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Monday 2 April 2012

Press Review #9

Here is a little press review around Oracle technologies, and Solaris in particular:

Are SSD-based arrays a bad idea?

Think: if NAND flash storage arrays were being developed today, what is the chance that we’d put the flash into little bricks and then plug a bunch of them into a backplane? So why do it now?

Shall I use Zones or LDOMs?

Of course one can't answer this question without talking about the platform requirements and the reasons to pick the right technologies, but before we'd go into details, let me get the most important statement straight: Zones and LDOMs are not rivalling, but complementary technologies. If you need kernelspace separation, use ldoms. But run your applications in zones within those ldoms anyway!

Zones? Clusters? Clustering zones? Zoneclusters?

Everyone values zones, Solaris' builtin OS-virtualization. They are near-footprintless. Their administration is delegable. They have their own bootenvironments. Easily cloneable with ZFS snapshots, etc. They are also cleanly integratable with Solaris Cluster in different ways - this post should shed some light on the different options, and provide an example of zoneclusters.

POWER: Loss of Sony Playstation Platform

Apple abandoned PowerPC for Intel in 2006, leaving IBM POWER without a desktop partner. Sony is rumored to discontinue use of IBM POWER for their gaming consoles in the PlayStation 4, starting the decline of POWER in the gaming market. POWER7+ from IBM is now nearly a half-year late and IBM has still not delivered as of March 2012.

Cheatsheet for configuring...

There are quite a number of changes in the procedures to configure some of the networking parameters. Many things have changed, that were just editing of a file in the past, have now command-line based tools in order to change their parameters. Before you ask: The reason for this steps are quite simple.

Solaris Fingerprint Database - How it's done in Solaris 11

Many remember the Solaris Fingerprint Database. It was a great tool to verify the integrity of a solaris binary. Unfortunately, it went away with the rest of sunsolve, and was not revived in the replacement, "My Oracle Support". Here's the good news: It's back for Solaris 11, and it's better than ever!

Sun ZFS Storage Appliance : can do blocks, can do files too!

As a benchmark SPC-1's profile is close to what a fixed block size DB would actually be doing. See Fast Safe Cheap : Pick 3 for more details on that result. Here, for an encore, we're showing today how the ZFS Storage appliance can perform in a totally different environment : generic NFS file serving.

The USE Method...

A serious performance issue arises, and you suspect it’s caused by the server. What do you check first? Back when I was teaching operating system performance, I wanted a methodology my students could follow to find common issues quickly, without overlooking important areas. Like an emergency checklist in a flight manual, it would be something simple, straightforward, complete and fast. I eventually came up with the “USE” method (short for “Utilization Saturation and Errors”), which I’ve used many times successfully in enterprise environments, and more recently in cloud computing environments.

Getting Started with Oracle Unbreakable Enterprise Kernel Release 2

This article describes how you can update your Oracle Linux systems to the latest version of the Unbreakable Enterprise Kernel. By switching to the latest Unbreakable Enterprise Kernel, you can get the latest innovations in mainline Linux. Switching is easy—applications and the operating system remain unchanged. There is no need to perform a full re-install; only the relevant RPM packages are replaced. You can obtain future updates easily from the Unbreakable Linux Network to keep your systems fully patched and secured.

Oracle Solaris 11 Cheatsheet

In the last few days i created a cheat sheet for Solaris 11 ... while it's still a work in progress (it will be surely longer in the future).

Performance impact of the new mtmalloc memory allocator

I didn't wrote about this as it was in my phase of silence but there was some change in the allocator area, Solaris 10 got a revamped mtmalloc allocator in version Solaris 10 08/11 (as described in "libmtmalloc Improvements"). The new memory allocator was introduced to Solaris development by the PSARC case 2010/212.

Linux Kernel Performance: Flame Graphs


To get the most out of your systems, you want detailed insight into what the operating system kernel is doing. A typical approach is to sample stack traces; however, the data collected can be time consuming to read or navigate. Flame Graphs are a new way to visualize sampled stack traces, and can be applied to the Linux kernel for some useful (and stunning!) visualizations.

