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:
Personal Blog | Personal Twitter | Oracle Community Profile
  Follow OTN Garage on:
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Monday Dec 08, 2014

Brian Bream, USA's first ACE for Systems Technologies











Since the day I met Brian Bream, I've wanted him to become an Oracle ACE for Systems technologies. He has so much depth in Solaris, SPARC servers, engineered systems, what it takes to get your value out of them, that I couldn't imagine a better cornerstone to the ACE community in the US. Plus, he's very aware of the challenges that sysadmins face today:









You see, out of the 500+ ACES and ACE Directors in Oracle's program, only six specialized in Systems technologies. If you don't believe me, go to the ACE website and enter "Solaris" in the Search field. Until today, these were the only names you'd see:

As of today, you'll also see Brian Bream on that list.

Brian, who is the Chief Technology Officer for Collier IT and has certifications in over 20 industry technologies, had already received impressive awards. He had been named Instructor of the Year twice by Sun Microsystems University. And then he won that award again through Oracle University. But to the Oracle ACE program, depth of knowledge and industry recognition are not enough. They need to see contributions to the community.

That requirement presented another challenge, because Brian made his contributions to the systems admin and systems developer communities through old school communications channels. Which the Oracle ACE program does not monitor.

You try walking up to an ex-Navy, old-school Systems guy and telling him "You need to Tweet more." You'd better duck. And you'd better run. Lest you find a copy of the Sun Systems Handbook in a hard 3-ring binder lodged in your head. (If you're too young to know what a 3-ring binder looks like, see one here.)

But Brian adapted, and we had a lot of fun bringing him into Social Media. Here are three of my favorite contributions from Brian:

You fan follow Brian Bream on the newfangled social media:

About the Photograph

I took the photograph of the wagon wheels outside of the Stovepipe Wells Hotel in Death Valley National Park during a motorcycle ride in April of 2014. It was hot.

- Rick

Follow Rick on:
Personal Blog | Personal Twitter | Oracle Community Profile
  Follow OTN Garage on:
Blog | Community Discussions | Web | Facebook | Twitter | YouTube

Monday Sep 15, 2014

Making Sure Your Exadata Is Running Right

The service department of a local Harley Davidson dealer has a display that compares a chain driven cam to a gear driven cam. Each type of cam drive is attached to a cam support plate, and the service writer walks you up to the display and invites you to turn each of them. The chain drive is hard to turn, but the gear drive turns easily.

The message is clear: replace the chain-driven cam in your Harley with a gear-driven cam, and you'll have more power. The display gets the message across brilliantly. Except that it's bogus.

I've spun the chain drive taken out of a Harley Davidson, and it turns just as easily as the gear drive. Heck, why wouldn't it? In their zeal to convince us of the benefits of gear-driven cams, the boys at the dealership tightened down the chain drive in their display perhaps a bit too enthusiastically.

Oracle makes some pretty big claims about its engineered systems, too. For instance, you've probably heard something along these lines for the Oracle Exadata Database Machine:

"An engineered system with preconfigured, pretuned, and pretested hardware and software components that is designed to be the highest performing and most available platform for running Oracle Database."

How can you know whether these claims are true? Because you have Brian Bream on your side, that's why. Brian is the Chief Technology Officer at Collier IT, and Instructor of the Year for both Oracle University and Sun Microsystems University. He knows his stuff. And he just wrote an article that will interest anyone who manages an Exadata Database Machine.

Tech Article: Monitoring Oracle Exadata Storage Servers

by Brian Bream

The Oracle Exadata Database Machine gives sysadmins three monitoring technologies and two monitoring tools for its storage servers. Brian explains how they work, and how you can use them to monitor metrics, thresholds, and alerts (incidents), how to check the availability of your storage servers, and how to compare metrics for multiple storage servers.

More From Brian Bream

About the Photograph

Photo of the cam chain tensioner on a 2005 Harley Davidson Road King taken by my good buddy Madera Doug.

Follow Brian Bream:
Personal Blog | Personal Twitter
  Follow OTN Garage on:
Web | Facebook | Twitter | YouTube

Monday Apr 14, 2014

Which Type of Virtualization Should I Use?

I routinely ask techies which type of virtualization they'd recommend for which type of job. I seldom get an answer as crystal clear as Brian Bream's.

Video Interview: Which Type of Virtualization Should I Use?

with Brian Bream, CTO Collier IT

Oracle's portfolio of virtualization technologies includes Oracle VM Server for x86, Oracle VM Server for SPARC (previously known as LDOMS), and Oracle Solaris Zones, among others. Brian Bream provides a crystal clear technical overview of their differences and examples of what you would use them to do to. After you listen to the recording, which is about 5 minutes long, you'll understand why Brian was selected Instructor of the Year for both Oracle University and Sun Microsystems University before that.

