Friday Aug 03, 2012

My Oracle RAC and Oracle Solaris Cluster Cheet Sheet

This gets complicated, so stop watching motoGP crash compilation videos for a sec.

We have Oracle Real Application Clusters (RAC). RAC lets you deploy a single Oracle Database across different servers. If the server in your Des Moines data center gets picked up by a tornado that hates you and dropped off in East Texas, the other servers pick up the load, and the database continues to operate without interruption. That's easy to understand.

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

White Paper: Extending Oracle Solaris for Business Continuity
"Oracle Solaris Cluster offers comprehensive and robust capabilities for keeping your business IT, including those running Oracle Database and Applications, up and running in the face of nearly every conceivable situation."

That's easy to understand, as well.

So why would somebody complicate our sysadmin lives by suggesting we install Oracle RAC on Oracle Solaris Cluster? What would that be, highly-available high availability?

Turns out that's not what they're suggesting. They're suggesting we install Oracle RAC not on Solaris Clusters, but on zone clusters. What's a zone cluster, you ask?

A zone cluster is a cluster created from Solaris zones that are physically located on different servers. That's similar to a regular cluster, but it uses zones instead of entire OS instances. Don't confuse a zone cluster with a failover cluster. Instead, read this white paper:

White Paper: Zone Clusters: How to Deploy Virtual Clusters and Why
This paper introduces the zone cluster, a virtual cluster in which an Oracle Solaris Zone is configured as a virtual node. The zone cluster supports the consolidation of multiple cluster applications on a single cluster.

That's all very interesting, but what about our original question:

Why would someone want to complicate our sysadmin lives by suggesting we install Oracle RAC on a zone cluster?

Turns out there two good reasons:

  • It's a better high-availability solution for a multi-tier application environment
  • It lets you isolate your database development, test, and deployment environments from each other.

How the Oracle RAC/Zone Cluster Combo Is Better For Multi-Tier Applications

Let's say that you are using your Oracle database as one tier in two different application environments. The first one is an HR application, the one second is an e-business suite. Both access the same database. Well, Oracle RAC would give you the high-availability for that database. But the applications would not be highly available. However, if you installed the database with Oracle RAC inside one zone cluster, and each application inside its own zone cluster, you'd make both application environments highly avaiable. And, if you limit the administrative privileges for each zone cluster, you'd get administrative isolation, as well.

How the Oracle RAC/Zone Cluster Combo Is Safer for Deployment

You've probably heard by now about Knight Capital Group's trading glitch that dropped the company's value by 50% in one day. I don't know exactly what happened, but I wonder if they didn't deploy either their development or their test environment instead of the one that was ready for prime time.

I suppose it's a sysadmin's duty to learn from another sysadmin's misfortune. So, if you divide your zone clusters into development, test, and deployment environments, you might have a better shot at avoiding a similar catastrophe. For example, install Oracle RAC with an Oracle DB into your development zone cluster, and keep it isolated from your test and deployment zone clusters. One sysadmin controls the development cluster. Another the test cluster. And the biggest, baddest sysadmin controls the deployment cluster. When the development environment is ready for testing, the test admin must OK the migration. That goes double for the deployment environment. And all the while, each environment remains highly available.

Resources

Turns out that Oracle and the portion of Oracle that was once Sun Microsystems have been collaborating on Oracle RAC/Solaris Cluster solutions for a long time. Customers like this approach so much that we just published three articles explaining how to do it. Each article covers a different version of the software:

Article RAC Version Solaris Version Cluster Version
How to Deploy Oracle RAC 11.2.0.2 on Oracle Solaris Zone Clusters 11.2.0.2 10 3.3
How to Deploy Oracle RAC 11.2.0.3 on Oracle Solaris Zone Clusters 11.2.0.3 10 3.3
How to Deploy Oracle RAC 11.2.0.3 on Oracle Solaris 11 Zone Clusters 11.2.0.3 11 4.0

And if you want more, we also have a page full of links to all our Solaris Cluster how-to articles and background white papers:

Where to find everything Solaris Cluster-related

Don't be the sysadmin who bankrupts your company in one day. Get educated.

- Rick

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Tuesday Jun 12, 2012

Whole Lotta Virtualization Goin' On

Lately we've published a lot of content about virtualization. Here's a sampling.

Podcat: Technology Preview of Transcendent Memory

Turns out that in a virtual environment, RAM is the bottleneck. Not because it's slow, it's not, but because each CPU still had to use its own RAM. Which gets expensive. In this podcast, Dan Magenheimer describes how Oracle and the open source community taught the guest kernel in Oracle Linux to share its memory with other CPU's. Transcendent memory will wind up saving large data centers a lot of money. Find out how.

Tech Article: How to Use Oracle VM Templates

This article describes how to prepare an Oracle VM environment to use Oracle VM Templates, how to obtain a template, and how to deploy the template to your Oracle VM environment. It also describes how to create a virtual machine based on that template and how you can clone the template and change the clone's configuration.

