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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Thursday Jun 20, 2013

Hands-On Labs + Proctors = Genius

If Albert Einstein (image removed from blog) had attended OTN's virtual sysadmin days, he wouldn't have gotten so old figuring out his Theory of Relativity. Thanks to the relentless advance of technology, you can outsmart Einstein from the comfort of your own office. See below.

OTN Virtual Sysadmin Day - July 2013

It's free - register here

We held our first ever virtual sysadmin day for North America on January 15 of this year. Almost 600 sysadmins attended and over 80% of them remained online for the duration of the event. Which means they found it a good use of their time. If you missed that one, we're doing another one in July. Oddly enough, we chose the same date and time: the 15th at 9:00 am PT. Which is at exact same spot of the Earth's rotation, but on the other side of the sun and closer to our upcoming collision with Adromeda.

That galactic fender-bender aside, we have updated some of the hands-on labs about Oracle Solaris and Oracle Linux that we presented at our in-person sysadmin days, and we added three new labs about Oracle VM:

  • Deploying Infrastructure as a Service
  • How to Virtualize and Deploy Oracle Applications Using Oracle VM Templates
  • Creating an x86 Enterprise Cloud Infrastructure

Details here.

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. You'll see the instructions after you register.

When was that again?

Monday, July 15 at 9:00 am Pacific Time. (Time converter here.)

Register here

- Rick

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Tuesday May 28, 2013

What If I Want to Update Just Java?

Sometimes all you want to update is Java, and not your entire Oracle Solaris environment. But Java is packaged as part of the Oracle Solaris systems software, and Oracle recommends that you update all the system software at once, since it was tested together.

What can you do?

How to Update Only Java in Your Oracle Solaris Environment

by Peter Dennis and Alta Elstad

This article describes how to update one piece of software that is constrained by an incorporation without altering any other software that is constrained by that incorporation, and still end up with a supported system. This article by Peter Dennis and Alta Elstad explains how to do that. It focuses on Java, but you can use the same technique for other software.

More Information About Oracle Solaris Packaging

- Rick

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Thursday May 16, 2013

Draw, Partner!

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

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

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

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

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

—Kemer

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Tuesday Apr 30, 2013

How to Build A Cloud for Family and Friends Using Oracle Solaris 11

image copyright 2013 by Rick Ramsey

When we talk about cloud, we tend to focus on The Cloud. Enterprise. Government. Scalable. Fast. Big. Bigger. Fastest. That's all wicked impressive, but it's not something I can do on a rainy Saturday afternoon. Now, I like and use Dropbox. There are other easy-to-use cloud services out there similar to Dropbox. But my Inner Geek wants his own cloud. Something modest and unassuming. Itty bitty, even. Just for fun. Kinda like putting a race cam on my Ducati 748: I don't need one, but I want to see if I can do it. Turns out it's nowhere near as involved as installing a race cam on a Ducati. And you don't need to get your hands greasy. Suk Kim, Oracle ACE Director, shows how.

How to Build a Web-Based Storage Solution Using Oracle Solaris 11

by Suk Kim, Oracle ACE Director

Combine AjaXplorer, Oracle Solaris 11.1, and Apache Web server to build a cloud-based storage service that is similar to Dropbox. These are the main tasks ... Install Oracle Solaris 11.1. Configure ZFS storage. Install the Apache and PHP packages. Set up Security. Connect to the client. Check ZFS compression and deduplication. That's all it takes. Suk Kim provides the instructions.

(In case it's not clear that the link is in the heading, Laura, you can also click here)

Suk Kim is an Oracle Ace Director for Oracle Solaris in South Korea. He is also chairman of the Korea Oracle Solaris User Network, manager of Oracle Solaris TechNet, manager of the Solaris School community, an adjunct professor at Ansan University, and a senior system and security consultant at NoBreak Co., LTD.

Follow Suk Kim here:

About the Cloud Picture

I took it from my house in Colorado in the summer of 2011 with a cheap Sony camera. 2013 has brought a snowy Spring to Colorado (next storm, on May 1, will drop 6 inches of snow on us), so it's likely we'll see a lot more of these storms in May, June, and July. I need to spring for a better camera so you can see how spectacular these storms are in the high country.

- Rick

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Tuesday Apr 23, 2013

The Sysadmin as CEO

Bjoern Rost began his professional life as a sysadmin, and no doubt through the clever use of scripts became the CEO of his own consulting company (image removed from blog). Oracle recently announced his appointment to Oracle ACE Director. Here's some background information about Bjoern and his company, a video interview, and links to his most recent blog posts.

About Bjoern Rost, Oracle ACE Director

Bjoern is the co-founder of Portrix Systems, a service provider and consulting company focused on Oracle technologies including servers, storage, Solaris, Real Application Cluster databases, and desktop virtualization. He enjoys working with software developers to tightly integrate with existing Oracle features, is passionate about sharing knowledge, and has enjoyed speaking at several conferences and user group meetings including OpenWorld, UKOUG, COLLABORATE and DOAG. He also serves as the European Chair of IOUG's RAC special interest group.

