Friday Sep 17, 2010

Solaris Zones at Oracle OpenWorld 2010

Happy to report that a joint proposal to speak at Oracle OpenWorld on the topic of how Solaris Containers (aka Zones) have been used by our customers has been accepted earlier this year!  Next week I am being joined by two of my colleagues, Duncan Hardie - Solaris Product Manager, and Jeff Victor - Solaris Virtualization Specialist, to deliver a talk on this subject. The title of our talk is: Optimizing Legacy and Modern Application Environments with Oracle Solaris Containers

We are speaking on Tuesday at 2pm PST and if you're attending OpenWorld, JavaOne or Oracle Develop and are interested in learning about metrics and approaches to getting better performance while reaping cost savings for Solaris application environments, do come down and see us - Moscone South, Room 301

The session link is:

The session abstract is: 

The Oracle Solaris OS includes support for Oracle Solaris Containers, a virtualization technology that provides isolated and secure runtime environments in a single OS instance. With Oracle Solaris Containers, administrators can manage separate workloads, control resource usage, and maintain IP network separation. These features let multiple applications--or even multiple instances of the same application--securely coexist on a single system, for server consolidation savings. Customers win by leveraging a unique way of effectively and efficiently running applications, even those from legacy environments. This session explores benefits others have seen by using Oracle Solaris Containers to effectively move legacy applications to new systems.

I look forward to connecting with many customers and colleagues attending this event and am hoping to see you there! Shoot me a note if you're coming down to the Bay area and would like to connect at OOW: isaac {at} sun {dot} com


Update: 10/1/2010 - The presentation from the Oracle OpenWorld session has been posted here The talk had the following outline/agenda with the following sections comprising the talk:
Business Challenges
• Oracle Solaris Containers
   - Capabilities and Value Drivers
• Using Oracle Containers Today
• Deployments in Financial Services

Tuesday Jun 29, 2010

Solaris, seriously

Seen this one before?

Bet you have!

Ever since the acquisition has closed, many end-users, customers and some industry analysts have registered their expressions of angst toward figuring out exactly what WILL Oracle's OS strategy shape up to be ? If the previous Sun/Oracle welcome events held globally, or numerous webcasts with Oracle executives and public statements that have been made by them are of any indication, followed by the progress that is being made since the acquisition had first been announced, then it would appear to be self-evident that things are looking really good, and that the OS strategy is comprised of 2 operating systems: Oracle Enterprise Linux and Oracle Solaris, each of which have registered their place in the appliance segment of the market.   Having just
completed yet another whirlwind set of meetings with some of our key financial customers across the country, I see a number of parallels in terms of common challenges being faced by them: aggresive strides toward power consumption reduction, whilst facing the need to consolidate diverse workloads, all while handling datacenter moves/consolidations from coast to coast (this is happenging globally, as we have learned  European banks are facing similar types of problems). We like to think of these as opportunities. 

All of this brings about questions of 3-5 year investment roadmaps, OS strategy and platform decisions that come up for review only so often - and the eye is really laser focused on what Oracle is doing with Sun's assetts, as well as what Oracle is doing in terms of delivering on the integration of the stack benefits ala database appliance, network attached storage appliance, and others in the works.  I did manage to squeeze in a few recaps of some of the highlights from recent World Cup matches; enough to make me wonder whether FIFA can begin to accelerate its acceptance of the notion of appliances and leveraging available technology to avoid repeating judgement mistakes (see my November 2009 blog entry about FIFA's lack of using technology for the benefit of sportsmanship and accuracy) - just this past week we witnessed 2 more World Cup matches falling victim to errors made on the field (Argentina vs. Mexico and England vs. Germany). 

