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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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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Monday Sep 09, 2013

Latest Linux-Related Content on OTN

photograph copyright 2013 by Rick Ramsey

How to Launch Linux Utilities from Inside Oracle Database

by Yuli Vasiliev

By wrapping a Linux utility in a script and using an external database table's preprocessor directive, you can launch the utility from within Oracle Database and have the utility's output be inserted into the external table. This allows you to do things such as query operating system data and then join it with data in Oracle Database.

How to Use Hardware Fault Management in Oracle Linux

by Robert Chase

Robert Chase is a really good writer. If he was writing about teaching iguanas how to quilt I'd still read it. Fortunately, in this article he's writing about hardware fault management tools in Oracle Linux. What they are, how they work, what you can do with them, and examples with instructions. Give it a read.

How to Get Started Using DTrace on Oracle Linux

by Richard Friedman

DTrace is a powerful tool, and it can do some amazing things. But it's not that difficult to get started doing simple things. You can build up from there. In this article, Richard Friedman gives you a high-level overview of DTrace and its major components:providers, modules, functions, and probes. He explains how you can use either one-liner commands on the command line, or write more complex instructions in scripts, using the D language. He provides simple examples for each. It's a great way to get your feet wet.

Blog: Overview of Linux Containers

by Lenz Grimmer

Linux Containers isolate individual services, applications, or even a complete Linux operating system from other services running on the same host. They use a completely different approach than "classicial" virtualization technologies like KVM or Xen. Lenz Grimmer explains.

Blog: Practical Examples of Working With Oracle Linux Containers

by Lenz Grimmer

In his previous post about Linux Containers, Lenz Grimmer explained what they are and how they work. In this post, he provides a few practical examples to get you started working with them.

Video Interview: On Wim's Mind in August

by Lenz Grimmer

We ran a little long, but once Wim started talking about the history of SNMP and how he's been using it of late to do cool things with KSplice and Oracle VM, we geeked out. Couldn't stop. Wim is not your average Senior VP of Engineering. Definitely a hands-on guy who enjoys figuring out new ways to use technology

Video Interview: On Wim's Mind in June

by Lenz Grimmer

On Wim's Mind in June 2013 - Wim's team is currently working on DTrace userspace probes. They let developers add probes to an application before releasing it. Sysadmins can enable these probes to diagnose problems with the application, not just the kernel. Trying this out on MySQL, first. If you know how to do this on Solaris, already, you'll be able to apply that knowledge to Oracle Linux. Also on Wim's mind is the Playground channel on the Public Yum repository, which lets you play with the latest Linux builds, ahead of official Linux releases, without worrying about having your system configured properly.

- 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

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 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

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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 09, 2013

What Sysadmins and Netadmins Spend Their Time Doing

source

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

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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Wednesday Apr 03, 2013

Miss MoneyPenny and the Oracle Solaris 11 Provisioning Assistant

source

In the following video, Bart Smaalders, from the Oracle Solaris core engineering team, explains why they decided not to provide a direct upgrade path from Oracle Solaris 10 to Oracle Solaris 11, and the best way for a data center to perform an indirect upgrade.

VIDEO INTERVIEW: Why Engineering Did Not Provide a Direct Upgrade Path to Oracle Solaris 11

Miss MoneyPenny to the Rescue

If you saw Skyfall, you probably noticed two things. First, that the latest Miss Moneypenny is a lot more interesting than past Miss Moneypennies. Second, that she's always there when 007 needs her.

Just like Oracle Solaris 10.

Oracle Solaris 10 has just released a nifty tool called Oracle Solaris 11 Provisioning Assistant. It lets you run the automated installer from Oracle Solaris 11 on a Solaris 10 system. That means you can set up an IPS (Image Packaging System) repository on your Solaris 10 system, and use it to provision one or more Solaris 11 systems.

In fact, if you have already set up a JumpStart server on your Solaris 10 system, you can use it to provision the Solaris 11 systems. Kristina Tripp and Isaac Rozenfeld have written an article that explains how:

TECH ARTICLE: How to Use an Existing Oracle Solaris 10 JumpStart Server to Provision Oracle Solaris 11 11/11

Note:
The Provisioning Assistant only provisions Solaris 11 11/11 systems. It does not provision Solaris 11.1, and there are no plans to extend its functionality to provision future releases of Oracle Solaris 11. Once you have set up your Solaris 11 system, use its automated installer to provision systems with the Solaris 11.1 or future releases. For more info, see the Upgrading to Oracle Solaris 11.1 documentation.