'Cheap' Oracle box bashes NetApp benchmark

Save one MILLION dollars, get 32% more speed

The Sun ZFS 7320 scored 134,140 SPECsfs2008 IOPS with an overall response time of 1.51msecs and cost $179,602.

Oracle quotes a price of $1,215,290 for NetApp's FAS3270 which scored 101,183 IOPS with a 1.66msec response time.

The Oracle-NetApp pricing difference is huge and, on the face of it, paying $1,035,698 more for 32 per cent less performance is not an attractive idea for a basic NFS file-serving box.

Red Hat Enterprise Linux to Oracle Solaris 11 Evaluation

The following guide gives an overview of some of the technologies included in Oracle Solaris 11 and the direct benefit you can get by using some of these features. This guide also provides a similar technology mapping, where possible, between Red Hat Enteprise Linux and Oracle Solaris 11, so that administrators with knowledge in the former can kick start their learning experience if planning deploy the latter.

How To install Solaris 11 automated install server

This a quick blog entry designed to outline the commands that can aid in the process of setting up a Solaris 11 Automated Install server. More details and an overview of what's changed, are of course available at the Simplified Installation section of the Oracle Solaris 11 Spotlight pages.

Great Solaris 10 features paving the way to Solaris 11

Again: the main message is: Go for Solaris 11 if you can. If you need to run Solaris 10, we recommend deploying the mentioned technologies, they can and will improve your daily system engineering business and prepare your platform for the move to Solaris 11.

How to Find Out What's in an Oracle Solaris Binary File

How to determine the contents of Oracle Solaris binaries and what tools you can use to read, extract, and delete sections. Plus, the effect of compiler flags on binary file size and how to reduce the size of the executable.

SPARC: Life in the Fast Lane - 10 Months Later

Both Oracle and Fujitsu are independently pursuing SPARC in disjoint, non-overlapping, markets. They are not the only vendors creating new production quality SPARC processors (as noted by the former #1 HPC system from China.) SPARC appears to have a long road ahead, being implemented by multiple vendors, and each implementation performing best in it's class.

Wednesday 29 February 2012

Press Review #8

Here is a little press review around Oracle technologies, and Solaris in particular:

How I Used CGroups to Manage System Resources In Oracle Linux 6

Having worked with resource controls in Oracle Solaris, I was anxious to learn how to do the same thing in Oracle Linux 6 with the Unbreakable Enterprise Kernel (UEK). Resource management using control groups (cgroups) is just one of many new features in Oracle Linux 6. Cgroups give administrators fine-grained control over resource allocations, helping to make sure that applications get what they need to deliver consistent response times and adequate performance.

ZFS: Apple Enters Storage Arena

With the creation of ZFS, Apple MacOSX has finally made it into the realm of being a very viable platform for server applications. No longer will people need to use MacOSX as a client and buy a SPARC or Intel Solaris platform as a server to gain the benefits of ZFS. Common designers, video publishers, and media collectors can now just add the occasional multi-terabyte hard drive and just keep on building their data collection with limited concern for failure - it will all be protected with parity and old deletions can be easily rolled back.

Intimate Shared Memory (ISM) et Solaris x86

Suite à une migration d'une base de données Oracle d'une architecture Solaris Sparc à une architecture Solaris x86, l'équipe DBA a décidé d'utiliser pleinement la mémoire disponible sur cette nouvelle infrastructure. Disposant d'un serveur avec 512 Go de mémoire, la SGA de la base Oracle a été positionnée à 290 Go (afin de diminuer les lectures physiques et d'éviter les locks R/W). L'augmentation de cette SGA a eu un bénéfice important sur les opérations de lectures (plus d'activité sur les disques SAN concernant les lectures) par contre le système Solaris saturait...

Standard Locations (why?)

The manifest-import service manages importing of manifests that are delivered as part of a package for an application. This instantiates the service and its instances on the system. The manifest-import service will then manage re-importing those manifests if they are modified/upgraded in some way.