When it comes to our "playing field", however, things aren't always cookie-cutter - or at least they ought to be looked at through a chronological lens, exercising restraint in jumping to judgements whilst taking into account the order of events having taken place over the past few years.  Without pretending to be an oracle, I would like to offer some thoughts on, what a general investor would consider to be, an important set of avenues that lie ahead for operating systems.  In the mid-90's, Oracle and Sun had gone separate ways in their strategy. Sun went on to focus exclusively on SPARC (practically abandoning most of the x86-specific bits in Solaris development) and Oracle went on, almost orthogonally, to leverage the commodity platforms available to run its business software with better price/performance ratios.  It made business sense where and when it did. Moreover, for Oracle,  it clearly wasn't enough to simply rely and depend on the OS variants being made available by open-source OS suppliers so Oracle differentiated itself by (1) innovating with Oracle Enterprise Linux, adding the necessary and unique ingredients to linux, giving back to the community where the community would take it -  to ensure that Oracle's customers choosing Oracle software would benefit by having it run (function and perform) better on Oracle's distribution of linux - AND - (2) creating a solid, enterprise-grade support system known as Oracle Unbreakable Linux.  Henceforth one can begin to see the idea of datacenter appliances beginning to emerge:  Oracle software, Oracle operating system - not as a full/complete stack (yet), but the foundation and business benefits were clearly there! One of the challenges that this approach brings about is the notion of ownership and control (think as an investor now, if operating systems are an asset (and they are) where are you likely to get the most benefit from your assets: when you own them, or when you control them - or both?).
Now, I'll admit that things aren't always "black and white" and that there're a few other ingredients that make for a tasty recipe - such as decisions, budgets, changes in ther market demands, time lines, etc. Here's one way to see what OS makes sense for your business challenges: OEL is owned by Oracle, but because its based on (and tracks) RHEL,  effectively it is not really
controlled by Oracle.   

Fast forward to 2010 - Oracle buys Sun Microsystems - and obtains ownership and control of the Solaris ecosystem - an operating system that Sun had continued to innovate  (even though there were elements of defocus from commodity platform support in the mid-90's, Solaris 8 had been the last Solaris distribution available for x86), it didn't take Sun engineers too long to realize, and ramp up support for, Solaris on x86 platforms with the release of Solaris 10. The key fact that needs to be pointed out to those who may not appreciate this, is that Solaris is derived from the same source tree that OpenSolaris comes from and is (roughly)
95% the same across all platforms it runs on: Intel/AMD/SPARC/virtual machines/hypervisors - etc. - the small differences reside in the low level architecture and driver implementation differences (or elements of paravirtualization, as is the case in VMs).  Further on deriving bits from the Solaris source tree - the notion of storage appliances begins to get productised by Sun - brought to life by the same engineers that brought (and continue to enhance) DTrace - in the form of a network attached storage appliance (hint: DTrace, itself, came about as a solution to the whole notion of making it easier to troubleshoot systems wholistically, by asking questions of the system and formulating a hypothesis that leads you down the path of understanding systems better, thus reducing the time it takes you to get to the resolution of your problem).   Sun had started building appliances even prior to that.  Have you heard of the desktop appliance ala Sun Ray and the business benefits it gets its users in terms of desktop security, mobility and reduction of licensing and desktop power consumption ? (Yep, we've got Banks, Telco's, Universities, and other industries using these devices to save money).  And while Oracle had begun building appliances, in parallel, with its Exadata machine, Sun and Oracle continued to leverage their strengths - and now these strengths are working cross-organizationally, accelerating development and value to clients.  Sun brought Java, Hardware, Solaris to Oracle's existing portfolio of business software. So - putting our investment cap back on: Oracle now owns and controls Solaris and hardware systems.  Oracle has talked about investing in these MORE then Sun had - have a look at Oracle's job postings, particularly in TX!  See some of the recent benchmarks and, before you bait and switch away from Solaris "just because everyone claims its the good-enough thing to do" (and in certain few ISV-led cases it might be today - as an artifact of where Sun had been).  But, don't judge Sun on where it had been, but rather where it is now and where Oracle is taking it; pause and ask yourself whether taking that turn makes sense for you today and, if you do take it, whether it will continue to make sense for you tomorrow.  Solaris has a few of its gaps and those are being addressed; there is intent and accelerated development to ensure that, over time, the availability of software portfolio for Solaris is on par (where it may not be today) - and that the software portfolio is a 1st class citizen of Solaris, that the stack gets integrated in a performant manner with Solaris; and elements that go into making it better for middleware or databases will also benefit other 3rd party and open-source workloads as well...and that it will continue to give you the rich platform choice, continuing to be the world's #1 enterprise OS that lends itself to Very Many flavours of situational computing out there.  Would love to hear your thoughts, your successes or challenges.