- 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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Thursday Mar 21, 2013

How to Protect Your Oracle Solaris Zone Cluster

source

We just published an article by Subarna Ganguly that describes how to build a secure zone cluster. In other words, a zone cluster with trusted extensions. If you want to go straight to the article, scroll down to the bottom of this blog. If you're new to zones, clustering, or trusted extensions, I'll try to explain what's interesting about this article.

Vanilla Solaris

In the beginning there was root and user. Root could do anything anywhere, user could do very little. We improved that with the notion of roles. Access rights (permissions) were assigned to roles instead of users. And individual users were assigned to one or more roles. Access Control Lists (ACL) improved this even more.

Oracle Solaris has about 80 different roles. You can see the privileges each one has by looking at the /etc/user_attr.d directory

Trusted Extensions

Trusted extensions add "sensitivity" labels. These labels are similar to a security clearance in the military: confidential, secret, top secret, etc. With trusted extensions, you first label users, data, processes, peripherals, and pretty much everything that a user or process can access. Then you give uses and processes their own label. A user or process can only access something that has a label with the same or greater access.

"Trusted extensions ... is not something that can be just 'turned on' like a firewall. Trusted extensions fits into a framework where there's a formal security policy, possibly an LDAP server where users and their clearances are defined, as well as network access points that are labeled."
- Book: Oracle Solaris 11 System Administration, Chapter 18

Solaris Zones

Zones are virtual instances of the Solaris environment launched and controlled from the base OS environment, known as the non-global zone.

"Oracle Solaris Zones let you isolate one application from others on the same OS, allowing users to log in and do what they want from inside one zone without affecting anything outside that zone. In addition, Oracle Solaris Zones are secure from external attacks and internal malicious programs. Each Oracle Solaris Zone contains a complete resource-controlled environment that allows you to allocate resources such as CPU, memory, networking, and storage."
- OTN Article: How to Get Started Creating Zones in Oracle Solaris 11

Solaris Cluster

Oracle Solaris Cluster lets you deploy the Oracle Solaris operating system across different servers. If the server in your Barbados data center gets washed away by a hurricane that hates you and dropped off in West Africa, the other servers pick up the load, and the operating system continues to operate without interruption.

"Oracle Solaris Cluster delivers the high availability and disaster recovery capabilities of Oracle Solaris 11 and extends, with version 4.1, its built-in support for the Oracle software and hardware stack, to protect business critical application deployments in virtualized and traditional environments."
- White Paper: Oracle Solaris and Oracle Solaris Cluster

Zone Clusters

A zone cluster is a cluster created from Solaris zones that are physically located on different servers. That's similar to a regular cluster, but it uses zones instead of entire OS instances.

"Such large amounts of idle processing capacity present an almost irresistible opportunity for better system utilization. Organizations seek ways to reclaim this unused capacity, and thus are moving to host multiple applications on a single cluster. However, concerns about interactions between applications, especially in the areas of security and resource management, make people wary. Virtualization technologies address these security concerns and provide safe ways to host multiple applications in different clusters on a single hardware configuration.
- White Paper: How to Deploy Virtual Clusters and Why

Trusted Zone Clusters and Saburna's How To Article

Oracle Solaris Trusted Zone clusters became available in Oracle Solaris Cluster 4.1. They are zone clusters with the security capabilities (mandatory access control or MAC) provided by Trusted Extensions. The zones in the cluster are labeled in the same way that other objects are labeled, so that only other objects with the same (or higher) sensitivity label can access them. Saburna Ganguli walks you through the steps required to set one up:

OTN Article: How to Build a Trusted Zone Cluster with Oracle Solaris Cluster 4.1

More Cluster Resources

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- Rick

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Monday Mar 04, 2013

What It Takes to Deploy and Manage a Private Cloud

source

That's what your private cloud will look like if you do it wrong. And there are so many things that can go wrong.

Oracle offers several ways to set up your own private cloud. Richard Friedman describes what's involved in not only deploying it with Oracle VM, but managing it.

