Tuesday Nov 11, 2014

Posted: Lab Instructions for November Virtual Tech Summit

Instructions for the six Systems labs that will be presented at November's Virtual Technology Summit are now available on the OTN Community Platform.

Prepare Your Laptops Before the Event

You need to set up your laptop with the correct VM and configure it before the event begins. If you wait until the event, you'll be too far behind and won't be able to ask questions or join in the discussions.The Oracle VM labs, in particular, require extensive prep work.

Important Links


A few thousand have already registered, but slackers can still register in their preferred time zone:

About the Photograph

I took the picture of the vertical cylinder from an 01 Ducati 748S on my workbench, while replacing the rings, which I busted while trying to re-install the cylinder without a ring compressor.

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Wednesday Oct 30, 2013

Back Up to Tape the Way You Shop For Groceries

Imagine if this was how you shopped for groceries:

  1. From the end of the aisle sprint to the point where you reach the ketchup.
  2. Pull a bottle from the shelf and yell at the top of your lungs, “Got it!”
  3. Sprint back to the end of the aisle.
  4. Start again and sprint down the same aisle to the mustard, pull a bottle from the shelf and again yell for the whole store to hear, “Got it!”
  5. Sprint back to the end of the aisle.
  6. Repeat this procedure for every item you need in the aisle.
  7. Proceed to the next aisle and follow the same steps for the list of items you need from that aisle.

Sounds ridiculous, doesn’t it?

Not only is it horribly inefficient, it’s exhausting and can lead to wear out failures on your grocery cart, or worse, yourself. This is essentially how NetApp and some other applications write NDMP backups to tape. In the analogy, the ketchup and mustard are the files to be written, yelling “Got it!” is the equivalent of a sync mark at the end of a file, and the sprint back to the end of an aisle is the process most commonly called a “backhitch” where the drive has to back up on a tape to start writing again.

Writing to tape in this way results in very slow tape drive performance and imposes unnecessary wear on the tape drive and the media, especially when writing small files. The good news is not all tape drives behave this way when writing small files. Unlike midrange LTO drives, Oracle’s StorageTek T10000D tape drive is designed to handle this scenario efficiently.

The difference between the two drive types is that the T10000D drive gives you the ability to write files in a NetApp NDMP backup environment the way you would normally shop for groceries. With grocery shopping, you essentially stream through aisles picking up items as you go, and then after checking out, yell, “Got it!”, though you might do that last step silently. With the T10000D, it has a feature called the Tape Application Accelerator, which prevents the drive from having to stop after each file is written to notify NetApp or another application that the write was successful.

When enabled in the T10000D tape drive, Tape Application Accelerator causes the tape drive to respond to tape mark and file sync commands differently than when disabled:

  • A tape mark received by the tape drive is treated as a buffered tape mark.
  • A file sync received by the tape drive is treated as a no op command.

Since buffered tape marks and no op commands do not cause the tape drive to empty the contents of its buffer to tape and backhitch, the data is written to tape in significantly less time. Oracle has emulated NetApp environments with a number of different file sizes and found the following when comparing the T10000D with the Tape Application Accelerator enabled versus LTO6 tape drives.

Notice how the T10000D is not only monumentally faster, but also remarkably consistent? In addition, the writing of the 50 GB of files is done without a single backhitch. The LTO6 drive, meanwhile, will perform as many as 3,800 backhitches! At the end of writing the entire set of files, the T10000D tape drive reports back to the application, in this case NetApp, that the write was successful via a tape mark.

So if the Tape Application Accelerator dramatically improves performance and reliability, why wouldn’t you always have it enabled? The reason is because tape drive buffers are meant to be just temporary data repositories so in the event of a power loss, there could be data loss in certain environments for the files that resided in the buffer. Fortunately, we do have best practices depending on your environment to avoid this from happening. I highly recommend reading Maximizing Tape Performance with StorageTek T10000 Tape Drives (pdf) to decide which best practice is right for you. The white paper also digs deeper into the benefits of the Tape Application Accelerator. The white paper is free, and after downloading it you can decide for yourself whether you want to yell “Got it!” out loud or just silently to yourself.

Customer Advisory Panel

One final link: Oracle has started up a Customer Advisory Panel program to collect feedback from customers on their current experiences with Oracle products, as well as desires for future product development. If you would like to participate in the program, go to this link at oracle.com.

photo taken on Idaho's Sacajewea Historic Biway by Rick Ramsey

- Brian Zents

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Thursday Oct 10, 2013

Who Is Right - the Hardware or the Software?