I look forward to seeing you at Oracle OpenWorld 2010 in San Francisco this September! Duncan Hardie,  Jeff Victor and I are
hosting a session on the 21st of September, title of which is "Optimize Legacy/Modern Application Environments with Oracle Solaris Containers" (part of "Oracle Solaris" track) at 2pm in Moscone South, Room 301

'till then!

Tuesday Nov 25, 2008

November 2008 Solaris/Developer Days Part XI - slides

Hello everyone,

Well, last week we had yet another action-packed day of events held on 2 consecutive days in NYC and in lovely Edison, NJ. Despite the cold weather and whatever it was that had been ailing me, I seem to have managed it - and apologise to any of you who may have felt that whatever has been ailing you for the past few days had been my doing. I got better, and I hope you will, too ;)

Below are the snapshots of the agenda, along with presentations that were given by our speakers. Please note that the agenda in New Jersey had a different order flow only due to speaker availability; the content presented on both days had been identical.


9:30am Welcome Back, Quick Sun Update – Isaac Rozenfeld
10:00am Storage Product Update – Neal Weiss
10:45am Software Performance and Solaris Observability - Jarod Jenson of Forsythe - For a copy of this presentation please contact Forsythe directly - Marc Kreppel (mkreppel-AT-forsythe-DOT-com)
11:45am Solaris 10 10/08 [Update 6] Highlights – Isaac Rozenfeld
12:15pm xVM Server/OpsCenter Update + demo – Michael Barrett
1:15pm Lunch
1:45pm x64 Product Update – Mike Marotta/Paul Kirtland
2:15pm xVM Desktop Virtualization – Michael Barrett
3:00pm Zones & OpenSolaris Update – Jerry Jelinek
3:45pm Cloud Computing Initiative – Hal Stern
4:45pm Q&A/Raffle

...and of course, no event would be complete without Solaris 10 media give-aways. Do join us next time (probably circa the next Solaris 10 Update release - expected sometime in 2009) for yet another amazing session.  Let us know what topics you would like to hear about, too - as these events are done FOR you.  Until then, if you are interested in keeping up with what is happening in the world of Solaris and OpenSolaris (and why the two are actually ONE), check out the New York's OpenSolaris user's group.

// $ more soon

Saturday May 31, 2008

GRUB me the wrong way and I just may lose some data

Earlier this month we released OpenSolaris 2008.05 - a distribution of OpenSolaris that, so far, runs on any modern Intel/AMD/VIA processor.  This past weekend I decided to enter the fray into the
world of multiboot-ability with GRUB and see just how fun prowling the multiboot world can get! 

Thanks to lots of good documentation floating on the 'net  (that our friends at google make so easily accessible at the dyer time of need) - and most importantly thanks to our very own Partition Magician - good colleague Bob Netherton, for offering
some very inquisitive pointers at the very right time ....thus saving me from myself on more then one occasion. Bob - you r0ck!  Additionally this is one good GRUB reference I would recommend anyone beginning to tinker with GRUB.

So - what have I learned through it all?   Don't use parttype
in grub w/out having first jotted down what your disk geometry looks like - for starters.  Grub's parttype command allows you to specify the type of the partition.  Given the original PC's limitations of 4 primary partitions - and only one Solaris parition being available at any given time, it took some whimsical thinking to plow through some of the challenges that I wedged myself with right off the bat ...

What did I start off with ?

I started off with a fairly common entry-level environment - a PC that has 1 physical disk with the following partitions:

WinXP, Recovery Partition (provided by the PC vendor), Solaris Express Developer Edition 1/08 (that I had previously installed), and a FAT32 partition that I have data on, that I use for sharing across the Windows and SXDE partitions.  Without knowing any better, right off the bat, I managed to wedge my PC into thinking that the FAT32 partition is now a ext3 partition...or was it ext2... or was it fat.... and not having known to just be careful about plowing head-in, I almost ran for the recovery DVD's to re-start the entire process from scratch. 

Scratch is what I did, but not the PC but my own head. It hurt quite a bit, to have to realise that the only way forward was to succumb to the fact that with an innocentlly executed parttype command, a partition that was formerly known to be of one type, now could no longer be seen by anything.  OUCH. I guess I could've anticipated that - and in retrospect I am not surprised by my actions.  Thank G-D for Backups! :-)

Now, what did I set out to achieve ?

