Thursday Jan 02, 2014

About our Latest Lab: How to Migrate to Oracle Linux and Oracle VM





Step by Step Instructions for Migrating to Oracle Linux and Oracle VM

Red Hat Linux and VMWare are fine technologies. A great pairing. However, if you have business reasons for migrating to Oracle Linux and Oracle VM, such as having earlier access to the latest Linux innovations or taking advantage of more integrated virtualization, take a look at our latest lab. It provides the best step by step instructions we could come up with for carrying out that migration. You can also try it just to hone your migration skills. You never know when the boss is going to ask you whether you can handle a migration.





Here's a peek at the major tasks:

  1. Start the two servers (Oracle VM Server and Oracle VM Manager).
  2. Connect to Oracle VM Manager and become familiar with the product.
  3. Verify that the Oracle VM environment started correctly.
  4. Import an assembly that has Oracle Database on top and was exported from VMware.
  5. Create an Oracle VM Template based on the VMware assembly.
  6. Edit the Oracle VM Template that was created.
  7. Create a guest based on the Oracle VM Template that was created.
  8. Verify and then start the Oracle VM guest that was created.
  9. Manually modify the guest configuration and remove VMware tools.
  10. Switch from the Red Hat kernel to Oracle's Unbreakable Enterprise Kernel for free.
  11. Transform the guest into a usable Oracle VM Template ("gold image").

You can run the lab anytime you like on your laptop, or you can attend OTN's next Virtual SA Day, and run it with the help of a proctor. There will be several hundred sysadmins running the same lab at the same time, so you can discuss it with others via chat, and get help from our proctors. Details here.

photograph of a brewery in Ouray, Colorado, by Rick Ramsey

- Rick

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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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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.

About LFTS-LE

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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Friday Apr 05, 2013

Migrating to Oracle Linux: How to Identify Applications To Move

source

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
filesystem-11.1.3.5.3
sles-release-DVD-11.2.1.234
...

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
VirtualBox-4.2-4.2.6_82870_sles11-0-1
...

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
python-2.6.0-8.12.2

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 Jun 28, 2012

Similar But Not The Same

A few weeks ago we published an article that explained how to use Oracle Solaris Cluster 3.3 5/11 to provide a virtual, multitiered architecture for Oracle Real Application Cluster (Oracle RAC) 11.2.0.2. We called it ...

How to Deploy Oracle RAC on Zone Clusters

Welllllll ... we just published another article just like it. Except that it's different. The earlier article was for Oracle RAC 11.2.0.2. This one is for Oracle RAC 11.2.0.3. This one describes how to do the same thing as the earlier one --create an Oracle Solaris Zone cluster, install and configure Oracle Grid Infrastructure and Oracle RAC in the zone cluster, and create an Oracle Solaris Cluster resource for Oracle RAC-- but for version 11.2.0.3 of Oracle RAC. Even though the objective is the same, and the version is only a dot-dot-dot release away, the process is quite different. So we decided to call it:

How to Deploy Oracle RAC 11.2.0.3 on Zone Clusters

Hope you can keep the different versions clear in your head. If not, let me know, and I'll try to make them easier to distinguish.

- Rick

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Tuesday Mar 13, 2012

Who the Linux Developer Met on His Way to St. Ives

For some reason I still remember this nursery riddle:

"As I was going to Saint Ives
I met a man with seven wives
Each wife had seven sacks
Each cat had seven cats
Each cat had seven kits
How many were going to St Ives?

The answer, of course, is one. More about the riddle here.

Little did I know, when I first learned it, that this rhyme would help me understand the Oracle Exadata Database Machine. Miss Blankenship, please forgive me:

As I was going to St Ives
I met a man with 8 Oracle Exadata Machines
Each machine had 8 sockets
Each socket had 8 cores
Each core had 2 threads
How many CPU's were going to St Ives?

If your i-phone has hobbled you to the point that you can no longer do simple arithmetic in your head, you can get the answer to that riddle by listening to these podcasts (the first one even provides notes):

Podcast: How Oracle Linux Was Optimized for the Oracle Exadata Database Machine

Turns out that when you use off-the-shelf components to build a NUMA system like the Exadata, you lower your hardware costs, but you increase the software work that must be done to optimize the system. Oracle Linux already had a set of optimizations well suited to this task. Chris Mason, director of Linux kernel engineering at Oracle, describes the process engineering used to optimize Exadata's integrated stack, touching everything from storage, to networking, the CPU, I/O speeds, and finally the application. Great Q&A, too.

Podcast: What's So Great About Oracle's Unbreakable Enterprise Kernel?

It's easy to replace your tired rust-bucket of a Linux kernel with the chromed-out Unbreakable Enterprise Kernel from Oracle, but why would you? Sergio Leunissen, Oracle Vice President, and Lenz Grimmer, blogger extraordinaire, explain why it's worth your time to use the Unbreakable Linux Kernel. Sergio and Lenz explain why Oracle went to the trouble to engineer its own kernel, what's included in Release 2, how it is tested, how it is optimized for the Oracle stack, the close relationship with the Linux community, and what benefits it brings developers and sysadmins.

Where to Get It, How to Use It

As you may have already heard, Release 2 of Oracle's Unbreakable Enterprise Kernel for Linux is now available. Here are some resources to help you get started.

- Rick with Todd Trichler

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Friday Dec 23, 2011

Santa in the OTN Garage

You are welcome to peruse content the OTN Systems Community posted for sysadmins and developers over the past year, like Santa is doing:

Here's wishing that your moto start on the first kick, your engine oil run clear, your bolts not vibrate off before you reach home, your fuel not gum up your carburetor, and your face remain merrily in the wind.

Merry Christmas, or whatever you celebrate during the Holiday Season.

- Rick

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Monday May 23, 2011

OTN Doesn't Do Advertising

A couple of the guys at the first OTN Sysadmin Day told me they thought the Highlights Panel on the OTN Systems Home Page was advertising. (The Highlights Panel is the one with the pictures in it.)

There's nothing wrong with advertising and, frankly, in spite of the (mostly) lousy ads during recent Super Bowls, I watch the Super Bowl as much for the ads as for the games. But I want to make it clear that the Oracle Technology Network doesn't do advertising. So you can rest assured that, even if you see text over a picture, it's the same type of technical info you'll find everywhere else on OTN.

In fact, the Highlights Panel contains some of our most important news about upcoming technical events (such as OTN's First Sysadmin Day), OTN Live videos (such as Chris Baker's exposition on the Oracle Solaris optimizations for x86 hardware), and latest downloads such as the latest Pre-Built VirtualBox Images for Solaris or Linux Developers. Which, fittingly enough, why we refer to it as the Headlines Panel. :-)

Read it with full confidence. Click on it without fear. And, please, let us know if you have any other questions (or gripes) about how OTN works.

- Rick
The System Admin and Developer Community of the Oracle Technology Network

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