Thursday Feb 19, 2015

How to Install and Use Oracle Solaris 11.2 for x86 from an ISO in VirtualBox

I ran into Erik Benner, founder of the SPARC/Solaris SIG group for IOUG, at Rocky Mountain Oracle User Group Training Days yesterday. He has been busy. Not only is he working on some labs and demos for OTN's upcoming Virtual Technology Summits, but he's taken the time to write a three-part blog to show you how easy it is to install and play with Oracle Solaris 11.2 for x86 on VirtualBox. In his own words ... "Recently I had a DBA at an IOUG event complain that they were unable to install from the Solaris 11.2 ISO. They had seen me demo Openstack a few weeks ago, and wanted to know how to install Solaris 11.2 in a VM. So guys… here is a step by step for you."

Part 1 - How to Install Oracle Solaris 11.2 for x86 from an ISO in VirtualBox

by Erik Benner

Covers how to launch the Solaris VM, how to assign it memory, how to create a virtual drive and configure it as a dynamic allocated drive to save space, how to install the Oracle Solaris 11.2 image, and how to start it.

Part 2 - How to Patch Oracle Solaris 11.2 the Easy Way

by Erik Benner

You've probably heard by now that the new patching system in Oracle Solaris 11 lets you patch or revert back with a simple reboot. Erik walks us through a few simple uses of the beadm and pkg update commands.

Part 3 - Managing NICs, IPs, and Hostnames

by Erik Benner

How to configure the networking capabilities of your VirtualBox environment to run Oracle Database 12c so that you can experiment with its new V$KERNEL_IO_OUTLIER views and the Optimized Shared Memory method of managing database memory. Covers adding disks and configuring them into a ZFS pool, adding a NIC to the database server, and setting up IP addresses correctly. This is done differently in Oracle Solaris 11 than in previous releases, as Erik explains.

About Erik Benner

Erik Benner is an enterprise architect for Mythics Corporation, which provides training, systems integration, consulting, and managed services for the entire Oracle product line of cloud, software, support, hardware, engineered systems, and appliances.

About the Photograph

That's a 2015 Ducati Monster 821 in the foreground, and my 01 Ducati 748S Superbike in the background. I took that picture in my driveway in late Fall of 2014.

- Rick

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Wednesday Dec 31, 2014

Most Active Systems ACES of 2014

One of the best parts about my job is working with Oracle ACES. They are loads of fun, interesting, and know so much more about Oracle technologies than I ever will. One of the worst parts is not having the time to give them the recognition they deserve. I won't be able to remedy that anytime soon, but I'd like to use this time at the end of the year to at least shout out to the most active Systems ACES of 2014. If you were active in 2014, please let me know so I can update this blog with your activities, as well.



Newest ACE: Brian Bream


Brian Bream is the USA's first official Systems ACE. He had tremendous depth in Solaris, SPARC servers, engineered systems, and Oracle tools, and he's keenly aware of the challenges that sysadmins face today. I've interviewed him several times for OTN Garage and Oracle OpenWorld Live. I recently wrote a blog about Brian's ACE nomination, so you can read more about him there.




Ed "Hulk" Whalen

If you search the ACE repository for Edward Whalen, he is officially listed as an expert in database management and performance. Which he is, of course. But he's also got a keen interest in Oracle Linux and Oracle VM. Here are two of the books he's written on those topics:

See Ed's Amazon page here.

Ed has also been willing to conduct and participate in interviews, plus write technical articles for OTN:

I make sure to interview him when I can, and post links to his content when I can. Ed's got deep expertise, and his community contributions and reputation are growing to the point that I expect him to be accepted as an ACE director soon.


The Prolific Alexandre Borges


Alexandre knows and teaches Oracle Solaris in depth. His real-world perspective with Solaris is priceless. In his latest book, Oracle Solaris 11 Advanced Administration Cookbook he provides in-depth coverage of every important feature in the Oracle Solaris 11 operating system. Starting with how to manage the IPS repository, make a local repository, and create your own IPS package, he explains how to handle boot environments, configure and manage ZFS frameworks, implement zones, create SMF services, and review SMF operations. Also how to configure an Automated Installer, role-based access control (RBAC) and least privileges, how to configure and administer resource manager, and finally an introduction to performance tuning.

Alexandre is also a prolific author of OTN articles. For instance, he recently finished writing an entire series on ZFS. We have published seven of them so far, with more on the way:



Seth Miller - Closet Systems ACE





Seth Miller is another one of those closet Systems ACES. Though he shows up in the ACE repository as a database ACE, he knows an awful lot about engineered systems and sysadmins:



Seth recently co-authored a book about Oracle Enterprise Manager with Kellyn Pot'Vin and Ray Smith, and had the good taste to focus on the command line:

Oracle Enterprise Manager 12c Command Line Interface

By the way, that's not Seth Miller, this is Seth Miller.








El Gaucho Diego Aguirre




When Diego is not selecting the best imported beers for his cooler, he's busy trying to keep older SPARC hardware and earlier versions of Oracle Solaris running in the data centers of his native Buenos Aires. It was also his idea to write this year-end wrap-up for Systems ACES. Gracias, Diego! Here are a few of his latest blogs. They're in Spanish, but Google will kinda sorta do a lame translation.






On My Radar

Becoming an Oracle ACE requires skill, expertise, and generosity. These four technologists have it, and I will be working with them over the coming year to help them achieve it.

About the Photograph

I took the photograph of rowdy Oracle ACES at the back of the bus on our way to the ACE Dinner after Oracle OpenWorld 2014.

- Rick

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Tuesday Nov 11, 2014

Posted: Lab Instructions for November Virtual Tech Summit

Instructions for the six Systems labs that will be presented at November's Virtual Technology Summit are now available on the OTN Community Platform.

Prepare Your Laptops Before the Event

You need to set up your laptop with the correct VM and configure it before the event begins. If you wait until the event, you'll be too far behind and won't be able to ask questions or join in the discussions.The Oracle VM labs, in particular, require extensive prep work.

Important Links

Registration

A few thousand have already registered, but slackers can still register in their preferred time zone:

About the Photograph

I took the picture of the vertical cylinder from an 01 Ducati 748S on my workbench, while replacing the rings, which I busted while trying to re-install the cylinder without a ring compressor.

