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

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Thursday May 16, 2013

Draw, Partner!

Well, I’ve already made one reference reference to Clint Eastwood (image removed from blog), I might as well make another, if only indirectly. So, here goes: the topic today is drawing. That is, making drawings with Oracle hardware components.

For those of you who like to (or need to) create architectural drawings with reasonable renditions of components and all the requisite connections, you are probably already aware of Microsoft Visio, or for those of you who prefer Macs (such as myself), Omnigraffle Pro. Did you know that we have an open repository with a growing selection of components on VisioCafe? We just updated this Tuesday night, adding stencils of Oracle’s new SPARC T5 and SPARC M5 servers. You will find them in the zip bundle Oracle-Servers.

We have also added Visio templates for Oracle's Exadata Database Machines. In case you didn’t know the difference between stencils and templates, templates provide a more powerful (and efficient) representation that allows you to reorganize the racks to match your actual configuration.

For those of us who use OmniGraffle Pro, you will be pleased to note that we are now getting greater, but not always perfect, compatibility. So, your mileage may vary: our official target is Microsoft Visio.

So, what can I say? "Make my day! Draw, Partner!"

—Kemer

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Wednesday Apr 20, 2011

Flash Magic

Flash GordonWho knew that Flash would turn out to be so powerful ... and so enduring? Flash memory in its various forms is probably the electronic component that is most impacting the performance and utility of our devices, from our portable audio players, to our tablets, and all the way to our our Oracle Exadata Database Machines.

Combining flash memory with more traditional disk has already been shown to be a great way to improve both performance and availability in a variety of scenarios. Don't have flash memory in your computer? Check out the Sun Flash Accelerator F20 PCIe Card, a low-profile PCIe card that supports onboard solid-state based storage. 

Roger Bitar has written an article that takes a look at how coupling this card with Oracle Database 11g Release 2 can improve performance: Oracle Database Performance Results with Smart Flash Cache on Sun SPARC Enterprise Midrange Server. Roger used the GEN-OLTP 1.6 benchmark, an internally developed transaction processing database workload, to do some before-and-after comparisons. This workload simulates a lightweight Global Order System, and it was developed from a variety of customer workloads. It has a high degree of concurrency and stresses database commit operations. Testing was done with a variety of parameters, but as an example, using Database Smart Flash Cache with 2.5 times the original SGA buffer cache size (20 GB) yielded the following improvement over the original run without flash:

  • 25% increase in number of users
  • 17.2% more TPM

Take a look. Perhaps you can conquer your IT Ming the Merciless with a little Flash.

- Kemer

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Contributors:
Rick Ramsey
Kemer Thomson
and members of the OTN community

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