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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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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Thursday Oct 10, 2013

Who Is Right - the Hardware or the Software?

Michael Palmeter and Renato Ribeiro enjoy a good duel. Michael represents Oracle Solaris. Renato represents SPARC servers. Watch and listen as they argue their case on two questions of interest to sysadmins. Taped at Oracle OpenWorld 2013.

What Determines Performance - The Hardware or the Software?

Michael Palmeter vs Renato Ribeiro

Is the hardware or the software more important to the performance of a system? Oracle Solaris product director Michael Palmeter goes mic-to-mic with Renato Ribeiro, Oracle SPARC Director. Taped at Oracle OpenWorld 2013.

What Kind of Scalability is Better - Horizontal or Vertical?

Renato Ribeiro vs Michael Palmeter

Is Oracle's approach to large vertically scaled servers at odds with today's trend of combining lots and lots of small, low-cost servers systems with networking to build a cloud, or is it a better approach? Michael Palmeter, Director of Solaris Product Management, and Renato Ribeiro, Director Product Management for SPARC Servers, discuss.

photo of 2005 Fat Boy taken at Little Big Horn National Monument by Rick Ramsey

- Rick

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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

- Rick

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Wednesday May 22, 2013

Just Add Water

When it comes to web browsing, I have little patience with amateurish sites and won’t hesitate to point out problems and flaws to the webmaster—if I can find a link to them, that is. Have you ever had this experience: you are on a web site trying to buy something and it is so slow and unresponsive that you decide to forget it: it isn’t worth the trouble or you just don’t have time? Chalk that up as one lost sale! This is—or at least should be—the web team’s nightmare.

Sure, the Web is the ultimate source of free information. But, ultimately something needs to pay the bills. Since the Web has become the universal marketplace, you would think every business would want to maximize their return by optimizing their web commerce infrastructure…

Do you remember Sea Monkeys? Just add water and soon you would have your own little amusing zoo. “Sea Monkeys” (actually dried brine shrimp) have been around since I was a kid. Advertisements were a staple of comic books. I see their purveyor, Transcience Corporation, is still in existence and taking orders!

Where is this leading? I would like to think of Oracle ATG Web Commerce as the sea monkeys of web commerce: just add Oracle’s SPARC SuperCluster. “Sure,” you are thinking to yourself, “he is paid to say that.” I can’t deny that, but my entire career in the computer industry has swirled around the dream of reusable components. We now have them: software and hardware. My enthusiasm is both justified and sincere.

A proof is in one of the best articles to cross my screen in some time: “How to Optimize Your Web Commerce Infrastructure By Tuning Oracle ATG Web Commerce Applications on SPARC SuperCluster”. This dissertation is surprisingly compact for the amount of information behind it. As the authors put it:

The objective of deploying an internet storefront or what is commonly called an e-commerce Website is to produce revenue through product offerings and subsequent purchases at the Website while at the same time “learning” about customers and their preferences. Ultimately, the goal is to make it easy for customers to research and purchase items on the site while encouraging customers to purchase related products and services. … Delivering a positive user experience also requires fast response time.

The article discussed the architecture used for testing. To get there, they had to figure out what an optimal test workload would look like and then how to simulate it. They then ask the really important question, “can this workload scale on a bigger system?”

In this study the authors developed a number of best practices, tweaks to make things run better, which they share:

  • Configuring Oracle SPARC SuperCluster with Oracle VM Server for SPARC
  • Setting Up the Oracle WebLogic Server Zone
  • Setting Up the Oracle ATG Web Commerce Zone
  • Modifying the General Purpose Domain
  • Modifying the Oracle ATG Web Commerce Environment
  • Modifying the Oracle WebLogic Server Environment
  • Modifying the Database Server

For example, because the Web server will generate a lot of concurrent processes, all accessing the database, you will want increase these in the database configuration. If you think about it, this is a meager list of tweaks for such a complex system.

Response time metrics as Oracle ATG Web Commerce workload was incrementally increased
Response time metrics as Oracle ATG Web Commerce workload was incrementally increased

This article is a great read. At the very least, it gives you an approach and methodology to testing. More importantly, it demonstrates how easy it is to create a stable and scalable solution today. Just add water.

—Kemer

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Thursday Apr 04, 2013

The Screaming Men of Finland and Oracle SPARC Chips

source

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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Thursday Jan 03, 2013

Extreme Sports and the SPARC T5 Chip

In my day, you were extreme if you surfed. Nobody had a leash. If a wave ripped the board out of your hands, you had to swim all the way back to the beach. In big surf, that could take 15 minutes. And then you had to paddle out again.

Today, if you're not juggling rusty chainsaws while riding a BMX bike off the top of the Eiffel Tower with half a dozen angry chimpanzees trying to rip off your helmet and goggles, you're not considered extreme.

Which is exactly why the SPARC T5 chip has 1024 functional CPUs. None of Oracle's SPARC engineers wanted to find himself at a cocktail party having to confess in an embarrassed chortle to a salon full of top hats and sequins that he had designed a mere 512 CPU chip. Imagine the chagrin!

Interview: Deep Dive into the SPARC T5 Chip

So Oracle's SPARC engineers worked wicked hard to scale the T5 to eight sockets. Since each socket has 16 cores, that gives you 128 cores, total. Since each core can support eight individual threads (or strands, if you're not the sartorial type), you wind up with a total of 1024 functional CPUs.