Article: What It Takes to Deploy and Manage a Private Cloud

Here are three excerpts:

"A few days ago I had dinner with my friend Dave. He’s a systems administrator for his company’s private cloud. Until recently, his company had relied on a mashup of customized applications, scripts, and handwritten procedures for doing everything from allocating storage to users to provisioning virtualized servers, updating and patching operating systems, and deploying applications over the network. He had been complaining for months about the difficulties of trying to satisfy requests from users and clients quickly and how these custom environments were becoming more and more unreliable and difficult to maintain...

"Organizations typically follow a layered approach to implementing a cloud. The proper layering is important not only from an architecture perspective, but also from an organizational perspective. As Dave mentioned, he has specialized storage administrators for managing storage; sysadmins for managing servers and the operating system infrastructure; and database, middleware, and application administrators for higher layers of the stack. "The cloud is like an orchestra," he said; all these performers play in unison, while being still accountable for their respective components...

"Dave also pointed out that to make his new private cloud fully operational, he needed self-service, elasticity, and chargeback capabilities, and the ability to integrate with third-party components, such as a help desk implementation. Moreover, to offer platform as a service (PaaS) capabilities, the infrastructure management has to be done within the context of platform components, such as the database and middleware. This is where Oracle Enterprise Manager fits in. It can work seamlessly with Oracle VM Manager to provide a fully automated, self-service, capacity-on-demand environment."

Don't do it wrong. Read Richard's article.

- 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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Friday Feb 22, 2013

How to Configure the Linux Kernel's Out of Memory Killer

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Operating systems sometimes behave like airlines. Since the airlines know that a certain percentage of the passengers won't show up for their flight, they overbook the flights. As anyone who has been to an airport in the last 10 years knows, they usually get it wrong and have to bribe some of us to get on the next flight. If the next flight is the next morning, we get to stay in a nice hotel and have a great meal, courtesy of the airline.

That's going to be my lodging strategy if I'm ever homeless.

Linux kernel does something similar. It allocates memory to its processes ahead of time. Since it knows that most of the processes won't use all the memory allocated to them, it over-commits. In other words, it allocates a sum total of memory that is more than it actually has. Once in a while too many processes claim the memory that the kernel promised them at the same time. When that happens, the Linux kernel resorts to an option that the airlines wish they had: it kills off processes one at a time. In fact, it actually has a name for this function: the out-of-memory killer.

Robert Chase explains.

How to Configure the Out of Memory Killer

Robert Chase describes how to examine your syslog and how to use the vmstat command for clues about which processes were killed, and why. He then shows you how to configure the OOM killer to behave the way you prefer. For instance, you can make certain processes less likely to be killed than others. Or more. Or you can instruct the kernel to reboot instead of killing processes.

More Oracle Linux Resources

- Rick

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Thursday Feb 21, 2013

Can You Figure Out Which Teenager Took the Cash?

source

Dads like me are familiar with a phenomenon known as Silent Dollar Disappearance. This tends to occur when there is a confluence of money in your wallet and teenage children in your home. You never actually see it happen, but if you are paying attention, you might detect that it has happened. As when, for instance, you try to pay for beer and brats at the grocer. It becomes difficult to know for sure whether it was the teenagers. What if you already spent the money on something else? That's what my teenage daughters always said. Or perhaps you had a wallet malfunction, and it flew out. So difficult to pin-point the actual cause.

Linux, like any OS, is vulnerable to a similar phenomenon. It's called silent data corruption. It can be caused by faulty components, such as memory modules or storage systems. It can also be caused by -God forbid- administrative error. As with Silent Dollar Disappearance, it's difficult to detect when data corruption is actually happening. Or what the exact cause was. But, as with Dads and teenagers, you eventually figure out that it has happened.

It may be impossible to identify the culprit after the data has been corrupted, but it's not impossible to stop the culprit ahead of time. Oracle partnered with EMC and Emulex to do just that. And they were kind enough to explain how the did it and how you can benefit. In this article:

Preventing Silent Data Corruption in Oracle Linux

An excerpt ...

"Data integrity protection is not new. ECC and CRC are available on most, if not all, servers, storage arrays, and Fibre Channel host bus adapters (HBAs). But these checks protect the data only temporarily within a single component. They do not ensure that the data you intended to write does not become corrupt as it travels down the data path from the application running in the server to the HBA, the switch, the storage array, and then the physical disk drive. When data corruption occurs, most applications are unaware that the data that was stored on the disk is not the data that was intended to be stored.

"Over the last several years, EMC, Emulex, and Oracle have worked together to drive and implement the Protection Information additions to the T10 SBC standard, which enables the validation of data as it moves through the data path to ensure that silent data corruption does not occur."