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Friday Oct 24, 2014

Learn How to Use OpenStack on Oracle Solaris From the Comfort of Your ...

You're probably heard by now that Oracle Solaris provides a complete implementation of the OpenStack platform. Here's a quick view of the integration, courtesy of Glynn Foster:

Horizon Cloud Management Dashboard
OpenStack Component Nova Compute Node Neutron Cloud Networking Cinder/Swift Cloud Storage Glance Image Deployment
Solaris Component Zones and Kernel Zones Elastic Virtual Switch ZFS Filesystem Unified Archives

Glynn has prepared two labs showing you how to get OpenStack running on Oracle Solaris. OTN is making them available virtually, with moderators to help you, in November's Virtual Technology Summit. Because they're virtual, you get to decide whether you want to try them out in the crisp mountain air of your fairytale castle in Germany, the convenience of your Manhattan mansion (who dares to be away from Wall Street for very long these days), or even the regal splendor of Windsor Castle, provided you convince the Queen to let you update her internet.

Lab 1 - How to Deploy OpenStack in 20 Minutes

Use Unified Archives to quickly provision an OpenStack private cloud on a single node and deploy VM instances based on Oracle Solaris Kernel Zones. The basics of cloud administration through the Horizon web interface, and how to quickly provision both Cinder block and Swift object storage using the ZFS file system. Also how the network virtualization features in Oracle Solaris 11 provide the necessary infrastructure to Neutron networking.

Lab 2 - Deploy a Secure Enterprise Private Cloud with OpenStack

Picks up where the first lab left off. Create a golden image environment for an Oracle Database installation using Unified Archives, upload this image to the Glance image repository in OpenStack, and deploy it using Nova compute to a VM instance. How to secure that application in a sandboxed environment using Immutable Zones, and check them for compliance using the integrated framework included in Oracle Solaris 11.

Register Here

The Virtual Technology Summit is a lot of fun, but you need to register. It's free. It lasts 4 hours. And it's all technology.

We'll also have labs for Oracle Linux and Oracle VM. I'll tell you more about those in an upcoming blog.

More Resources About OpenStack

If you'd like to do a little background reading before the event, watch:

About the Photograph

I don't hang with the Queen, so my digs are a little more modest. I took a picture of that cabin on Route 14 on the way down from Cedar Breaks National Monument, in Utah.

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Thursday Oct 16, 2014

New Cookbook: Oracle Solaris 11 Advanced Administration

The articles written by Oracle ACE Alexandre Borges never fail to provide real-world insight into the use of Oracle technologies, particularly Oracle Solaris. They also explain concepts with the patience and care that only professional instructors demonstrate.

Alexandre has just written a book with the same insights and real-world practicality as his articles.

Oracle Solaris 11 Advanced Administration Cookbook

by Alexandre Borges

In-depth coverage of every important feature in the Oracle Solaris 11 operating system. Starting with how to manage the IPS repository, make a local repository, and create your own IPS package. How to handle boot environments, configuring and managing ZFS frameworks, and ZFS shadowing. Implementing zones, creating SMF services, and reviewing SMF operations. How to configure an Automated Installer, which is part of the new software deployment architecture introduced in Oracle Solaris 11. Role-based access control (RBAC) and least privileges, how to configure and administer resource manager, and finally and introduction to performance tuning.

Here is an excerpt, taken from the introduction to creating, activating, and destroying a boot environment:

Let's imagine a scenario. We are requested to update Oracle Solaris 11, and to do this, we need to reboot the system, insert the Oracle Solaris 11 installation DVD, and during the boot, we have to choose the upgrade option. Is the upgrade complete? Is there no further problem? Unfortunately, this is not true because there are some potential tradeoffs:
  • We had to stop applications and reboot the operating system, and users had to stop work on their tasks.
  • If there was trouble upgrading the Oracle Solaris operating system, we'll lose all old installation because the upgrade process will have overwritten the previous version of Oracle Solaris; consequently, we won't be able to reboot the system and go back to the previous version.
As you will have realized, this is a big threat to administrators because in the first case, we had a working (but outdated) system, and in the second case, we risked losing everything (and our valuable job) if anything went wrong. How can we improve this situation?

In Oracle Solaris 11, when we are requested to upgrade a system, Oracle Solaris 11 takes a BE automatically to help us during the process. The boot environment is a kind of clone that makes it possible to save the previous installation, and if anything goes wrong during the upgrade, the boot environment of Oracle Solaris 11 lets us roll back the OS to the old state (installation). One of the biggest advantages of this procedure is that the administrator isn't obliged to execute any command to create a BE to protect and save the previous installation. Oracle Solaris 11 manages the whole process. This has two advantages: the upgrade process gets finished without rebooting the operating system, and the boot environment enables us to roll back the environment if we encounter a problem.

Nowadays, professionals are making heavy use of the BE, and this is the true reason that creating, activating, and destroying BEs is most important when administering Oracle Solaris 11. You can be sure that this knowledge will be fundamental to your understanding of Oracle Solaris 11 Advanced Administration.

About the Photograph

I took the photo of some kind of flower (no clue what kind it is) on my hillside during a particularly wet summer in Colorado.

- Rick
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Friday Sep 19, 2014

Latest Hands-On Lab by Orgad Kimchi: How to Set Up a Hadoop 2 Cluster with Oracle Solaris

If you're going to San Francisco, be sure to wear some flowers in your hair. Especially if it's for Oracle OpenWorld. And while you're there, don't miss Orgad Kimchi's latest hands-on lab.

Lab: How to Set up a Hadoop 2 Cluster with Oracle Solaris

In his own words ...

"This hands-on lab presents exercises that demonstrate how to set up an Apache Hadoop 2 (YARN) cluster using Oracle Solaris 11 technologies such as Oracle Solaris Zones, Oracle Solaris ZFS, and Unified Archive. Key topics include the Hadoop Distributed File System (HDFS) and the Hadoop MapReduce programming model. It also covers the Hadoop installation process and the cluster building blocks: NameNode, Resource Manager, History Server, and DataNodes. In addition, you will see how you can combine the Oracle Solaris 11 technologies for better scalability and data security and will learn how to enable a HDFS high-availability cluster and run a MapReduce job."

