This is the blog site of Chris Buckel.

Not this Chris Buckel though, nor this one. Not even this one or this one. And definitely not this one.

I have been working with applications and databases since 1997, with various roles including developer, DBA, architect and consultant. In 2003, I joined my first startup, a software-as-a-service (SaaS) vendor based in central London and run by serial entrepreneur (now venture capitalist) Mark Suster. I loved the startup culture and was convinced I’d be a millionaire within a couple of years. I wasn’t. However, I learned some very valuable lessons about teamwork, leadership, loyalty and the dangerous nature of tequila.

In 2007, I was invited to join Oracle Corporation in the UK as a database subject matter expert specialising in high availability and performance tuning. In theory, this meant providing database expertise to any kind of customer engagement: pre-sales, post-sales, consulting, professional services and support.

In practice, it often meant getting a phone call from my boss in the evening saying, “What do you know about (name of obscure Oracle product or feature)?” I learned very quickly that this conversation only had two outcomes:

Outcome Number 1

Me: “I am familiar with that product/feature”
Boss: “Great. Then you need to go to customer X at 9am tomorrow morning and help them make it work…”

Outcome Number 2

Me: “I have never used that product/feature in my life and did not even know it existed until you mentioned it”
Boss: “Great. This will be a good opportunity for you to learn about it! Great. You need to go to customer X at 9am tomorrow morning and help them make it work…”

The next day I would be parachuted into some Fortune 500 company’s IT team and have to attempt to understand their whole architecture, infrastructure and requirements before lunch before solving their issues in the afternoon and making my way home again to receive the next phone call from my boss.

I learnt a lot in this role… how to handle customers who expect you to be an expert in something you’ve only just learnt to spell, how to identify and befriend those unique people in your company who actually know the answers, and how to stop answering the phone when your boss calls. I should clarify that this is said somewhat in jest. I very much enjoyed my time working at Oracle and am conscious that I owe a lot of my career earnings to Larry and his ubiquitous database. And hey, every day was a surprise.

Talking of which, in 2012, I surprised my colleagues (and myself) by leaving Oracle – and the comfort of the database industry – to join an All-Flash data storage company. Why did I do this? Two reasons really: frustration at my role within Oracle and excitement at the potential for All Flash Arrays (AFAs) to change the way that data is stored in enterprise data centres.

The rise of All-Flash, or “solid state”, storage has been a tidal change in the enterprise storage industry, with users moving to replace all spinning magnetic media in their data centres with flash technology. We call this the All-Flash Data Centre. All Flash Arrays give extremely high performance and yet, compared to high performance spinning disk arrays, use a fraction of the power, need less cooling and have a much smaller data centre footprint. More importantly, they unleash applications from the constraints of mechanical storage and let them function at the speed of flash. The I.T. industry needs this, because for decades storage (i.e. disk) has been the anchor that drags back servers and networking and stops us from reaping the true benefits of Moore’s Law.

In the years after I joined the flash revolution, I saw huge changes both inside and out of the industry. The big dogs of enterprise storage (EMC, IBM, HP, NetApp) had to adapt or die – who could have imagined EMC being acquired by Dell? – while a number of startups appeared with the shared motto of “beat the big guys or die trying”. Meanwhile, the whole IT industry changed, with the rise of cloud computing and hyper-converged infrastructure being two examples. At the time of writing, it feels like nobody can get excited about a product unless it contains the words “artificial intelligence”, “analytics” or “blockchain”.

This is not a corporate blog; it is my own site reflecting my own views. I aim to educate readers about storage (and flash in particular) as well as occasionally indulge in my favourite hobby: watching Oracle Corporation to see how it behaves towards customers, competitors and the market in general. Sometimes people think I am anti-Oracle but this could not be further from the truth; having spent 15 years working with Oracle products I have the highest expectations for the company.

So this blog stands as a record of my journey into the murky world of storage and my eventual emergence from the other side, richer of knowledge and quite probably poorer of money. Thanks for reading.

Twitter: @flashdba        Email: flashdba @ gmail


6 Responses to About

  1. Khwaja Imran says:

    Very nice article. Read each & every article with lot of interest. I have been a DBA for 9 years & have entered into a IT Manager role. I can now really think of suggesting & implementing the flash storage concept for my organization’s newly implemented Oracle ERP databases running SUN Sparc M4000/M5000.

    Khwaja Imran

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  3. Hi Dominic here… Just curious did you ever mention who you are? Is the FlashDBA a mask of mystery?

    By the way you don’t have to say if you don’t want to and I won’t out you. Just curious for the reason.

    • flashdba says:

      Hello Dom, no it’s no big deal. When I first started blogging, shortly after leaving Oracle and joining Violin, I didn’t really have much to write about on the topic of flash memory… I was still learning the subject the hard way. So inevitably my first posts were all on the subjects I knew more about, such as Exadata. I’ve never disclosed anything confidential on that topic, nor any other related to my employment at Oracle, but a friend of mine in Club Ex-Oracle gave me some excellent advice and pointed out that since Oracle probably has more lawyers than Violin has employees it might be best not to poke the wasps’ nest, so to speak.

      I gave up on the idea of anonymity pretty early on but the name flashdba stuck and offers certain benefits, like being easier to remember and having a shorter URL. Also, I quite like the description in this dictionary definition from http://www.thefreedictionary.com/flash:

      flash (adj.)
      1. Happening suddenly or very quickly: flash freezing.
      2. Slang Ostentatious; showy: a flash car.
      3. Of or relating to figures of quarterly economic growth released by the government and subject to later revision.
      4. Of or relating to photography using instantaneous illumination.
      5. Of or relating to thieves, swindlers, and underworld figures.
      flash in the pan
      One that promises great success but fails.

  4. Ken Fisher says:

    Thank-you for “Understanding Flash”. Give me a year or two to digest all this, and I’ll drop in again with a meaningful comment. B-)

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