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

Psst!

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.)

Psst:
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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Tuesday Jul 09, 2013

The Case for Running Oracle Database 12c on Oracle Solaris

You may have already seen some of these individually, but here are several resources that explain why Oracle Database 12c runs so well on Oracle Solaris and SPARC.

Oracle Solaris 11 + SPARC

Interviews with experts, videos, architectural papers, technical articles, and other resources to help you understand the optimizations between the OS and hardware layers that make Oracle Solaris and SPARC such a winning combination. link

Oracle Solaris 11 + Oracle Database 12c

A deeper dive into the optimizations and capabilities of Oracle Solaris that make it such a good platform for Oracle database 12c. link

Oracle Solaris 11 + Oracle Stack

A high-level overview of the optimizations in Oracle Solaris 11 that make it an excellent platform for the entire Oracle stack. link

Article: How Oracle Solaris 11 Makes Oracle Database So Fast

A technical explanation of the optimizations that make Oracle Database run so fast on Oracle Solaris 11. Memory, critical threads, kernel acceleration, virtualization and resource management, and much more. By Ginny Henningsen. link

Screencast: Outliers

In this screencast, Jon Haslam describes how the Oracle Database and Oracle Solaris engineering teams worked together to integrate DTrace and V$ Views to provide a top-to-bottom picture of a database transaction I/O -- from storage devices, through the Oracle Solaris kernel, up to Oracle Database 12c itself. With this end-to-end view, you can easily identify I/O outliers -- transactions that are taking an unusually long time to complete -- and use this comprehensive data to identify and mitigate storage system problems that were previously extremely hard to debug. link

And Don't Forget ...

WebCast: Introducing Oracle Database 12c

Oracle prez Mark Hurd and friends will be talking about the pluggable databases capability in Oracle Database 12c’s new multitenant architecture. No, they do not let you pause a running database with a cork, unfortunately, but they do make it easy to consolidate onto the cloud. Topics covered:

  • Simplify database consolidation
  • Automatically compress and tier data
  • Improve database and application continuity
  • Redact sensitive data
  • And as an added bonus, hear Tom Kyte’s “Top 12 Features of Oracle Database 12c.”

It's on Wednesday, July 10, 2013 at 9 a.m. PT / 12 p.m. ET. link .

Blogs with Solaris-related Content

- Rick

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Friday Jun 21, 2013

How Oracle Solaris Makes the Database Scream

Few things are as satisfying as a screaming burnout (image removed from blog). When Oracle Database engineers team up with Oracle Solaris engineers, they do a lot of them. Here are a few of the reasons why.

Article: How the OS Makes the Database Fast - Oracle Solaris

For applications that rely on Oracle Database, a high-performance operating system translates into faster transactions, better scalability to support more users, and the ability to support larger capacity databases. When deployed in virtualized environments, multiple Oracle Database servers can be consolidated on the same physical server. Ginny Henningsen describes what Oracle Solaris does to make the Oracle database run faster.

Video Interview: Why Is The OS Still Relevant?

In a world of increasing virtualization and growing interest in cloud services, why is the OS still relevant? Michael Palmeter, senior director of Oracle Solaris, explains why it's not only relevant, but essential for data centers that care about performance.

Interview: An Engineer's Perspective: Why the OS Is Still Relevant

Sysadmins are handling hundreds or perhaps thousands of VM's. What is it about Solaris that makes it such a good platform for managing those VM's? Liane Praza, senior engineer in the Solaris core engineering group provides an engineer's perspective.

Interview in the Lab: How to Get the Performance Promised by Oracle's T5 SPARC Chips

If you want your applications to run on the new SPARC T5/M5 chips, how do you make sure they use all that new performance? Don Kretsch, Senior Director of Engineering, explains.

Interview: Why Oracle Database Engineering Uses Oracle Solaris Studio

The design priorities for Oracle Solaris Studio are performance, observability, and productivity. Why this is good for ISV's and developers, and why it's so important to the Oracle database engineering team. Taped in Oct 2012.

- Rick

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Tuesday May 28, 2013

What If I Want to Update Just Java?

Sometimes all you want to update is Java, and not your entire Oracle Solaris environment. But Java is packaged as part of the Oracle Solaris systems software, and Oracle recommends that you update all the system software at once, since it was tested together.

What can you do?

How to Update Only Java in Your Oracle Solaris Environment

by Peter Dennis and Alta Elstad

This article describes how to update one piece of software that is constrained by an incorporation without altering any other software that is constrained by that incorporation, and still end up with a supported system. This article by Peter Dennis and Alta Elstad explains how to do that. It focuses on Java, but you can use the same technique for other software.

More Information About Oracle Solaris Packaging

- Rick

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Tuesday Apr 30, 2013

How to Build A Cloud for Family and Friends Using Oracle Solaris 11

image copyright 2013 by Rick Ramsey

When we talk about cloud, we tend to focus on The Cloud. Enterprise. Government. Scalable. Fast. Big. Bigger. Fastest. That's all wicked impressive, but it's not something I can do on a rainy Saturday afternoon. Now, I like and use Dropbox. There are other easy-to-use cloud services out there similar to Dropbox. But my Inner Geek wants his own cloud. Something modest and unassuming. Itty bitty, even. Just for fun. Kinda like putting a race cam on my Ducati 748: I don't need one, but I want to see if I can do it. Turns out it's nowhere near as involved as installing a race cam on a Ducati. And you don't need to get your hands greasy. Suk Kim, Oracle ACE Director, shows how.

