and random value generation. DBAs will learn methods to improve query and database performance with cursors and table functions, and scheduling for the regular execution of database monitoring and statistics gathering is fully covered as well.

"On the vexed topic of security, there are several horror stories of credit card numbers being stolen from company databases and sold to thieves," Nanda remarks. "The book explains an effective way to build an encryption system using only Oracle technologies. Most DBAs shun the topic simply on the assumption that it's complex and they have to learn some algorithms to implement encryption, or that ninety percent of encryption needs are addressed by third-party tools. That's one myth this book tries to bust. Almost all the aspects required in software encryption can be addressed by built-in Oracle features."

Despite the book's main focus, "it's not just about PL/SQL and not just for DBAs," Nanda says. "The concepts on security, for instance, are for DBAs, developers and architects alike. Everyone, regardless of their role in the system lifecycle will benefit from the book."

Even if readers have used PL/SQL for years, he adds, they'll find the detailed coverage in Oracle PL/SQL for DBAs to be an invaluable resource.

Additional Resources:

Oracle PL/SQL for DBAs
Arup Nanda and Stephen Feuerstein
ISBN: 0-596-00587-3, 429 pages, $39.95 US, $55.95 CA
order@oreilly.com
1-800-998-9938; 1-707-827-7000

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