Saturday Oct 05, 2013

Elasticity: The Biggest Challenge Facing Today's Data Center

Biggest Challenge Facing Data Centers Today

Interview with Brian Bream, Collier IT

Provisioning used to be a hardware activity. It involved heavy lifting. Today, thanks to Oracle's engineered systems, a data center can pre-configure itself to make provisioning a software activity. According to Brian Bream, CTO of Collier IT, instead of pulling a server off the shelf, installing an OS, and applications, then patching and configuring, it's a matter of bringing up the management tool, selecting the image, and hitting Bang! In Brian's experience, elasticity is the biggest challenge facing data centers today, and Oracle engineered systems are a great way to deal with it.

In addition to being Collier IT's Chief Technology Officer, Brian was named instructor of the year not once, but twice, by Oracle University. Get his opinion about the impact of training on the careers of sysadmins.

Related Resources

- Rick

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Monday Jul 29, 2013

How to Bend Bare Metal to Your Will

photo copyright 2013 by Rick Ramsey

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

I weep for my adopted country.

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

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

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

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

- 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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Monday Jul 15, 2013

Migrating from SUSE Linux to Oracle Linux - System Initialization

The iptables service defines rules for handling packets on a Linux system. It's usually a good idea to disable this service during installation of a Linux update to prevent malicious code from being installed by angry cats (image removed from blog). Once the update is installed securely, you can define the iptables rules and once again enable the service.

To find out, before you install an update to Oracle Linux, whether the iptables service is enabled, use the list option to the chkconfig command. It displays the status of Linux services at boot time. For example:

# chkconfig -- list
abrtd 0:off 1:off 2:off 3:on 4:off 5:on 6:off
acpid 0:off 1:off 2:off 3:off 4:off 5:off 6:off
atd 0:off 1:off 2:off 3:on 4:on 5:on 6:off
iptables 0:off 1:off 2:off 3:off 4:off 5:off 6:off
SUSE Linux to Oracle Linux: Guide for System Administrators

To check the status of only the iptables service, pipe in a little grep:

chkconfig -- list | grep iptables

This is just one of the tips provided by Manik Ahuja and Kamal Dodeja in their OTN technical article, ....

Tech Article: How to Initialize an Oracle Linux System

This is the first in a series of articles that outline the major steps in migrating from SUSE Linux to Oracle Linux. It focuses on registering your system, downloading the latest version of Oracle Linux, and performing some basic initialization steps. Stay tuned for more articles.

Tech Article: How to Initialize an Oracle Linux System

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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

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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.

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Thursday Jun 20, 2013

Hands-On Labs + Proctors = Genius

If Albert Einstein (image removed from blog) had attended OTN's virtual sysadmin days, he wouldn't have gotten so old figuring out his Theory of Relativity. Thanks to the relentless advance of technology, you can outsmart Einstein from the comfort of your own office. See below.

OTN Virtual Sysadmin Day - July 2013

It's free - register here

We held our first ever virtual sysadmin day for North America on January 15 of this year. Almost 600 sysadmins attended and over 80% of them remained online for the duration of the event. Which means they found it a good use of their time. If you missed that one, we're doing another one in July. Oddly enough, we chose the same date and time: the 15th at 9:00 am PT. Which is at exact same spot of the Earth's rotation, but on the other side of the sun and closer to our upcoming collision with Adromeda.

That galactic fender-bender aside, we have updated some of the hands-on labs about Oracle Solaris and Oracle Linux that we presented at our in-person sysadmin days, and we added three new labs about Oracle VM:

  • Deploying Infrastructure as a Service
  • How to Virtualize and Deploy Oracle Applications Using Oracle VM Templates
  • Creating an x86 Enterprise Cloud Infrastructure

Details here.

The event is free, but you do need to register. And there's a little homework involved. Nothing too complicated. We just expect you to have VirtualBox installed and the proper images already imported before we begin class. You'll see the instructions after you register.

When was that again?

Monday, July 15 at 9:00 am Pacific Time. (Time converter here.)

Register here

- Rick

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Friday Jun 07, 2013

How to Get Started Using DTrace on Oracle Linux

I. hate. slow. code. (Image removed from blog.)

We all hate slow code. Bunch of princesses is what we've become. During the American Civil War, they had to deliver their text messages by horseback! It took weeks! And half the time, they got blown off their horse by a cannonball to the neck!

Today? Today we have to have our stuff back in milliseconds, or we start tweeting about it. So, if you're developing or deploying applications, how do you keep them performing at the speed to which we have become accustomed? DTrace, of course.