How to Build a Web-Based Storage Solution Using Oracle Solaris 11

by Suk Kim, Oracle ACE Director

Combine AjaXplorer, Oracle Solaris 11.1, and Apache Web server to build a cloud-based storage service that is similar to Dropbox. These are the main tasks ... Install Oracle Solaris 11.1. Configure ZFS storage. Install the Apache and PHP packages. Set up Security. Connect to the client. Check ZFS compression and deduplication. That's all it takes. Suk Kim provides the instructions.

(In case it's not clear that the link is in the heading, Laura, you can also click here)

Suk Kim is an Oracle Ace Director for Oracle Solaris in South Korea. He is also chairman of the Korea Oracle Solaris User Network, manager of Oracle Solaris TechNet, manager of the Solaris School community, an adjunct professor at Ansan University, and a senior system and security consultant at NoBreak Co., LTD.

Follow Suk Kim here:

About the Cloud Picture

I took it from my house in Colorado in the summer of 2011 with a cheap Sony camera. 2013 has brought a snowy Spring to Colorado (next storm, on May 1, will drop 6 inches of snow on us), so it's likely we'll see a lot more of these storms in May, June, and July. I need to spring for a better camera so you can see how spectacular these storms are in the high country.

- Rick

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Thursday Apr 18, 2013

Why Solaris Loves Python

It's not well known that Oracle Solaris 11 includes a healthy dose of Python code, and that Solaris engineering uses Python tools. These four videos provide more of the story.

How Oracle Solaris 11 Uses Python

Oracle Solaris 11 installation tools use Python to access C libraries more quickly and easily than if they were coded in C. Drew Fisher explains why the Solaris engineering team chose Python for this purpose, what he personally likes about it, and what it implies for the future of Solaris development.

Why Is Oracle Solaris Engineering Looking for Python Developers?

Martin Widjaja, engineering manager for Oracle Solaris, describes the development environment for Oracle Solaris and why Oracle wants to hire more Python developers to work on Solaris.

Why I Started Developing In Python

David Beazly was working on supercomputing systems at Los Alamos National Laboratory when he began to use Python. First, he used it as a productivity tool, then as a control language for C code. Good insights into Python development for both systems developers and sysadmins from the respected author.

How RAD Interfaces In Oracle Solaris 11 Simplify Your Scripts

Every time a new release of Oracle Solaris changes the syntax or output of its administrative commands, you need to update any scripts that interact with those commands. Until now. Karen Tung describes the RAD (Remote Administration Daemon) interfaces that Solaris 11 now provides to reduce the need for script maintenance.

- Rick

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Tuesday Apr 16, 2013

Evaluating Oracle Solaris and Oracle Linux From Your Laptop

Evaluating Oracle Linux From Inside VirtualBox

After importing your Oracle Linux virtual image, you can use the yum install command to download additional packages into your Linux environment. Yuli explains how.

But what's really cool about evaluating an OS from inside VirtualBox is that you can assign each virtual image a unique IP address, and have it communicate with the outside world as if it were its own physical machine on the network. Yuli describes how to do this, and also how to install guest additions to, for instance, share files between the guest and host systems.

Evaluating Oracle Solaris 11 From Inside VirtualBox

In this article Yuli shows you how to create and manage user accounts with either the GUI or the CLI, how to set up networking, and how to use the Service Management Facility (SMF) to, for instance, control SSH connections to the outside world.

Both article cover the basics to get you started, but also very valuable are the links that Yuli provides to help you move further along in your evaluation.

- Rick

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Monday Apr 15, 2013

Eight Cylinders of Virtualization

source made freely available by desktop machine

I've been on the lookout for a quick techie overview of Oracle's virtualization offerings. Detlef Drewanz, Matthias Pfützner, and Elke Freymann had strung together a series of articles doing just that. Lenz Grimmer jumped in with some context on Linux, and the result was this 8-part series for OTN.

1 - The Role of Oracle VM Server for SPARC in a Virtualization Strategy

by Matthias Pfützner

Overview of hardware and software virtualization basics, including a breakdown of different types and styles of virtualization, and where Oracle VM Server for SPARC fits into a virtualization strategy.

2- The Role of Oracle VM Server for x86 in a Virtualization Strategy

by Matthias Pfützner

Oracle VM Server for x86 is an Oracle technology that existed before Oracle acquired Sun. It is a virtualization product based on the Xen hypervisor and like its SPARC counterpart, Oracle VM Server for SPARC, it is a thin Type 1 hypervisor that performs hardware virtualization and uses paravirtualization.

3 - The Role of Oracle Solaris Zones and Linux Containers in a Virtualization Strategy

by Detlef Drewanz and Lenz Grimmer

Oracle Solaris zones are referred to as lightweight virtualization because they impose no overhead on the virtualization layer and the applications running in the non-global zones. As a result, they are a perfect choice for high performance applications. Instead of retrofitting efficiency onto full isolation, Linux Containers started out with an efficient mechanism and added isolation, resulting in a system virtualization mechanism as scalable and portable as chroot.

