Wednesday May 15, 2013

New White Paper Compares SPARC/Solaris to Power/AIX Costs. Guess Who Wins?

One thing that's been clear since the launch of Oracle's new Sun SPARC T5 and M5 systems: it got IBM's attention. Judging from their response, they seem to be... I'm going to go with concerned.

And as I've said before, I don't blame them. A company with a long history behind them, they've made undeniable contributions to the industry, and things were looking good for their enterprise server business, buoyed by the performance of their Power7 processor. But their progress in that area seems to have slowed a bit.  So: concerned.

This report isn't going to help that feeling.

The Edison Group has just released a white paper: Enterprise Server Infrastructure Cost of Ownership: Oracle SPARC T5-2 with Oracle Solaris 11 versus IBM Power 750 Express with AIX 7.1. Spoiler alert: the Oracle systems do better. Key findings:

  • Over a five year period, the Power system solution has a total cost of ownership 59 percent higher than the SPARC T5 solution.
  • There's even more of a disparity in cost of acquisition, where the IBM solution is twice as expensive right out of the chute.

One of the things I found notable was their discovery that Oracle SPARC systems in the field are much more efficiently virtualized than IBM Power systems, with an average of 20 virtualized instances per system as opposed to IBM's 12. This goes against perceptions I've encountered with some people, but is not surprising to me, since Oracle Solaris virtualization is well integrated with the OS, and is extremely efficient in terms of application performance. Of course, it doesn't help IBM's virtualization case that for a system of the class being compared, PowerVM Enterprise Edition will run you an extra $13,440 per server. That's the kind of thing that drives down technology adoption.

Even more interesting: that IBM server with 12 virtualized instances incurs operational and technical services costs that are 28 percent higher over five years than an Oracle server with 20.

There are lots of other worthwhile nuggets in the paper. If you've got services to deploy, you absolutely should give this a read.

Download the white paper (PDF)

Friday May 10, 2013

Oracle Solaris Security Recommended Reading

A few recent security-related items you may not have seen yet:

First off, we have a new paper on achieving compliance with security standards using Oracle Solaris 11:

Oracle Solaris 11 and PCI DSS Compliance

This paper specifically takes a look at how customers can use Oracle Solaris 11's extensive security features to comply with Payment Card Industry (PCI) security practices--as you can imagine, customers who need to deal with this want to make sure it's done right. However, the practices it covers are applicable to most any sort of regulatory standards, including SOX, HIPAA, and whatever else your particular auditors might throw your way. This paper was put together by Oracle Solaris engineering in conjunction with a PCI auditor. If you have any feedback on this, be sure to add a comment below; I'll make sure the right people see it.

Meanwhile, Oracle Solaris security expert Glenn Faden, aka "Trusted Blogger," has come out with several new posts. A couple in particular are based on requests for an explanation of the differences between the security models in Oracle Solaris and other environments such as AppArmor and SELinux.

Wednesday Apr 24, 2013

Podcast: Oracle Solaris 11 and the World's Fastest Microprocessor

In the latest edition of the Oracle Solaris: In a Class By Itself series, execs Charlie Boyle, Bill Nesheim, Chris Armes, and Markus Flierl emerge from last month's SPARC product launch enthused about what Oracle Solaris brings to the table.

They discuss how we're not only making huge strides with individual products such as SPARC and Oracle Solaris--we're taking the opportunity every day to make the products interoperate with each other and with Oracle's software offerings in incredibly innovative and productive ways, to produce a great customer experience and record-breaking performance. As Bill Nesheim put it, "There are no boundaries in a systems company."

 Listen to the podcast: Oracle Solaris 11 and SPARC T5 Announcement

And, as mentioned in the podcast, we know not everyone can join us in California (or wherever) every time we do a product launch, so we've put our execs and technical experts on the road, too. We've added some in-depth breakout sessions, and just may be coming to a city near you:

Live Event: Oracle Extreme Performance
(Dozens of cities worldwide - check link above for locations and dates)

Tuesday Apr 09, 2013

Oracle Solaris and SPARC Performance, Part 4½

A couple of quick pointers to wrap up this series, at least for now.