I'll try to convince Orgad to eventually make that lab available to those who of us who can't afford the tickets to Oracle OpenWorld.

More Gems from Orgad

Orgad regularly writers terrific articles that show you how to put Oracle Solaris technologies to use in the real world. Here are a few of them:

About the Photograph

I took the photograph of a streetcar in San Francisco while sneaking out of the Oracle Solaris reunion I was attending in April of 2014.

Rick
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Monday Aug 18, 2014

Why Wouldn't Root Be Able to Change a Zone's IP Address in Oracle Solaris 11?





You might assume that if you have root access to an Oracle Solaris zone, you'd be able to change the root's IP address. If so, you'd proceed along these lines ...


  1. First, you'd log in:
  2. root@global_zone:~# zlogin user-zone
  3. Then you'd remove the IP interface:
  4. root@user-zone:~# ipadm delete-ip vnic0
  5. Next, you'd create a new IP interface:
  6. root@user-zone:~# ipadm create-ip vnic0
  7. Then you'd assign the IP interface a new IP address (10.0.0.10):
  8. root@user-zone:~# ipadm create-addr -a local=10.0.0.10/24 vnic0/v4
    ipadm: cannot create address: Permission denied




Why would that happen? Here are some potential reasons:

  • You're in the wrong zone
  • Nobody bothered to tell you that you were fired last week.
  • The sysadmin for the global zone (probably your ex-girlfriend) enabled link protection mode on the zone with this sweet little command:
  • root@global_zone:~# dladm set-linkprop -p \ protection=mac-nospoof,restricted,ip-nospoof vnic0

How'd your ex-girlfriend learn to do that? By reading this article:

Securing a Cloud-Based Data Center with Oracle Solaris 11

by Orgad Kimchi, Ron Larson, and Richard Friedman

When you build a private cloud, you need to protect sensitive data not only while it's in storage, but also during transmission between servers and clients, and when it's being used by an application. When a project is completed, the cloud must securely delete sensitive data and make sure the original data is kept secure. These are just some of the many security precautions a sysadmin needs to take to secure data in a cloud infrastructure. Orgad, Ron, and Richard explain the rest and show you how to employ the security features in Oracle Solaris 11 to protect your cloud infrastructure. Part 2 of a three-part article on cloud deployments that use the Oracle Solaris Remote Lab as a case study.

About the Photograph

That's the fence separating a small group of tourist cabins from a pasture in the small town of Tropic, Utah.

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Wednesday Jul 16, 2014

Get Your ZFS On

Surprising as it may seem, there are still many sysadmins out there who don't use ZFS or are not familiar with its best features. We (since I'm one of them) should send expensive gifts to Oracle ACE Alexandre Borges. Alexandre loves Solaris so much he can't stop writing about it. He recently put together a torrent of articles about ZFS that, even if you think you know everything about it, you should peruse. Because I bet he's found things you didn't know about.

I've been posting them at the rate of about one a week. Here are the first five.

1. Using COMSTAR and ZFS to Configure a Virtualized Storage Environment

by Alexandre Borges

How to configure the Common Multiprotocol SCSI TARget (COMSTAR) capability in Oracle Solaris 11 to provide local iSCSI storage to Windows, Linux, and Mac clients.

2. Playing with Swap Space in ZFS Volumes

by Alexandre Borges

Alexandre walks through several ZFS commands that control and monitor swap space, describes the insight they provide, and explains how to use them to increase or decrease swap space.

3. Playing with ZFS Shadow Migration

by Alexandre Borges

If you need to migrate data from a server running Oracle Solaris 10 or 11 to one running Oracle Solaris 11.1, use Shadow Migration. It's easy, and allows you to migrate shared ZFS, UFS, or VxFS (Symantec) file systems through NFS or even through a local file system. Alexandre shows how.

4. Delegating a ZFS Dataset to a Non-Global Zone

by Alexandre Borges

Adding a dataset to a non-global zone does not give the non-global zone's administrator control over the dataset's properties. They are retained by the global zone's administrator. Delegating a dataset, however, does give the non-global zone's administrator control over the dataset's properties. Alexandre explains the difference and how to perform the delegation.

5. Playing with ZFS Encryption

by Alexandre Borges

Oracle Solaris 11 supports native encryption on ZFS so that it can protect critical data without depending on external programs. It's also integrated with the Cryptographic Framework. Alexandre explains the benefits of these and other Oracle Solaris encryption capabilities, and the different methods for encrypting and decrypting files, file systems, and pools.

About the Photograph

In late June I rode from the South Entrance to Yellowstone National Park in heavy rain. When I stopped at the grill for a burger, I inadvertently shocked the good patrons by wringing water out of my neck warmer, sweater, and t-shirt directly onto the stone floor in the cafeteria. When I'm on a long ride it takes me a moment to remember the finer points of civilized behavior. When the clouds temporarily cleared, I took this picture of Yellowstone Falls from Uncle Tom's trail.

- Rick
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Friday Jul 11, 2014

What Can You Do With Data Link Multipathing (DLMP)?

When I first learned about high availability, it was something you provided by creating one or more copies of the operating environment on separate servers. Sometimes on different continents. If the server in Canada failed, the server in Ireland would take over.

Then I found out about Real Application Clusters. Wait, I asked myself, weren't applications invented for the sole purpose of field-testing the OS? Why do test programs need high availability? Haven't these people heard of Oracle Solaris Cluster?

Well, to my great disappointment there are plenty of different approaches to high availability. Just like there are plenty of different approaches to virtualization. And, as you might imagine, you can combine the two.

For instance, if you're going to build a cloud infrastructure using the virtualization capabilities in Oracle Solaris 11, you might as well allocate your network resources to the virtualized environment, as well. And so, you'd probably find yourself creating virtual switches, routers, cards, and what not. Well, what happens if all those virtual networks, which are really just one physical network, go down?

Bjoern Rost, Oracle ACE, provides a nice explanation of a Solaris feature that didn't get a lot of attention when it was released: Data Link Multipathing (DLMP) and DLMP aggregation. DLMP aggregation allows you to combine virtual network interfaces from different physical network interfaces into high availability clusters. You can also use these clusters to improve load balancing, as Bjoern explains in his blog post.

