Wednesday Dec 31, 2014

Most Active Systems ACES of 2014

One of the best parts about my job is working with Oracle ACES. They are loads of fun, interesting, and know so much more about Oracle technologies than I ever will. One of the worst parts is not having the time to give them the recognition they deserve. I won't be able to remedy that anytime soon, but I'd like to use this time at the end of the year to at least shout out to the most active Systems ACES of 2014. If you were active in 2014, please let me know so I can update this blog with your activities, as well.



Newest ACE: Brian Bream


Brian Bream is the USA's first official Systems ACE. He had tremendous depth in Solaris, SPARC servers, engineered systems, and Oracle tools, and he's keenly aware of the challenges that sysadmins face today. I've interviewed him several times for OTN Garage and Oracle OpenWorld Live. I recently wrote a blog about Brian's ACE nomination, so you can read more about him there.




Ed "Hulk" Whalen

If you search the ACE repository for Edward Whalen, he is officially listed as an expert in database management and performance. Which he is, of course. But he's also got a keen interest in Oracle Linux and Oracle VM. Here are two of the books he's written on those topics:

See Ed's Amazon page here.

Ed has also been willing to conduct and participate in interviews, plus write technical articles for OTN:

I make sure to interview him when I can, and post links to his content when I can. Ed's got deep expertise, and his community contributions and reputation are growing to the point that I expect him to be accepted as an ACE director soon.


The Prolific Alexandre Borges


Alexandre knows and teaches Oracle Solaris in depth. His real-world perspective with Solaris is priceless. In his latest book, Oracle Solaris 11 Advanced Administration Cookbook he provides in-depth coverage of every important feature in the Oracle Solaris 11 operating system. Starting with how to manage the IPS repository, make a local repository, and create your own IPS package, he explains how to handle boot environments, configure and manage ZFS frameworks, implement zones, create SMF services, and review SMF operations. Also how to configure an Automated Installer, role-based access control (RBAC) and least privileges, how to configure and administer resource manager, and finally an introduction to performance tuning.

Alexandre is also a prolific author of OTN articles. For instance, he recently finished writing an entire series on ZFS. We have published seven of them so far, with more on the way:



Seth Miller - Closet Systems ACE





Seth Miller is another one of those closet Systems ACES. Though he shows up in the ACE repository as a database ACE, he knows an awful lot about engineered systems and sysadmins:



Seth recently co-authored a book about Oracle Enterprise Manager with Kellyn Pot'Vin and Ray Smith, and had the good taste to focus on the command line:

Oracle Enterprise Manager 12c Command Line Interface

By the way, that's not Seth Miller, this is Seth Miller.








El Gaucho Diego Aguirre




When Diego is not selecting the best imported beers for his cooler, he's busy trying to keep older SPARC hardware and earlier versions of Oracle Solaris running in the data centers of his native Buenos Aires. It was also his idea to write this year-end wrap-up for Systems ACES. Gracias, Diego! Here are a few of his latest blogs. They're in Spanish, but Google will kinda sorta do a lame translation.






On My Radar

Becoming an Oracle ACE requires skill, expertise, and generosity. These four technologists have it, and I will be working with them over the coming year to help them achieve it.

About the Photograph

I took the photograph of rowdy Oracle ACES at the back of the bus on our way to the ACE Dinner after Oracle OpenWorld 2014.

- Rick

Follow Rick on:
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Thursday Oct 16, 2014

New Cookbook: Oracle Solaris 11 Advanced Administration

The articles written by Oracle ACE Alexandre Borges never fail to provide real-world insight into the use of Oracle technologies, particularly Oracle Solaris. They also explain concepts with the patience and care that only professional instructors demonstrate.

Alexandre has just written a book with the same insights and real-world practicality as his articles.

Oracle Solaris 11 Advanced Administration Cookbook

by Alexandre Borges

In-depth coverage of every important feature in the Oracle Solaris 11 operating system. Starting with how to manage the IPS repository, make a local repository, and create your own IPS package. How to handle boot environments, configuring and managing ZFS frameworks, and ZFS shadowing. Implementing zones, creating SMF services, and reviewing SMF operations. How to configure an Automated Installer, which is part of the new software deployment architecture introduced in Oracle Solaris 11. Role-based access control (RBAC) and least privileges, how to configure and administer resource manager, and finally and introduction to performance tuning.

