ORA600 Ltd., Oracle Consultancy

Welcome to the website for ORA600 LTD, the working company for Martin Widlake.

{As of 15th June 2009 this site is being developed and populated. Please be patient if there is a menu option or link that fails to links to anything right now}

This site contains not just information about who I am and what I do but also SQL scripts, PowerPoint presentations, bits of PL/SQL and papers that you may or may not find useful. Feel free to browse and use whatever you find. I just ask that you leave the name of the author an any item used. The usual disclaimer - I and ORA600 Ltd take no responsibility for the consequences of you using anything you find on this site. Site disclaimer.

If you find any of it useful, it would be nice if you could drop me an email to say so.

Martin Widlake and Services Provided

I am an independent Oracle Consultant specialising in database architect, performance and VLDBs, providing short and medium term support in these areas. I can also help with Project Managment and I also occasionally run training courses on SQL, Oracle and performance tuning.

I have been working with Oracle technologies since 1992 and I.T in general since 1989. I've been a consultant for Oracle Corp in the UK, a jobbing contractor for several years, a permanent employee & manager and am now independent again. You can see full details of my career to date at about me.

I am based South of Cambridge, not far from Stansted Airport, which has proved handy for European work. I am more than happy to travel to client sites but I like to work from home where it is acceptable - time spent travelling is often not productive time and there are Green considerations as well.

My areas of expertise are:

Performance Tuning

I have been tuning SQL, databases and applications for 15 years. I take the approach that there has to be a business benefit to tuning. Taking a report that runs for 2 minutes and tuning it to run in 20 seconds is only of benefit if the business has an issue with the 2 minute delay for the report or the report is run so often it is slowing the system as a whole down.

Tuning is not just about making SQL run faster or tweaking the database to benefit one area of the workload. It is about looking at the whole process being carried out, identifying the critical components to tune and concentrating on where most gain can be made. Sometimes the fastest way to do something is simply not to do it.

I can help with critical tuning issues, performance health checks and in long term performance monitoring, analysis and planning.

Database Architecture

Getting an architecture right can avoid many issues with performance, management and resilience.

I have designed and implemented data warehouses that have scaled to close to 100TB. I have designed and implemented OLTP systems over 5TB in size. VLDBs have been a speciality of mine since I first started working with Oracle in 1993. By designing in backup, recovery, archival and access requirements from the start, many expensive issues are avoided further down the line.

I have a history of using new features of Oracle where they are of benefit to the system being developed. {I was once awarded Oracle Beta Tester of the year by Oracle Magazine for my work with Oracle 10 Beta - however, I cut my hand open on the trophy!}.

I balance the use of the latest technology with a belief that the simplest solution is often the best. For example, I do not use RAC unless there is a real need for some feature, such as immediate node failover, or there really is no way a single node can provide the processing power needed.

I am happy to assist with either the design of a new system or in enhancing/modifying an existing installation to improve its stability, performance or recoverability.


I have run several types of training courses over the years, usually as a result of a specific request. I have run introductory SQL course, advanced SQL courses, Oracle fundamentals, Tuning, Partitioning and Oracle Standards courses. I prepare the materials and give the courses myself. They lack the glossy handouts and pretty graphics of many training courses but I present only on what I know from real experience. The feedback I receive is always excellent and most people seem to appreciate my training style.

Project Management

Many projects and teams fail to achieve what they could achieve due to two opposing problems :-

  • Some teams react constantly to the immediate crises that face them day by day, hour by hour, or the sudden requirements coming from their clients. Strong technical skills keep digging them out of the holes they constantly find themselves dropped in.
  • Other teams and projects implement a rigorous and extensive set of processes, cross checks, review points and work flows to ensure everything is done correctly and mistakes are caught. But spend so long running the process that the actual project work suffers.

Neither approach is, in my experience, ideal. Processes smooth the flow of work, planning and scheduling maximise resource usage and avoid wasted work, but both need to be lightweight enough to avoid carrying a burden greater than the waste they avoid.

When I carry out Project Management work I take the approach of “Just enough Process to Perform”. I also try to look at beyond the immediate project, so that whatever is implemented can be managed and looked after into the future

Presentations, Associations and Interests

I am an active member of the UK Oracle User Group (UKOUG) http://www.ukoug.org/. I have presented at the annual conference every year since 2003, except last year when I was in Thailand riding elephants. I hope to return to presenting at the technology conference again in 2009, but I plan to be there whether I present or not.

I regularly present at the technical Special Interest Groups, in particular the DBMS and UNIX SIGs and Northern Server Technology days, usually on either aspects of performance tuning, Very Large Databases (VLDBs) or disaster projects and what we can do to learn from them or avoid them.

I am currently chair of the Management & Infrastructure SIG, which aims to consider Oracle technology at the corporate level and how it fits in with the whole company infrastructure, plus considerations of managing both the teams, responsibilities and interactions required of large or complex Oracle users.

I used to be on the board of the Oracle Life Science User Group, an international user group that focuses on the bio-pharma, medical and biological sciences use of Oracle. I have a background in genetics and zoology and worked for a scientific research organisation for several years, thus the interest. I still keep in touch with the Bioinformatics world.

I am also an associate of Dennis Adams Associates, an organisation that specialises in light-weight, effective process and IT production management.