Orgad likes DLMP, too. So much, in fact, that he took a break from reconfiguring the International Space Station so his kids could control it from their XBox, and wrote an article explaining how to apply DLMP to a virtual network. Two articles, in fact.

Tech Article: Using DLMP to Add High Availability to Your Network in Oracle Solaris 11.1

by Orgad Kimchi

How to combine virtual NICs from different physical NICS into a DLMP aggregation assigned to a zone, and configure the aggregation to provide failover for the zone, using Oracle Solaris 11.

Tech Article: Doing More with DLMP

by Orgad Kimchi

You can give an Oracle Solaris 11 zone exclusive access to a physical NIC. Although that approach can ensure that particular zone has full access the entire bandwidth of the NIC, it does leave NIC and the entire network exposed to security breaches. Unless you use DLMP's Link Protection capability. Orgad explains how to do that, as well as enabling resource management for your Oracle Solaris 11 virtual network, improving the availability of an NFS server, and more.

About the Photograph

Lou Ordorica and I took off early a few weeks ago to get in some twisties before the crowds showed up. We stopped at The Last Shot on the Peak to Peak highway to grab a late breakfast/early lunch. While we were there a few more bikes showed up.

- Rick
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Friday Jun 13, 2014

Insights into Swap Space on Oracle Solaris 11

What I enjoy about the articles that Oracle ACE Alexandre Borges writes is the insights he provides. For example:

swaplo indicates the minimum possible swap space size, which represents the memory page size (8 sectors x 512 bytes = 4K). To check it:
root@solaris11-1:~# pagesize
4096
A value of 4K is typically found on Intel machines. However, with Oracle Solaris 11 on SPARC machines, the page size can vary from 16K to 2 GB (this upper limit also applies for Intel processors). The upper limit of swap space is mainly used as the page size for the System Global Area (SGA)—a dedicated shared-memory area for an instance of Oracle Database 11g. Additionally, it is worth noting that 2 GB pages are supported with Oracle Solaris 10 8/11 or later Oracle Solaris releases and Oracle's SPARC T4 processor, but this page size isn't enabled by default. If it's suitable for some applications, we have to enable it by inserting set max_uheap_lpsize=0x80000000 in the /etc/system file and then rebooting the system.

Alexandre not only loves working with Oracle Solaris, he takes the trouble to explain its nuances. He's written a series of articles on his experience with Oracle Solaris. This is the second one:

Tech Article: Playing with Swap Monitoring and Increasing Swap Space Using ZFS Volumes in Oracle Solaris 11

by Alexandre Borges

Alexandre walks through several commands and the insight they provide into a system's swap space, and explains how to use them to increase or decrease it.

Stay tuned for more articles from Alexandre in the coming weeks.

About the Photograph

Photograph of 01 Ducati 748 vertical cylinder piston and rings taken by Rick Ramsey in Colorado

- Rick

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Friday May 16, 2014

Orgad Strikes Again

"And while you're at it, use the Unified Archive to deploy a cloud in a box."

Orgad is too smart. Or maybe, he does what Einstein claims to do:

"It's not that I'm so smart, it's just that I stay with problems longer."
- Albert Einstein

How to Set Up a Hadoop 2.2 Cluster on Oracle Solaris 11.2

Technical Article by Orgad Kimchi

Figuring out how to set up a Hadoop 2.2 Cluster helps keep Orgad challenged on those late nights when, after a few too many shots of Joov, he strikes up a casual game of chess with Deep Blue. As he explains,

"Setting up a Hadoop cluster on Oracle Solaris 11.2 gives you fast provisioning via zone cloning, best I/O performance from ZFS compression, and rapid provisioning with the Unified Archive."

But setting up a Hadoop cluster and configuring its failover capabilities (yawn) is just not enough to keep Orgad interested. Nope. To stay awake he has to toss in a neat little trick at the end of his article: how to use the Unified Archive in Oracle Solaris 11.2 to create a cloud-in-a-box that you can deploy in a variety of environments.

I don't know what Orgad does between midnight and 2:00 am, but in case you want to take a guess, here are more gems from Orgad:

About the Photograph

Photograph of plant killed by Mrs. Ramsey taken by Rick Ramsey in Colorado

- Rick
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Tuesday May 06, 2014

Replay of Solaris Labs From OTN Virtual Sysadmin Day

Missed OTN's last Virtual Sysadmin Day? That's OK, so did the majority of Earth's 7 billion inhabitants. A stalwart 400 did manage to pull themselves away from The Daily Grind and attend in person. To accommodate the remaining 7 billion slackers, I published videos of the Solaris hands-on labs. I'll do the same for the Oracle Linux and Virtualization sessions over the next few days.

Lab Intro - How Oracle Solaris 11 Simplifies the Life of a Sysadmin

Typical tasks and challenges in a sysadmin's work and how Oracle Solaris 11 simplifies them. Managing software packages, updating systems, managing users, monitoring system performance and diagnosing problems, assessing, assigning and redistributing system resources according to workload patterns. Which Oracle Solaris 11 features can help. Examples and best practices. Exercises that model everyday situations.

Lab 1: Managing the Software Lifecycle with Oracle Solaris 11

Tricks to help you to manage software packages installed on your systems. Most organizations have separate environments for development, test, QA and production applications. How can you make sure the right versions of software packages are installed in each of them, and avoid inconsistencies? How can you configure your production systems to avoid accidental updates? How should you integrate your software packages with SMF services? These and many other questions will be answered by using practical hands-on examples.

Lab 2: Managing Your Data with ZFS in Oracle Solaris 11

ZFS has been a round a long time, but it has so many new capabilities to explore that you might still have a lot of questions. For instance, how do I create a ZFS file system that will have a guaranteed amount of available space, instead of sharing it with other file systems in a pool? What are the best practices for backing up ZFS file systems? How can I use ZFS encryption? Can I create a raw block device on ZFS and why do I need it? These and many other questions will be answered by using practical hands-on examples.

Lab 3: Managing Virtual Environments in Oracle Solaris 11

What are the best ways to create and manage zones? How should I use Solaris virtual networking to separate traffic from different applications? How can I monitor and manage system resources assigned to zones? How should I protect my zones from malicious users? How can I migrate zones between hosts? These and many other questions will be answered with practical hands-on examples.

