Do you start the New Year full of determination to do all those things you meant to do last year but didn't quite get around to: start that diet, do something about that receding hairline (my hairline is half way down my back at this stage), go to the gym (yea, right!) ?
Well, my blogging intentions have been building up for some time now. I guess I was putting it off on the grounds of not being sure I'd have time to blog regularly. Then I noticed that folk like Bart Smaalders and Stephen Hahn have interesting and insightful blogs without myriad postings. So that was my last excuse gone.
Not that I'm pretending this little blog will be as interesting as Stephen's or Bart's.
But I hope it will enable me to get information to customers (and customer facing folk) on patching issues, news, and best practices.
Waahoo, enthralling stuff I hear you say!
But necessary stuff if you're tasked with maintaining a Solaris [TM] operating environment.
You may have noticed that patching Solaris 10, especially a Zones environment, can be challenging.
I plan to share with you some of the background as to why this is, what to watch out for, and what strategies you can use to successfully manage Solaris 10 and other products. And news as to what enhancements are being made and how you can leverage them.
I'll be drawing on the considerable technical knowledge of my colleagues in Patch System Test.
Perhaps the most frequent customer question is "What patches should I apply to \*my\* system ?"
The answer is, "It depends." Not a very helpful answer, but it is an accurate answer.
There's no one-size-fits-all solution, but there are tips and evolving best practices for different environments which I plan to share with you. And it's a two way street. You can let me know what works or doesn't work for you and it can help influence the direction Sun takes. I want to listen.
Here's a little background about myself to help you understand where I'm coming from.
My name is Gerry Haskins and I'm the Senior Engineering Manager in charge of Software Release Engineering and Patch System Test.
I based in my home town of Dublin, Ireland.
I'm an engineer and I've been working with Unix since the mid-80s.
I worked with Siemens in Germany for 6 years as a field engineer. I worked on a real-time proprietary Unix for x86 which was used as the high level process automation computer for industrial plant automation projects. I worked extensively on-site as the installation SysAdmin in Aluminum and Steel plants in up-state New York, the south of Italy, and the Ruhr in Germany.
I returned to Ireland in 1993 and worked as a software developer in the Systems Integration department for a middleware Banking company. I ended up managing the Systems Development team, as well as the Release Engineering team. I had considerable customer interaction with the large install base.
I joined Sun 9 years ago to manage the Patch System Test (PST) team in Dublin. The team tests over 4,500 patches a year and is very effective at finding patching issues before patches are released. (This doesn't always prevent the patches which are released from being more complex than we'd like. And yes, 4,500 patches per year sounds a lot, but that covers all products and all architectures, so the number of patches for any one OS/architecture is a lot less). We sit between the development and sustaining organizations on one side and the customer facing organizations on the other.
During my time with Sun I also started and managed an XML WebServices Development team, managed a Java Enterprise System QA team, managed the "Gatekeepers" who maintain the source code and compile most of Sun's software products, and I currently manage the Software Release Engineering team. But patching and Patch System Test has always remained a core component of my responsibilities at Sun.
In Patch System Test, our goal is to improve our customers' patching experience in any way we can. Testing patches is one way. Improving Sun's internal processes and tools is another key area in which we are heavily involved. And increasingly, I'm seeing a need to get coherent patch and patch strategy related information out to customers, in particular around patching Solaris 10, since it is quite different from a patching perspective - both good and bad - from earlier Solaris releases. While the direct customer facing role is the responsibility of others, I hope this blog can help bridge the information gap between Software Engineering and customers and customer-facing folk.
So watch this space, and I'll try to share with you some of the issues, the background, and the solutions to patching.
Happy Holidays to one and all!