Understanding Storage Masterclass

This page describes the classroom version of the class. For the Online version, please check out this page.

If you would like to gain a better understanding about the storage tier and be able to communicate well with your storage administration colleagues when there are problems, make sure to attend this two-day masterclass by James Morle. The seminar is focused on the component of the database platform that is probably the least understood—the storage tier.

" I'm now looking at the course material we got to see what we learned in those two days, and it seems unreal. How could I have learned so much in just two days?"- Gwen Shapira, Director, Northern California Oracle User Group

The storage tier is often shrouded in mystery, frequently managed by other teams, and more often than not performing very badly. This seminar aims to deconstruct the storage tier and demystify the operation of the myriad components within it. Starting with the moment Oracle determines a need to go to disk until that requirement is fulfilled, we look in detail at all the processes and technology that lie in between. You will also learn some vital theory topics to help you gain a better understanding of what you can expect, and specific nuts and bolts explanations of how an I/O request is requested and serviced in many different con- figurations. As well as static slides, we will look at some examples of Oracle doing I/O and show some diagnostic techniques so that you can find out what is happening in your specific case.


  • Understand the theory and practice of I/O.
  • Understand the components that interact to comprise and I/O.
  • Learn to break open the black box and troubleshoot I/O performance problems.
  • Be able to make informed decisions about designing storage systems for Oracle databases.


Day One: The first day is the 'theory day'. It is vital to understand this theory in order to make informed decisions about architecture and performance diagnostics.

  • Unit 1 - Fundamentals: The Memory Hierarchy, Latency, Bandwidth
  • Unit 2 - Connectivity: Fibre Channel, Ethernet, SAS, SATA, PCIe, Infiniband
  • Unit 3 - The Physics of Disk Storage
  • Unit 4 - The Anatomy of a Storage Array

Day Two: The second day is more practical, and you are welcome to bring along your laptop (with Oracle installed) if you want to try some of the diagnostic techniques presented here.

  • Unit 5 - The Server View of I/O: How does the Operating System issue and report on I/O (Linux/UNIX based)
  • Unit 6 - How Oracle Performs I/O, part one: Direct I/O, Async I/O, Oracle I/O request types by process, buffered I/O, direct path I/O
  • Unit 7 - How Oracle Performs I/O, part two: ASM internals, Direct NFS
  • Unit 8 - The Latency Revolution: Flash storage and emerging technologies

Note: This masterclass is constantly being developed and improved and the exact content is subject to change.

"If you want to survey the storage landscape, you can do no better than attend this seminar."—Iggy Fernandez, President of the Northern California Oracle Users Group

Forthcoming Schedule

  • Online only: The online version will take place over a series of four half-day sessions, one for each unit, spread over a two-week period. This allows each unit to sink in and for the course to impact your working day as little as possible.The online training is priced at £750 (+VAT where applicable).

    Please register your interest in the following form and we will email you dates as soon as they become available:

Understanding Storage Masterclass Online

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Don't just take our word for it, here's what our previous attendees thought:

On May 2011 NoCOUG collaborated with James Morle of Scale Abilities to present his Storage Seminar in North California. Storage performance is typically a weak point  for otherwise proficient and experienced DBAs, and the lack of storage understand limits their ability to improve database performance. We wanted a seminar that will teach DBAs how to identify and troubleshoot storage issues, and to communicate as equals with storage managers to facilitate better team work within the IT organization.

We knew that James Morle was the right man for us because his book "Scaling Oracle 8i" reviews the entire hardware and software stack when it comes to discussing OLTP scalability, and not just the database. The little we knew about storage came from James' paper "Sane SAN", so we were certain he has the right attitude and the necessary background to make it all work.

And boy - did it all rock! The seminar took two very intense days, and included tons of hard facts and techniques regarding all layers of storage - basic principles of throughput and latency, spinning disks, network topologies, RAID levels, operating system metrics and configuration, Oracle read and write performance, ASM and SSD. I'm now looking at the course material we got to see what we learned in those two days, and it seems unreal. How could I have learned so much in just two days?

There are very few ways to improve your effectiveness as a DBA by an order of magnitude in just two days. If you have a chance to attend James Morle's wonderful Storage Seminar, you should definitely take it.

 Gwen Shapira, Director, Northern California Oracle User Group

The Northern California Oracle Users Group invited James Morle to convert his vast knowledge of Oracle database storage into a seminar that focused only on that subject and we were not disappointed. We filled every seat in the class more than one month prior to the start of the class. I signed up for the class because I knew that the cost of the class was an investment in my career. There are a lot of books (and seminars) on the subject of Oracle database performance but they provide very little if any material on the subject of storage.

I now know the difference between latency and bandwidth (and how to pinpoint the source of the problem), SAN and NAS (and how to choose between them), IOPS and throughput (and why they matter), and the game-changing nature of SSD. Now I know how to use tracing tools to find out if my database is using storage efficiently and how to properly configure it to use storage in the most efficient way.

A fellow countryman of James once said “If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of Giants” (The correspondence of Isaac Newton, Volume 1). If you want to survey the storage landscape, you can do no better than attend this seminar.

—Iggy Fernandez, President of the Northern California Oracle Users Group (NoCOUG)

After taking James Morle two day master class, I would strongly recommend it to those who are Oracle DBA and / or Storage Administrators. The 2-Day master class demonstrates the importance in having Oracle DBA’s and Storage Administrators work together as a team.

— Alex Amaya, Technical Marketing Solutions Manager, Emulex Inc