I wanted to have a partition running with OpenSolaris 2008.05  in such a way that would still allow me to boot into SXDE and Windows XP.  There can only be one Solaris parition on a disk, and so the trickery that is involved is (although well documented by Bob here) still needs to take place. And with the version of GRUB that OpenSolaris comes with, relying on the reviously only-supplied-by-Fedora Core-version-of-Grub on this machine was not necessary.

I ended up deleting (in a planned fashion) a Recovery Partition and shrinking the Windows XP partition, to combine a 11GB worth of disk space to be made available to OpenSolaris. Now, it doesn't really need that much - only about 3GB or so, but I know I'll be installing various types of packages over time so thought may as well have the space available now.  I had formatted that newly created partition into ext3 (Linux) for the purposes of then relying on Grub to act as a switch between ext3 and Solaris.  Because of the limitation that there can only be one Solaris partition (not sure where that comes from - if anyone knows, please feel free to comment - I haven't googled this yet :-), the boot process entails making the Solaris partition that you want to boot into the active one, anytime you want to boot into it.

To install OpenSolaris 2008.05, what I had to do was to, prior to loading the OpenSolaris LiveCD into memory, jump out at the GRUB screen and instruct  GRUB to take the ext3 partition and convert it into a Solaris partition. At the same time, I had to instruct GRUB to convert the existing Solaris partition (that has my SXDE OS image loaded on it) into a ext3 partition.  The syntax for that (as is on my PC) looks like this:

grub> hd0, <HIT TAB>

<you get a screenfull of currently defined partitions, then:>

parttype (hd0,1) 0xbf
parttype (hd0,3) 0x83

What this does is it takes the 1st partition on the 0th disk (everyone starts their counting differently, Grub too - so don't grub it the wrong way else you're in for a treat!)

The geometry (hd0) command comes in handy, too.  My map looked like the following, prior to installing OpenSolaris:

hd0,0 - 0x7 (NTFS) 
hd0,1 - 0x83 (ext2fs)
hd0,3 - 0xbf (Solaris/ufs)
hd0,4 - 0xb (FAT)

After the installation of OpenSolaris into this multiboot environment, what I ended up with is a map that essentially looks like this:

hd0,0 - 0x7 NTFS
hd0,1 - 0x83 OpenSolaris
hd0,3 - 0x83 (zfs)
hd0,4 - 0xb (FAT)

The Grub menu.lst file lives in each respective Solaris partitions that, depending on what environment I want to boot into, needs to be made active.  The syntax for making that happen entails modifying each of the menu.lst files and reversing the order of the previously executed step.

title OpenSolaris 2008.05 Release - snv_86
parttype (hd0,1) 0xbf
parttype (hd0,3) 0x83
root (hd0,1)
chainloader +1

Right now the user experience looks something like this. By default the system comes up and gives me a choice whether to boot into OpenSolaris, Windows or Solaris Express Developer Edition.

If I opt to boot into the Solaris Express Developer Edition, the following command is executed behind the scenes and I am presented with the following screen - which is being read from the other Solaris partition that I have on my PC:

title Solaris Express Developer Edition 3 snv79
parttype (hd0,1) 0x83
parttype (hd0,3) 0xbf
root (hd0,3)
chainloader +1

Of course, bootability into Windows looks familiar and is not modified:

title Windows XP
rootnoverify (hd0,0)
chainloader +1

The unlucky partition that I managed to blow away was that very shareable FAT32
partition. Of course, not figuring out exactly what syntax must apply to FAT32 partitions, it took some thinking. Turns out, the help parttype syntax in Grub does not really reveal acceptable types - only the Hex range is the best I could find in the documentation - and that didn't help me.  At the end of it all, though, parttype (hd0,4) 0xb is what dresses up a partition in the FAT32 armor.  Betcha didn't know that. I didn't either... and still am somewhat not fully convinced I understand the differences between 0x6, 0x1b and 0xc - all of which appear as FAT paritions in GRUB.  But I'll leave that for another day as that lawn that I haven't touched for 2 weeks (having been out of the country on biz travel) is just beggin' for some mowin'...

Saturday Jan 12, 2008

Sharing The Wealth (as an atomic operation)

Knowledge wealth is not a measure of material quantity; it is a relative measure of metadata's meaning, begging to be set free.

