The confangled gadget Jeremy Schneider is referring to is Oracle "Services". I read his paper today entitled, Unleashing Oracle Services: A Comprehensive Review of "Services" in Oracle Databases. On his site, Jeremy says, "This is an in-depth research paper summarizing several months of research about Oracle Services." Also, here is the abstract description:
Performance management and high availability have become base requirements for today’s enterprise relational database management systems. In Oracle databases users create “services” to meet these challenges and those services touch almost every aspect of database configuration. This paper presents a broad yet thorough exploration and explanation of every aspect of services for both single instance and cluster (RAC) databases.
Dan Norris considers this "the definitive whitepaper" on the topic. After reading it, I agree with Dan. It does appear that Jeremy published this just before Oracle Database 11g was released. However, the information in this paper is excellent and relevant for all database versions. If you are using 11g, you can always read about the changes or enhancements that 11g brought to Services in the New Features Guide.
Jeremy, thank you for sharing your several months of research on this confangled gadget!