Interview with Bjoern at Oracle Open World 2012

Before I knew that Bjoern was even being considered for Oracle ACE Director, I had the good fortune of chatting with him at Oracle Open World 2012. He's an excerpt from our conversation:

A Sysadmin CEO's Favorite Technologies in Oracle Solaris 11
Bjoern Rost, Orace ACE Director, was a sysadmin before he co-founded a consulting company, Portrix Systems. He describes how that happened, which Oracle technologies he used, what he used them for, and what his favorite parts of Oracle Solaris 11 are. Bonus: how engineered systems are leading to a confluence of the system admin and the database admin.

Bjoern's Blog

Bjoern's Blog is actually a team blog with contributions from three Euro-techies named Florian, Markus, and Ole. Recent topics are:

About Portrix Systems

Portrix Systems, an Oracle Gold Partner, is a full service provider helping customers run and operate complex IT systems by integrating infrastructure and services. From their home page:

"We started as the internal system administration division of the PORTRIX group. Duties involved setting up test and development systems for software developers and consulting about their optimal use. This soon evolved into services we provided for our customers who leveraged the potential to receive ISV software products bundled with integration and operation services by the same people who were already involved in development.

Congratulations, Bjoern! We're very glad to have you with us.

- Rick

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Thursday Apr 18, 2013

Why Solaris Loves Python

It's not well known that Oracle Solaris 11 includes a healthy dose of Python code, and that Solaris engineering uses Python tools. These four videos provide more of the story.

How Oracle Solaris 11 Uses Python

Oracle Solaris 11 installation tools use Python to access C libraries more quickly and easily than if they were coded in C. Drew Fisher explains why the Solaris engineering team chose Python for this purpose, what he personally likes about it, and what it implies for the future of Solaris development.

Why Is Oracle Solaris Engineering Looking for Python Developers?

Martin Widjaja, engineering manager for Oracle Solaris, describes the development environment for Oracle Solaris and why Oracle wants to hire more Python developers to work on Solaris.

Why I Started Developing In Python

David Beazly was working on supercomputing systems at Los Alamos National Laboratory when he began to use Python. First, he used it as a productivity tool, then as a control language for C code. Good insights into Python development for both systems developers and sysadmins from the respected author.

How RAD Interfaces In Oracle Solaris 11 Simplify Your Scripts

Every time a new release of Oracle Solaris changes the syntax or output of its administrative commands, you need to update any scripts that interact with those commands. Until now. Karen Tung describes the RAD (Remote Administration Daemon) interfaces that Solaris 11 now provides to reduce the need for script maintenance.

- Rick

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Tuesday Apr 16, 2013

Evaluating Oracle Solaris and Oracle Linux From Your Laptop

Evaluating Oracle Linux From Inside VirtualBox

After importing your Oracle Linux virtual image, you can use the yum install command to download additional packages into your Linux environment. Yuli explains how.

But what's really cool about evaluating an OS from inside VirtualBox is that you can assign each virtual image a unique IP address, and have it communicate with the outside world as if it were its own physical machine on the network. Yuli describes how to do this, and also how to install guest additions to, for instance, share files between the guest and host systems.

Evaluating Oracle Solaris 11 From Inside VirtualBox

In this article Yuli shows you how to create and manage user accounts with either the GUI or the CLI, how to set up networking, and how to use the Service Management Facility (SMF) to, for instance, control SSH connections to the outside world.

Both article cover the basics to get you started, but also very valuable are the links that Yuli provides to help you move further along in your evaluation.

- Rick

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Monday Apr 15, 2013

Eight Cylinders of Virtualization

source made freely available by desktop machine

I've been on the lookout for a quick techie overview of Oracle's virtualization offerings. Detlef Drewanz, Matthias Pfützner, and Elke Freymann had strung together a series of articles doing just that. Lenz Grimmer jumped in with some context on Linux, and the result was this 8-part series for OTN.

1 - The Role of Oracle VM Server for SPARC in a Virtualization Strategy

by Matthias Pfützner

Overview of hardware and software virtualization basics, including a breakdown of different types and styles of virtualization, and where Oracle VM Server for SPARC fits into a virtualization strategy.

2- The Role of Oracle VM Server for x86 in a Virtualization Strategy

by Matthias Pfützner

Oracle VM Server for x86 is an Oracle technology that existed before Oracle acquired Sun. It is a virtualization product based on the Xen hypervisor and like its SPARC counterpart, Oracle VM Server for SPARC, it is a thin Type 1 hypervisor that performs hardware virtualization and uses paravirtualization.

3 - The Role of Oracle Solaris Zones and Linux Containers in a Virtualization Strategy

by Detlef Drewanz and Lenz Grimmer

Oracle Solaris zones are referred to as lightweight virtualization because they impose no overhead on the virtualization layer and the applications running in the non-global zones. As a result, they are a perfect choice for high performance applications. Instead of retrofitting efficiency onto full isolation, Linux Containers started out with an efficient mechanism and added isolation, resulting in a system virtualization mechanism as scalable and portable as chroot.

4 - Resource Management As an Enabling Technology for Virtualization

by Detlef Drewanz

When you have one person in one phone booth, life is simple. But when you fit 25 college students into one phone booth, you have resource management challenges. Not to mention security risks. Same goes for virtualization. Detlef explains how resource management can help.