I often feel that people can be much more successful and productive if they share the information they know - openly.  So to do my part, I gladly welcomed an opportunity to participate in Sun's Tech Days 2008 WorldTour (details) and traveled to Atlanta, Georgia, this week, to present on some of Sun's very cool technologies (our Solaris operating environment and ZFS - two of which have recently been recognized as the Best Server OS and Best Filesystem (respectively) by InfoWorld in their annual technology review

While there, I had joined a dozen other Sun engineers, collegues and partners in a 2-day event focusing on OpenSolaris, Solaris and Sun's developer-centric technologies and tools (and we've got quite a community). The entire event took place at the Cobb Galleria Center; and the agenda was packed!

If you're a developer, an existing customer or a prospect, please do take the time to participate in these free events when they come to your town.  There were hundreds of attendees in Atlanta (I don't have the actual numbers yet) - and they all came to hear about cool Sun technologies: development tools, operating system features and services - and most improtantly, (I think), to interact and hear directly from Sun engineers involved in development of (and day-to-day activities with) these technologies. 

Speakers included (in random order) Jeet Kaul, Ian Murdock, Michael Ingrassia, Valerie Fenwick, Sowmini Varadhan, Scott Dickson, Don Deal and many others whose sessions I did not get a chance to attend. You can see the entire list of speakers and presentations from the OpenSolaris day.  I lead a session on OpenSolaris (A Definition) and on ZFS (with a focus on why developers should think of using it). Would love to hear your thoughts about these technologies and what creative uses you've come up with to entrust your business to them.

I also dived into examples of what I've dubbed Solaris Multiplicity -  a practice  of using various Solaris technologies jointly to come up with an economically malleable index representative of deriving increased levels of value for your enterprise,  rather then partially using subsets of these technologies and come up short of the full potential.

More on this soon...

1/2/2010 Update - I organized my thoughts on this further into a slide set forming a presentation.  Whilst with examples, it takes about 1.5 hours to go through the entire deck.  I had presented it at Immersion Week (a Sun conference) in 2008. If <PG DOWN> is your key of the day, it is conceivable that you might be able to go through the slides much faster ... Your thoughts are welcomed!

Sunday Nov 18, 2007

High Performance on Wall Street

What is Sun doing in the High Performance Computing space ?  The answer to that question is likely to surprise you, especially if you have not followed Sun for the last few quarters.  Generally, what contributes to the answer are components that help enable technology solutions that meet specific requirements of latency-sensitive workloads. But the answer does not stop there.  A solution typically spans various parts of the architecture stack, from the hardware, through the operating system software and up into the end-user's application. Availability of the operating system's libraries and operating system's intrinsic observability, virtualization and high availability capabilities become essential elements   of an overall solution that business depends on.  To that end, I had an   opportunity to share in the fun of hosting a Sun solutions exhibit at this   past September's High Performance on Wall Street  event, at the   Roosevelt Hotel in New York City.  There were lots of interesting   keynotes from customers who are actually facing these challenges and   are working through them. Additionally, there were a number of   interesting exhibitors sharing the exhibit halls with us.  I, of course, talked  about successes seen by our customers through the use of Solaris  DTrace facility, our rich x64 AMD/Intel product line and various  developer tools and solutions that have HPC requirements and  capabilities inherent in them and examples of our joint work with Cisco,   Intel and Reuters that has allowed for ....very interesting low-latency   performance solutions for financial services customers.  There's a global group of customer-facing archtiects and performance engineers (lead by   Ambreesh Khanna) that is actually leading the charge on a number of   solutions geared toward aiding our global financial customer base. Overall, you can  read more about what Sun is doing in the High Performance Computing space by following this link:

(Photograph courtesy of Dov Friedmann. More photographs from the event are available here)

Thursday Nov 01, 2007

Virtualization hits New York City Government


NYC GOV 2007 Technology ForumNew York City on the 1st day of November ...aaah, yet another data point reminding us that the flavor of autumn has once again made its appearance.  I love autumn!  As if last night's stroll with the kids trick-or-treating wasn't enough, this morning's cold, crisp air (augmented with randomly dancing yellowish leaves occasionally painted with traces of red and orange) created such a wonderful & unique experience. (Had it rained, the experience would not only have been  unique but a wet one, too!)