About the Photograph

Photo of Las Vegas skyline taken by Rick Ramsey at Collaborate 2014

- Rick
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Tuesday Apr 29, 2014

How Easy Is It To Run OpenStack on Oracle Solaris 11.2?

Three resources to help you see how easy it is to create, provision, and manage an internal cloud using OpenStack on Oracle Solaris 11.2.

Sofia, Where's My Cloud?

An OTN Home Movie

7-year old Sofia installs a cloud using OpenStack running on Oracle Solaris 11.2 and shows her clueless Daddy how to manage it using the OpenStack Dashboard.

OpenStack Dashboard Walkthrough - The Admin Panel

An OTN Tech Demo

David Comay, Solaris engineer, shows you how to use the Admin panel in the OpenStack Dashboard, including how to define the types of virtual machines and software images a user can create, and how to give them networking capabilities.

OpenStack Dashboard Walkthrough - The Project Panel

An OTN Tech Demo

David Comay, Solaris engineer, shows you how to use the Project panel in the OpenStack dashboard, including how to create an instance of a virtual compute and storage resource, how to associate it with a network, how to view its topology, and more.

Stay tuned in the coming days for more video interviews of the Solaris engineers that developed this and other technologies in Oracle Solaris 11.

About the Photograph

Photograph of fountain at Oracle's Santa Clara campus taken by Rick Ramsey, April 2014.

- Rick

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Friday Apr 11, 2014

New Oracle Solaris/SPARC SIG Launched by IOUG







What happens in Vegas ...










... stays in Vegas.










Well, most of it does, anyway.

Collaborate 2014, put on by the Independent Oracle User Group (IOUG), the Oracle Applications User Group (OAUG), and the Quest International User Group was terrific. Great content, great people, great event. And lots of sysadmins!

One of the most interesting things to come out of Collaborate is a new Special Interest Group (SIG) for Oracle Systems technologies, sponsored by Independent Oracle User Group (IOUG). It's called the Solaris/SPARC SIG, but the first meeting covered a lot of ground that included the other technologies in Oracle's Systems portfolio, including engineered systems, storage, networking, and optimized solutions. This perspective on Oracle Solaris is significant because the value of Oracle Solaris becomes increasingly evident when viewed from the perspective of the database, engineered systems like Oracle SuperCluster, and cloud strategies.

So keep an eye on the SIG and join us in future activities. I'll be sure to promote them here, but also keep an eye on the SIG Calendar.

Seth Miller and Ed Whalen, Oracle ACES, were kind enough to tape a couple of video interviews for the OTN Garage. I'll be posting them there soon.

About the Photograph

Photograph of your Systems Community Manager and friends taken by Laura Ramsey in Las Vegas, Nevada, USA, in April 2014.

- Rick

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Monday Mar 24, 2014

Four High Performance Configurations for SuperCluster and SPARC Servers

When a surfing buddy of mine asked me to look at a banking application that runs on Solaris, I thought he'd been hit on the head by his board one too many times. Solaris is cool. Banking is not. But I looked into it, anyway, and to my surprise, I found the banking app had a certain amount of geek appeal.

If geek appeal is not enough to hold your interest, Mister Hair-on-Fire, the other reason for talking about this banking application is that it helped identify four high performance configurations for Oracle's SuperCluster and SPARC servers that might be useful for other types of applications. So keep reading. Or ...

Go directly to white paper (pdf) that describes the configurations.

What first caught my interest was the idea of a bank operating system. A traditional computer OS manages hardware devices and provides services for application software. A bank headquarters does something very similar. It manages the branches (hardware) and provides services for its operations (applications). Turns out, that's the idea behind Finacle's Core Banking Solution.

Core banking sounds dull as hell, but it's a big deal for banks. It replaces cumbersome end-of-day consolidation between branch banks and HQ. (I almost feel asleep just writing that.) In fact, centralized banks worldwide now mandate the implementation of core banking technology to prevent fraud and meet regulatory requirements.

As a result, Finacle's Core Banking Solution is designed as configurable modules with layered Service-Oriented Architecture (SOA), straight-through processing (STP) capabilities, web-enabled technology, and support for 24 x 7 operations.

But no matter how sophisticated the application, the underlying architecture can limit its performance. Not a problem! Since Finacle 10 is now available on Oracle Solaris, it can be run on the screaming fast Oracle SuperCluster or Oracle’s SPARC T-Series servers. As you might expect, Finacle tested this combination for both batch and OLTP processing and found:

  • Batch results that processed 15% more accounts and 3.2 to 3.7 times the required minimum records per second, all achieved within one third of the specified time, with plenty of CPU resources available to handle further load.
  • OLTP results that exceeded Finacle acceptance criteria with more users and more transactions per second, all with sub-second response times and with considerable CPU resources remaining available.

White Paper: Infosys Finacle Core Banking Solution on Oracle SuperCluster and Oracle’s SPARC T-Series Servers

Roger Bitar provides technical details about the software and hardware layers in this solution, and describes the configurations that obtained the best performance:

  • Configuration for Fastest OLTP Processing on SuperCluster T4-4
  • Configuration for Fastest Batch Processing on SuperCluster T4-4
  • Configuration for Fastest OLTP Processing on SPARC T4-4 Server
  • Configuration for Fastest Batch Processing on SPARC T4-4 Server

About the Photograph

I took this picture of bike race taken in Durango, Colorado, in the Fall of 2012.

- Rick

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Tuesday Mar 18, 2014

Configuring COMSTAR to Provide Local iSCSI Storage

Oracle Solaris 11 introduced two storage capabilities that I wasn't aware of until Oracle ACE Alexandre Borges brought them to my attention.

A Solaris 11 system can serve as an iSCSI target that offers storage to other machines, or as an iSCSI initiator to access the storage offered by another iSCSI target. This capability is a real advantage, because any storage offered through the iSCSI protocol is available to an iSCSI initiator as local storage, without the need to use expensive technologies such as Fibre Channel (FC).