Interesting stuff. Give it a read.

- Rick

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Tuesday Feb 19, 2013

Provisioning Oracle Exalogic: What's Involved

source

In this interview from 2012, Marshall Choy explains to dear old Justin how Oracle's engineered systems and optimized solutions will impact the job of a sysadmin.

I was just reading a recently published Oracle White Paper that goes into a little more detail...

"While the core middleware or applications administration role is largely the same as for non-Exalogic environments, significantly less work is required to manage storage, OS, and networks. In addition, some administration tasks are simplified."

That sounded interesting, so I kept reading. Here is an excerpt of what it says about provisioning.

Provisioning New Environments

Provisioning is done so frequently in some organizations that it's almost a continuous effort. Exalogic was designed as a multi-tenant environment in which many applications and user communities can operate in secure isolation, but all running on a shared compute infrastructure. As a result, provisioning environments for development, testing or other projects is simply a case of re-configuring these existing shared resources. And it takes hours rather than weeks.

The typical steps involved are:

  1. Storage – using the ZFS BUI
    1. Create NFS v4 shares
    2. Define Access Control List
  2. Compute nodes – via standard OS commands
    1. Decide which nodes are to be used for this project. In the current Exalogic X3-2 machines each node has 16 processing cores and 256 GB RAM. For each node:
      1. Create the root OS user, if it does not already exist.
      2. Add a mount point entry for the shared storage to the /etc/fstab file and issue the mount command to enable access to it from the compute node.
  3. Network – using the Exalogic IB subnet manager
    1. Identify IP addresses for the compute nodes to be used. Add any new virtual IP addresses to be used to ensure middleware high availability.
    2. Define new virtual network interfaces (VNICs) to enable connections to Exalogic from the rest of the data Center.
    3. Associate the pre-set external facing IP addresses to the VNICs.
    4. Define Exalogic Infiniband partitions to create secure groups of compute nodes / processors.

No physical cabling is required as network configuration is defined at the software level. In the event of a major failure, however, you may need to re-image the OS on some or even all compute nodes as a faster alternative to restoring from backup.

This whole process should take no more than an hour, after which a new, fully functioning compute platform is available for the project. It does not require any other data Center resources.

Further details are available in the Exalogic Enterprise Deployment Guide

I'll keep reading it and sharing some nuggets here. See the entire paper.

- Rick

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Monday Feb 18, 2013

Three Oracle VM Hands-On Labs On OTN

source

We put the hands-on labs from the virtualization track of the OTN Virtual Sysadmin Days on OTN.

Lab 1 - Deploying an IaaS Environment with Oracle VM

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.

Lab 2 - How to Virtualize and Deploy Oracle Applications in Minutes with Oracle VM

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 ongoing updates and upgrades.

Lab 3 - Deploying a Cloud Infrastructure with Oracle VM 3.x and the Sun ZFS Storage Appliance

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.

By the way, the picture of that ranch in Colorado was taken by my good friend
Mike Schmitz. See more of his photography here. Follow it on Facebook here.

- Rick

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Friday Feb 15, 2013

Sysadmins Rejoice! OVM 3.2.1 Includes a Full-Featured CLI

Remember this famous scene from English History? The French accent of the castle guard was so thick I couldn't understand him, but I think that at one point he said "I spit on your graphical user interface." Proof that sysadmins were alive and well in the time of King Arthur.

CLI Documentation

Sysadmins will have cause to taunt English royalty a second time because the command line interface (CLI) of the recently released Oracle VM 3.2.1 has been expanded to include all the capabilities of the (ptui!) graphical user interface (GUI). That means scripts. Boo-yah! It supports public-key authentication, too. Find docs here.

Other Cool Stuff

Oracle VM Manager used to manage only your x86 virtual machines. Now it manages your SPARC systems, too. Create server pools, create virtual machines, and manage networking and storage in the same way, using the same tool. Details here.

You can use MySQL as your backend repository. Just use the Simple installation, which will locally install the default MySQL database that is packaged with the Oracle VM Manager installer. Details here.

You can install the osv-support-tools meta-package for easier integration with Oracle support tools. (sudo is now part of osv-support-tools.) Details here.