5 - Network Virtualization and Network Resource Management

by Detlef Drewanz

Using hypervisor-based virtualization and Oracle Solaris Zones with network virtualization plus network resource management enables a whole range of network-based architectures. This article describes what's involved in using network resource management in conjunction with hypervisors, containers, and zones in an internal virtual network.

6 - Oracle VM VirtualBox: Personal Desktop Virtualization

by Detlef Drewanz

Oracle VM VirtualBox consists of a base software package that is available for each supported host OS; guest additions that add support for shared folders, seamless window integration, and 3D; and extension packs.

7 - The Role of Oracle Virtual Desktop Infrastructure in a Virtualization Strategy

by Matthias Pfützner

This technology is no longer available.

Virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) is the practice of hosting a desktop operating system within a virtual machine (VM) running on a hosted, centralized or remote server. Matthias Pfützner explains.

8 - Oracle Enterprise Manager Ops Center as a Management Tool for Virtualization

by Elke Freymann

Oracle Enterprise Manager Ops Center offers complete infrastructure management with a focus on Oracle hardware (servers, switches, storage appliances) and Oracle operating systems, plus non-Oracle Linux variants that are supported on Oracle servers. Although Oracle VM VirtualBox and Oracle VDI include management capabilities, Ops Center has the best overall toolset for central virtualization management.

- Rick

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Thursday Apr 11, 2013

How Oracle Solaris Engineering Thinks: Liane Praza

It's not often you get a glimpse into how the brightest minds at Oracle think (image removed from blog). And Liane is certainly one of the brightest minds at Oracle. In these two short videos (about 2 minutes each), taken at the recent Oracle Solaris Innovations Workshop, she explains:

Video Interview: Why We Build Virtualization Into the OS

Liane Praza explains why Oracle Solaris engineering continues to build virtualization capabilities into the OS instead of adding more features and better management to the hypervisor.

Why The OS Is Still Relevant

Sysadmins are handling hundreds or perhaps thousands of VM's. What is it about Solaris that makes it such a good platform for managing those VM's? Liane Praza, senior engineer in the Solaris core engineering group provides an engineer's perspective.

- Rick

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Friday Apr 05, 2013

Migrating to Oracle Linux: How to Identify Applications To Move

source

One of the first things you need to make when migrating from SUSE Linux to Oracle Linux is an inventory of your applications. A package management tool such as Yet Another Setup Tool (YAST) is a big help here. So is the rpm command. Here are some ways to use it.

To List All The Installed Packages

Use the -qa option.

# rpm –qa
filesystem-11.1.3.5.3
sles-release-DVD-11.2.1.234
...

To Save the Output in a File

You can move that file to any location and, anytime later,search through the package list saved there to look for a package of interest:

# rpm –qa > rpmlist.txt

To Sort the Packages

To see the installed packages sorted by install time, use --last. The packages installed most recently will appear at the top of the list, followed by the standard packages installed during the original installation:

# rpm –qa --last
VirtualBox-4.2-4.2.6_82870_sles11-0-1
...

To Find Out If A Particular Component Is Installed

To find out whether a particular component is installed and what version it is, use the name option. For example:

# rpm –qa python
python-2.6.0-8.12.2

To Find Out What Dependencies a Package Has

Use the -qR option:

# rpm –qR python-2.6.0-8.12.2
python-base = 2.6.0
rpmlib(VersionedDependencies) <= 3.0.3-1
...

The Linux Migration Guide

You can find out more about migration steps with either rpm or YaST, including the benefits of migrating to Oracle Linux, by downloading the white paper from here:

Download the Oracle Linux Migration Guide

- Rick

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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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Wednesday Mar 27, 2013

Why Become a Solaris Sysadmin?

On the one hand Oracle is telling you that Solaris is the key component of the Oracle stack, that we've been investing heavily in it, and that it provides the best platform for managing the stack. Watch these videos:

On the other hand, we are telling your boss to buy our engineered systems because they'll not only reduce the complexity of managing the data center, but they'll need fewer sysadmins to run them.

So, which is it?

Video Interview: Why Become a Solaris Sysadmin?

I asked Larry Wake, Solaris old-timer. Tell me what you think of his answer.

Video Interview: Why Become A Solaris Sysadmin?.

A year or two ago, Justin asked Marshall Choy a similar question. Watch that video here:

Video Interview: Impact of Engineered Systems on the Sysadmin

- Rick

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Thursday Mar 21, 2013

How to Protect Your Oracle Solaris Zone Cluster

source

We just published an article by Subarna Ganguly that describes how to build a secure zone cluster. In other words, a zone cluster with trusted extensions. If you want to go straight to the article, scroll down to the bottom of this blog. If you're new to zones, clustering, or trusted extensions, I'll try to explain what's interesting about this article.

Vanilla Solaris

In the beginning there was root and user. Root could do anything anywhere, user could do very little. We improved that with the notion of roles. Access rights (permissions) were assigned to roles instead of users. And individual users were assigned to one or more roles. Access Control Lists (ACL) improved this even more.