4 - Resource Management As an Enabling Technology for Virtualization

by Detlef Drewanz

When you have one person in one phone booth, life is simple. But when you fit 25 college students into one phone booth, you have resource management challenges. Not to mention security risks. Same goes for virtualization. Detlef explains how resource management can help.

5 - Network Virtualization and Network Resource Management

by Detlef Drewanz

Using hypervisor-based virtualization and Oracle Solaris Zones with network virtualization plus network resource management enables a whole range of network-based architectures. This article describes what's involved in using network resource management in conjunction with hypervisors, containers, and zones in an internal virtual network.

6 - Oracle VM VirtualBox: Personal Desktop Virtualization

by Detlef Drewanz

Oracle VM VirtualBox consists of a base software package that is available for each supported host OS; guest additions that add support for shared folders, seamless window integration, and 3D; and extension packs.

7 - The Role of Oracle Virtual Desktop Infrastructure in a Virtualization Strategy

by Matthias Pfützner

This technology is no longer available.

Virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) is the practice of hosting a desktop operating system within a virtual machine (VM) running on a hosted, centralized or remote server. Matthias Pfützner explains.

8 - Oracle Enterprise Manager Ops Center as a Management Tool for Virtualization

by Elke Freymann

Oracle Enterprise Manager Ops Center offers complete infrastructure management with a focus on Oracle hardware (servers, switches, storage appliances) and Oracle operating systems, plus non-Oracle Linux variants that are supported on Oracle servers. Although Oracle VM VirtualBox and Oracle VDI include management capabilities, Ops Center has the best overall toolset for central virtualization management.

- Rick

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Thursday Apr 11, 2013

How Oracle Solaris Engineering Thinks: Liane Praza

It's not often you get a glimpse into how the brightest minds at Oracle think (image removed from blog). And Liane is certainly one of the brightest minds at Oracle. In these two short videos (about 2 minutes each), taken at the recent Oracle Solaris Innovations Workshop, she explains:

Video Interview: Why We Build Virtualization Into the OS

Liane Praza explains why Oracle Solaris engineering continues to build virtualization capabilities into the OS instead of adding more features and better management to the hypervisor.

Why The OS Is Still Relevant

Sysadmins are handling hundreds or perhaps thousands of VM's. What is it about Solaris that makes it such a good platform for managing those VM's? Liane Praza, senior engineer in the Solaris core engineering group provides an engineer's perspective.

- 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 Apr 04, 2013

The Screaming Men of Finland and Oracle SPARC Chips

source

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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Monday Apr 01, 2013

Oracle To Acquire Ducati

source

"To handle all that speed and power, today's high-performance motorcycles need traction control, active suspension, ABS, and a multitude of electronic systems that gather an enormous amount of data. Oracle Database is uniquely positioned to process that data at the speeds today's riders require to remain competitive. And, with the Oracle Cloud, that data and those services are available from even the most remote racing circuits on the planet."

Several well placed sources inside both companies confirmed high-level discussions and high speed laps around the streets of Bologna between Oracle and Ducati executives over the last few weeks.

"Oracle is obsessed with speed. Just look at what they did with the SPARC systems last week. And Ducati? Need we say more?"

Industry pundits agree that there is a natural symbiosis between the two corporate cultures. But that's not the only reason for an acquisition of Ducati by Oracle.

"The high tech industry is highly competitive and Oracle is always looking for ways to reduce costs. By joining forces with Ducati, the combined companies can realize a significant discount on red paint."

"Imagine the parties!" a member of the Oracle Technology Network said in response to the speculation. "Oracle Open World! World Ducati Week. Both in San Francisco. It blows my mind."

"We will not turn San Francisco into another MotoGP circuit," the mayor of San Francisco assured concerned citizens while behind him executives of both companies discussed the merits of different routes around, over, and through Nob Hill.

"Lombard Street on a Desmosedici? I'm coming back!"
- Valentino Rossi

As you can imagine, at the OTN Garage, we're thrilled by the possibilities, and we'll be following this story closely.

"Oracle does not comment on potential acquisitions. This is probably some dumb April Fools prank."
- Oracle spokesperson

- Rick

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Thursday Mar 28, 2013

Is Tape Storage Still Harder to Manage Than Disk Storage?

source

-guest post by Brian Zents-

Historically, there has been a perception that tape is more difficult to manage than disk, but why is that? Fundamentally there are differences between disk and tape. Tape is a removable storage medium and disk is always powered on and spinning. With a removable storage one piece of tape media has the opportunity to interact with many tape drives, so when there is an error, customers historically wondered whether the drive or the media was at fault. With a disk system there is no removable media, if there is an error you know exactly which disk platter was at risk and you know what corrective action to take.

However, times have changed. With the release of Oracle’s StorageTek Tape Analytics (STA) you are no longer left wondering if the drive or the media is at risk, because this system does the analysis for you, leaving you with proactive recommendations and resulting corrective actions … just like disk.