Here is an excerpt, taken from the introduction to creating, activating, and destroying a boot environment:

Let's imagine a scenario. We are requested to update Oracle Solaris 11, and to do this, we need to reboot the system, insert the Oracle Solaris 11 installation DVD, and during the boot, we have to choose the upgrade option. Is the upgrade complete? Is there no further problem? Unfortunately, this is not true because there are some potential tradeoffs:
  • We had to stop applications and reboot the operating system, and users had to stop work on their tasks.
  • If there was trouble upgrading the Oracle Solaris operating system, we'll lose all old installation because the upgrade process will have overwritten the previous version of Oracle Solaris; consequently, we won't be able to reboot the system and go back to the previous version.
As you will have realized, this is a big threat to administrators because in the first case, we had a working (but outdated) system, and in the second case, we risked losing everything (and our valuable job) if anything went wrong. How can we improve this situation?

In Oracle Solaris 11, when we are requested to upgrade a system, Oracle Solaris 11 takes a BE automatically to help us during the process. The boot environment is a kind of clone that makes it possible to save the previous installation, and if anything goes wrong during the upgrade, the boot environment of Oracle Solaris 11 lets us roll back the OS to the old state (installation). One of the biggest advantages of this procedure is that the administrator isn't obliged to execute any command to create a BE to protect and save the previous installation. Oracle Solaris 11 manages the whole process. This has two advantages: the upgrade process gets finished without rebooting the operating system, and the boot environment enables us to roll back the environment if we encounter a problem.

Nowadays, professionals are making heavy use of the BE, and this is the true reason that creating, activating, and destroying BEs is most important when administering Oracle Solaris 11. You can be sure that this knowledge will be fundamental to your understanding of Oracle Solaris 11 Advanced Administration.

About the Photograph

I took the photo of some kind of flower (no clue what kind it is) on my hillside during a particularly wet summer in Colorado.

- Rick
Follow Alexandre on:
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Wednesday Jul 16, 2014

Get Your ZFS On

Surprising as it may seem, there are still many sysadmins out there who don't use ZFS or are not familiar with its best features. We (since I'm one of them) should send expensive gifts to Oracle ACE Alexandre Borges. Alexandre loves Solaris so much he can't stop writing about it. He recently put together a torrent of articles about ZFS that, even if you think you know everything about it, you should peruse. Because I bet he's found things you didn't know about.

I've been posting them at the rate of about one a week. Here are the first five.

1. Using COMSTAR and ZFS to Configure a Virtualized Storage Environment

by Alexandre Borges

How to configure the Common Multiprotocol SCSI TARget (COMSTAR) capability in Oracle Solaris 11 to provide local iSCSI storage to Windows, Linux, and Mac clients.

2. Playing with Swap Space in ZFS Volumes

by Alexandre Borges

Alexandre walks through several ZFS commands that control and monitor swap space, describes the insight they provide, and explains how to use them to increase or decrease swap space.

3. Playing with ZFS Shadow Migration

by Alexandre Borges

If you need to migrate data from a server running Oracle Solaris 10 or 11 to one running Oracle Solaris 11.1, use Shadow Migration. It's easy, and allows you to migrate shared ZFS, UFS, or VxFS (Symantec) file systems through NFS or even through a local file system. Alexandre shows how.

4. Delegating a ZFS Dataset to a Non-Global Zone

by Alexandre Borges

Adding a dataset to a non-global zone does not give the non-global zone's administrator control over the dataset's properties. They are retained by the global zone's administrator. Delegating a dataset, however, does give the non-global zone's administrator control over the dataset's properties. Alexandre explains the difference and how to perform the delegation.

5. Playing with ZFS Encryption

by Alexandre Borges

Oracle Solaris 11 supports native encryption on ZFS so that it can protect critical data without depending on external programs. It's also integrated with the Cryptographic Framework. Alexandre explains the benefits of these and other Oracle Solaris encryption capabilities, and the different methods for encrypting and decrypting files, file systems, and pools.

About the Photograph

In late June I rode from the South Entrance to Yellowstone National Park in heavy rain. When I stopped at the grill for a burger, I inadvertently shocked the good patrons by wringing water out of my neck warmer, sweater, and t-shirt directly onto the stone floor in the cafeteria. When I'm on a long ride it takes me a moment to remember the finer points of civilized behavior. When the clouds temporarily cleared, I took this picture of Yellowstone Falls from Uncle Tom's trail.

