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:
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.
"Are you planning to consolidate a server running a business-critical application that you want to update with future releases over upcoming years, or are you trying to get rid of an old server running a legacy application that will not be updated anymore?"
This is just one of the questions Thierry asks in his article, which is a great resource for sysadmins, systems architects, and IT managers who are trying to decide whether to consolidate individual servers onto an Oracle SuperCluster. Your answer will determine whether you should put your application in native or non-native Oracle Solaris zone.
Other questions Thierry and friends ask:
Is my server eligible for physical-to-virtual (P2V) migration?
Are you planning a long-term or short-term migration?
How critical are performance and manageability?
Once he has helped you determine your general direction, he discusses these architectural considerations:
Finally, he provides a thorough step-by-step instructions for the migration itself, which consists of:
Performing a sanity check on the source server
Creating a FLAR image of the source system
Creating a ZFS pool for the zone
Creating and booting the zone
And just in case you're still not sure how it's done, he concludes with an example that shows you how to consolidate an Oracle Solaris 8 Server Running Oracle Database 10g. It's all here, give it a good read:
Article by Thierry Manfé, with contributions from Orgad Kimchi, Maria Frendberg, and Mike Gerdts
Best practices and hands-on instructions for using Oracle Solaris Zones to consolidate existing physical servers and their applications onto Oracle SuperCluster using the P2V migration process, including a step-by-step example of how to consolidate an Oracle Solaris 8 server running Oracle Database 10g.
Allan Packer, Lead Engineer of the Oracle SuperCluster architecture team, as explains how the design of this engineered system supports consolidation, multi-tenancy, and other objectives popular with customers.
By the way, that's a picture of an 01 Ducati 748 that I took in the Fall of 2012.
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.
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.
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.
While 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.