Oracle Solaris has about 80 different roles. You can see the privileges each one has by looking at the /etc/user_attr.d directory

Trusted Extensions

Trusted extensions add "sensitivity" labels. These labels are similar to a security clearance in the military: confidential, secret, top secret, etc. With trusted extensions, you first label users, data, processes, peripherals, and pretty much everything that a user or process can access. Then you give uses and processes their own label. A user or process can only access something that has a label with the same or greater access.

"Trusted extensions ... is not something that can be just 'turned on' like a firewall. Trusted extensions fits into a framework where there's a formal security policy, possibly an LDAP server where users and their clearances are defined, as well as network access points that are labeled."
- Book: Oracle Solaris 11 System Administration, Chapter 18

Solaris Zones

Zones are virtual instances of the Solaris environment launched and controlled from the base OS environment, known as the non-global zone.

"Oracle Solaris Zones let you isolate one application from others on the same OS, allowing users to log in and do what they want from inside one zone without affecting anything outside that zone. In addition, Oracle Solaris Zones are secure from external attacks and internal malicious programs. Each Oracle Solaris Zone contains a complete resource-controlled environment that allows you to allocate resources such as CPU, memory, networking, and storage."
- OTN Article: How to Get Started Creating Zones in Oracle Solaris 11

Solaris Cluster

Oracle Solaris Cluster 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.

"Oracle Solaris Cluster delivers the high availability and disaster recovery capabilities of Oracle Solaris 11 and extends, with version 4.1, its built-in support for the Oracle software and hardware stack, to protect business critical application deployments in virtualized and traditional environments."
- White Paper: Oracle Solaris and Oracle Solaris Cluster

Zone Clusters

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.

"Such large amounts of idle processing capacity present an almost irresistible opportunity for better system utilization. Organizations seek ways to reclaim this unused capacity, and thus are moving to host multiple applications on a single cluster. However, concerns about interactions between applications, especially in the areas of security and resource management, make people wary. Virtualization technologies address these security concerns and provide safe ways to host multiple applications in different clusters on a single hardware configuration.
- White Paper: How to Deploy Virtual Clusters and Why

Trusted Zone Clusters and Saburna's How To Article

Oracle Solaris Trusted Zone clusters became available in Oracle Solaris Cluster 4.1. They are zone clusters with the security capabilities (mandatory access control or MAC) provided by Trusted Extensions. The zones in the cluster are labeled in the same way that other objects are labeled, so that only other objects with the same (or higher) sensitivity label can access them. Saburna Ganguli walks you through the steps required to set one up:

OTN Article: How to Build a Trusted Zone Cluster with Oracle Solaris Cluster 4.1

More Cluster Resources

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- Rick

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Tuesday Feb 26, 2013

Performance Tuning an Exalogic System

source

I tend to get annoyed at my engineering pals for designing performance into automobiles such as the Chevy Corvette, instead of letting the driver feel the satisfaction of increasing performance by improving his or her technique. Many sysadmins feel the same about their craft. But as the story of Paul Bunyan demonstrates, we must adapt or die.

In a previous post I discussed how Exalogic changes the way you handle provisioning. In this post, I'll focus on the way Exalogic changes the way you handle performance tuning. First, the optimizations that are already done for you, then the optimizations you can still perform yourself.

Performance Optimizations Designed Into Exalogic

Because Oracle engineering knows the exact details of the environment in which each component is operating, Oracle has configured Exalogic components to use the internal network, memory, and storage for optimum performance, availability and security. It employs two types of optimizations:

Generic Optimizations (Exabus)

These optimizations will benefit any software running on the Exalogic machine, whether Oracle or 3rd party, in physical or virtual environments. The collection of Exalogic–specific optimizations are referred to as Exabus. The purpose of Exabus is primarily to integrate Infiniband networking seamlessly into all the hardware, software, and firmware distributed throughout the system. Examples include:

  • Changes to the firmware and drivers in the network switches that increase performance by skipping protocol stack conversions
  • Use of Exalogic solid state disk caching to increase the speed and capacity of local (shared) data read and write operations, such as JMS queues and run time metadata.
  • Built in high availability at network and storage levels
  • Native Infiniband integration with any other engineered systems, such as additional Exalogic machines, ZFS storage appliances, or Exadata Database machines.
  • The ability to define Infiniband partitions, which ensure application isolation and security.

Optimizations to Run-Time Components

Oracle has engineered optimizations for Exalogic directly into Oracle WebLogic Server (WLS), Coherence, and Tuxedo. They benefit any application running on those software components, but they can only be activated on the Exalogic platform. They address performance limitations that only become apparent when the software is running on Exalogic's high-density computing nodes and very fast Infiniband switches. Examples include:

  • WebLogic Server session replication uses the SDP layer of IB networking to maximize performance of large scale data operations. This avoids some of the typical TCP/IP network processing overhead.
  • Cluster communication has been redesigned in Coherence to further minimize network latency when processing data sets across caches. Its elastic data feature increases performance by minimizing network and memory use in both RAM and garbage collection processing.
  • Tuxedo has been similarly enhanced to make increasing use of SDP and RDMA protocols in order to optimize the performance of inter–process communications within and between compute nodes.