First, Steve Sistare's added a couple of three meaty posts to his blog, on "Massive Solaris Scalability for the T5-8 and M5-32":

And I'll let Rick Ramsey at OTN Garage have the final word on Solaris/SPARC screaming performance. Apparently, it's a loud word.

The Screaming Men of Finland and Oracle SPARC Chips


Monday Apr 08, 2013

Oracle Solaris and SPARC (and x86) Performance, Part 4

East or West?

I admit it. Being a bit removed from my days as a system administrator, and not necessarily steeped in the day-to-day existence of network design, I was slightly perplexed when I first saw the original of the illustration on the right.

This was shortly after we'd acquired Xsigo, a company whose name also did not immediately reveal anything about the cool stuff they made, and what problems it solved.

So here's this slide I need to present, with this illustration, and no speaker notes. Well, most of it makes sense, but "W" and "E"? Ah, possibly "Web" and "Enterprise"! It sure couldn't be anything like, I don't know... "West" and "East!" What would that have to do with networking?

And many of you are already throwing things at your screen, yelling, of course it's "West" and "East," dumkopf! (Especially if you're German.) It turns out that if you're smarter than, oh, say, me, you know that the "East/West problem" is a thing, and Oracle Virtual Networking, the products the Xsigo acquisition adds to our portfolio, are the things that solves that thing.

Home is Best

(If by "home" we mean "simplified data center deployments with a wire-once solution and simple software defined network configurations."  And it's my blog post, so that is indeed what it means.)

Simply speaking, east/west traffic is the traffic that rather than going in and out of the data center (which in the world of this metaphor is called north/south traffic), goes between servers in the same data center -- or even within the same physical server.

Clearly, the more devices you have interposed in this traffic, or the more congested your connections are, the slower, more complicated, and expensive things are. Equally clearly, east/west traffic is becoming a really big deal in the age of virtualization and networked storage.

Oracle Virtual Networking addresses this in a big way, with an open architecture data center fabric delivering 80 Gb/sec bandwidth. Not only does this make for faster services (customers have seen fourfold application performance improvement), it can also cut capital expenditures by significant amounts and simplify administration, allowing new services to be set up in minutes instead of days. We have one customer who was able to take the 98 network cables they would run into a single blade chassis down to 6, and drop 6 switches in such a configuration down to 2.

And, as the title of this post indicates, this is now available for Oracle Solaris deployments. It's supported with Oracle Solaris on both x86 and SPARC systems, including the new SPARC T5 and M5 servers.  It also supports Oracle Linux, Oracle VM, VMware, Microsoft Windows and Microsoft Hyper-V, so we've pretty much got you covered.

Where things can get very interesting with Oracle Solaris, of course, is how this can be used in conjunction with a feature like Oracle Solaris Zones, and how that in turn leverages the power of ZFS. Basically, you're putting everything in your data center on frictionless bearings, so that instead of recabling your systems, or having to physically provision new storage, you can instead stand up new application environments at a moment's notice by reallocating existing resources.

Now, instead of throwing things at the screen, I imagine you're now cleaning up the coffee spray and saying, "My gosh, you guys should do a Webcast about this!" Excellent idea.

Webcast: How to Manage Your Data Center with Oracle Virtual Networking
Tuesday April 30, 2013
11:00am PT

REGISTER TODAY

Friday Apr 05, 2013

Oracle Solaris and SPARC Performance, Part 3

Moving on from database, more world record performance, this time with Java. From the BestPerf blog:

And there's a new white paper which discusses the specific advantages for Java performance that Oracle Solaris gives you, such as:

  • Dynamic threading
  • Large page support
  • Optimized support for NUMA architectures, including I/O locality
  • Support for very large memory configurations with the new highly efficient predictive virtual memory system in Oracle Solaris 11.1
  • Leveraging the Oracle Solaris Cryptographic Framework feature for best use of hardware acceleration and optimized software crypto algorithms
  • Leading-edge network performance

It also delves into why Oracle Solaris is a great development and deployment platform in general for enterprise Java apps.