Michael Palmeter and Renato Ribeiro enjoy a good duel. Michael represents Oracle Solaris. Renato represents SPARC servers. Watch and listen as they argue their case on two questions of interest to sysadmins. Taped at Oracle OpenWorld 2013.

What Determines Performance - The Hardware or the Software?

Michael Palmeter vs Renato Ribeiro

Is the hardware or the software more important to the performance of a system? Oracle Solaris product director Michael Palmeter goes mic-to-mic with Renato Ribeiro, Oracle SPARC Director. Taped at Oracle OpenWorld 2013.

What Kind of Scalability is Better - Horizontal or Vertical?

Renato Ribeiro vs Michael Palmeter

Is Oracle's approach to large vertically scaled servers at odds with today's trend of combining lots and lots of small, low-cost servers systems with networking to build a cloud, or is it a better approach? Michael Palmeter, Director of Solaris Product Management, and Renato Ribeiro, Director Product Management for SPARC Servers, discuss.

photo of 2005 Fat Boy taken at Little Big Horn National Monument by Rick Ramsey

- Rick

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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

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Thursday Oct 03, 2013

How Does Oracle Make Storage So Freaky Fast?

The sound quality of these videos is not very good because I taped them while people around me were watching the America's Cup, but the content is worth your time. Jason Schaffer, from Oracle Storage Engineering, explains ...

How the ZS3 Storage System is Engineered

by Jason Schaffer (3 minutes)

The ZS3 is the fastest storage system "on the planet." Jason Schaffer explains what makes it so fast, how it was engineered, and what you can do with it.

How the ZS3 Storage Appliance Tunes Itself

by Jason Schaffer (2 minutes)

Jason Schaffer, from Oracle Storage Engineering, explains how the ZS3 Storage System uses the Oracle Intelligent Storage Protocol (OISP) to automatically tune its I/O patterns to make Oracle Database 12c run faster.

How Oracle Makes the ZS3 Storage System Go Fast

by Jason Schaffer (4 minutes)

Jason Schaffer explains how the ZS3 Storage Appliance uses DRAM to get its crazy fast performance. Taped at Oracle OpenWorld 2013.

More Resources About the ZS3 Storage Appliance

Monday Sep 16, 2013

Cloud Building with Oracle Solaris 11

Three resources to help you build clouds with Oracle Solaris 11

Training Class - How to Build a Private Cloud with Oracle Solaris 11

by Oracle University

This training class combines multiple enterprise level technologies to demonstrate a full cloud infrastructure deployment using SPARC technology. Learn To:

  • Plan for and deploy a private Infrastructure as a Service cloud
  • Combine various Oracle technologies into a robust cloud infrastructure
  • Practice cloud component creation and configuration tasks by performing a series of guided hands-on labs
  • Perform the critical steps associated with the configuration of cloud and related facilities.

Tech Article - How to Build a Web-Based Storage Solution Using Oracle Solaris 11.1

by Suk Kim

Have you ever wanted to build a cloud just to see if you can? Turns out it's not that difficult. Install Oracle Solaris 11.1 on your laptop via VirtualBox, set up a little ZFS storage, a little access control, and configure AjaXplorer so you and your friends can manage your files. Don't neglect to drop phrases like "Download that from the cloud I just built" into casual conversation.

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

We liked this blog so much when Jeff Victor first posted it, that we turned it into a bonafide OTN tech article. You might recognize it. It's about ZOSS: zones on shared storage. Why? When you configure a zone on shared storage, you can quickly clone it on any server that uses that storage. Jeff explains how.

Bonus! - Oracle VM Templates with Oracle Solaris 11

picture of cloud taken in Colorado, copyright Rick Ramsey

- Rick

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Friday Sep 13, 2013

About LTFS - Library Edition

Oracle just launched the T10000D tape drive with its incredible 8.5 TB of native capacity and LTFS-Library Edition (LTFS-LE), which expands the LTFS concept to an entire library. The Oracle T10000D has some neat features that I would like to address in the future, but today I’d like to talk about LTFS-LE since it really is a new concept.


LTFS is an open source specification for writing data to tape on single tape drives. It is supported by Oracle and other tape vendors. The version you can download from Oracle is called StorageTek LTFS, Open Edition (LTFS-OE).

