Tuesday Sep 11, 2012

Oracle SPARC SuperCluster and US DoD Security guidelines

I've worked in the past to help our government customers understand how best to secure Solaris.  For my customer base that means complying with Security Technical Implementation Guides (STIGs) from the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA).  I recently worked with a team to apply both the Solaris and Oracle 11gR2 database STIGs to a SPARC SuperCluster.  The results have been published in an Oracle White paper.

The SPARC SuperCluster is a highly available, high performance platform that incorporates:

  • SPARC T4-4 servers
  • Exadata Storage Servers and software
  • ZFS Storage appliance
  • InfiniBand interconnect
  • Flash Cache 
  • Oracle Solaris 11
  • Oracle VM for SPARC
  • Oracle Database 11gR2

It is targeted towards large, mission critical database, middleware and general purpose workloads. 

Using the Oracle Solution Center we configured a SSC applied DoD security guidance and confirmed functionality and performance of the system.  The white paper reviews our findings and includes a number of security recommendations.  In addition, customers can contact me for the itemized spreadsheets with our detailed STIG reports.

Some notes:

  • There is no DISA STIG  documentation for Solaris 11.  Oracle is working to help DISA create one using their new process. As a result, our report follows the Solaris 10 STIG document and applies it to Solaris 11 where applicable.
  • In my conversations over the years with DISA Field Security Office they have repeatedly told me, "The absence of a DISA written STIG should not prevent a product from being used.  Customer may apply vendor or industry security recommendations to receive accreditation."

Thanks to the core team: Kevin Rohan, Gary Jensen and Rich Qualls as well as the staff of the Oracle Solution Center and Glenn Brunette for their help in creating the document.  You should also review SPARC SuperCluster T4-4 Platform Security Principles and Capabilities by Glenn and others in Oracle's Enterprise Solution Group.

Monday Nov 15, 2010

Video Tutorial: Installing Solaris 11 Express in VirtualBox

Today, Solaris 11 Express is available for download allowing customer to get a preview of the technologies that will be delivered in Solaris 11 next year.  In this video tutorial, I take you through the steps to install and configure Solaris 11 Express using Oracle's free Type 2 hypervisor, VirtualBox.  VirtualBox can be downloaded for free and is available for MacOS, Solaris, Linux and Windows Platforms.

Solaris 11 Express is binary compatible with Solaris 8, 9 and 10 and is supported on SPARC as well as X86 chip sets. It is a fully virtualized operating system to include virtual networks, zones and file systems (ZFS).  Learn more about What's New in Solaris 11 Express.  You can also learn more about Solaris 11 by reviewing these slides from the recent Oracle Solaris Summit.

The video is 13 minutes long and through the magic of digital video editing covers "just the good parts" without all the waiting around.  I created it using the built-in screen recording features of Quicktime X on MacOS 10.6 and used iMovie 09 for the editing and voiceover.  It's available on YouTube and viewing it in full screen mode makes it easier to see the terminal commands.

Listen to the Podcast and Download Solaris 11 Express today. (Use the "LiveCD" ISO download version which includes the GUI installer)

FAQ:

  • How do I get out of the virtual machine and back to my host OS?
    • VirtualBox defines a "HOST" key.  The default in MacOS is the Left Command key.  Pressing this key releases the cursor and keyboard from the VM control.  You can change this key in VirtualBox Preferences.
  • How do I make the virtual machine run in full screen mode?
    • On MacOS, use Command-F or the VirtualBox menus to switch between window mode and full screen mode.
  • My Virtual machine is locked in a low resolution display mode?  How do I get it to adjust properly to the window size?
    • You MUST have the VirtualBox guest extensions installed.  The VM must be rebooted after installing.
  • What's the difference between the "Solaris" choice in VirtualBox VM settings and Solaris 64-bit?
    • If you choose, Solaris the system will boot the 32-bit kernel.  If you choose Solaris 64-bit, it will choose the 64-bit kernel.  Only a single install is required because both the 32 and 64-bit kernel are installed.  In fact, you can change this parameter after installing Solaris 11 Express and it will automatically boot the correct kernel.
  • How did you find out all these tips?
    • See the VirtualBox Help menu.  It's actually quite helpful.
  • How do you make the folder sharing work without having to manually mount the file system each time as root?
    • See by original blog entry on sharing folders which I recently updated describing how to give the user the Primary Administrator role.  It describes how to add a mount command to the Gnome startup options.
  • Where can I learn more about the installation procedure?

About

Jim Laurent is an Oracle Sales consultant based in Reston, Virginia. He supports US DoD customers as part of the North American Public Sector hardware organization. With over 17 years experience at Sun and Oracle, he specializes in Solaris and server technologies. Prior to Oracle, Jim worked 11 years for Gould Computer Systems (later known as Encore).

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