Gwen Shapira has written an article about a good example of a non-trivial performance problem.
I’m not talking about anything advanced here (such as bugs or problems arising at OS/Oracle touchpoint) but that sometimes the root cause of a problem (or at least the reason why you notice this problem now) is not something deeply technical or related to some specific SQL optimizer feature or a configuration issue. Instead of focusing on the first symptom you see immediately, it pays off to take a step back and see how the problem task/application/SQL is actually used by the users or client applications.
In other words, talk to the users, ask how exactly they experience the problem and then drill down from there.
NB! If you want to move to the "New World" - and benefit from the awesomeness of Hadoop, without having to re-engineer your existing applications - check out Gluent, my new startup that will make history! ;-)