Thursday Jan 10, 2013

Recent How-To Articles About Oracle Solaris Zones

LEGO Clone Army Collection

How to Put Oracle Solaris Zones on Shared Storage for Easy Cloning

by Jeff Victor

What is ZOSS? Zones on shared storage. Why would you do that? When you configure a zone on shared storage, you can quickly clone it on any server that uses that storage. Jeff explains how.

How to Create Oracle Solaris 11 Zones with Oracle Enterprise Manager Ops Center

You can also create Oracle Solaris 11 zones with Oracle Enterprise Manager Ops Center 12c. When you set up a zone this way, you can add the zone to a server pool and use the zone migration feature of Oracle Solaris 11. In this article, Laura Hartman shows you how to create and configure a non-global zone from the Plan Management View of this handy-dandy tool.

How to Create a Load-Balanced Application Across Two Oracle Solaris Zones

by Laura Hartman

Install Apache Tomcat on two Oracle Solaris zones. Connect them across a VPN. And let the Integrated Load Balancer in Oracle Solaris 11 manage traffic. Presto: high(er) availability in a single server.

- Rick

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Wednesday Aug 31, 2011

Save disk space on Linux by cloning files on Btrfs and OCFS2

Rebecca W: Dolly
"Dolly" by Rebecca W (CC BY-SA 2.0).

Btrfs and OCFS2 are two very advanced file systems for Linux. Btrfs is a next-generation local file system for Linux, and it provides a number of nice features like snapshots and subvolumes, dynamic resizing and built-in RAID functionality. OCFS2 is the ideal candidate for creating cluster file systems that can be shared across multiple machines (but it can also be used for local storage).

There is one neat little feature that both Btrfs and OCFS2 have in common — they are capable of creating "lightweight" copies ("snapshots" or "clones") of a file.

In this case the file system does not create a new link pointing to an existing inode, it rather creates a new inode that shares the same disk blocks as the original file. This means that this operation only works within the boundaries of the same file system or subvolume. The outcome looks very much like a copy of the source file, but the actual data blocks have not been duplicated. Due to the copy-on-write nature, a modification of any one of the files will not be visible in the other file. Note that this should not be confused with hard links – this web page provides a good explanation of the differences.

For Btrfs, you can invoke this feature by using the cp(1) utility with the --reflink option, which was added to the GNU coreutils in version 7.5 (released in Aug. 2009):

cp --reflink <source file> <destination file>

Adding support for the reflink implementation of OCFS2 to cp still seems to be under development. For now, you need to download and install a separate reflink binary from here. It works like the ln(1) utility:

reflink <source file> <destination file>

Wim covered OCFS2 reflink in more detail in a blog post a while ago and there is another example for OCFS2 on our Wiki.

These kind of file clones save disk space and allow copy operations to perform much quicker than actually copying entire files. This can be quite useful if you need to create copies of very large files that differ very little from each other, e.g. virtual machine disk images. In this case the disk space savings can be quite significant!

Thursday Apr 07, 2011

Cloning for Dummies

Clone TrooperIf it seems like we have published a lot of articles around the Sun ZFS Storage Appliance, it is because we have. Busy Oracle engineer and frequent contributor Sridhar Ranganathan has handed us another jewel: Oracle Database Cloning Solution Using Oracle Recovery Manager and Sun ZFS Storage Appliance. What a great pair of topics!

Let's forget for a minute that I work for Oracle, the leading database company in the World: that is a relatively new phenomenon. The truth is I've always known that databases dominate the solutions that computer hardware enables. Indeed, I vividly remember the early 1980s, when the emerging personal computer market was propelled largely by two primitive database applications: for balancing checkbooks and saving recipes. When Apple announced their new soft-sectored floppy drive, we had to get onto a waiting list to buy 360 KB of random access disk for our puny databases. The CEO of General Dynamics, where I worked at the time, discovered this power and the company was transformed almost overnight from analog to digital.

There are many important things DBAs do to secure their hefty compensation (had I anticipated that trend, I would have started off as a DBA, rather than as an actuary. Wait! I'm afraid there wasn't even the acronym "DBA" way back then...) One of these activities is that of cloning databases, which is done for a variety of reasons, including development, testing, and training without disrupting the actual database itself. As Sridhar points out, the Sun ZFS Storage Appliance provides an ideal platform for performing database cloning. It comes with a user-friendly interface for ease of management, a full set of data services for business continuity and disaster recovery purposes, multi-protocol support to cater to any infrastructure, analytics for monitoring and resolution purposes, and a hybrid storage pool for faster response time for test, development, and QA activities. With unlimited snapshots and cloning possibilities, many concurrent database instances can be launched for various purposes without impacting the production database.

This paper gives you a good look at the power of the graphical front end, includes examples, recommendations, best practices, and sizing considerations. As I said, this is another jewel, not to be missed.

- Kemer

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Kemer Thomson
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