For those unfamiliar with STA, it’s an intelligent monitoring application for Oracle tape libraries. Part of the purpose of STA is to allow users to make informed decisions about future tape storage investments based on current realities, but it also is used to monitor the health of your tape library environment. Its functionality can be utilized regardless of the drive and media types within the library, or whether the libraries are in an open system or mainframe environment.

STA utilizes a browser-based user interface that can display a variety of screens. To start understanding errors and whether there is a correlation between drive and media errors, you would click on the Drives screen to understand the health of drives in a library. Screens in STA display both tables and graphs that can be sorted or filtered.

In this screen ...

... it is clear that one specific drive has many more errors relative to the system average.

Next, you would click on the Media screen:

The Media screen helps you quickly identify problematic media. But how do you know if there’s a relationship between the two different types of errors? STA tracks library exchanges, which is convenient because each exchange involves just one drive and one piece of media. So, as shown below, you can easily filter the screen results to just focus in on exchanges involving the problematic drive.

You can sort the corresponding table based on whether the exchange was successful or not. You can then review the errors to see if there is a relationship between the problematic media and drive. You may also want to review the drive’s exchanges to see if media that’s having issues has any similarities to other media that’s having problems. For example, a purchased pack of media could all be having similar problems.

What if there doesn’t appear to be a relationship between media and drive errors? Part of the ingenuity of STA is that just about everything is linked, so root causes are easy to find. First, you can look at an individual drive to see its recent behavior, as show on this screen:

From the table you can see that this particular drive was healthy until recently. The drive indicated it needed a cleaning, and somebody performed that cleaning. However, just a few exchanges later, it started reporting errors. In this case, it’s clear that the drive has an issue that goes beyond the relationship with a specific piece of media and should be taken offline. On the other hand, if the issue appears to be related to the media itself, you should identify a method to transfer the data off of the media, and replace the media.

- Brian Zents

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Wednesday Mar 27, 2013

Why Become a Solaris Sysadmin?

On the one hand Oracle is telling you that Solaris is the key component of the Oracle stack, that we've been investing heavily in it, and that it provides the best platform for managing the stack. Watch these videos:

On the other hand, we are telling your boss to buy our engineered systems because they'll not only reduce the complexity of managing the data center, but they'll need fewer sysadmins to run them.

So, which is it?

Video Interview: Why Become a Solaris Sysadmin?

I asked Larry Wake, Solaris old-timer. Tell me what you think of his answer.

Video Interview: Why Become A Solaris Sysadmin?.

A year or two ago, Justin asked Marshall Choy a similar question. Watch that video here:

Video Interview: Impact of Engineered Systems on the Sysadmin

- Rick

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Tuesday Feb 26, 2013

Performance Tuning an Exalogic System

source

I tend to get annoyed at my engineering pals for designing performance into automobiles such as the Chevy Corvette, instead of letting the driver feel the satisfaction of increasing performance by improving his or her technique. Many sysadmins feel the same about their craft. But as the story of Paul Bunyan demonstrates, we must adapt or die.

In a previous post I discussed how Exalogic changes the way you handle provisioning. In this post, I'll focus on the way Exalogic changes the way you handle performance tuning. First, the optimizations that are already done for you, then the optimizations you can still perform yourself.

Performance Optimizations Designed Into Exalogic

Because Oracle engineering knows the exact details of the environment in which each component is operating, Oracle has configured Exalogic components to use the internal network, memory, and storage for optimum performance, availability and security. It employs two types of optimizations:

Generic Optimizations (Exabus)

These optimizations will benefit any software running on the Exalogic machine, whether Oracle or 3rd party, in physical or virtual environments. The collection of Exalogic–specific optimizations are referred to as Exabus. The purpose of Exabus is primarily to integrate Infiniband networking seamlessly into all the hardware, software, and firmware distributed throughout the system. Examples include:

  • Changes to the firmware and drivers in the network switches that increase performance by skipping protocol stack conversions
  • Use of Exalogic solid state disk caching to increase the speed and capacity of local (shared) data read and write operations, such as JMS queues and run time metadata.
  • Built in high availability at network and storage levels
  • Native Infiniband integration with any other engineered systems, such as additional Exalogic machines, ZFS storage appliances, or Exadata Database machines.
  • The ability to define Infiniband partitions, which ensure application isolation and security.

Optimizations to Run-Time Components

Oracle has engineered optimizations for Exalogic directly into Oracle WebLogic Server (WLS), Coherence, and Tuxedo. They benefit any application running on those software components, but they can only be activated on the Exalogic platform. They address performance limitations that only become apparent when the software is running on Exalogic's high-density computing nodes and very fast Infiniband switches. Examples include:

  • WebLogic Server session replication uses the SDP layer of IB networking to maximize performance of large scale data operations. This avoids some of the typical TCP/IP network processing overhead.
  • Cluster communication has been redesigned in Coherence to further minimize network latency when processing data sets across caches. Its elastic data feature increases performance by minimizing network and memory use in both RAM and garbage collection processing.
  • Tuxedo has been similarly enhanced to make increasing use of SDP and RDMA protocols in order to optimize the performance of inter–process communications within and between compute nodes.

Tuning You Can Perform on Exalogic

Benchmarks and other tests show that applications that run well on Oracle middleware will run better on Exalogic. The degree to which they run better will be affected by how well optimised they are to take advantage of the Exalogic system, as well how well the Exalogic components are set up to balance resources.