- Rick
Follow Rick on:
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Friday Jun 13, 2014

Insights into Swap Space on Oracle Solaris 11

What I enjoy about the articles that Oracle ACE Alexandre Borges writes is the insights he provides. For example:

swaplo indicates the minimum possible swap space size, which represents the memory page size (8 sectors x 512 bytes = 4K). To check it:
root@solaris11-1:~# pagesize
4096
A value of 4K is typically found on Intel machines. However, with Oracle Solaris 11 on SPARC machines, the page size can vary from 16K to 2 GB (this upper limit also applies for Intel processors). The upper limit of swap space is mainly used as the page size for the System Global Area (SGA)—a dedicated shared-memory area for an instance of Oracle Database 11g. Additionally, it is worth noting that 2 GB pages are supported with Oracle Solaris 10 8/11 or later Oracle Solaris releases and Oracle's SPARC T4 processor, but this page size isn't enabled by default. If it's suitable for some applications, we have to enable it by inserting set max_uheap_lpsize=0x80000000 in the /etc/system file and then rebooting the system.

Alexandre not only loves working with Oracle Solaris, he takes the trouble to explain its nuances. He's written a series of articles on his experience with Oracle Solaris. This is the second one:

Tech Article: Playing with Swap Monitoring and Increasing Swap Space Using ZFS Volumes in Oracle Solaris 11

by Alexandre Borges

Alexandre walks through several commands and the insight they provide into a system's swap space, and explains how to use them to increase or decrease it.

Stay tuned for more articles from Alexandre in the coming weeks.

About the Photograph

Photograph of 01 Ducati 748 vertical cylinder piston and rings taken by Rick Ramsey in Colorado

- Rick

Follow Alexandre on:
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Tuesday Mar 18, 2014

Configuring COMSTAR to Provide Local iSCSI Storage

Oracle Solaris 11 introduced two storage capabilities that I wasn't aware of until Oracle ACE Alexandre Borges brought them to my attention.

A Solaris 11 system can serve as an iSCSI target that offers storage to other machines, or as an iSCSI initiator to access the storage offered by another iSCSI target. This capability is a real advantage, because any storage offered through the iSCSI protocol is available to an iSCSI initiator as local storage, without the need to use expensive technologies such as Fibre Channel (FC).

Solaris provides this service through a framework named Common Multiprotocol SCSI TARget (COMSTAR). Alexandre Borges shows you how to use it:

Tech Article: Using COMSTAR and ZFS to Configure a Virtualized Storage Environment

How to use COMSTAR to provide local iSCSI storage for any service that runs in Windows, Linux, or Mac OS. It also shows you how to configure authentication using the Challenge Handshake Authentication Protocol (CHAP) to secure the iSCSI storage against forbidden access. Part 1 of a series about ZFS.

About Alexandre Borges

Alexandre Borges is an Oracle ACE who worked as an employee and contracted instructor at Sun Microsystems from 2001 to 2010 teaching Oracle Solaris, Oracle Solaris Cluster, Oracle Solaris security, Java EE, Sun hardware, and MySQL courses. Nowadays, he teaches classes for Symantec, Oracle partners, and EC-Council, and he teaches several very specialized classes about information security. In addition, he is a regular writer and columnist at Linux Magazine Brazil.

More content from Alexandre:

Exploring Installation Options and User Roles in Oracle Solaris 11

Part 1 of a two-part series that describes how Alexandre installed Oracle Solaris 11 and explored its new packaging system and the way it handles roles, networking, and services. This article focuses first on exploring Oracle Solaris 11 without the need to install it, and then actually installing it on your system.

Exploring Networking, Services, and the New Image Packaging System in Oracle Solaris 11

Alexandre walks you through the new way Oracle Solaris 11 manages networking, services, and packages, compared to the way it managed them in Solaris 10.

Articles in Linux Brazil Magazine (Portuguese)

Columns in Linux Brazil Magazine (Portuguese)

More About ZFS and COMSTAR

About the Photograph

Photograph of San Rafael Swell taken in Utah by Rick Ramsey on the way to Java One.

- Rick

Follow me on:
Blog | Facebook | Twitter | YouTube | The Great Peruvian Novel

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