When an LTFS-compatible T10000 or LTO tape is formatted for LTFS, it is split into two partitions. The first partition holds the metadata that tells the user which files are on the tape and where they are located. The second partition holds the files themselves.

Benefits of Using LTFS-LE

There are a few nice benefits for those who utilize LTFS. Most important is the peace of mind that you will always be able to recover your data regardless of your backup application or any other proprietary software because it’s based on an open source specification. It also improves the portability of tape because two parties don’t both need the same application to read a tape. In fact, LTFS has seen tremendous adoption in industries that require the ability to transport large amounts of data.

The limitation with the open source version of LTFS is that it’s limited to just a single drive. Users with even the smallest archives would like to have their entire environment to be LTFS-based. That’s the impetus for StorageTek LTFS, Library Edition (LTFS-LE), but it also serves as a backup application eliminator because of how it’s architected. With LTFS-OE, after you download the driver, a tape looks like a giant thumb drive. LTFS-LE makes the tape library look like a shared drive with each tape appearing as a sub-folder. It’s like having a bucket full of thumb drives that are all accessible simultaneously!

Just as before, you don’t need any additional applications to access files. And end users are almost completely abstracted from the nuances of managing tape. All they need is a Samba or CIFS connection and they have access to the tape library. LTFS-LE is agnostic to corporate security architectures so a system administrator could make some folders (tapes) available to some users while restricting others based on corporate security guidelines.

Security and Performance Considerations

However, security is arguably one of the more straightforward considerations when deciding how to integrate an LTFS-LE implementation into your environment. An additional consideration is to ensure that LTFS-LE can meet your performance expectations. Tape drives are remarkably faster than they are given credit for (the Oracle T10000D can write at 252 MB/sec.), but sometimes networks aren’t designed to handle that much traffic so performance requirements need to be considered accordingly. In addition, it may take some time before a read operation actually starts as the library needs time to mount a tape. As a result, system administrators need to be cognizant of how end user applications will accept response times from any tape storage-based solution.

A final performance consideration is to be aware of how many tape drives are in your library relative to how many users may be accessing files directly from tape. If you have a disproportionately large number of users you may want to consider a more traditional enterprise-level archiving solution such as StorageTek Archive Manager (SAM), which writes files based on the Tape Archive Record (TAR) open source standard.

Ultimately, LTFS-LE provides exciting new opportunities for system administrators looking to preserve files with a format that isn’t dependent on proprietary solutions. It also makes it easy for users who need access to large amounts of storage without a lot of management difficulties. Support for LTFS continues to grow. Oracle is actually one of the co-chairs of the SNIA committee that’s working towards standardizing LTFS. And this is just the start for LTFS-LE as well, as Oracle will continue expanding its capabilities in the near future.

picture of 2008 Harley Davidson FXSTC taken by Rick Ramsey
- Brian Zents

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Thursday Sep 12, 2013

Should You Consolidate Your Servers Onto Oracle SuperCluster?

"Are you planning to consolidate a server running a business-critical application that you want to update with future releases over upcoming years, or are you trying to get rid of an old server running a legacy application that will not be updated anymore?"

This is just one of the questions Thierry asks in his article, which is a great resource for sysadmins, systems architects, and IT managers who are trying to decide whether to consolidate individual servers onto an Oracle SuperCluster. Your answer will determine whether you should put your application in native or non-native Oracle Solaris zone.

Other questions Thierry and friends ask:

  • Is my server eligible for physical-to-virtual (P2V) migration?
  • Are you planning a long-term or short-term migration?
  • How critical are performance and manageability?

Once he has helped you determine your general direction, he discusses these architectural considerations:

  • SuperCluster domains
  • Network setup
  • VLAN setup
  • Licensing considerations

Finally, he provides a thorough step-by-step instructions for the migration itself, which consists of:

  • Performing a sanity check on the source server
  • Creating a FLAR image of the source system
  • Creating a ZFS pool for the zone
  • Creating and booting the zone
  • Performance tuning

And just in case you're still not sure how it's done, he concludes with an example that shows you how to consolidate an Oracle Solaris 8 Server Running Oracle Database 10g. It's all here, give it a good read:

Technical Article: If Virtualization Is Free, It Can't Be Good, Right?