However, if your workloads or configurations change, you may need to tune your Exalogic. Here are some general notes, extracted from the Exalogic: Administration Tasks and Tools white paper.

Tuning the Middleware

At the middleware and application level most of the standard options and techniques are available to you. WebLogic Server, JRockit, Coherence and iAS, etc. operate as they do on traditional platforms.

As for the rest of the Exalogic platform, Oracle's recommendation is: leave it alone.

Tuning The Platform

Exalogic manages itself, so you don't need adjust it unless you are sure that something needs changing. This is a major change in approach, since you are used to spending considerable time tweaking your systems to accommodate the needs of different groups. Knowing exactly when and how much (or how little) to tune an Exalogic system is a big topic, but here are some general guidelines.

  • Because Exalogic has such a high density of compute resources across such a fast network, small configuration changes can have a large impact.
  • Try out your changes in a test environment, first. Make sure its resources, configurations, and workload match those of your production system as closely as possible. Oracle Application Replay is a good tool for assessing the impact of configuration and infrastructure changes on the performance of your applications. Give it a try.
  • Focus on reducing response times for users and applications. If response time is not a problem, you probably don't have an issue to resolve, regardless of internal alerts and indicators you may be noticing.
  • Capture the right performance baselines ahead of time so you can compare the results of your tuning to them.

Tuning the Infrastructure

Storage, Infiniband, and OS are set up during initial configuration, so further tuning is not usually needed. If you need to review the kernel settings, network bonding, and MTU values, or perhaps the NFS settings, use Enterprise Manager. Finding the optimum changes tends to be an iterative process that varies with application workload.

Tuning the Middleware Runtime Environment

Ensure that Exalogic optimizations for WLS Suite are switched on (see MOS note 1373571.1), since they affect replication channels, packet sizes, and the use of the SDP protocol in the Infiniband networks.

Oracle Traffic Director is currently a unique feature of Exalogic, so is not available on other platforms. You can alter traffic routing rules for each application at any time. As workloads change and grow this is likely to be a key tuning task.

Tuning the Applications

At present you can tune business applications just as you would on traditional platforms. One possible side effect of running your business applications on Exalogic is that its enhanced performance may unmask poorly tuned applications or poorly written customizations.

For More Information

For more information, read the Exalogic: Administration Tasks and Tools white paper.

- Rick

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Thursday Jan 31, 2013

Deep Inside Every Sysadmin Is ...

#WWI-Ace

photo courtesy of James Vaughan - all rights reserved

... an Oracle ACE!

The thrills. The glory. The fame. Who can resist?

Turns out sysadmins can.

Last time I checked, the Oracle ACE program had 417 ACES and ACE Directors. Of those 417, only 6 have a specialty in Oracle Solaris or Oracle Linux.

That's simply not enough to defend the homeland! I know there are many more sysadmins and developers proficient in Oracle Solaris and Oracle Linux who can qualify to become Oracle ACES. Toss your silk scarf around your neck and grab your goggles. Then talk to me on the OTN Garage page on Facebook. I'll explain the benefits and help you enroll in pilot training.

Current Oracle ACES With Specialties in Oracle Solaris or Oracle Linux

Suk Kim, ACE Director, Oracle Solaris, Korea

Proficient in Oracle Solaris system tuning, troubleshooting Oracle Solaris security, audit information security, penetration tester incident and response, digital forensics virtualization, and cloud computing. Member of Korea Oracle Solaris User Network, Chairman of Oracle Solaris Tehchnet, Manager of Solaris School, adjunct professor at Ansan University, senior consultant at NoBreak Co., LTD.

Diego Aguirre, ACE, Oracle Solaris, Argentina

Diego Aguirre has been a Solaris Support Specialist since 1998. Over the past several years, he has contributed to the Oracle Solaris Community and has published technical articles for Sun Microsystems and now Oracle. He is the author of http://solaris4ever.blogspot.com.

Alexander Eremin, ACE, Oracle Solaris, Russia

Alexander Eremin is a user on Solaris and Linux platforms since 1995. Over the past ten years, he has worked as a Senior Unix Administrator. He is also the creator of the MilaX - Small Live Distribution of OpenSolaris. Alexander is also taking part in the Caiman OpenSolaris project.

Julien Gabel, ACE, Oracle Solaris, France

Julien Gabel is a Multi-platform UNIX systems consultant and administrator in mutualized and virtualized environments. He has architecture and expertise in building Solaris and UNIX experience in large enterprises such as banking and financial services, IT services, Telecoms and multimedia companies.

Raimonds Simanovskis, ACE, Oracle Linux, Latvia

Raimonds Simanovskis in founder of EazyOne which develops business intelligence web application eazyBI.com. Previously he was working at Tieto Latvia where he was using and promoting new technologies, open source and Agile software development. Raimonds has participated in many Oracle E-Business Suite implementation projects as well as Oracle based software development projects. In recent years he is active Ruby language and Ruby on Rails framework user and contributor. He has created and maintains Oracle database adapter for Ruby on Rails as well as PL/SQL and Ruby integration libraries.