Oracle Solaris: The Best Platform for Enterprise Java

Thursday Apr 04, 2013

Oracle Solaris and SPARC Performance, Part 2

Continuing on the performance theme: Oracle's SPARC T5-8 server is now the world's fastest single server for Oracle Database.  In a server-to-server comparison, T5-8 has a sevenfold price advantage over a similar IBM Power 780 configuration for database.

This is a perfect example of what we can do by co-engineering the processor, the system, the OS, and the database. We've put a lot of work into getting these results, and that work is of course continuing. Oracle is investing significantly in both Oracle Solaris and SPARC technology, and this is just one more step in the journey.

Learn more about why Oracle Database runs best on Oracle Solaris


Wednesday Apr 03, 2013

Oracle Solaris and SPARC Performance, Part 1

In the wake of the SPARC T5/M5 launch last week, there's a lot we can discuss, especially related to performance.

To start with: we've just released an update to Oracle Solaris Studio, with compiler optimizations specifically designed to get the most performance out of applications on Oracle T5, Oracle M5, and Fujitsu M10 systems.

Oracle Solaris Studio compilers generate code that is up to five times faster than code compiled with open source alternatives, and this Platform Specific Enhancment (PSE) to Oracle Solaris Studio 12.3 can get you up to 10% more performance on the latest SPARC processors than code generated with the pre-update 12.3 release. That's a nice boost on top of the already awesome performance inherent to the new processors themselves.

This update is available on My Oracle Support for customers with a support contract; search for Article ID 1519949.1 in the Knowledge Zone for more information.

Thursday Mar 28, 2013

Boom!

The big SPARC launch took place earlier this week. As usual with these events, it was a lot of fun to attend, even if no gimongous tents were involved. I was standing in the back, next to the control booth; as the music went up and the lights went down, next to me, the technical director quietly says into her mike, "Go." And this happens:

And that was pretty cool. But was that the "boom!" I'm referring to?  Nope. That looked more like this:


(Note: Subtitle does not refer to me)

So that's quite a "boom." With the launch of the new SPARC T5 and M5 series of servers, we've set over a dozen new performance records, and shown that back in 2010 Oracle did indeed establish a SPARC roadmap that it could execute on.

Needless to say, IBM has kicked up quite a fuss about this. I would too, if I were them; they thought they had this thing licked. And a pretty funny tweet related to that:

But--the thing I noticed was that as much as IBM tried to talk down the performance specs we demonstrated, they were noticeably silent about what, if any, advantage they might have in the software space. And of course, that includes the OS. When I talk to customers, the truism is almost always that when they use IBM systems, they don't do so because of AIX, but despite AIX.  (Remember "Watson"? Do you know what IBM operating system IBM doesn't run on it?)

Meanwhile, Oracle Solaris remains the gold standard for enterprise OSes.  "If it has to run, it runs on Solaris" is the catchphrase in data centers all over the world. We were flattered when IBM embarked on what some called "Project Copy Solaris," a few years after Solaris 10 came out, but couldn't help but notice they didn't quite hit the mark.  And now Oracle Solaris 11.1 is the current release, and we've done a lot more that no one else seems to be finding the recipe for.

And of course, we've got a big advantage, that we've encapsulated as: Hardware and Software, Engineered to Work Together. Over the last few years, we've been able to demonstrate more and more what that means: at Sun, obviously we did a lot of work to make sure SPARC and Solaris were in sync, but meetings with the Oracle software teams were special events, held only a few times a year, and preceded by phalanxes of lawyers engaging to make sure everyone knew just what could and couldn't be discussed.

That's been replaced by something called: "going to work together every day." And it's paying off. And we can prove it.

We've got some new pages that go into more detail about what's new with Oracle Solaris. Maybe this will be a handy "cheat sheet" for OS developers at other companies. The first site talks about how we've optimized Oracle Solaris to get the most out of this new generation of SPARC processors; the other talks about how the continuous co-engineering process between Oracle Solaris and Oracle database works to the benefit of both.