Tuning You Can Perform on Exalogic

Benchmarks and other tests show that applications that run well on Oracle middleware will run better on Exalogic. The degree to which they run better will be affected by how well optimised they are to take advantage of the Exalogic system, as well how well the Exalogic components are set up to balance resources.

However, if your workloads or configurations change, you may need to tune your Exalogic. Here are some general notes, extracted from the Exalogic: Administration Tasks and Tools white paper.

Tuning the Middleware

At the middleware and application level most of the standard options and techniques are available to you. WebLogic Server, JRockit, Coherence and iAS, etc. operate as they do on traditional platforms.

As for the rest of the Exalogic platform, Oracle's recommendation is: leave it alone.

Tuning The Platform

Exalogic manages itself, so you don't need adjust it unless you are sure that something needs changing. This is a major change in approach, since you are used to spending considerable time tweaking your systems to accommodate the needs of different groups. Knowing exactly when and how much (or how little) to tune an Exalogic system is a big topic, but here are some general guidelines.

  • Because Exalogic has such a high density of compute resources across such a fast network, small configuration changes can have a large impact.
  • Try out your changes in a test environment, first. Make sure its resources, configurations, and workload match those of your production system as closely as possible. Oracle Application Replay is a good tool for assessing the impact of configuration and infrastructure changes on the performance of your applications. Give it a try.
  • Focus on reducing response times for users and applications. If response time is not a problem, you probably don't have an issue to resolve, regardless of internal alerts and indicators you may be noticing.
  • Capture the right performance baselines ahead of time so you can compare the results of your tuning to them.

Tuning the Infrastructure

Storage, Infiniband, and OS are set up during initial configuration, so further tuning is not usually needed. If you need to review the kernel settings, network bonding, and MTU values, or perhaps the NFS settings, use Enterprise Manager. Finding the optimum changes tends to be an iterative process that varies with application workload.

Tuning the Middleware Runtime Environment

Ensure that Exalogic optimizations for WLS Suite are switched on (see MOS note 1373571.1), since they affect replication channels, packet sizes, and the use of the SDP protocol in the Infiniband networks.

Oracle Traffic Director is currently a unique feature of Exalogic, so is not available on other platforms. You can alter traffic routing rules for each application at any time. As workloads change and grow this is likely to be a key tuning task.

Tuning the Applications

At present you can tune business applications just as you would on traditional platforms. One possible side effect of running your business applications on Exalogic is that its enhanced performance may unmask poorly tuned applications or poorly written customizations.

For More Information

For more information, read the Exalogic: Administration Tasks and Tools white paper.

- Rick

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Thursday Feb 21, 2013

Can You Figure Out Which Teenager Took the Cash?

source

Dads like me are familiar with a phenomenon known as Silent Dollar Disappearance. This tends to occur when there is a confluence of money in your wallet and teenage children in your home. You never actually see it happen, but if you are paying attention, you might detect that it has happened. As when, for instance, you try to pay for beer and brats at the grocer. It becomes difficult to know for sure whether it was the teenagers. What if you already spent the money on something else? That's what my teenage daughters always said. Or perhaps you had a wallet malfunction, and it flew out. So difficult to pin-point the actual cause.

Linux, like any OS, is vulnerable to a similar phenomenon. It's called silent data corruption. It can be caused by faulty components, such as memory modules or storage systems. It can also be caused by -God forbid- administrative error. As with Silent Dollar Disappearance, it's difficult to detect when data corruption is actually happening. Or what the exact cause was. But, as with Dads and teenagers, you eventually figure out that it has happened.

It may be impossible to identify the culprit after the data has been corrupted, but it's not impossible to stop the culprit ahead of time. Oracle partnered with EMC and Emulex to do just that. And they were kind enough to explain how the did it and how you can benefit. In this article:

Preventing Silent Data Corruption in Oracle Linux

An excerpt ...

"Data integrity protection is not new. ECC and CRC are available on most, if not all, servers, storage arrays, and Fibre Channel host bus adapters (HBAs). But these checks protect the data only temporarily within a single component. They do not ensure that the data you intended to write does not become corrupt as it travels down the data path from the application running in the server to the HBA, the switch, the storage array, and then the physical disk drive. When data corruption occurs, most applications are unaware that the data that was stored on the disk is not the data that was intended to be stored.

"Over the last several years, EMC, Emulex, and Oracle have worked together to drive and implement the Protection Information additions to the T10 SBC standard, which enables the validation of data as it moves through the data path to ensure that silent data corruption does not occur."

Interesting stuff. Give it a read.

- Rick

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Tuesday Feb 19, 2013

Provisioning Oracle Exalogic: What's Involved

source

In this interview from 2012, Marshall Choy explains to dear old Justin how Oracle's engineered systems and optimized solutions will impact the job of a sysadmin.

I was just reading a recently published Oracle White Paper that goes into a little more detail...

"While the core middleware or applications administration role is largely the same as for non-Exalogic environments, significantly less work is required to manage storage, OS, and networks. In addition, some administration tasks are simplified."

That sounded interesting, so I kept reading. Here is an excerpt of what it says about provisioning.