As you know, processing power without bandwidth is kinda like a mega motor with a nano fuel tank. Doesn't get you too far. So the T5 also has memory bandwidth to match its processing power. And lots of other capabilities that you an read about in this:

Interview: Deep Dive into the SPARC T5 Chip

- Rick

P.S., If you want to read about surfing in the old days, check out Chapter 1 of Tocayos, a novel I've been writing and posting online in my spare time.
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Tuesday Nov 06, 2012

A Quarter Century of SPARC

SPARCYou might have missed an interesting milestone: the 25th anniversary of SPARC. Twenty-five years! Almost 40% of my life: humbling, maybe a little scary. When I joined Sun Microsystems in 1988, SPARC was just starting to shake things up. The next year we introduced the SPARCstation 1, which had basically triple the performance of our Motrolla-based Sun–3 systems.

Not too long after that, our competition began a campaign of “SPARC is dead.” We really distressed them with our success, in spite of our small size. “It won’t last.” “It can’t last!” So they told themselves. For a stroll down memory lane take a look at this page.

History of SPARC

I remember the sales meeting we had in Atlanta to internally announce the SPARCstation 1. Sun hadn’t really hit the big times, yet. Our much bigger competitors viewed us as an ill-mannered pest, certain of our demise. And, why wouldn’t they be certain: other startups more our size, such as Apollo (remember them?), Silicon Graphics (they fought the good fight!), and the incredibly cool Symbolics are memories.

Wait! There was also a BIG company, DEC, who scoffed at us: they are history, too. In fact, we really upset them with what was supposed to be an internal-only video production that was a take-off on Bruce Lee movies, in which we battled the evil Doctor DEC – complete with computer mice (or is that “mouses”?) wielded like nun chucks with the new SPARCstation 1 somehow in the middle of everything. The memory is vivid, but the details hazy. After all, that was almost a quarter century ago.

So, here’s to Oracle’s SPARC: still going strong after all these years.

– Kemer

Wednesday Aug 01, 2012

Just because I’m paranoid doesn’t mean…

KeyholeWhile I’m a passionate computer user–recognized within my family and circle of friends as a reigning (or at least old) geek–I spend at least as much time warning people to be careful as I do showing them the cool things they can do with their computers. I’m shocked at the widespread complacency over computer and network security and privacy: we should all be afraid. Very afraid. I only need remind you of recent security breaches with LinkedIn and Dropbox!

I have been in the business of publishing systems best practices for over a decade: security has been a keystone topic all those years. The good news is that high levels of security can be achieved: you just have to be smart about it. With a few exceptions, security isn’t something we actually sell, because it is dominated by relatively unglamorous concepts, processes, and practices, not extra hardware and software.

Because of this, security experts often find themselves trying to teach really fundamental (and after-the-fact, obvious) concepts. For example, in building a secure environment, you want to make sure your platform fulfills four important points:

  • It must be able to prevent or minimize the damage caused from both accidental and malicious actions. This is referred to as survivability.
  • It provides a layered set of defenses exist so that secure operations continue even after a vulnerability or the failure of a single security control. This is referred to as defense in depth.
  • It provides only those services that are absolutely necessary to the function or user. This is referred to as least privilege.
  • It is critical to be able to detect and report a breach. This is referred to as accountability.

We just posted an important article, written by three security experts I have worked with for a long time: Best Practices for Securely Deploying the SPARC SuperCluster T4–4. In building a solution that will survive a world of sophisticated cyber-criminals, it is more important than ever to pick the correct hardware and software platform. This article gives you a crash course in the things to consider, and explanation of the special features of the SPARC SuperCluster T4–4 that will make your job of creating a secure environment easier, and (most importantly) how to go about putting things together.

This is a big and important topic. Once you have digested this “Reader’s Digest” article, I’m confident that you’ll want to look at the references listed at the end. Now is the time to get smart about security.

–Kemer

Tuesday Jan 25, 2011

Is Someone Spying on Your Virtualized Environment?

Spy

Virtualization is one of those hot topics that dominates the thoughts of systems architects. Of course, the newer and more visible a technology trend, the more likely it is cyber pests are looking to exploit some weakness.

Oracle VM Server for SPARC (previously called Sun Logical Domains or LDoms) technology is one implementation of virtualization based on the UltraSPARC T1, T2, T2 Plus and SPARC T3 processors. It's been around for a while, so we have the advantage of a more mature implementation with associated security best practices. Oracle engineer Stefan Hinker has written a comprehensive paper, Securing Oracle VM Server for SPARC, that addresses these issues in detail: it discusses the eleven threats you may encounter, along with a detailed discussion of the 28 countermeasures you can take.

Security Needs

Finally, this paper lays out three deployment scenarios based on your security needs. How do you assess that? Simple: Security Needs=Value of Data∗Probability of Breach. This paper is one of those critical references you should read and keep it close. Because, someone may be watching you...

- Kemer

Thursday Jul 29, 2010

Oracle Solaris, OEL, and Oracle VM Available on All Certified non-Sun Hardware



















(updated with new headline to include all Solaris-certified hardware vendors.)

This has been a big question for fans of Solaris on non-Sun hardware, but it's finally been answered.

Oracle Solaris can be certified and resold by Dell, IBM, HP, Fujitsu, and any Solaris-Certified hardware vendor on their own hardware.

So can Oracle Enterprise Linux and Oracle VM.

Oracle Premier support is available for Oracle Solaris, Oracle Enterprise Linux, and Oracle VM.

A few quick resources:

More info later....

- Rick

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


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Kemer Thomson
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