More Resources About Virtualization

Here's an 8-part series about Oracle virtualization products written by Detlef Drewanz and Lenz Grimmer that might also be helpful:

About the Photograph

Photograph of Vaillancourt Fountain in San Francisco taken by Rick Ramsey, April 2014.

- Rick

Follow me on:
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Wednesday Jan 29, 2014

Man Vs. Machine

Man vs machine. Command Line vs GUI. It's not a new debate. In fact, when I was a little boy I watched this Paul Bunyan cartoon with the dismay of a sysadmin watching the increasing popularity of GUIs:

Cartoon: Paul Bunyan's Ax vs The Chain Saw

What Skills Do Sysadmins Need to Manage a Modern Data Center?

Video Interview with Brian Bream

When I wrote technical manuals for Oracle Solaris back in the day, I had the luxury of my very own lab. For instance, while writing the NIS+ books, I was able to discover my own procedures on a small network and, when I needed something larger, I could ask the sysadmins in Sun's bigger labs to try some experiments for me. Little did I know those were the Golden Years of technical writing.

They were also the Command Line Years. We used the command line for everything, including email, product testing and, of course, managing Solaris. The command line put the operator in control. You had a mental map of what you were doing, you were completely engaged, and if something became repetitive, you could always write a script for it. The shell was the interface, and emacs was the only tool you needed.

When GUI's first came out, we hated them on principle. They were slower than the command line, and they didn't really add any value. Plus, they weakened your skills.

Since then it's been a tossup. GUI's have gotten steadily better, but they didn't add enough value to overcome our attachment to the command line. In fact, we kinda resented them because they were used as a pretext to hire less experienced and cheaper sysadmins.

However, with the advent of vertically-integrated systems such as Oracle's Exadata and SuperCluster, the GUI may have finally come into its own. Listen to Brian Bream explain why.

Watch video interview here

Photograph of bicycle in Durango taken by Rick Ramsey in Oct 2012

- Rick

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

Tuesday Nov 12, 2013

The Jack LaLanne School of System Administration

Two of my childhood heroes were Tarzan and Jack LaLanne. Tarzan was an obvious choice: what boy wouldn't want to spend his days bungee jumping through the jungle with his own pack of gorillas? Jack Lalanne had a disturbing habit of wearing stretch pants, but he was so damn fit for an old guy that you couldn't help but be impressed. Especially back then, when nobody knew what a dumb bell was, much less Cross-Fit. Here's what he did to celebrate his 70th birthday.

Sooner or later we all face a choice in our careers: surrender to the life of a has-been like Bruce Sprinsteen's baseball player or become an unstoppable sysadmin like Jack Lalanne. If you'd rather keep on fighting like Jack, give these resources a look. Brian Bream's blog provides specific suggestions for keeping your skills up to date. The video interviews describe the types of technologies that are challenging what you used to know.

Blog: The Old School Sysadmin - A Dying Breed?

by Brian Bream

"The sysadmin role has been far too dependent on performing repetitive tasks and working in a reactionary mode ... the sysadmin must grow a much larger skill set to be successful. Don’t grow vertically in one technology, grow horizontally amongst many technologies." Just one of the suggestions Brian Bream provides in this excellent blog post.

Video: Freeing the Sysadmin From Repetitive Tasks

Interview with Marshall Choy

Marshall Choy, Director of Optimized Solutions at Oracle was once a sysadmin. And a Solaris engineer. He explains what optimized solutions are, how they are developed and tested, how they handle patching, and how these vertically integrated systems impact the job and duties of a sysadmin.

Video: The Oracle Database Appliance

Interview with Bob Thome

Bob Thome, Senior Director of Product Management, explains what makes the Database Appliance simple, reliable, and affordable, and how it could change the economies and processes of the data center.

Video: Why Pinellas County Chose Oracle Exalytics

Interview with Gautham

Gautham (pronounced like Batman's Gotham) recently led an effort to refresh the Pinellas County hardware systems. He'll explain what they were looking for, why they chose Oracle Exalytics, how they became convinced it was the right decision, and how it changed the way they managed their data center.