Changes to svccfg import and delete

The behavior of svccfg import and svccfg delete fmri has changed in S11 if the manifests are in SMF's standard locations.

Oracle’s SPARC T4 Server Momentum Expands Demand for SPARC Systems

SPARC T4 Servers Adopted By Customers Across All Industries, Regions

Oracle Beats NetApp and EMC in Storage Magazine Quality Awards for NAS

Oracle’s Sun ZFS Storage Appliances Earn Highest Ratings for Enterprise and Midrange NAS Systems

Solaris and SPARC virtualization management features of Oracle Enterprise Manager Ops Center including "Live Migration"

Virtualization is not a new concept; however, there have been numerous advances in recent years that are helping businesses to be more effective at managing their virtualized environments. The easier it is to manage assets reliably, with reduced risk of downtime, the better the ability to focus on optimizing asset utilization in balance with required Service Level Objectives.

Fujian Mobile Replacing its Existing Teradata System with Oracle Exadata

China Mobile (Fujian) (Fujian Mobile) is a rapidly expanding subsidiary of China Mobile (HK) Group. Fujian Mobile’s customer base has expanded rapidly with subscribers growing from 2 million to more than 22 million in the past few years. To meet this increasing demand, Fujian Mobile is replacing its current Teradata system with a full-rack Oracle Exadata system for its next-generation high performance BASS.

SPARC: Road Map Updated!

The SPARC Road Map has been experiencing updates at a tremendous pace over the past few years, with new SPARC releases either happening early, with higher performance, or with a combination of the two. It is quite exciting to see SPARC back in the processor game again!

Less known Solaris 11 features: Shadow Migration

In the ZFS Storage Appliance we have little nice feature enabling you to do migrations of data in the background. It's called Shadow Migration. It's a really useful feature. Imagine you have a RAIDZ. After a time you recognize that RAIDZ wasn't a good decision for your workload and RAID10 would be much better choice. But how to transform it into a RAID10 and how to do it with minimal interruption? You can do this with the Shadow Migration feature. With the Shadow Migration feature, you can migrate the data from one local or remote filesystem to another, while you are already accessing the new one to get the data on the old ZFS filesystem. This feature is available in Solaris 11 as well.

Installing ZFS on a CentOS 6 Linux server

As most of my long term readers know I am a huge Solaris fan. How can’t you love an Operating System that comes with ZFS, DTrace, Zones, FMA and Network Virtualization amongst other things? I use Linux during my day job, and I’ve been hoping for quite some time that Oracle would port one or more of these technologies to Linux. Well the first salvo has been fired, though it wasn’t from Oracle. It comes by way of the ZFS on Linux project, which is an in-kernel implementation of ZFS (this project is different from the FUSE ZFS port).

Increasing Application Availability by Using the Oracle VM Server for SPARC Live Migration Feature: An Oracle Database Example

One of the most significant business challenges is to create and preserve value in a highly competitive environment, while keeping business applications available and reducing costs. It is important to maximize the business application availability during planned or unplanned outages. This document provides information about increasing application availability by using the Oracle VM Server for SPARC software (previously called Sun Logical Domains).

By using an example and presenting various scenarios, this paper describes how to take advantage of the Live Migration capability in the Oracle VM Server for SPARC 2.1 software to increase the availability of an Oracle Database 11g Release 2 single-instance database.

Oracle Security Evaluations

Oracle Security Evaluations are an integral part of the Oracle Software Security Assurance program. Go to Security Evaluations for more information on the evaluations and validations that Oracle undertake.

CIFS Sharing on Solaris 11

Things have changed since Solaris 10 (and Solaris 11 Express too!) on how to properly set up a CIFS server on your Solaris 11 machine so that Windows clients can access files. There's some documentation on the changes here, but let me share the full instructions from beginning to end.

The Difference Between a Standard and a Preferred Vendor

Recently, I attended a customer workshop where the customer declared that they standardized on x86, VMware and Linux.