Provisioning New Environments

Provisioning is done so frequently in some organizations that it's almost a continuous effort. Exalogic was designed as a multi-tenant environment in which many applications and user communities can operate in secure isolation, but all running on a shared compute infrastructure. As a result, provisioning environments for development, testing or other projects is simply a case of re-configuring these existing shared resources. And it takes hours rather than weeks.

The typical steps involved are:

  1. Storage – using the ZFS BUI
    1. Create NFS v4 shares
    2. Define Access Control List
  2. Compute nodes – via standard OS commands
    1. Decide which nodes are to be used for this project. In the current Exalogic X3-2 machines each node has 16 processing cores and 256 GB RAM. For each node:
      1. Create the root OS user, if it does not already exist.
      2. Add a mount point entry for the shared storage to the /etc/fstab file and issue the mount command to enable access to it from the compute node.
  3. Network – using the Exalogic IB subnet manager
    1. Identify IP addresses for the compute nodes to be used. Add any new virtual IP addresses to be used to ensure middleware high availability.
    2. Define new virtual network interfaces (VNICs) to enable connections to Exalogic from the rest of the data Center.
    3. Associate the pre-set external facing IP addresses to the VNICs.
    4. Define Exalogic Infiniband partitions to create secure groups of compute nodes / processors.

No physical cabling is required as network configuration is defined at the software level. In the event of a major failure, however, you may need to re-image the OS on some or even all compute nodes as a faster alternative to restoring from backup.

This whole process should take no more than an hour, after which a new, fully functioning compute platform is available for the project. It does not require any other data Center resources.

Further details are available in the Exalogic Enterprise Deployment Guide

I'll keep reading it and sharing some nuggets here. See the entire paper.

- Rick

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Monday Feb 18, 2013

Three Oracle VM Hands-On Labs On OTN

source

We put the hands-on labs from the virtualization track of the OTN Virtual Sysadmin Days on OTN.

Lab 1 - Deploying an IaaS Environment with Oracle VM

Planning and deployment of an infrastructure as a service (IaaS) environment with Oracle VM as the foundation. Storage capacity planning, LUN creation, network bandwidth planning, and best practices for designing and streamlining the environment so that it's easy to manage.

Lab 2 - How to Virtualize and Deploy Oracle Applications in Minutes with Oracle VM

How to deploy Oracle applications in minutes with Oracle VM Templates. Find out what Oracle VM Templates are and how they work. Deploy an actual Oracle VM Template for an Oracle application. Plan your deployment to streamline ongoing updates and upgrades.

Lab 3 - Deploying a Cloud Infrastructure with Oracle VM 3.x and the Sun ZFS Storage Appliance

This hands-on lab will demonstrate what Oracle’s enterprise cloud infrastructure for x86 can do, and how it works with Oracle VM 3.x. How to create VMs. How to migrate VMs. How to deploy Oracle applications quickly and easily with Oracle VM Templates. How to use the Storage Connect plug-in for the Sun ZFS Storage Appliance.

By the way, the picture of that ranch in Colorado was taken by my good friend
Mike Schmitz. See more of his photography here. Follow it on Facebook here.

- Rick

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Friday Feb 15, 2013

Sysadmins Rejoice! OVM 3.2.1 Includes a Full-Featured CLI

Remember this famous scene from English History? The French accent of the castle guard was so thick I couldn't understand him, but I think that at one point he said "I spit on your graphical user interface." Proof that sysadmins were alive and well in the time of King Arthur.

CLI Documentation

Sysadmins will have cause to taunt English royalty a second time because the command line interface (CLI) of the recently released Oracle VM 3.2.1 has been expanded to include all the capabilities of the (ptui!) graphical user interface (GUI). That means scripts. Boo-yah! It supports public-key authentication, too. Find docs here.

Other Cool Stuff

Oracle VM Manager used to manage only your x86 virtual machines. Now it manages your SPARC systems, too. Create server pools, create virtual machines, and manage networking and storage in the same way, using the same tool. Details here.

You can use MySQL as your backend repository. Just use the Simple installation, which will locally install the default MySQL database that is packaged with the Oracle VM Manager installer. Details here.

You can install the osv-support-tools meta-package for easier integration with Oracle support tools. (sudo is now part of osv-support-tools.) Details here.

More Resources

- Rick

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(psst! and don't forget to follow the Great Peruvian Novel!

Monday Feb 11, 2013

Oracle Solaris 10 Still Rocks

source

When it was launched back in 05, Oracle Solaris 10 rocked the IT world. I heard a rumor that Scott tried to launch it at a Rolling Stones concert, but apparently Mick Jagger didn't think operating systems were sexy.

Operating systems not sexy? Since when?

Well, Mick, when was the last time you released a new album? Oracle Solaris 10 released one last Friday, pal.

Oracle Solaris 10 1/13 Release

The new release is integrated with My Oracle Support. As a result, you can view the system configuration, asset inventory, and change history of your Solaris systems on the support portal, along with the results of the health checks that Oracle Support performs. (Kinda like letting a pregnant woman have access to continuous ultrasound via her cell phone, huh?)