The constant hustle and bustle of the city was no different today.  Brooklyn's Marriott Hotel (by the the historic Brooklyn Bridge) hosted this year's New York City Government Technology Forum.  Sun was one of the sponsors. There was an exhibit with many interesting (and well-known) vendors catering to the City, State and Federal Government industries.  I had an honor of speaking at this event; topic - Server Virtualization.

Together with Christopher Theon (Practice Manager, GTSI) and Marcos Merced (an MIS Director from DoITT) we had just over an hour to define and discuss server virtualization.  We divided the time frame into, roughly, three 15 to 20-minute timeslots (to allow opportunity for Q&A). Since my topic dealt with introducing virtualization and discussing hardware and software components, I spoke first. My goal was to remain vendor-neutral and provide an objective overview of server virtualization technologies. (I hope I've succeeded in meeting that goal).  Here are my presentation slides.   Chris extended the discussion by picking up on the business drivers that I had introduced.  He took the discussion further into cost analysis and other business-centric elements that are critical in evaluating the approach and success of a virtualization project.  Marcos talked about a case study of deploying VMware solutions over the last 3 years, and how it has helped his organization  improve overall agility and importantly - reduce costs.  While each of our topics could well take an hour, each on their own, I would love to hear what you thought (if you were among those attending).   

And if you weren't in the audience, I would still love to hear about creative ways that you've used to employ virtualization technologies to address business drivers (even if you did not [or do not] use an ounce of Sun's technology to accomplish that)...


Thursday Oct 11, 2007

OpenSolaris IS a glimpse into Solaris futures

ave you caught the OpenSolaris wave yet?  Back in the Summer, Brian Gupta and I kicked off a New York OpenSolaris User Group  for the purposes of educating the community and soliciting input from the community on how people use OpenSolaris and Solaris technologies. This is meant as a two-way street. Check out some of our previous meeting pages, as well as an upcoming meeting on November 15th.   Why is all of this important? If you are not yet aware of how Solaris development works, you may be pleasantly surprised that all of the development of new technologies goes into the next release of Solaris that is currently being developed in the open - dubbed Nevada, i.e. SunOS 5.11. You can actually get a taste for some of the technologies that have been opensourced as part of that process and experience them before SunOS 5.11 is released commercially.  If you look back at the calendar, eventhough Solaris 10 came out commercially in January of 2005, our engineers had already been running builds of it back in 2002.  That means enhancements to (or new) features like CIFS, ZFS, FMA, enhancements to crypto technologies, DTrace, Intel-specific enhancements ....are all available today, via opensolaris distributions, such as SXDE 9/07 release.  Check out the free SXDE release...

Monday Apr 30, 2007

Unplanned Uptime of Loco Zones

Last week I had been in Mexico City, presenting at Sun's Immersion Week 2007 conference.  Speaking on 2 topics, twice each in one day, does pose its challenges.  As one example from this presentation, I recall catching myself uttering phrases  like "Unplanned Uptime" (in the context of Solaris features like SMF, FMA, Zones).  Of course, my intent was to elaborate on how Solaris 10 helps minimize unplanned downtime.... but jinxing myself with phrases like unplanned uptime was certainly a jaw-dropper, to say the least.  

Another, as shared over diner with Scott, Antonio, Mauricio, Jazmin and Enrique later in the day, was to maximize unplanned uptime of non-global (loco) zones.  But you'll haveta buy me a drink to get the full story. :-)


Saturday Apr 14, 2007

Solaris 10 Adoption and Minimization

Solaris 10, as well as OS minimization in general, still seems like a hot topic these days.  Following my Customer Engineering Conference '06 blog entry from San Francisco, I've uploaded  a Solaris 10 Adoption and Minimization presentation [pdf] that I gave there last October.

Would love to hear how you're doing in this space and if you need help, would love to come and talk with you and your organization about lessons learned in the field on this very interesting subject.


Isaac Rozenfeld is a Product Manager for Oracle Solaris; current responsibilities include the portfolio of networking and installation technologies in Solaris, with a focus on easing the overall application deployment experience

You can follow Isaac on Twitter @izfromsun


« April 2014
Tech Reference

No bookmarks in folder