Solaris provides this service through a framework named Common Multiprotocol SCSI TARget (COMSTAR). Alexandre Borges shows you how to use it:

Tech Article: Using COMSTAR and ZFS to Configure a Virtualized Storage Environment

How to use COMSTAR to provide local iSCSI storage for any service that runs in Windows, Linux, or Mac OS. It also shows you how to configure authentication using the Challenge Handshake Authentication Protocol (CHAP) to secure the iSCSI storage against forbidden access. Part 1 of a series about ZFS.

About Alexandre Borges

Alexandre Borges is an Oracle ACE who worked as an employee and contracted instructor at Sun Microsystems from 2001 to 2010 teaching Oracle Solaris, Oracle Solaris Cluster, Oracle Solaris security, Java EE, Sun hardware, and MySQL courses. Nowadays, he teaches classes for Symantec, Oracle partners, and EC-Council, and he teaches several very specialized classes about information security. In addition, he is a regular writer and columnist at Linux Magazine Brazil.

More content from Alexandre:

Exploring Installation Options and User Roles in Oracle Solaris 11

Part 1 of a two-part series that describes how Alexandre installed Oracle Solaris 11 and explored its new packaging system and the way it handles roles, networking, and services. This article focuses first on exploring Oracle Solaris 11 without the need to install it, and then actually installing it on your system.

Exploring Networking, Services, and the New Image Packaging System in Oracle Solaris 11

Alexandre walks you through the new way Oracle Solaris 11 manages networking, services, and packages, compared to the way it managed them in Solaris 10.

Articles in Linux Brazil Magazine (Portuguese)

Columns in Linux Brazil Magazine (Portuguese)

More About ZFS and COMSTAR

About the Photograph

Photograph of San Rafael Swell taken in Utah by Rick Ramsey on the way to Java One.

- Rick

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Wednesday Mar 05, 2014

Preserving Unpacked Software During a Package Uninstall

I love it when I can wriggle out of the unintended side effects created by an automated system designed to simplify my life.

Here's a side effect created by the very good Image Packaging System (IPS) in our beloved Oracle Solaris 11. If you use the IPS to uninstall all packaged content from a directory, it also removes the directory. Not good if you also kinda sorta loaded unpackaged content into that directory.

For instance, let's say you worked with a third-party IPS package that installed its software into /usr/local. After a pause to polish the chrome on your custom Softail Deluxe, you install a second application into /usr/local from a tar file. What happens to that second application when you use IPS to remove the third-party IPS package from the /usr/local directory? Yup. IPS dumps the directory on the asphalt and high-sides the unpackaged content all the way to /var/pkg/lost+found.

Thank goodness somebody watches out for those of us who don't follow directions. Alta Elstad, from the Solaris Documentation Team at Oracle, is one of them. Here's how she suggests you avoid this problem.

How to Preserve the Directory

To prevent the packaged directory from being removed along with its content, package the directory separately. Create an IPS package that delivers only the one directory or directory structure that you want. Then that directory structure will remain in place until you uninstall that specific package. Uninstalling a different package that delivers content to that directory will not remove the directory.

Here's a detailed example.

  1. Create the directory structure you want to deliver. This example shows /usr/local. You could easily expand this to include /usr/local/bin and other subdirectories if necessary.
    $ mkdir -p usrlocal/usr/local
  2. Create the initial package manifest.
    $ pkgsend generate usrlocal | pkgfmt > usrlocal.p5m.1
    $ cat usrlocal.p5m.1
    dir path=usr owner=root group=bin mode=0755
    dir path=usr/local owner=root group=bin mode=0755
  3. Create a pkgmogrify input file to add metadata and to exclude delivering /usr since that directory is already delivered by Oracle Solaris. You might also want to add transforms to change directory ownership or permissions.
    $ cat usrlocal.mog
    set name=pkg.fmri value=pkg://site/usrlocal@1.0
    set name=pkg.summary value="Create the /usr/local directory."
    set name=pkg.description value="This package installs the /usr/local \
    directory so that /usr/local remains available for unpackaged files."
    set name=variant.arch value=$(ARCH)
    <transform dir path=usr$->drop>
    
  4. Apply the changes to the initial manifest.
    $ pkgmogrify -DARCH=`uname -p` usrlocal.p5m.1 usrlocal.mog | 
      pkgfmt > usrlocal.p5m.2
    $ cat usrlocal.p5m.2
    set name=pkg.fmri value=pkg://site/usrlocal@1.0
    set name=pkg.summary value="Create the /usr/local directory."
    set name=pkg.description value="This package installs the /usr/local \
    directory so that /usr/local remains available for unpackaged files."
    set name=variant.arch value=$(ARCH)
    <transform dir path=usr$->drop> 
    
  5. Check your work.
    $ pkglint usrlocal.p5m.2
    Lint engine setup...
    Starting lint run...
    $
    
  6. Publish the package to your repository.
    $ pkgsend -s yourlocalrepo publish -d usrlocal usrlocal.p5m.2
    pkg://site/usrlocal@1.0,5.11:20140303T180555Z
    PUBLISHED
    
    
    
  7. Make sure you can see the new package that you want to install.
    $ pkg refresh site
    $ pkg list -a usrlocal
    NAME (PUBLISHER)      VERSION      IFO
    usrlocal (site)       1.0          --- 
    
  8. Install the package.
    $ pkg install -v usrlocal
               Packages to install:         1
         Estimated space available:  20.66 GB
    Estimated space to be consumed: 454.42 MB
           Create boot environment:        No
    Create backup boot environment:        No
              Rebuild boot archive:        No
    
    Changed packages:
    site
      usrlocal
        None -> 1.0,5.11:20140303T180555Z
    PHASE                                          ITEMS
    Installing new actions                           5/5
    Updating package state database                 Done
    Updating package cache                           0/0
    Updating image state                            Done
    Creating fast lookup database                   Done
    Reading search index                            Done
    Updating search index                            1/1
    
  9. Make sure the package is installed.
    $ pkg list usrlocal
    NAME (PUBLISHER)      VERSION      IFO
    usrlocal (site)       1.0          i-- 
    $ pkg info usrlocal
              Name: usrlocal
           Summary: Create the /usr/local directory.
       Description: This package installs the /usr/local directory so that
                    /usr/local remains available for unpackaged files.
             State: Installed
         Publisher: site
           Version: 1.0
     Build Release: 5.11
            Branch: None
    Packaging Date: March  3, 2014 06:05:55 PM
              Size: 0.00 B
              FMRI: pkg://site/usrlocal@1.0,5.11:20140303T180555Z
    $ ls -ld /usr/local
    drwxr-xr-x   2 root     bin            2 Mar  3 10:17 /usr/local/
    

For More Information

About the Photograph

Photograph of Vancouver's laughing statues courtesy of BMK via Wikipedia Commons Creative Commons License 2.0

- Rick

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Wednesday Feb 26, 2014

Oracle Solaris 11 Resources for the AIX Sysadmin

Start buttons belong on Tiger Wood's golf cart. Give me car keys that jangle when I insert them into a 1968 Dodge Charger. The music that engine makes ... it enters your body through your soul before your ear drums even register the vibration. And give me Save buttons on browser-based interfaces, too. This amorphous invisible background save that I'm supposed to trust is happening is the brainchild of developers who put posters of Joseph Stalin on their walls.