More Resources

- Rick

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Thursday Feb 07, 2013

Five Perspectives on Virtual Networks

source

At about the time I finally understood server virtualization, they hit me with network virtualization. Or was it virtualized networks? Virtual networking? So, did that mean that you networked your virtual environments together? Or did it mean that you created a virtual network? A virtual network of virtual servers? Or physical servers?

I did what any techie would do when confronted with a conundrum: I played video games until 2:00 am. Then it came to me: a virtual network is simply a physical network sliced into multiple virtual networks. That wasn't so hard. In fact, we currently provide two ways to create a virtual network: within the OS and at the hypervisor. Shoot, you can even pretend to create a virtual network by firing up VirtualBox. To help you decide which type of network virtualization to use, we put together a few perspectives:

How Networking Works in VirtualBox

by the Fat Bloke

Start here, just in case you want to become familiar with virtual networks to avoid bringing down your entire data center. The Fat Bloke describes how to set up your virtual networks inside VirtualBox and configure them so the physical networks understand what you're trying to do. He covers Network Address Translation (NAT), bridged networking, internal networking, host-only networking, and NAT with Port-forwarding.

Evaluating Oracle Solaris 11 from Inside Oracle VM VirtualBox

by Yuli Vasiliev

Now you can horse around a little bit with the Oracle Solaris virtual network goodies. Yuli Vasiliev explains how to import an Oracle Solaris 11 image into VirtualBox, how to configure the virtual machine settings, and how to explore virtual networking at the OS layer, among other things.

Looking Under the Hood at Networking in Oracle VM Server for x86

by Greg King and Suzanne Zorn

Now you're ready to take a closer look at virtual networking in the hypervisor; specifically, Oracle VM Server for x86. Greg King and Suzanne Zorn describe how you can create logical networks out of physical Ethernet ports, bonded ports, VLAN segments, virtual MAC addresses (VNICs), and network channels. And how to assign channels (or "roles") to each logical network so that it handles the type of traffic you want it to. Very cool read + additional resources.

Which Tool Should I Use to Manage Which Virtualization Technology?

by Ginny Henningsen

Now that you have a better understanding of each method, it's only natural to wonder which tools to use, right? Ginny Henningsen provides an overview of the interfaces and tools that you can use to set up and manage virtual network resources, among other things..

Network Virtualization and Network Resource Management

by Detlef Drewanz

And, if you want to take it a step further, consider adding resource management to your virtual network picture. This article describes what's involved in managing network resources in conjunction with hypervisors, containers, and zones in an internal virtual network.

Let me know if you'd like any more info about virtual networks. We've got a bunch.

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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 Feb 09, 2012

Zoning Out

So much virtualization. So little time.

You can virtualize your OS ...

You can virtualize your network.

You can virtualize your storage.

Your server.

Even your highly-personalized desktop.

Me? I would like to virtualize my virtualization technologies. I want ONE server. With ONE OS. And ONE toolkit. That can actually be made up of hundreds or even thousands of virtual OS instances, networks, storage devices, desktops, aircraft carriers, or whatever they virtualize next.

You can't quite do that yet, but in Oracle Solaris 11 you can create zones that are easy to clone on other systems. That's a step in the right direction, I think. The following article describes how. In case you're not too confident in your ability to juggle zones, I added an article that helps you get started with zones in Oracle Solaris 11, and a link to more resources.

How to Configure Zones in Oracle Solaris 11 for Easy Cloning

The easiest way to create a bunch of zones is to clone them from one or more originals. That seems simple enough if you are going to clone them on the same instance of Solaris, but what if you'd like to clone them on other systems? In that case, you need to use virtual networks. You need to set up an entire network topology of servers, routers, switches, and firewalls that you can clone right along with the zones. Jeff McMeekin describes how.

How to Get Started Creating Zones in Oracle Solaris 11

If you used zones (containers) in Oracle Solaris 10, you'll appreciate this article. Because zones are more tightly integrated with the architecture of Oracle Solaris 11, they're easier to set up and manage. In this article, Duncan Hardie demonstrates how to perform basic operations with zones: first, how create a single zone using the command line, then how to add an application to a zone, and finally how to clone a zone.

More Zones Resources

  • Solaris 11 Virtualization Page - Links to demos, podcasts, technical articles, and more resources to help you understand zones and how to use them.
  • Zones Collection - See what zones-related content we've published (or found) since the dawn of time.
  • RSS Feeds Page - Subscribe to zones-related content through your favorite reader.

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

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