Thursday May 16, 2013

Draw, Partner!

Well, I’ve already made one reference reference to Clint Eastwood (image removed from blog), I might as well make another, if only indirectly. So, here goes: the topic today is drawing. That is, making drawings with Oracle hardware components.

For those of you who like to (or need to) create architectural drawings with reasonable renditions of components and all the requisite connections, you are probably already aware of Microsoft Visio, or for those of you who prefer Macs (such as myself), Omnigraffle Pro. Did you know that we have an open repository with a growing selection of components on VisioCafe? We just updated this Tuesday night, adding stencils of Oracle’s new SPARC T5 and SPARC M5 servers. You will find them in the zip bundle Oracle-Servers.

We have also added Visio templates for Oracle's Exadata Database Machines. In case you didn’t know the difference between stencils and templates, templates provide a more powerful (and efficient) representation that allows you to reorganize the racks to match your actual configuration.

For those of us who use OmniGraffle Pro, you will be pleased to note that we are now getting greater, but not always perfect, compatibility. So, your mileage may vary: our official target is Microsoft Visio.

So, what can I say? "Make my day! Draw, Partner!"


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Tuesday Jan 31, 2012

How Much Do YOU Know About Your Server?

Before you run off half-cocked and purchase one of Oracle's Sun servers from some guy selling them out the back of his Escalade, you should be armed with three types of information:

What Servers Are Available?

This handy-dandy tool reveals just the right amount of information about Sun servers, letting you drill down at a pace that the average sysadmin with an IQ of 160 can absorb. Three clicks and you'll have all the info you need.

Which Version of What Software Runs on Whose Server?

Well, almost all the info you need. OTN's Software Stacks list the versions of the OS, firmware, systems management tools, virtualization technology, diagnostic tools, and middleware that runs on each of Oracle SPARC T-series and M-series servers, as well as Sun Blade and Sun Carrier-Grade servers.

What Support Is Offered for Each Server and for How Long?

Even if you are buying your servers from Hugo in the Escalade, you will want to know what type of support Oracle offers and for long we'll offer that support. This page spells that out for not just our servers, but all our hardware. You can also get to this page from the leftmost column of the Systems Community Home Page.

- Rick

Thursday Aug 18, 2011

The Impact of Oracle Optimized Solutions on a Sysadmin's Job

When Oracle acquired Sun we kept it simple. In doing so we came up with Oracle Optimized Solutions. Of course they're great for business because they are assembled from a pre-configured stack of Oracle products that we test and use ourselves, but are they be great for Sysadmins? I decided to ask.

The best person to ask anything about Oracle Optimized Solutions is Marshall Choy. Not only is Marshal the director of the engineering group that selects and assembles these systems, but he began his high tech career as a sysadmin working on both Solaris and Linux systems. Marshall agreed to let us put him on the spot, so Justin interviewed him on OTN TechCast. In addition to talking about a sysadmin's job, Marshall explains the patching strategy for these types of stacks. Here are some of the questions we asked him.

  1. What's the difference between Oracle Optimized Solutions and Oracle Engineered Systems?
  2. What will this mean my job as a sysadmin - will my skills become obsolete? Will I be replaced by someone less skilled?
  3. I'm not sure I want to outsource my sysadmin skills to Oracle - how will these optimized solutions change what I spend my time doing?
  4. Aren't we just turning back the clock 20 years - why did you decide to build a proprietary vertical stack?
  5. What if I want to change something in the stack, how will it affect my support contract?
  6. How often do you update the components in the stack, and do I get those updates for free?
  7. How do I install updates and patches?

It's a good show. It lasts 14 minutes. Don't miss it.

- Rick

Wednesday Aug 10, 2011

Join OTN Or ...

...The Lemur Gets It!

Turns out Oracle wants more sysadmins (Linux, Solaris, systems, storage, or network) to become official, bonafide, full-blown OTN members. I explained that sysadmins aren't really the "joining" type, but I lost. Oracle wants more sysadmins to join OTN. Period.

So I've been wondering how I could convince the more reluctant among you to become official, bonafide, full-blown OTN members. After all you, your bookie, and your bookie's mother-in-law can read our technical articles, view our OTN videos (may take time to load), and visit just about every part of the OTN Systems website without signing up for anything.

But there is a bunch of very cool stuff you can't do unless you're a member. This month I'll tell you about one.

Download Software For Free

You can't download our software for free unless you're an OTN member.

I know Oracle's license terms are not the same as Sun's were, but you still get to download and horse around with world-class software for free. If you're anywhere within a decade of your mid-life crisis, you'll clearly remember when you had to actually pay a lot of money for good software. All we ask is that you be honest about when you deploy our software. That's only fair.

For all the details, read the OTN developer license.

You can read about other benefits of membership here.

So, if you really want that lemur to have a future, sign up here, check the "Oracle Technology Network" box under "My Community Memberships," and identify yourself as a sysadmin.

And while you're at it, sign up for our newsletter. It'll highlight the best content we've published over the previous month, in case you weren't paying attention.

- Rick

Thursday Mar 17, 2011

Virtual Hardware

Kemer's HandtruckI am only accidentally a "hardware person." I joined Sun in the late 80s because of my software background; hardware was essentially forced on me. I was excited because Sun was such a leader in UNIX development and applications. For those who have been around, do you remember those Catalyst Catalog "doorstops" we used to hand out to customers?

