Sunday, December 29, 2013

Interview with Kellyn Pot’Vin - Oracle ACE & Expert

Kellyn Pot’Vin – Oracle ACE & Expert

A talented and accomplished multi-platform database administrator with twelve years of extensive experience in Oracle and SQL Server, numerous years experience in MySQL, Sybase and other database platforms, database group management and technical project management.
A proven ability to implement large-scale database servers for enterprise level environments, repeatable success in high-end environment performance tuning, migrations, disaster recovery and implementation. Fluent as a liaison between technical and non-technical users and able to build trust through proven reliability and initiative.
Adept at gathering requirements, project scheduling, capacity planning and technology choices for a business’ long-term future.
Possesses multiple certifications, including MCDBA, OCP and PMI and has outstanding presentation and communication skills combined with finely tuned technical skills..


Performance Tuning, backup/recovery, monitoring, scripting, trouble-shooting, migrating/upgrading and managing of multi-platform database environments. Has presented at RMOUG, written database articles for multiple technical publications and maintains a popular blog on database performance techniques called DBA Kevlar, (
Member of the Board of Directors for RMOUG, Director of Memberships and Vendors.
Can you please Describe about yourself Personally & professional experience ?
I’m the oldest of three French-Canadian daughters.  My parents raised us all over the US as they found their own path.  My parents are very supportive of each other and in turn, believed “we gave you life, now live it!”  Due to this, I now live in Colorado, at the foothills of the Rock Mountains, with my partner, Tim and my three children, where my middle sister lives near my parents on the Pacific coast and my youngest sister lives in the Eastern area of the United States.
I became a DBA back in 1999, first introduced to Oracle, but quickly given responsibility over SQL Server environments, so my years experience in both platforms is very close to the same.  I was known for taking on challenges that others felt were hopeless and quickly found a niche in performance tuning.  I started contributing to the Oracle-l list and caught the interest of a few folks.  Chet Justice told me I needed to blog and after guest blogging at his site, I started my own, that evolved into as it took off.   I did a stint with Pythian, which is a great group to bring recognition and am now with Enkitec, which seems like a dream!   I’ve been presenting at conferences in the US and Europe, both for Oracle and SQL Server and am currently working on chapters for proposed books in both platforms for Apress.
I have been on the board of directors at RMOUG, ( since 2011 after expressing an interest in volunteering to help out.  I am the Vendor and Membership director, providing support for all social media for the group.
Your hobbies,  favorite food & Your best places so far?
I read-  A LOT!  There is a pile of books that I continually adding to and subtracting from as I complete.  I also have books and magazines on my tablet.
I knit, garden, do yoga and enjoy cooking.
I don’t know if I have a favorite food, but I do have many preferred foods!  I love bananas from the grill with melted chocolate, cinnamon and vanilla sauce drizzled on them.  I have a pasty recipe, (sealed meat pie with potato, carrots and seasonings…) that is a favorite from when I was a child and I do love sweet potato fries.  I’m a small eater, so a little of something goes a long way with me.. :)
I haven’t gotten to travel too much yet, but looking forward to doing so in the coming years.  I have enjoyed trips to cities and finding what most people might miss.  In Ottawa, Ontario, there is the Canadian National War Museum, which in my opinion, is one of the best museums around.  I enjoyed the Canadian, (which was the British view) of the war of 1812, (yes, I’m a history buff!) along with the fantastic displays and large quantity of historical memorabilia.
In Galvenston Island, down in Texas, there is the Elise, an 1800′s navy ship that is still manned and lovingly cared for.  Inland from Cancun there is Chitzen Itza, one of the great Inca pyramids in Mexico.
How to reach you?
Twitter                                 : @dbakevlar
Facebook and Linkedin    : Kellyn Potvin
your strengths & weakness ?
Strength: My ability to take in everything at once and see things that are often invisible to others, along with my ability to multi-task on all of it.
I can spend five minutes with a person and tell you most of their strengths and weaknesses, what kind of family life they grew up.
I can find the impacting issue in a database environment that no one else has been able to locate.  I CAN find a needle in a haWeakstack! :)
Weakness:  I can be easily distracted by an odd noise.  It commonly is a noise that no one else would notice, yet for me- can sound akin to nails down a chalkboard and overwhelms everything else I happen to be focusing on at that time.  I dislike open office areas-  have been known to ask people to take their conversations to someplace else, not to be rude, but just due to the impact on my productivity and why I have issue with some of the new AGILE type seating arrangements.