Damian Wojslaw, ACE, Oracle Solaris, Poland

Damian is currently working as systems operator since 1999. Since 2006 he has worked with Solaris and OpenSolaris operating systems and other Sun Microsystems born applications. He blogs regularly on TrochejEN and reposts on Planet OpenSolaris. Damian has translated four OpenSolaris related Guides (ZFS Administrator Guide, OpenSolaris Installation Guide: Basic Installations, DTrace User Guide, Device Driver Tutorial) to Polish.

Defend the homeland!

- Rick

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Friday Jan 18, 2013

Once Upon a Time in the Kingdom of Serv

If you're the type of person who has no time to read fairy tales, scroll to the very bottom for a link to the article.

Once upon a time there was a very happy Kingdom called Serv. It was ruled by inventors called engineers. Most of the engineers were clever, kind, and handsome. They had beautiful wives who cooked them tasty and nutritious meals.

A few of the engineers, however, had wives with big, hairy, purple moles, who sat around all day watching reruns of Bridezilla while chomping loudly on pork rinds. They never served their engineer husbands any meals and instead, screamed at them to get them another bag of pork rinds. And they hated sysadmins.

Sysadmins were the workers of the Kingdom. They were very playful, and they had big strong hands. They spent their days tossing servers back and forth to each other, or playing hacky sack.

The Kingdom was a happy place because the clever, kind, and handsome engineers had long ago invented a wonderful contraption called, as you would expect, a "server." Servers were loved throughout the Serv kingdom and all the surrounding kingdoms. They came in shiny metal boxes and had blinking lights. Best of all, they had straight edges so that sysadmins could toss them back and forth to each other. Sysadmins loved tossing servers back and forth to each other, and at lunch time it was not uncommon for several servers to be in the air at once. But when a sysadmin dropped a server, it usually broke. And when a server broke, it was called a "failure." And a failure always woke up The Boss.

The Boss was a hairy ugly giant with one eye. He did only two things. He slept. And he fired sysadmins for waking him up. Naturally, everybody preferred to keep the boss asleep. Especially sysadmins.

Polite people in the Kingdom never mentioned the word "failure" at dinner parties, not even in a whisper, lest they unwittingly awaken The Boss. But everybody knew that if sysadmins began to appear on their sofas in the middle of the night, somewhere in the Kingdom a failure had occurred.

The wives of the clever, kind, and handsome engineers begged their husbands to do something about the plight of the playful sysadmins. And so the clever, kind, and handsome engineers invented the cluster. A cluster was an enchanted cable that connected groups of servers in a magical way. When one server was dropped by a sysadmin, the cable moved that server's applications to another server so fast that nobody had time to even think of saying "failure," much less say it loud enough to wake The Boss. When the dropped server was fixed, the enchanted cable moved that server's applications back.

And so the Kingdom was full of happy sysadmins tossing servers back and forth during lunch, and sleeping in their very own beds at night.

This turn of events, of course, made the pork rind and Bridezilla wives jealous. During the commercials they screeched at their browbeaten husbands until they invented a curse to get the sysadmins fired again and back on the sofas of the beautiful wives who cooked their engineer husbands tasty and nutritious food.

It was an unspeakable curse, and polite people at dinner parties didn't dare to even whisper its name. When this curse was unleashed upon the Kingdom, all the beautiful metal servers disappeared. Except one. And inside that one server were trapped the spirits of all the other servers. The sysadmins stood around staring at it, wondering of what use their big strong hands were when the servers no longer had bodies.

One by one the sysadmins grew sad and left, and in no time at all, almost all the clever, kind, and handsome engineers had sysadmins sleeping on their sofas again.

The Kingdom was not a happy place.

Until one day, it occurred to the cleverest, kindest, and most handsome of the clever, kind, and handsome engineers to put a spell on the enchanted cable so that it could do the same thing for the spirit servers that it once did for the physical servers.

It was a wonderful invention, and the sysadmins jumped off their sofas to learn how to use it. And to keep the pork rind-chomping, Bridezilla-watching wives of the browbeaten engineers guessing, the enchanted cable could be used in two different ways:

Two Ways to Create a Cluster from Logical Domains

  • Configure logical domains within Oracle Solaris Cluster
  • Configure Oracle Solaris Cluster within Oracle VM Server for SPARC

The first approach is fairly obvious. You can put one or more applications inside each domain and create a cluster from all the domains. When a particular domain goes down, the applications running inside it get moved to a working domain. The domains are controlled individually through Oracle VM Server for SPARC, and the cluster is controlled by Oracle Solaris Cluster.

The second approach is more involved, but it provides significant benefits. It consists of setting up Oracle Solaris Cluster inside the control domain of Oracle VM Server for SPARC. When deployed this way, Oracle Solaris cluster can manage guest domains as "black boxes," which allows a site to isolate the administration of guest domains from each other. With this approach, from within Oracle Solaris Cluster you can:

  • Create guest domains
  • Live- and warm-migrate the guest domains
  • And manage individual applications like you can with the first approach

The second approach is well documented. In fact, Venkat Chennuru, a sysadmin with big strong hands who was elevated to the rank of clever, kind, and handsome engineer, took the trouble to write it down for us. You can find his article on OTN:

How to Configure a Failover Guest Domain in an Oracle Solaris Cluster

Read it, learn how to do it. Because as you know, evil never rests.