In spite of my Luddite tendencies, I do like new technologies. I also like a variety of them. If you ask my personal opinion, the more operating systems, the better. More jobs for sysadmins. More jobs for developers. More arm-wrestling matches in the server room. And more interesting problems. That's my idea of fun.

Unfortunately, it's not The Man's idea of fun. Forces I can't possibly understand and would never take for a joy ride in a stolen Dodge Charger push for consolidation and cost-cutting with the frenzy of a four barrel carburetor sucking air at wide open throttle (WOT). Even if, like me, you prefer a more genteel IT environment, you have to adapt. And so, we sometimes wave good-bye to our friends.

If you're facing a migration away from AIX, consider Oracle Solaris. Yeah, it's designed to handle the competitive pressures of today's IT environments...

  • Cloud-ready provisioning, security, and virtualization
  • Quick to reallocate compute, storage, and network resources
  • Zones, ZFS, Dynamic Tracing, Predictive Self Healing and Trusted Extensions reduce downtime and simplify the application deployment
  • Optimized to run on Oracle hardware, and to run Oracle applications
  • Automated migration tools plus assistance and education for DBAs and Power/AIX administrators migrating to Oracle Solaris.

... and yeah, because the Oracle stack is optimized to run best on Oracle Solaris (and Oracle Linux), it gives you some crazy good numbers compared to AIX ...

  • Up to 2.4x greater database performance
  • Up to 3.4x faster Java application server performance
  • Increased Oracle application performance : 1.9x faster for Siebel CRM (4) and 3x faster for JD Edwards

... but it's also got soul. And it doesn't have a dumb Start button.

Below is a link to a hands-on lab and some other resources to help you understand what's involved in migrating from AIX to Oracle Solaris.

Hands-On Lab: Oracle Solaris Administration for AIX Sysadmins

by Glynn Foster

Walks an AIX sysadmin through the basic administration of Oracle Solaris 11 and how it compares to IBM AIX Enterprise in areas including installation, software packaging, file systems, user management, services, networking, and virtualization. Even makes helps you navigate your way through documentation, man pages, and online how-to articles.

More Resources

About the Photograph

Photograph of '68 Dodge Charger courtesy of Kobac via Wikipedia Commons Creative Commons License 2.0

- Rick

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Monday Feb 24, 2014

If Your Processor Stalls From a Read After Writer Operation ...

... rewrite your code. Better yet, write code that avoids this problem in the first place. The problem can occur when an application wants to load a value that it has just stored in memory. Read After Write (RAW) operations are common, so most chips are designed with hardware that makes that happen fast. But in some cases, you can write code that stumps the hardware. And so it stalls.

And you tumble to earth in horror, screaming for your life and clawing at the controls.

And you smack into the a pile of rocks. Or, to the horror of young mothers in minivans, the freeway during rush-hour traffic. Or worse, the middle of the ocean, so that if you somehow survive the impact, you drown. And nobody finds your body. And your loved ones can never move on.

Unless you're wearing a parachute. Like the one we just published from Darryl Gove.

Tech Article: Avoid Performance Loss (And a Fiery Death) from RAW Hazards

by Darryl Gove

Darryl explains exactly how a processor can stall from a bad RAW operation, and the common situations that cause this problem. Then he shows you how to identify, fix, and avoid writing that kind of code. Examples included. Help your loved ones move on. Read Darryl's article.

About the Author

Darryl Gove is a senior principal software engineer in the Oracle Solaris Studio team, working on optimizing applications and benchmarks for current and future processors. He is also the author of the books Multicore Application Programming, Solaris Application Programming, and The Developer's Edge.

Read Darryl Gove's blog on blogs.oracle.com/d.

Picture of radial engine taken by Rick Ramsey at Bay Area Aerospace Museum

- Rick

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Thursday Feb 13, 2014

Getting Your Hands Dirty with Load Balancing

What Does the Integrated Load Balancer Do?

According to the Oracle Solaris 11 documentation, the Integrated Load Balancer (ILB) intercepts incoming requests from clients, decides which back-end server should handle the request based on load-balancing rules, and then forwards the request to that server. By spreading one server's work load across multiple servers, ILB improves reliability, minimizes response time, and improves performance of the server.

The documentation describes features, components, how it works, and even the command line interface. The docs help you understand what your load balancing toolset is, but if you want to get your hands dirty, try this:

Hands-On Lab - Deploying the Integrated Load Balancer in 60 Minutes

by Amir Javanshir

This is a cool lab because it walks you through the steps that set up an environment that enables you to play with the load balancer. The steps consist more or less of:

  • Installing Solaris
  • Setting up the virtual switches and their VNICs
  • Configuring the zone for the load balancer, including its access to the VNICs
  • Cloning that zone into three other zones
  • Configuring each cloned zone to run Apache Tomcat
  • Installing the load balancer on the first zone

Once the environments are set up, the lab walks you through several exercises to help you become familiar with the different ways in with the load balancer monitors and manages traffic. This lab is a whole lot of fun.

More Hands-On Labs for Oracle Solaris 11

You can find all the hands-on labs for Oracle Solaris 11 here:

All Hands-On Labs for Oracle Solaris 11

- Rick

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Wednesday Jan 29, 2014

Man Vs. Machine

Man vs machine. Command Line vs GUI. It's not a new debate. In fact, when I was a little boy I watched this Paul Bunyan cartoon with the dismay of a sysadmin watching the increasing popularity of GUIs:

Cartoon: Paul Bunyan's Ax vs The Chain Saw

What Skills Do Sysadmins Need to Manage a Modern Data Center?