Video: DTrace for System Administrators

Interview with Brendan Gregg

This video interview will give you an idea of some of the value-add tasks you can perform when you are freed from the reactive mode that Brian Bream describes in his blog. Brendan Gregg describes the best ways for sysadmins to tune deployed applications to get more performance out of them in their particular computing environment

photograph of Ford Mustang GT 500 taken at Gateway Museum copyright by Rick Ramsey

-Rick

Follow me on:
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Monday Nov 04, 2013

Understanding Process Scheduling in Oracle Solaris

The process scheduler in the Oracle Solaris kernel allocates CPU resources to processes. By default, the scheduler tries to give every process relatively equal access to the available CPUs. However, you might want to specify that certain processes be given more resources than others. That's where classes come in. A process class defines a scheduling policy for a set of processes. These three resources will help you understand and manage it process classes:

Blog: Overview of Process Scheduling Classes in the Oracle Solaris Kernel

by Brian Bream

Timesharing, interactive, fair-share scheduler, fixed priority, system, and real time. What are these? Scheduling classes in the Solaris kernel. Brian Bream describes them and how the kernel manages them through context switching.

Blog: Process Scheduling at the Thread Level

by Brian Bream

The Fair Share Scheduler allows you to dispatch processes not just to a particular CPU, but to CPU threads. Brian Bream explains how to use and provides examples.

Docs: Overview of the Fair Share Scheduler

by Oracle Solaris Documentation Team

This official Oracle Solaris documentation set provides the nitty-gritty details for setting up classes and managing your processes. Covers:

  • Introduction to the Scheduler
  • CPU Share Definition
  • CPU Shares and Process State
  • CPU Share Versus Utilization
  • CPU Share Examples
  • FSS Configuration
  • FSS and Processor Sets
  • Combining FSS With Other Scheduling Classes
  • Setting the Scheduling Class for the System
  • Scheduling Class on a System with Zones Installed
  • Commands Used With FSS

-Rick

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

Saturday Oct 05, 2013

Elasticity: The Biggest Challenge Facing Today's Data Center

Biggest Challenge Facing Data Centers Today

Interview with Brian Bream, Collier IT

Provisioning used to be a hardware activity. It involved heavy lifting. Today, thanks to Oracle's engineered systems, a data center can pre-configure itself to make provisioning a software activity. According to Brian Bream, CTO of Collier IT, instead of pulling a server off the shelf, installing an OS, and applications, then patching and configuring, it's a matter of bringing up the management tool, selecting the image, and hitting Bang! In Brian's experience, elasticity is the biggest challenge facing data centers today, and Oracle engineered systems are a great way to deal with it.

In addition to being Collier IT's Chief Technology Officer, Brian was named instructor of the year not once, but twice, by Oracle University. Get his opinion about the impact of training on the careers of sysadmins.

Related Resources

- Rick

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

Monday Sep 23, 2013

Live Video Interviews on OTN Central at Oracle OpenWorld 2013

Good thing I drove to Oracle OpenWorld this year instead of riding the moto like I have on some previous OOW's. We had an inch of slush on Donner pass, and if we hadn't skeedaddled outta there when we did, we might have wound up like the ATV in my driveway in Colorado.

This year Oracle wants its customers to talk about their experiences with Oracle technologies, so OTN has lined up three live interviews. If you're at Oracle OpenWorld, you can watch them on the big screens. If you're not at the event, you can still watch them live from our home page at www.oracle.com. If you want to watch them later, look for a future blog in which I'll post the location of the recorded interviews.

Monday, 12:00 noon PT - John Dome, Systems Engineering Lead, Progressive Insurance

John will describe the business opportunity that lead Progressive Insurance to switch from Red Hat Linux to Oracle Linux, he'll explain why he recommended they switch, the results they got, and how it has changed the way Progressive's DBA's and SA's work together. We'll try to get as techie as we can in the time we have.

Tuesday, 11:50 am PT - Gautham Sampath, Chief Information Technologist, Pinellas County Government

Gautham (pronounced like Batman's Gotham) recently led an effort to refresh the Pinellas County hardware systems. He'll explain what they were looking for, why they chose Oracle Exalytics, how they became convinced it was the right decision, and how it changed the way they managed their data center.

Wednesday, 11:00 am PT - Brian Bream, CTO, Collier IT

Brian Bream, Chief Technology Officer of Collier IT, will describe the biggest changes data centers must deal with today, and how Collier IT recommends they face them. When we're done, he'll confess how he deals with his personal addiction to SPARC systems and the Oracle Solaris operating system.

Plus recorded videos

We're also going to have a snowsquallfull of recorded interviews, which we'll begin posting during the evenings, since going to all-night parties is getting harder and harder to recover from. Look for them on OTN Garage YouTube Channel.

- Rick

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

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Kemer Thomson
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