- Rick

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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 Jan 09, 2013

How to Treat an NFS File As a Block Storage Device

source

Wim actually beat me in blogging about this feature while I was on vacation, but I'd like to add a little more background about dm-nfs, which I gathered from our kernel developers:

What is dm-nfs?

The dm-nfs kernel module provides a device-mapper target that allows you to treat an NFS file as a block device. It provides loopback-style emulation of a block device using a regular file as backing storage. The backing file resides on a remote system and is accessed via the NFS protocol.

The general idea is to have a more-efficient-than-loop access to files on NFS. The device mapper module directly converts requests to the dm device into NFS RPC calls.

dm-nfs is used transparently by Oracle VM's Dom0 when mounting NFS-backed virtual disks. It essentially allows for asynchronous and direct I/O to an NFS-backed block device, which is a lot faster than normal NFS for virtual disks. The Xen block hotplug script has been modified on OVM to look for files which are on NFS filesystems. If the file is on NFS, OVM uses dm-nfs automatically, otherwise it falls back to using the regular (but slower) loop mount method.

The original dm-nfs module was written by Chuck Lever. It has been supported and used by Oracle VM since version 2.2 and is also included in the Unbreakable Enterprise Kernel for Oracle Linux.

Why this feature matters

This feature creates virtual disk devices (LUNs) where the data is stored in an NFS file instead of on local storage. Managed networked storage has many benefits over keeping virtual devices on a disk local to the physical host.

A sample use case is the fast migration of guest VMs for load balancing or if a physical host requires maintenance. This functionality is also possible using iSCSI LUNs, but the advantage of dm-nfs is that you can manage new virtual drives on a local host system, rather than requiring a storage administrator to initialize new LUNs on the storage subsystem. Host administrators can handle their own virtual disk provisioning.

For durability and performance, dm-nfs uses asynchronous and direct I/O so all I/O operations are performed efficiently and coherently. Guest disk data is not double cached on the underlying host. If the underlying host crashes, there's a lower probability of data corruption. If the guest is frozen, a clean backup can be taken of the virtual disk, as you can be certain that its data has been fully written out.

How to use it

You use dm-nfs by first loading the kernel module, then using dmsetup to create a device mapper device on your file. The syntax is very similar to the dm-linear module.

The following sample code demonstrates how to use dmsetup to create a mapped device (/dev/mapper/$dm_nfsdev) for the file $filename that is accessible on a mounted NFS file system:

nblks=`stat -c '%s' $filename`
echo -n "0 $nblks nfs $filename 0" | dmsetup create $dm_nfsdev

Now you can mount /dev/mapper/$dm_nfsdev like any other filesystem image.

- Lenz Grimmer (Oracle Linux Blog)

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Thursday Jan 03, 2013

Extreme Sports and the SPARC T5 Chip

In my day, you were extreme if you surfed. Nobody had a leash. If a wave ripped the board out of your hands, you had to swim all the way back to the beach. In big surf, that could take 15 minutes. And then you had to paddle out again.

Today, if you're not juggling rusty chainsaws while riding a BMX bike off the top of the Eiffel Tower with half a dozen angry chimpanzees trying to rip off your helmet and goggles, you're not considered extreme.

Which is exactly why the SPARC T5 chip has 1024 functional CPUs. None of Oracle's SPARC engineers wanted to find himself at a cocktail party having to confess in an embarrassed chortle to a salon full of top hats and sequins that he had designed a mere 512 CPU chip. Imagine the chagrin!

Interview: Deep Dive into the SPARC T5 Chip

So Oracle's SPARC engineers worked wicked hard to scale the T5 to eight sockets. Since each socket has 16 cores, that gives you 128 cores, total. Since each core can support eight individual threads (or strands, if you're not the sartorial type), you wind up with a total of 1024 functional CPUs.

As you know, processing power without bandwidth is kinda like a mega motor with a nano fuel tank. Doesn't get you too far. So the T5 also has memory bandwidth to match its processing power. And lots of other capabilities that you an read about in this:

Interview: Deep Dive into the SPARC T5 Chip

- Rick

P.S., If you want to read about surfing in the old days, check out Chapter 1 of Tocayos, a novel I've been writing and posting online in my spare time.
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Monday Dec 03, 2012

December 3 is Stephanie Choyer Day

I don't answer Stephanie Choyer's email just so I can enjoy her French accent when she calls.

"Reek! Reek! Why do joo not answer my eemails?"

Without the French, life on Earth would be so much poorer. No, they don't bring to the party any motorcycles that grow chest on your hair, and the Citroen is such a frightening study in Automobile design that I don't dare climb inside one. But they have French architecture. French sidewalks. French villages. The French Alps. Grenoble. French cheese. French wine. And that glorious French accent.

If I were French, I'd spend all my time enjoying being French. Which makes the work that Stephanie does day in and day with our hard-edged technologies and stubborn technologists so admirable.

Oracle Solaris 11 Resources for Sysadmins and Developers

The page in the link above represents the work of many people, but it was Steph who rounded them up. And it wasn't easy. I know, because I ran and hid from her on many, many occasions. But she was tireless.

"Reek. Reek. Why have you not published Glynn's article? Pleeeease, you must!"

