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


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

- 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 09, 2013

What Sysadmins and Netadmins Spend Their Time Doing


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Big Bang Theory

Find the Survey Results Here

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

Slideshare: Survey Results

- Rick

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Friday Apr 05, 2013

Migrating to Oracle Linux: How to Identify Applications To Move


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

To List All The Installed Packages

Use the -qa option.

# rpm –qa

To Save the Output in a File

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

# rpm –qa > rpmlist.txt

To Sort the Packages

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

# rpm –qa --last

To Find Out If A Particular Component Is Installed

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

# rpm –qa python

To Find Out What Dependencies a Package Has

Use the -qR option:

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

The Linux Migration Guide

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

Download the Oracle Linux Migration Guide

- Rick

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Thursday Apr 04, 2013

The Screaming Men of Finland and Oracle SPARC Chips


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

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

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

World's Fastest Database Server

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

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

World's Fastest Server for Java

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

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

Optimizations to Oracle Solaris Studio COmpilers

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

Blog: Oracle Solaris and SPARC Performance - Part I

I'll Optimize Yours If You Optimize Mine

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

SPARC Optimizations for Oracle Solaris
Oracle Solaris Optimizations for SPARC

Happy Burnouts.

- Rick

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Wednesday Apr 03, 2013

Miss MoneyPenny and the Oracle Solaris 11 Provisioning Assistant


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.

Note: The following information is no longer valid. Instead, please install a standalone Oracle Solaris 11 client, configure an Automated Installer (AI) server and and Image Packaging System repository on it. See support note 1559827.2

This information is no longer valid. The provisioning assistant is no longer available for download.

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

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?


-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


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


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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Logan Rosenstein
and members of the OTN community


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