Video Interview with Brian Bream

When I wrote technical manuals for Oracle Solaris back in the day, I had the luxury of my very own lab. For instance, while writing the NIS+ books, I was able to discover my own procedures on a small network and, when I needed something larger, I could ask the sysadmins in Sun's bigger labs to try some experiments for me. Little did I know those were the Golden Years of technical writing.

They were also the Command Line Years. We used the command line for everything, including email, product testing and, of course, managing Solaris. The command line put the operator in control. You had a mental map of what you were doing, you were completely engaged, and if something became repetitive, you could always write a script for it. The shell was the interface, and emacs was the only tool you needed.

When GUI's first came out, we hated them on principle. They were slower than the command line, and they didn't really add any value. Plus, they weakened your skills.

Since then it's been a tossup. GUI's have gotten steadily better, but they didn't add enough value to overcome our attachment to the command line. In fact, we kinda resented them because they were used as a pretext to hire less experienced and cheaper sysadmins.

However, with the advent of vertically-integrated systems such as Oracle's Exadata and SuperCluster, the GUI may have finally come into its own. Listen to Brian Bream explain why.

Watch video interview here

Photograph of bicycle in Durango taken by Rick Ramsey in Oct 2012

- Rick

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Thursday Jan 23, 2014

Hands-On Lab Setup Instructions Now Available for Next Virtual Sysadmin Day

As you may already know, OTN's next Virtual Sysadmin Day is on January 28 from 9:00 am to 1:00 pm PT. This sysadmin day is going to be very cool because its hands-on labs focus on solving real-world problems with Oracle technologies.

You'll definitely want to do the prep work before the day of the event. The prep work consists of configuring your laptop and uploading the images. Don't be that guy. The one who, the day of, asks where the instructions are. Him. Don't be him.

Pre-Event Checklist

The checklist provides:

  • Virtual Conference hardware requirements
  • Virtual Conference software requirements
  • Setup instructions for Oracle Solaris labs
  • Setup instructions for Oracle Linux labs
  • Setup instructions for Oracle VM labs

If You Must Tweet

If you can't keep your hands off your danged phone while working on the labs, at least use this hashtag:

#OTNVSAD

Questions for Ed

Oracle ACE extraordinaire Ed Whalen and I will be hanging out at the Sysadmin Lounge during the last 30-45 minutes of the event. Ed knows his stuff, so if you have any questions about Linux, such as how to optimize it for the database or other applications, ask Ed. If you have questions about Harleys or Ducatis, ask me.

See you next week.

photograph of Harleys in Wisconsin by Rick Ramsey

- Rick

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Wednesday Jan 08, 2014

Hands-On Lab: How to Deploy and Manage a Private Cloud

Hands-On Lab: How to Deploy and Manage a Private Cloud

With Oracle VM and Oracle Enterprise Manager Cloud Control 12c

We just updated this lab to get it ready for OTN's next Virtual SA Day on January 28. You can run the lab anytime from your laptop, or you can attend our virtual event and run it with the help of a proctor. There will be several hundred sysadmins running the same lab at the same time, so you can discuss it with others via chat, and get help from our proctors. Details here.

Cloud Building with Oracle Solaris

Blog by OTN Garage

At the risk of raising PITA's ire, there's more than one way to skin a cat. This blog provides three resources to help you build a private cloud with Oracle Solaris: one training class and two tech articles.

photograph of clouds at sunset over Colorado snapped by Rick Ramsey with lousy iPhone camera

- Rick

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Thursday Dec 19, 2013

Next Virtual Sysadmin Day Is On Jan 28

OTN's next virtual sysadmin day is on January 28. It's four hours long, from 9:00 am - 1:00 pm PT. (Time converter here.) This time we have a whole new set of hands-on labs for Oracle Solaris, Oracle Linux, and Oracle VM. Proctored, of course, which means you can ask questions. The labs in our previous virtual sysadmin day focused on the basics. These focus on using these technologies in real-world scenarios. Click on the Agenda tab in the registration page to see the labs.

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. Click on the the Instructions tab for more info.

Register here.

Picture is of Mosquito Pass, in Colorado, taken from Mosquito Gulch. You need a 4x4 with good ground clearance to get up and over the top, and the rocks on the road will slice up your tires unless they're good and thick. A great place to catch your breath after you finish the hands-on labs.

- Rick

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Monday Dec 16, 2013

Why I'm Going Straight to Hell

Article: Performance Analysis in a Multitenant Cloud Environment

by Orgad Kimchi

My little brother and I used to drive our Sainted Mother mad with this game at bed time. We'd wait till she was stressed out, then throw something big, like a softball, against the wall. Being a worry-wart, she'd come into the room to find out which one of us had fallen out of his bed and broken his arm. We both pretended to be fast asleep, of course, and had already recovered the soft ball.

Perplexed, she would return to the kitchen. A short while later, we would throw the bat against the wall. After the initial boom against the sheetrock, it would clatter on the ground, making a sound similar to a mother's precious child cracking his skull on the cement steps in front of the house. Quickly one of us would recover it, tuck it under the sheets, and then we'd both return to our previous sleeping positions.

Little did we know, as we pushed our mother closer to the edge of Insanity, that our techniques would be adopted by virtualized environments the world over. As Orgad explains in the article above, as each virtualization product abstracts computing resources for isolation or other purposes, it creates a little brother. If something goes boom in the night or, if your environment starts hanging, how do you figure out where the problem is?

It's a super article, and well worth your time. If Mom had read it, we would have woken up inside an anthill, with only our heads sticking out so she could listen to our screams while she sipped a cup of Darjeeling.

Article: Performance Analysis in a Multitenant Cloud Environment

Performance analysis in a virtualized multitenant cloud environment is difficult because of the abstraction layers. How do you find the physical system resources that are overloaded? Orgad Kimchi explores four examples that show how you how with the built-in Oracle Solaris 11 tools.

Other Content By Or About Orgad

- Rick

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Kemer Thomson
and members of the OTN community

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