Tuesday Mar 26, 2013

There Were Giant Flying Businessmen in Those Days

One of the side effects of choosing the name "Solaris" for our OS is that we share it with several other companies in unrelated fields: sunglasses, snack bars, roofing shingles and the like--and the book, of course. I hear there were even movies.

Just for fun, I collected a few images of these on our Facebook page in the album "Sorry, Wrong Solaris," and other people have sent in additional ones over time.

Last night, my cohort Rick Ramsey, he of BigAdmin-which-is-now-OTN-Garage, sent me another one: a Brazilian construction equipment leasing company. "Huh," says I. "Perhaps not the same strong connection to operating systems as, say, a bus company, but let's take a look."

Hmm, what's this?


It turns out this particular "Solaris" company was responsible for doing the site preparations for Cirque du Soleil as they toured South America. And, that tent... there's a SPARC/Solaris connection, there.

Enter Ultra Man

Here we are, hours away from a major SPARC/Solaris-based product event. Those of you who have been kicking around the industry for a while may remember that way back in November 1995, Sun had another event: the launch of Sun's first 64-bit SPARC processor, UltraSPARC.  And especially back then, events like that needed an interesting venue.

Someone's great idea: what if we held it in a really big tent?  And who's got a big tent they don't happen to be using at the moment?

...Cirque du Soleil did! This is one of their tents, set up for the launch event in the parking lot of the then-brand-new Sun Menlo Park campus (alumni will recognize the fitness center in the background). The story about how this event was set up and executed is fascinating, at least to a computer industry/show biz geek like me; leveling out an area and setting up a huge circus tent to hold a one-hour press event with 1,500 people in attendance, then tearing it down again immediately. And the industry hadn't even made it to dot-com madness yet.

The logo for the event was "Ultra Man" (not to be confused with "Ultraman"), "a man, stylized, bespectacled, business suited, legs tapering into flames of rocket fire as if he were launched from a cannon."


That would be he.

There was even a guitarist opening the event, a former Sun employee who knocked it out of the park. What was frustrating to me personally was that this all happened literally days before I moved to Northern California, so I had to settle for watching it via closed circuit TV. Webcast? Yeah, didn't really have those back then, so we instead had satellite downlinks to various Sun offices, which hosted local viewings of the event. That did make it more of a social thing.

As I add this to the Facebook album, the final bit of serendipity, as many of you may already be thinking, is that the site of this 1995 event is today in fact the Facebook headquarters campus.

Today's event isn't going to be quite so elaborate; we've already got a perfectly useful conference center to hold it in. But even if we don't have giant flying bespectacled businessmen waiting in the wings (that I know of), the product news should be very interesting. I don't know if either Larry or John play guitar.

Tuesday Mar 19, 2013

More on the March 26 Webcast: "New SPARC Servers with the World's Fastest Microprocessor"

Let's be real.

If, in March 2010, Oracle had made an announcement about the "world's fastest microprocessor," you might have been left scratching your head.

It turns out that SPARC T3 did come out later that year, and it was a significant boost over the existing UltraSPARC T2 --"a 2x increase in performance over the previous generation of SPARC T-Series systems" -- but no one was saying it was the industry's fastest. However, what was notable was that its release date and performance lined up with the SPARC roadmap issued at the time of the Sun acquisition, which isn't always the norm in this business.


If, in March 2011,  Oracle had made an announcement about the "world's fastest microprocessor," you still might have been skeptical.

But yet again, just a few months later, we announced the SPARC T4, which did set a world record in Java performance.  And it not only kept to the 2010 SPARC roadmap, it exceeded it, smashing the performance levels of the T3. Hmm.


But now it's March 2013.  And the title of the event is "Announcing New SPARC Servers with the World’s Fastest Microprocessor."

That's pretty bold... but given what's been happening in recent SPARC history, is it as hard to believe as it might have been three years ago?

Tune in and find out.

