Some months ago, I had the great opportunity to be profiled for the Peer-to-Peer column of the Oracle Magazine, which is an international publication published by Oracle on a monthly basis.

Although the interview is now available in the September/October 2011 issue of the Oracle Magazine, it has also been truncated because of some space concerns, and other things related to the format of the publication. Nonetheless, and for those who are interested, here is the complete interview.

Basic information

Brief description of your responsibilities

Multi-platform UNIX systems consultant and administrator in mutualized and virtualized environments. Architecture and expertise building Solaris and UNIX experience in large enterprise such as banking and financial services, IT services, Telecommunication and multimedia companies.

Length of time using Oracle products

For over eleven years I worked with Solaris as a system administrator, but it was Sun Microsystems at this time, not yet Oracle.

Published author?

I am not a published author, but I participated in writing an article in GLMF, and blogging publicly on the Internet for many years.

If so, title/publication/year

. Title: GNU Solaris : Introduction
Publication: GNU/Linux Magazine France (GLMF)
Year: June 2008
Authors: Yves Mettier, Julien Gabel
Participation in the writing of an article on OpenSolaris: brief history, major distributions, use with a concrete case, and evolutions to come.

. I blogged for more than six years at blog'o thnet: http://blog.thilelli.net/

Which version and release of the Oracle database [or for Applications ACEs, which systems] do you currently use?

I work on Solaris systems for more than ten years, from Solaris 2.6 on SPARC systems to Solaris 11 on both x86 and SPARC platforms.

Interview questions

How did you get started in IT?

I had the chance to discover IT and UNIX system administration when I was yet at school preparing a Master's degree in Engineering, but this was very very late in fact, since I was twenty years old at this time! Since then I always found myself passionate by sysadmin on UNIX platforms without interruption, greatly helped by the always evolving technologies, such as virtualization for example.

What is your favorite tool or technique on the job?

In general, I tend to encourage work on topics around virtualization, in particular when based on Zones and ZFS which both completely revolutionized and extends the possibilities of such configurations.

Secondly, I am interested by performance and pinpointing the root cause of a performance penalty problem, or observation. If DTrace is definitely a invaluable new tool introduced in Solaris 10, better understand how things works at the operating system level will help better understand the metric reported by more classical (historical) tools which can always gives us useful information if we are able to interpret them properly.

If you are exploring the new features in Oracle Database or Oracle Fusion Middleware, please tell us which features you're finding valuable, and why. If you are exploring any new features in an Oracle application, please tell use which features you're finding valuable, and why.

Since Solaris 10, the integration of Zones, Solaris Resource Manager and ZFS opened new opportunities with very light overhead, and interesting capabilities for virtualization: dynamic resource capping for CPU and memory at the non-global zone level, and very flexible use for data management through the use of ZFS.

With the upcoming release of Solaris 11, virtual networks will greatly extends the Zones experience, while some other new features will help us at least just as much: for example the new IPS packaging technology in conjunction with boot environments which will make old patching paths a thing of the past, and automates some new capability such as instantly cloning an environment when a package require a reboot (a sort of intelligent automated Live Upgrade).

What advice do you have about how to get into Web, database, and/or application development or software architecture?

Well, some essential points came in mind here: be voluntary, be passionate and interested by what you are doing, educate yourself (helped by appropriate trainings, experienced co-workers, etc.), and keep up-to-date as much as possible!

What would you like to see Oracle, as a company or as a technology, do differently, better, or more of?

Well, good question. Two points here.

As a company, I really liked Oracle to better integrate and co-operate with OpenSolaris, Solaris and OpenSource projects and communities. In fact, I particularly regrets the fact that Oracle will not deliver more regularly development releases of the operating system and its ecosystems (such as Sun did in the past since early 2005) because it gave the interested system administrators and specialists some insight of what will arrive next, and is a good opportunity to test new functionality before they arrived as a finalized product. I miss this opportunity where it was possible to test, to report and to follow next system technologies beforehand, followed by a large community of enthusiasts participating in the Solaris evolution. I am convinced this will greatly help to improve Solaris as a target enterprise OS for Oracle, and get a new and vibrant community as can be found in the Linux world.

As a technology, I think Solaris miss a tool such as nmon on IBM AIX. This nifty tool has the ability to provide lots of interesting and important information live on the systems from one single tool (such as sar but with much more information) but, more interestingly, it has the capability to collect these information to be used by different tools to generate graphs afterward. We can always do this ourselves (self made solutions) or let some expensive enterprise tools do this job, but I really think this may be a very valuable add-on to Oracle Solaris.

What's your favorite Oracle reference book and why? (Put another way, if you were going to the International Space Station for six months and could only take one Oracle reference book, what would it be?)

Without hesitation, my answer is the second book of the latest edition of Solaris Internals "Solaris Performance and Tools, DTrace and MDB Techniques for Solaris 10 and OpenSolaris". This book is a must have since it is really complete, covering both tools and methodologies for performance observability and debugging. It provides a better understanding and metrics interpretation of the output of some already known tools up to the latest utilities found in Solaris 10 and Solaris 11.

What's your favorite thing to do that doesn't involve work?

Although I am involved in system administration and IT communities even when I am not at work, I really like driving my motorcycle... at least when the weather permit ;)

Do you have a favorite vacation spot?

Not a favorite vacation spot in itself, but I like winter sports, especially snowboarding.