How much time do you spend daily for technical stuff?
About 9 hours.  Six for clients, two for my employer and another one for outside demands such as my blog, etc.  I often spend a couple hours each weekend on technical work and as my partner is also in the same field, yes, it can be a conversations at dinner or during off-hours!
Can you share your experience on the first day of your job?
That was a long time ago….  I mostly remember that being a DBA had a lot of challenges and that my “never-give-up” attitude was going to be important to this career change!
Your opinion on OTN?
I utilize OTN for anything regarding the ACE program and for downloads.  I have not been as involved as I would like in the forums.
What are your overwhelming and embarrassing moments as an Oracle DBA?
I think the beginning of this year-  a combination of receiving my Oracle ACE, my presentation schedule for the year took off and then my employment with Enkitec, (
I think all of us have had times when we were disappointed.  I think the biggest challenge came for me back in 2006 when I realized I was not receiving technical challenges and had to make some big changes in how and who I worked with.
What made you to learn & work on Oracle databases?
I have never hidden this-  I have strong ADHD tendencies and I prefer to have the second “D” stand for dynamic instead of disorder.  This is quite easy when you work with the way my mindset works.  Database administration, as with many technical careers, give me a lot of different, interesting tasks to keep my mind active.  If my focus starts to wane, it is easy to work on another task and keep the momentum up that many ADHD sufferers in other careers aren’t able to do.  The education opportunities are often in a session environment that allows interactive communication that benefits my learning style.  I like puzzles and many database environments are very complex, giving me something to “wrap my head around” and keep me intrigued.  I love the direction that Oracle is headed with EM12c, Exadata and ASH/AWR data.
Biggest technical challenges so far in your career?
Learning Exadata on my own.  I know I pestered so many with questions, such as Uwe Hesse, Greg Rahn and Kerry Osborne.  I had never been on an Exadata before and for me, the performance tuning was an easy jump, but the storage management, for a DBA who had kept her hands out of anything Unix/Linux area involved out of respect for my administrator, meant I needed to come up to speed quick on CELLCLI commands and how to apply a patch to a cell node.

Any role model in career point of view?
I have a list of 10 “DBA Gods” that I have built over the years, but it did all start with one, Tim Gorman. I first worked with him when I was just a junior DBA and he really impressed me as the standard of how a DBA should interact with others and a desire to achieve his level of technical knowledge.  Our roles have changes considerably in the years we’ve known each other, but he is still someone I greatly admire.  I also find role model’s in Alex Gorbachev, Cary Millsap and my boss, Kerry Osborne for how supportive they are to all they come into contact with.  They truly believe that everyone is better in the promotion of each individual through education.
Your own technical best books/ White papers/ Articles so far.. if any?
I really like Christian Antognini’s book,  “Troubleshooting Oracle Performance” and “Expert Oracle Exadata” by Kerry Osborne, Tanel Poder and Randy Johnson and “Oracle Insights:  Tales from the Oak Table” with a list of authors that is longer than my arm… :)
If you have blog, please share link and give a brief explanation on it?
I had this aura around me of being bullet-proof.  Many people felt I could take a lot of challenges on and come out incredibly unharmed, so a few nicknamed me “Kellyn Kevlar”.  When Chet Justice asked me what I would name my blog, it seemed a no-brainer, as I wanted more DBA’s to be bullet proof, so that meant more of the bullet proof material, kevlar to be out there.
Your specialization in oracle?
Performance tuning and Enterprise Manager.  I ended up in Enterprise Manager due to no one wanting to work on it when it broke.  I understood the pieces that made up the application, so it became my tool of choice if I did wish for a GUI interface.
What is your view on Oracle vs Other database ( SQL server/Mysql/ DB2….), Are you proud as an Oracle DBA?
I am a proud multi-platform DBA.  My niche is performance tuning and that is in Oracle, SQL Server and MySQL.  I primarily have opportunities in Oracle and love it!  Oracle has some phenomenal features, but I also know there are some features I love in SQL Server, MySQL and if we get into it, there are some cool things about Informix, Sybase and Postgres, too!
What are the areas you will visit, so that you will keep up to date with Oracle?
I am spending a lot of time on how Oracle plans on addressing the hype around hadoop, some of the new features coming down the pipe for OLTP enhancements in SQL Server and MySQL.  I have been absorbing all the information I can find on ASH data and can’t wait for 12c to be announced!
what all the certifications you have done and in what way did they helped you?
My Oracle 8 certification is very out of date.  I took the class to get my Oracle 10g certification and then just didn’t allocate the time for the test.  In the area of the country I’m at, there is a limited group of senior Oracle DBA’s and if you are in that group, your experience is as important as certifications.  I would like to continue with my certifications, but there just hasn’t been any benefit to it at this time.
so what are you looking forward to learn technically in future?
I am working on more with the “under belly” of EM12c.  I just completed a process to migrate jobs over that I need to turn into Oracle.  I want to work more with the ASH and AWR data to assist other in how this data can contribute to quick answers to performance issues.
Your advice for oracle learners?
Never give up.  My oldest son, once exclaimed, “but Mom, you never screw up!”  I had explain to him that it only appeared that way, that I screwed up all the time, I just never gave up! Often when one gave up, if they had just attempted one more try could have been a success.  Surround yourself with those that will support you in your endeavors.  They don’t have to all be Oracle experts, but to have the support of those around you to succeed is vitally important.
Anything you can do in a GUI interface, (TOAD, DB Artisan, Enterprise Manager)- make sure you are able to do it at the command line, too!  There is nothing wrong with using the GUI, but you need to understand what is going on under the covers!
How are you experiencing as an ACE Member road map, Brief if any other achievements?
I love being an Oracle ACE.  They had made the requirements more strict a while back and I had been turned down a couple times as I was not part of a user group and wasn’t presenting enough.  I was thrilled to be recognized by my peers and OTN with my ACE award.
–Kellyn Pot’vin
–Special Thanks to Kellyn–

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