Software needs hardware to run on and over the years I developed an uneasy truce with it. Back then we spent a lot of time rolling around gigantic desk-side boxes and enormous monitors for demonstrations. The "missing hand truck" was such a common issue that I went across the street to Sears and got the biggest, baddest one I could find and put my name on it; it still does service in my garage. We used to carry around a specialty combo hex wrench and screw driver to install MultiBus boards. Now, that definitely dates me.

Here's an amusing anecdote: the San Diego sales office often acquired demo machines when the corporate suits were just too lazy to ship them back after a trade show. The guilty are now long gone, and I think the statute of limitations is up, anyway. If you think that is bad, I remember one field systems engineer who would wander around the corporate buildings slapping shipping labels addressed to his office on boxes of new equipment. Apparently, that ploy sometimes worked.

So, being a closet software person, I think the ideal solution to schlepping hardware around would be to have virtual hardware: an interactive, 3D model. Oh, wait: that exists! You will find on many of our OTN hardware pages a 3D Demo section. As one example, take a look at the SPARC Server page: we currently have five models there, including one for the large SPARC Enterprise M9000. These are much, much more than the 3D product views you see on consumer product pages. For example, in the M9000 model, click on Features and select the PCIe to see the extraction of a PCIe card and close look at the module. There are hours of entertainment and education in this virtual hardware: my kind of hardware!

- Kemer

Friday Jan 14, 2011

Where'd the Docs Go?

image and preamble removed per request so doc info is easier to spot.

The new home page for all Oracle documentation is the Oracle Technology Network's Documentation Home Page.

If you scroll down a bit, you'll find the old Sun Microsystems documentation under these categories:

  • Java
  • Servers, Systems Management, Workstations, and Related Hardware
  • Storage
  • Systems Software (including Solaris)
  • Enterprise Management (including Ops Center)
  • Virtualization
  • Legacy Sun Products
To help you get where you want to go while you're still getting familiar with the new arrangement, Janice Critchlow and the old Sun doc folks put together this cheat sheet. It's followed by a picture of "something cute" that Janice insisted I include in the blog.

- Rick, Janice, and the Doc Folks

Tuesday Aug 03, 2010

Recipe for a Systems Monday

If you're not sure which sessions to attend at Oracle OpenWorld on Monday, Sep 20, see this entry in the Oracle Develop Conference Blog.

 - Rick

Thursday Jul 01, 2010

How to Stay Informed During BigAdmin/SDN Content Migration

Content from BigAdmin,, SDN/Solaris, and SDN/Studio is being migrated to the Oracle Technology Network.  It will appear, along with content about Oracle Sun servers and storage systems (eventually), in the "Systems Admin and Developer Community" of the Oracle Technology Network. 

I will distribute the URL to that community as soon as migration is complete.

In the meantime, keep an eye on (or subscribe) to these channels to stay informed:

For the complete list of OTN communication channels, see Finding it Difficult To Keep Up?

- Rick (Systems Admin and Developer Community Lead)

Monday Jun 28, 2010

Flops and GigaFlops

This blog is about the benefits of running Solaris on SPARC.

Although I was born in Santiago, Chile, I became a teenager in Lima, Peru in time to watch the beautiful Peruvian National Team advance all the way to the quarter finals of the 1970 World Cup.  For a small country like Peru, this was a gigantic achievement.  

If you've watched any World Cup matches lately, you've probably noticed two things:

  1. The best players get fouled incessantly.
  2. Everybody flops.

I'm not a fan of either.  (And don't even get me started on the NBA.)

In Peru we believed you were a good defender only if you could strip the ball away without touching your opponent.  A foul might save a goal, but it wouldn't save your honor.  As a result of this appreciation for technique, the1970 team won the FIFA Fair Play Trophy. With flopping and strategic fouling so prevalent in the World Cup, it's a miracle we made it to the quarter finals! 

Because I'm also a geek, I have the same respect for the combination of Solaris and SPARC

Oracle Solaris and Sun SPARC Systems—Integrated and Optimized for Enterprise Computing

Oracle Stack

By now you've probably heard how all the products in the Oracle stack have been optimized for the best possible scalability, security, and reliability.  This is particularly true for Solaris, our Virtual Machine, and Sun SPARC enterprise servers.

This white paper takes the discussion one step further.

Written by Mike Mulkey with the help from Solaris engineers, this paper discusses the benefits of Oracle Solaris running on Sun SPARC Enterprise M-Series and T-Series servers, but drills down on the specific optimizations for reliability, scalability, security, and virtualization. It describes the superior results of taking a comprehensive, integrated architectural approach to designing the operating system with the hardware, such as:

  • Solaris multi-threading capabilities, when combined with the SPARC multi-core chips, provide the capacity to run 64 threads per chip, which can make your data center more flexible, quicker, and far more reliable. 
  • Solaris running on the SPARC64 VII chips of Sun M-Series servers provide mainframe-class performance and reliability at lower cost.  Not to mention vertical scalability.  Plus hot-swapability for major components.
  • Predictive self-healing in Solaris works with the highly reliable memory subsystems of the SPARC Enterprise server to stop faults from bringing down your system.
  • In addition to its scalability and reliability features, ZFS lets you add, change or remove storage devices on the run.

After you finish reading Mulkey's white paper you might come to the same conclusion as I did:

The combination of Solaris and SPARC Enterprise servers lands squarely in the world of American Football, a game that leaves little room for flopping, whining, or making excuses.

(Read this forum discussion if you want to find out how many floating point operations a SPARC chip supports).

 - Rick


Logan Rosenstein
and members of the OTN community


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