Oracle Live Event: Announcing New SPARC Servers with the World's Fastest Microprocessor
Tuesday March 26, 2013
1:00pm PT / 4pm ET

REGISTER FOR THE WEBCAST

REGISTER FOR THE IN-PERSON EVENT

UPDATE: There will be all sorts of people live-tweeting the event, using hashtag #SPARC. Got questions as you watch?  Send us a tweet, including that hashtag.

Friday Mar 15, 2013

"uptime: 3737 days..."

What were you doing in late 2002?  Well, these guys were booting up this SPARC/Solaris server. They finally had to shut it down for the first time in over 10 years -- to move it.



Some thoughts:

1. This was Solaris 9. More uptime goodness added in 10 and 11... and wait till you see what we've got up our collective sleeve.

2. "But what about all those critical kernel fixes they missed?", you might ask.  Yes, that's a challenge. See the last part of #1.

3. Glad we fixed the lbolt thing.

4. They brought it down just to move it? Would George Costanza have accepted that as a reason?

5. Hmm; over 10 years ago. Wasn't that about when Steve Ballmer proudly announced the new Windows Server reliability feature that let you schedule automatic nightly reboots? (Unix people might have called that exciting new feature "cron.")

Thursday Mar 14, 2013

It's That Time Again: Share Your Great Solaris Story at Oracle OpenWorld SF

The Oracle OpenWorld Call for Proposals is now open, through April 12th. What does this mean to you, the Solaris person? This is a chance for you to share your experience with your peers, and to interact with some of the top Oracle Solaris experts in the world.

Oracle OpenWorld San Francisco is a unique experience in a unique city, and if your proposal is accepted, you'll get a complimentary pass to the show (you can also submit proposals for JavaOne and MySQL Connect).  OOW is September 22nd-26th this year.

Learn more about Oracle OpenWorld 2013


Wednesday Mar 13, 2013

Announcing Oracle Solaris Cluster 3.3 3/13

Today we released Oracle Solaris Cluster 3.3 3/13 (that's a lot of threes!). This update is specifically for use with Oracle Solaris 10, delivering even more high availability and disaster recovery capabilities for mission-critical application deployments.

What makes Oracle Solaris Cluster better? It's integrated with Oracle Solaris at the kernel level, offering faster and more accurate failure detection and mitigation. Oracle Solaris 10 of course has groundbreaking availability features such as predictive self healing built into it; combine that with Oracle Solaris Cluster and you've created an environment that stands up to surprises such as facilities outages and significantly reduces unplanned downtime.

Highlights in this release:

  • Expanded disaster recovery solution with ZFS Storage Appliance replication
  • New agents for Oracle Web Tier for Oracle Fusion, PeopleSoft Job Scheduler, and SAP NetWeaver
  • Multi-cluster dependency management for Oracle Database 11g through Oracle External Proxy
  • Automated set up and configuration for application agents through configuration wizards 
for PeopleSoft and WebLogic Server
  • Faster deployment of virtualized HA configurations via the zone cluster configuration wizard
  • Faster failure detection and failfast for storage devices, reducing storage failure detection time and client timeout from minutes to seconds

Oracle Premier Support for Oracle Solaris Cluster for Oracle Solaris 10 will be available through 2018, after which it will enter Oracle's standard three years extended and indefinite sustaining support, per the Oracle Lifetime Support Policy.

Learn more:
    •    What's New in Oracle Solaris Cluster
    •    Oracle Solaris Cluster Data Sheet
    •    Oracle Solaris Cluster FAQ

Download Oracle Solaris Cluster 3.3 3/13

Tuesday Mar 05, 2013

March 26 Webcast: "Breakthrough with Extreme Performance"

Save the date -- on Tuesday, March 26th, join Larry Ellison and John Fowler as Oracle unveils a new standard for extreme performance. There will be a live webcast at 1:00 PM PT, or if you happen to be in the San Francisco Bay Area that day, you can register to attend in person at the Oracle Conference Center in Redwood Shores.

Oracle Live Event: Breakthrough with Extreme Performance
Tuesday March 26, 2013
1:00pm PT / 4pm ET

REGISTER FOR THE WEBCAST

REGISTER FOR THE IN PERSON EVENT

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