Remember when tech companies gave you a simple choice? You could either read the 27,000 pages of documentation or a double-sided data sheet. Which will it be, pal? Then they started writing white papers. 74 pages of excellent prose did a beautiful job of explaining why the technology was fantastic, but never told you how to use it. Well, have you taken a look at these?

How-To Technical Articles for System Admins and Developers

Now you can get wicked excited about a cool technique described in a 74-page white paper, and find a technical article that shows you exactly how to use it.

The wicked smart marketing folks on the Oracle Solaris team wrote them, but it was Steph who bribed them with a Cabernet or beat them over the head with a baguette until all that work was finished and posted on OTN.

There are songs about French wine, but not about French vintners. There are songs about French cities, but not about French bricklayers. About French sidewalks, but not about the French policemen who keep them safe. As far as I know, there are no songs about OTN, but if there were, they would probably neglect to mention Steph.

Which is why today, Dec 3rd, we celebrate Stephanie Choyer Day. We dedicate this day to our relentless, hardworking, tireless, patient and friendly French colleague with the delightful accent. If I knew how to speak French, I'd say "Thanks for all you do" in French. But I don't speak French. And I don't trust online translations. I'd probably wind up saying "My left foot yearns for curdled milk." So here it is in plain old English:

Thank you, Stephanie.

psssst! about that documentation and those white papers ...

In case you haven't noticed, the Oracle Solaris doc team has done some pretty cool things with the Solaris docs. And those white papers are interesting reading, well worth setting aside some time. Because with Solaris, as you know, it's not just about getting by with a rudimentary grasp of the basics. It's about the amazing stuff savvy sysadmins and developers can do when they really understand it. Find them here:

- Rick

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Thursday Oct 25, 2012

Yay! Oracle Solaris 11.1 Is Here!

Even the critters are happy.

This is no cosmetic release. It's got TONS of new stuff for both system admins and system developers. In the coming weeks and months I'll highlight specific new capabilities, but for now, here are a few resources to get you started.

What's New (pdf)

Describes enhancements for sysadmins in:

  • Installation
  • System configuration
  • Virtualization
  • Security and Compliance
  • Networking
  • Data management
  • Kernel/platform support
  • Network drivers
  • User environment

And for system developers:

Download

Free downloads for SPARC and x86 are available, along with instructions and tips for using the new repositories and Image Packaging System.

Tech Article: How to Upgrade to Oracle Solaris 11.1

You can upgrade using either Oracle's official Solaris release repository or, if you have a support contract, the Support repository. Peter Dennis explains how.

Documentation

Superbly written instructions from our dedicated cadre of world-renowned but woefully underpaid technical writers:

  • Getting Started
  • Installing, Booting, and Updating
  • Establishing an Oracle Solaris Network
  • Administering Essential Features
  • Administering Network Services
  • Securing the Operating System
  • Monitoring and Tuning
  • Creating and Using Virtual Environments
  • Working with the Desktop
  • Developing Applications
  • Reference Manuals
  • And more

Training

And don't forget the new online training courses from Oracle University! I really liked them. Here are my first and second impressions. - Rick

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Tuesday Oct 23, 2012

You Don't Want to Meet Orgad Kimchi in a Dark Alley

source

Do you remember what those bad guys in the old Charles Bronson films looked like? They looked like Orgad Kimchi, that's what they looked like. When I met him at Oracle OpenWorld 2012, I realized I didn't want to meet him in the wrong alleyway of Budapest after dark.

Neither do old versions of Oracle Solaris, which Orgad bends to his will with as much ease as he probably bends stray tourists to his will in Budapest, Kandahar, or Dagestan.

How Orgad Made Oracle Database Migrate from Oracle Solaris 8 to Oracle Solaris 11

In this article, which we liked so much we reprinted it from his blog (please don't tell him!), Orgad explains how he head-butted an Oracle Database into submission. The database thought it was safe running in Oracle Solaris 8, but Orgad dragged its whimpering carcas into Oracle Solaris 11. How'd he do that? Well, if you had met Orgad in person, you wouldn't ask that question. Because you'd know he could have simply stared at it, and the database would have migrated on its own.

But Orgad didn't do that. Instead, he stuffed an Oracle Solaris 8 Physical-to-Virtual (P2V) Archiver Tool into his leather trench coat, the one with the special pockets sown in by the East German Secret Police for several Uzis and their ammo, and walked into his data center in a way that reminded the survivors of this clip from Matrix Reloaded.

The end result? The Oracle Database 10.2 that was running on Oracle Solaris 8 is now running inside a Solaris 10 branded zone in Oracle Solaris 11. With no complaints.

Don't make Orgad angry. Read his article.

- Rick

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Friday Jul 27, 2012

What To Give Your Favorite Sysadmin on Sysadmin Day

Source

Happy Sysadmin Day.

As the site says ...

This is the day that all fellow System Administrators across the globe will be showered with expensive sports cars and large piles of cash in appreciation of their diligent work ..."

We understand that times are tight, so we don't expect you to buy your favorite sysadmin a Ferrari. That can wait till next year. But it wouldn't hurt to rent them one. Just for the weekend. To remind them what a weekend feels like.

- Rick

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

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