Tech Article: How to Set Up a Load Balanced Application Across Two Oracle Solaris Zones

Install Apache Tomcat on two Oracle Solaris zones. Connect them across a VPN. And let the Integrated Load Balancer in Oracle Solaris 11 manage traffic. Presto: high(er) availability in a single server.

Tech Article: How to Install Oracle RAC on Oracle Solaris Zone Clusters

Learn how to implement a multi-tiered database environment that isolates database tiers and administrative domains, while taking advantage of centralized (and simpler) cluster admin.

For fans of Jerry Lee Lewis

If you're a fan of Jerry Lee Lewis, you might enjoy this video.

- Rick

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Tuesday Feb 21, 2012

How I Explained Network Virtualization to Bikers

Back when we first launched Oracle Solaris Express, I stumbled upon a couple hundred bikers who were building a bonfire in the woods with the timber from an old cabin, a dozen cans of gasoline, and a couple of Honda Priuses. To avoid a beating, I convinced them to let me explain how virtual networks work. They set down their gasoline and I rescued some upholstery from the fire.

In the good old days, I explained, a proper biker had only one bike, a hardtail Knucklehead with a kick-starter, 5" over forks, and apes with purty leather tassels fabricated from the remnants of a favorite biker momma's chaps. And one leather jacket. Well worn. Naturally, that proper biker wanted to go to many rallies. But because he only had one bike, he could only go to one rally at a time. And he wore the same jacket to each rally. I suggested they call that favorite leather jacket Solaris, and that hardtail knucklehead a NIC.

"Nick," they asked. "Who's Nick?"

"Well, N-I-C," I explained. "It's short for Network Interface Card."

That made them a little restless, but I quickly added that as a result of the one-jacket, one-bike rule, life was good, pipes were loud, and America ruled the world.

They liked that. I got several pats on the back.

Fast forward 50, maybe 60 years, I explained while drawing the diagram above, and now we call ourselves motorcyclists. We have multiple bikes. And they are all EPA-compliant. And in keeping with the sartorial splendor of the court of Louix the XIV, we have one outfit for each bike. I asked them to pretend that each outfit was a zone, and each motorcycle was a virtual NIC, or VNIC. They got restless at the mention of Nick again, particularly after I brought up France, but I held up a well-manicured hand so they would allow me to elaborate. When modern motorcyclists like me want to go to Sturgis, I explained, we get into our Sturgis zone (a 5-day shadow, leather chaps, and obligatory bandana), and throw a leg over our Sturgis VNIC (a blinged-out CVO Harley Davidson 110" Ultra Classic with the dual-tone paint job). When we want to go to Americade, we slip into our Americade zone (a clean shave, a heated vest, and a reflective yellow Aerostich waterproof suit with 10 large pockets), and hop onto our Americade VNIC (a BMW K1200LT with heated seats, cup holder, and GPS). And so on. One outfit for each motorcycle, one zone for each vnic.

That's as far as I got. They gave me a beating and tossed me, my Vespa, and my modster jacket into the lake.

I decided to get some help.

Nicolas Droux, who was part of the engineering team that developed network virtualization (project Crossbow), agreed to explain all this to me. After assuring me that he was not a biker, we got on the phone. And we turned our phone conversation into a nifty podcast.

Podcast: Why and How to Use Network Virtualization

This podcast is easier to absorb if you listen to it in two parts, each about 15 minutes long.

In the first half, Nicolas explains how the process of managing network traffic for multiple Solaris zones across a single Network Interface Card (NIC) naturally led to the development of virtual NICs. And then to the network-in-a-box concept, which allowed you for the first time to create complete network topologies and run them within a single host to experiment, simulate, or test.

In the second half, Nicolas provides more details about combining zones and VNICS to create a test environment. He explains how you can create a zone to function as a virtual network router, for instance, or a virtual load balancer. By isolating these network functions into zones, you can test how your application performs with different settings, and use DTrace to follow the application calls as they are routed through your virtual network. Once you have the optimum settings for the network and the application, you can deploy it in your data center.

Here are some more resources to help you understand network virtualization:

- Rick Ramsey

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Monday Oct 17, 2011

Networking Services You Can Run Inside a Oracle Solaris 11 Express Zone

Oracle Solaris 11 Express introduced a new network stack architecture previously known as “Crossbow”. It lets you combine virtual NICs into flexible virtual networks that are tightly integrated with zones. In addition, the new architecture introduces the ability to manage your network resources by controlling bandwidth and flow.

As a result, you can now run these services inside a Solaris 11 Express zone:

  • DHCP client
  • DHCP server
  • Routing daemon
  • IPsec
  • IPfilter
  • IP Multipathing (IPMP)
  • ndd commands
  • ifconfig with set or modify capabilities (usage of dladm and ipadm is recommended

This is just one of the changes between Oracle Solaris 11 Express and previous versions. For more info, see the Oracle Solaris 11 ISV Adoption Guide.

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

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