Article by Thierry Manfé, with contributions from Orgad Kimchi, Maria Frendberg, and Mike Gerdts

Best practices and hands-on instructions for using Oracle Solaris Zones to consolidate existing physical servers and their applications onto Oracle SuperCluster using the P2V migration process, including a step-by-step example of how to consolidate an Oracle Solaris 8 server running Oracle Database 10g.

Video Interview: Design and Uses of the Oracle SuperCluster

Interview with Alan Packer

Allan Packer, Lead Engineer of the Oracle SuperCluster architecture team, as explains how the design of this engineered system supports consolidation, multi-tenancy, and other objectives popular with customers.

By the way, that's a picture of an 01 Ducati 748 that I took in the Fall of 2012.

- Rick

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Tuesday Jul 30, 2013

Hands-On Labs for Oracle VM

photo copyright 2013 by Rick Ramsey

Our last virtual sysadmin day was held on July 15. If you missed it, you can still watch the video recordings of the lab sessions on the OTN Garage (aka "Oracle BigAdmin") channel on YouTube.

For instance, these are the videos for the Oracle VM track.

Technology Overview

This session explores the Oracle VM architecture and key features, and introduces the 3 hands-on labs that will follow.

Video - Lab Prep - Downloading and Installing VirtualBox

How to download and install VirtualBox in preparation for the labs.

Video - Lab 1 - Deploying Infrastructure as a Service

Planning and deployment of an infrastructure as a service (IaaS) environment with Oracle VM as the foundation. Storage capacity planning, LUN creation, network bandwidth planning, and best practices for designing and streamlining the environment so that it's easy to manage.

Video - Lab 2 - Deploying Applications Faster Using Templates

How to deploy Oracle applications in minutes with Oracle VM Templates:

  • Find out what Oracle VM Templates are and how they work
  • Deploy an actual Oracle VM Template for an Oracle Application
  • Plan your deployment to streamline on going updates and upgrades.

Video - Lab 3 - Deploying an x86 Enterprise Cloud Infrastructure

This hands-on lab will demonstrate what Oracle's enterprise cloud infrastructure for x86 can do, and how it works with Oracle VM 3.x:

  • How to create VMs
  • How to migrate VMs
  • How to deploy Oracle applications quickly and easily with Oracle VM Templates
  • How to use the Storage Connect plug-in for the Sun ZFS Storage Appliance


You can see more unique cars from the Golden Age of American Automobile at the Gateway Automobile Museum.

- Rick

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Monday Jul 29, 2013

How to Bend Bare Metal to Your Will

photo copyright 2013 by Rick Ramsey

The fins on this 1957 DeSoto were shaped during a time when Americans weren't afraid of offending anyone with their opinions, right or wrong. We have, perhaps, grown a little more introspective, a little more considerate, but our cars have paid the price. They all look alike. Their edges have been worn away by focus groups. They have no personality. They cringe at the sight of their own shadows.

I weep for my adopted country.

Well, if you like classic American cars as much as I do, you may on occasion feel the need to bend bare metal to your will. Here's your chance.

Tech Article: How to Get Best Performance From the ZFS Storage Appliance

Disk storage. Clustering. CPU and L1/L2 caching size. Networking. And file systems. Just some of the components of Oracle ZFS Storage Appliance that you can shape for optimum performance. Anderson Souza shows you how. Go ahead. Give your appliance a pair of tail fins. (Link is in the title.)

You can see more unique cars from the Golden Age of American Automobile at the Gateway Automobile Museum. If you can't get to the border between Utah and Colorado to appreciate them in person, like I was fortunate enough to do, you can enjoy them through your browser at http://www.gatewayautomuseum.com/cars-and-galleries/.

- Rick

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Monday Jul 22, 2013

Learning a Little About Hadoop

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According to Wall Street & Technology, skills for managing BigData systems are in short supply. Jokes about the NSA bogarting sysadmins aside, you might want to know something about the technology that enables BigData, even if you don't plan to launch a career in that field. The more I learn about it, the more I think it's going to be a component of every data center in a few years. Including the local bagel shop.

"Would you like cream cheese on your Bagel, Mr. Smith, like you had at 10:00 am on Dec 12, or would you prefer Orange Marmelade like your friend Mauricio just ordered at our Cleveland store?"

Hadoop Tutorials

Fari Fayandeh, a tech manager at a data warehousing company in Virginia, put together a list of books and tutorials to get you started. He was kind enough to post it on the Oracle Solaris group on LinkedIn. After ordering an Iced Caramel Machiatto at Starbucks.