This support will be available for Oracle Solaris 10 through 2018. After that, it will be supported through Oracle's Lifetime Support Policy.

There's plenty more:

Technical Resources

Thursday Jan 31, 2013

Deep Inside Every Sysadmin Is ...

#WWI-Ace

photo courtesy of James Vaughan - all rights reserved

... an Oracle ACE!

The thrills. The glory. The fame. Who can resist?

Turns out sysadmins can.

Last time I checked, the Oracle ACE program had 417 ACES and ACE Directors. Of those 417, only 6 have a specialty in Oracle Solaris or Oracle Linux.

That's simply not enough to defend the homeland! I know there are many more sysadmins and developers proficient in Oracle Solaris and Oracle Linux who can qualify to become Oracle ACES. Toss your silk scarf around your neck and grab your goggles. Then talk to me on the OTN Garage page on Facebook. I'll explain the benefits and help you enroll in pilot training.

Current Oracle ACES With Specialties in Oracle Solaris or Oracle Linux

Suk Kim, ACE Director, Oracle Solaris, Korea

Proficient in Oracle Solaris system tuning, troubleshooting Oracle Solaris security, audit information security, penetration tester incident and response, digital forensics virtualization, and cloud computing. Member of Korea Oracle Solaris User Network, Chairman of Oracle Solaris Tehchnet, Manager of Solaris School, adjunct professor at Ansan University, senior consultant at NoBreak Co., LTD.

Diego Aguirre, ACE, Oracle Solaris, Argentina

Diego Aguirre has been a Solaris Support Specialist since 1998. Over the past several years, he has contributed to the Oracle Solaris Community and has published technical articles for Sun Microsystems and now Oracle. He is the author of http://solaris4ever.blogspot.com.

Alexander Eremin, ACE, Oracle Solaris, Russia

Alexander Eremin is a user on Solaris and Linux platforms since 1995. Over the past ten years, he has worked as a Senior Unix Administrator. He is also the creator of the MilaX - Small Live Distribution of OpenSolaris. Alexander is also taking part in the Caiman OpenSolaris project.

Julien Gabel, ACE, Oracle Solaris, France

Julien Gabel is a Multi-platform UNIX systems consultant and administrator in mutualized and virtualized environments. He has architecture and expertise in building Solaris and UNIX experience in large enterprises such as banking and financial services, IT services, Telecoms and multimedia companies.

Raimonds Simanovskis, ACE, Oracle Linux, Latvia

Raimonds Simanovskis in founder of EazyOne which develops business intelligence web application eazyBI.com. Previously he was working at Tieto Latvia where he was using and promoting new technologies, open source and Agile software development. Raimonds has participated in many Oracle E-Business Suite implementation projects as well as Oracle based software development projects. In recent years he is active Ruby language and Ruby on Rails framework user and contributor. He has created and maintains Oracle database adapter for Ruby on Rails as well as PL/SQL and Ruby integration libraries.

Damian Wojslaw, ACE, Oracle Solaris, Poland

Damian is currently working as systems operator since 1999. Since 2006 he has worked with Solaris and OpenSolaris operating systems and other Sun Microsystems born applications. He blogs regularly on TrochejEN and reposts on Planet OpenSolaris. Damian has translated four OpenSolaris related Guides (ZFS Administrator Guide, OpenSolaris Installation Guide: Basic Installations, DTrace User Guide, Device Driver Tutorial) to Polish.

Defend the homeland!

- Rick

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Thursday Jan 10, 2013

Recent How-To Articles About Oracle Solaris Zones

LEGO Clone Army Collection

How to Put Oracle Solaris Zones on Shared Storage for Easy Cloning

by Jeff Victor

What is ZOSS? Zones on shared storage. Why would you do that? When you configure a zone on shared storage, you can quickly clone it on any server that uses that storage. Jeff explains how.

How to Create Oracle Solaris 11 Zones with Oracle Enterprise Manager Ops Center

You can also create Oracle Solaris 11 zones with Oracle Enterprise Manager Ops Center 12c. When you set up a zone this way, you can add the zone to a server pool and use the zone migration feature of Oracle Solaris 11. In this article, Laura Hartman shows you how to create and configure a non-global zone from the Plan Management View of this handy-dandy tool.

How to Create a Load-Balanced Application Across Two Oracle Solaris Zones

by Laura Hartman

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.

- Rick

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Tuesday Jan 08, 2013

How to Upgrade an Oracle Solaris 11 Repository with 11.1 Packages

These instructions assume you already have a local Oracle Solaris 11 11/11 IPS package repository, and you want to update that local repository by adding Oracle Solaris 11.1 packages.

You can either use the pkgrecv command or you can download a repository image file.

Using pkgrecv

Using pkgrecv takes more time and requires your system to be connected to the Internet for a much longer time. If you use pkgrecv, specify http://pkg.oracle.com/solaris/release as the source, and be sure to specify the -m all-versions option. See the pkgrecv(1) man page for more information.

Using a Repository Image File

If you prefer to use a repository image file, first download the image file and then copy the contents to your existing repository. You can get the Oracle Solaris 11.1 repository image files from OTN or from eDelivery. Then follow these instructions.