"But I'm a Linux guy," you say. "I don't DO Oracle Solaris."

That's fine. The folks at Oracle Solaris are not only wicked smart, they are generous. Now you can use DTrace on Oracle Linux. Let me point out, by the way, that DTrace is just as useful for sysadmins as it is for developers. In this video, taken a couple of years ago, Brendan Gregg explains how sysadmins can make their deployed applications run faster even after the developers who wrote them pushed back the last bits of their code:

Video Interview: How to Improve the Performance of Deployed Applications Using DTrace

Brendan Gregg describes the best ways for sysadmins to tune deployed applications to get more performance out of them in their particular computing environment.

Bonus: More info about Brendan Gregg plus links to his personal and professional blogs.

If you'd like to try DTrace on Oracle Linux, here are some resources to get you started.

What DTrace Probes Are Available on Oracle Linux?

If you are running Oracle Linux 6 with the DTrace-enabled Unbreakable Enterprise Kernel Release 2 (2.6.39), you can run this command to list all the DTrace probes available on your system:

dtrace -l

If you are not running that version of Oracle Linux, you can download it from the ol6_x86_64_Dtrace_latest channel on the Unbreakable Linux Network (ULN). For more info about installing and configuring DTrace, see the DTrace chapter in the Oracle Linux Administrator's Solutions Guide for Release 6.

For each probe listed by dtrace -l, the output includes a name, the portion of the program where it resides, and the Oracle Linux kernel module that does the probing. Once you have that, go to Chapter 11 of the DTrace Guide to find out what each probe does.

Article: How to Get Started Using DTrace on Oracle Linux

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.

Article: How to Get Started Using DTrace on Oracle Linux
Bonus: Brendan Gregg's one liners for DTrace (some of the existing DTrace one-liners will require modification to work on Oracle Linux).

The DTrace Book

You can get all the info you need about DTrace through the Dynamic Tracing in Oracle Solaris, Mac OS X, and FreeBSD, by Brendan Gregg and Jim Mauro. Of course, you can also buy your own paper or electronic copy through any of the major retailers. (We're working on getting a good discount for the book, but you'll have to subscribe to the OTN Systems Community Newsletter to find out about it.)

Bonus:How the DTrace book got done, by Deirdre Straughan

DTrace Forums

Lots of developers and sysadmins are using Dtrace and posting their questions and tips on the DTrace Forum. Here's an example of one conversation:

Q: Unexpected output of dtrace script
m1436 wrote a dtrace script to monitor the bytes returned by the read() system call to the user programme, but was getting strange results. He includes the dtrace script and the strange output.

A: kvh responds, explaining that the problem m1436 encountered is the result of a common misconception about copyin(). "It is intended to be used to copy content of userspace memory into a scratch buffer so that it can be accessed directly from within kernel space (where the DTrace core executes). That said, it is often interpreted as somehow being equivalent to malloc() whereas in reality it actually works like alloca() instead. So, what you are seeing is basically the artifact of the scratch buffer being overwritten with other data. ... in order for this to work, you should do things a bit differently.

The DTrace forum always has great discussions. Let me know if you find any that are worthy of highlighting. And good luck!

- 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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Friday Apr 26, 2013

Three Goodies About the ZFS Storage Appliance

Today we have three goodies about the ZFS Storage Appliance to share (image removed from blog):

Video Interview: The Top Capabilities of ZFS Storage Appliance Explained

Nancy Hart describes her favorite capabilities about the ZFS Storage Appliance, and Jeff Wright explains how each of them works. They cover Hybrid Columnar Compression, Direct NFS (makes data transfer more efficient), Remote Direct Memory Access, Oracle Intelligent Storage Protocol (database aware of the storage and vice versa), DTrace Analytics to optimize deployments, and more.

Blog: My Personal ZFS Storage Appliance Crib Sheet

We recently published some articles about really cool ways to use the ZFS Storage Appliance, so I spent a little time looking into the darned thing. It's easy to find out what the ZFS Storage Appliance does, but more difficult to find out what its components are. What can I yank out and replace? What can I connect it to? And what buttons and levers can I push? Or pull. So I put together this crib sheet. If you didn't grow up in The Bronx, see wikipedia's definition of crib sheet.

3D Demo

Pop the doors open, pull out the disk shelves, find out what's inside each one. Great demo, and you're at the controls.

Additional Resources

For more technical resources about the ZFS Storage appliance, use any of the four tabs on OTN's Technical Resources Center. And, to see other blogs about Oracle's storage products, select the "Storage" tab under Categories in the right margin, or click here.

- 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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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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Logan Rosenstein
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