Link to Hadoop Tutorials

- Rick

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Tuesday Apr 09, 2013

What Sysadmins and Netadmins Spend Their Time Doing


This survey covers a wealth of topics, including how the jobs of sysadmins and netadmins are changing.

A large percentage of both sysadmins and netadmins agree that their jobs are getting more complex and they are spending more time on the job performing more duties with fewer resources.

The survey includes a breakdown of what sysadmins and netadmins spend their time doing on the job, and the number of hours they typically spend on each task. But it also includes a wealth of other data about sysadmins and netadmins. Did you know that ...

75% of sysadmins have at least some influence in IT decisions, and 20% have strong influence, whereas 100% of network admins have from strong to complete decision making authority.

Interestingly enough, the amount of influence they have on IT decisions corresponds to their job satisfaction:

Network Admins find their job more enjoyable, are more satisfied, and feel more appreciated. Sysadmins are much more frustrated with many aspects of their jobs, and are more likely to see themselves in a different career in the future.

The percentage of male to female sysadmins was about the same, but more network admins were men. As you might expect, the most popular TV show among both sysadmins and netadmins was ...

The Big Bang Theory

Find the Survey Results Here

The survey focused on Australia's sysadmins and netadmins. If you know of similar surveys in other countries, let me know!

Slideshare: Survey Results

- Rick

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Friday Apr 05, 2013

Migrating to Oracle Linux: How to Identify Applications To Move


One of the first things you need to make when migrating from SUSE Linux to Oracle Linux is an inventory of your applications. A package management tool such as Yet Another Setup Tool (YAST) is a big help here. So is the rpm command. Here are some ways to use it.

To List All The Installed Packages

Use the -qa option.

# rpm –qa

To Save the Output in a File

You can move that file to any location and, anytime later,search through the package list saved there to look for a package of interest:

# rpm –qa > rpmlist.txt

To Sort the Packages

To see the installed packages sorted by install time, use --last. The packages installed most recently will appear at the top of the list, followed by the standard packages installed during the original installation:

# rpm –qa --last

To Find Out If A Particular Component Is Installed

To find out whether a particular component is installed and what version it is, use the name option. For example:

# rpm –qa python

To Find Out What Dependencies a Package Has

Use the -qR option:

# rpm –qR python-2.6.0-8.12.2
python-base = 2.6.0
rpmlib(VersionedDependencies) <= 3.0.3-1

The Linux Migration Guide

You can find out more about migration steps with either rpm or YaST, including the benefits of migrating to Oracle Linux, by downloading the white paper from here:

Download the Oracle Linux Migration Guide

- Rick

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Thursday Apr 04, 2013

The Screaming Men of Finland and Oracle SPARC Chips


In response to the release of Oracle's SPARC T5 and M5 chips, which are dramatically faster than those of IBM, IBM responded by saying that speed was not as important as other qualities. Forbes begged to differ:

Forbes Article: For Big Data Customers, Top Performance Means High Speed And Low Cost

Assuming you agree, you'll be interested in some dyno runs of not only our SPARC chips, but also our applications running on them. Did I say dyno runs? I'm sorry, I meant benchmarks.

World's Fastest Database Server

Oracle’s new SPARC mid-range server running Oracle Solaris is the fastest single server for Oracle Database:

  • Oracle’s SPARC T5-8 is the fastest single server for Oracle Database
  • Oracle's SPARC T5-8 server has a 7x price advantage over a similar IBM Power 780 configuration for database on a server-to-server basis.
See Benchmarks Results Here
Why Oracle Database runs best on Solaris

World's Fastest Server for Java

As you might expect, Java runs fastest on Oracle servers.

SPECjEnterprise2010 Benchmark World Record Performance
SPECjbb2013 Benchmark World Record Result
Why Solaris is the best platform for Enterprise Java

Optimizations to Oracle Solaris Studio COmpilers

The latest release of Oracle Solaris Studio includes optimizations for the new SPARC chips in its compilers. Larry Wake has more:

Blog: Oracle Solaris and SPARC Performance - Part I

I'll Optimize Yours If You Optimize Mine

Since the Solaris and SPARC engineers get along so well, they have each optimized their technologies for each other:

SPARC Optimizations for Oracle Solaris
Oracle Solaris Optimizations for SPARC

Happy Burnouts.

- Rick

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Logan Rosenstein
and members of the OTN community


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