Step 0. Assume the root role and snapshot your local Oracle Solaris 11 11/11 repository.

In this example, your local Oracle Solaris 11 11/11 repository is located at /export/repo/Solaris11.

# zfs snapshot rpool/export/repo/Solaris11@11-1111

Step 1. Download Oracle Solaris 11 from OTN.

Go to the download page. Read the "OTN License Agreement for Oracle Solaris" and click the Accept License Agreement button.

Step 2. Click the "MD5 checksum" link to display the checksums for the files you want to download.

Step 3. Scroll down to "Oracle Solaris 11.1 Repository Image."

Step 4. Click "Download Part A SPARC, x86" to get the file sol-11_1-repo-full.iso-a.

Verify the checksum like this:

# digest -a md5 sol-11_1-repo-full.iso-a

Step 5. Click "Download Part B SPARC, x86" to get the file sol-11_1-repo-full.iso-b.

Verify the checksum.

# digest -a md5 sol-11_1-repo-full.iso-b

Step 6. Click "Download Oracle Solaris 11 Pre-Upgrade Repository Image SPARC, x86 to get the file sol-11_1-upgrade-repo.iso.

Verify the checksum.

# digest -a md5 sol-11_1-upgrade-repo.iso

Step 7. Create one image file from the Part A and Part B files.

Verify the checksum of the resulting image file.

# cat sol-11_1-repo-full.iso-a sol-11_1-repo-full.iso-b > sol-11_1-repo-full.iso

Step 8. Merge the Oracle Solaris 11.1 packages from the repository image file into your local Oracle Solaris 11 11/11 repository.

# mount -F hsfs sol-11_1-repo-full.iso /mnt
# rsync -aP /mnt/repo/ /export/repo/Solaris11
# umount /mnt

Step 9. Merge packages from the Oracle Solaris 11 pre-upgrade repository image into your local Oracle Solaris 11 11/11 repository.

# mount -F hsfs sol-11_1-upgrade-repo.iso /mnt
# rsync -aP /mnt/repo/ /export/repo/Solaris11
# umount /mnt

Step 10. Catalog new packages.

# pkgrepo refresh -s /export/repo/Solaris11
# pkg refresh solaris

You can use the pkgrepo info and pkgrepo get commands to check the properties set on the updated repository.

Step 11. Snapshot your updated repository.

# zfs snapshot rpool/export/repo/Solaris11@11.1

Step 12. Check that your Solaris publisher origin is set to your local repository.

- Alta Elstad

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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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Thursday Dec 20, 2012

Top 10 Articles of 2012 Include Oracle Solaris, Linux, Virtualization

source

That's a 72 Norton Commando fashioned into a cafe racer. Heavy.com named a newer version the #1 bike in the 2012 New York International Motorcycle Show. (I didn't like Heavy.com's picture, so I found a better one from the blog listed as source, above.)

OTN also has an annual top 10. In that post by Bob Rhubart, from OTN's Architect community, six of the top ten technical articles were about technologies of interest to system admins and developers.

Boo-yah!

#2 - How Dell Migrated from SUSE Linux to Oracle Linux

by Jon Senger, Aik Zu Shyong, and Suzanne Zorn

In June of 2010, Dell made the decision to migrate 1,700 systems from SUSE Linux to Oracle Linux, while leaving the hardware and application layers unchanged. The people who worked on the migration describe how Dell planned and implemented the migration, including key conversion issues and an overview of their transition process.

#4 - Getting Started with Oracle Unbreakable Enterprise Kernel Release 2

by Lenz Grimmer

How to update your Oracle Linux systems to the latest version of the Unbreakable Enterprise Kernel. Switching is easy—applications and the operating system remain unchanged. There is no need to perform a full re-install; only the relevant RPM packages are replaced.

#6 - How to Use Oracle VM VirtualBox Templates

by Yuli Vasiliev

This article explains how to use Oracle VM VirtualBox Templates in Oracle VM VirtualBox. It is similar to the article that explains how to prepare an Oracle VM environment to use Oracle VM Templates, but it describes how to download, install, and configure the templates within Oracle VM VirtualBox, instead of on bare metal.

#7 - How to Update Oracle Solaris 11 Systems From Oracle Support Repositories

by Glynn Foster

You may already know that you don't have to worry about manually tracking and validating patch dependencies when you update a version of Oracle Solaris 11. This makes updates much easier. Glynn Foster demonstrates how easy it is to update the OS from a support repository, and how to make sure everything went well.

#8 - Tips for Hardening an Oracle Linux Server

by Lenz Grimmer and James Morris

General strategies for hardening an Oracle Linux server. Oracle Linux comes "secure by default," but the actions you take when deploying the server can increase or decrease its security. How to minimize active services, lock down network services, and many other tips.

#9 - How to Create a Local Yum Repository for Oracle Linux

by Jared Greenwald

How to create a local yum repository for Oracle Linux, and configure up2date and yum to install and update packages from the repositories.

More About OTN's Technical Articles

See all system admin- and systems developer-related technical articles published on OTN here.

Interested in publishing an article on OTN? Click here or join the conversation on the OTN Garage Facebook page.

- Rick

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Contributors:
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