That got me and my colleague thinking about what standardization really means and whether that actually makes sense.

The workshop was actually about defining a PaaS platform for the customer, and early in the process they just said: Fine, but it's gonna be x86, VMware and Linux, because that's our standard. WTF?

Three Enterprise Architecture Principles for Building Clouds

One of the first things TOGAF recommends architects do when establishing an Enterprise Architecture practice within a company is to formulate Architecture Principles that guide the development of solutions. During the last few workshops and during some discussions with other architects, three principles in particular struck me as being key to successfully developing a Cloud solution.

Oracle Solaris Studio 12.3 has now been packaged for IPS

Go to for details of adding your cert, key and publisher info!

Friday 17 February 2012

Oracle OpenWorld Live / Oracle on Youtube / Oracle Solaris TechCasts

Here are some multimedia links on Oracle OpenWorld Live, Oracle on Youtube, and Oracle Solaris TechCasts:

Watch Oracle OpenWorld Live

Watch Oracle OpenWorld Live, including Keynotes and TechCast Live

Oracle Channel On YouTube

Oracle Media Network

Follow some highlighted TechCasts:

TechCast: Oracle Solaris Virtualization

Joost Pronk, CTO for Oracle Solaris Product Management, provides an overview of the robust virtualization functionality built into the Oracle Solaris OS.

TechCast: Is Solaris Dead (Again)?

Lynn Rohrer, director of Oracle Solaris product management, explains the strategic importance of Solaris to Oracle, and why Oracle invests so heavily in it.

TechCast: Oracle Systems Strategy Update: Oracle Solaris

John Fowler, Oracle Executive Vice President, Server and Storage Systems, details the strategy for Oracle Solaris.

TechCast: What's Important about Oracle Solaris 11 Installation

Improving the Installation Experience in Oracle Solaris 11.

TechCast: Oracle Optimized Solutions

Marshall Choy, Director Optimized Solutions, explains why Oracle's optimized applications-to-disk configurations free the sysadmin from mundane and trivial tasks.

Techcast: Oracle Database chooses Oracle Solaris Studio

Learn about what the Oracle Database likes most about the Oracle Solaris platform and Oracle Solaris Studio development tools. Find out what's new in Oracle Solaris Studio and how you can get early access to the latest innovations.

TechCast: Oracle Solaris 11 Security Overview

A high-level overview of Oracle Solaris 11 security capabilities.

TechCast: Changes in Oracle Solaris Cluster 3.3

All about Oracle Solaris Cluster, including changes that have occurred since it became a part of Oracle and planned future developments.

TechCast: Oracle Solaris Optimizations for x86 Hardware

Chris Baker explains the optimizations for x86 hardware provided by Oracle Solaris, and how developers and sysadmins can take advantage of them.

TechCast: Oracle Solaris 11 Express IPS

Bart Smaalders, Solaris Core Engineering, explains how sysadmins will install and manage updates and patches using the new-and-improved Image Packaging System (IPS).

TechCast: Oracle Solaris Studio and Solaris 11 Express

Don Kretch and Vijay Tatkar discuss new features in Solaris Studio and the capabilities of Solaris 11 Express, including optimizations for the Oracle stack and both SPARC and x86 hardware.

TechCast: What's Great in Solaris 11 Express for Developers

George Drapeau, from Oracle ISV engineering, talks about the capabilities of Oracle Solaris 11 Express that will interest application developers, including the use of Solaris 10 branded zones and new DTrace probes.

TechCast: What's Great in Solaris 11 Express for Sysadmins

Markus Flierl, Dan Price, and Lianne Praza, from Solaris Core Engineering, describe how the new architecture of Solaris 11 Express Provides an integrated system that simplifies administration.

TechCast: DTrace for System Administrators, with Brendan Gregg

Rick Ramsey, Solaris Community Leader, interviews Brendan Gregg.

TechCast: Preparing for Solaris 11 Installation

Dave Miner, architect for Solaris Installation, describes the changes to the installation process and tools for Solaris 11.

Tuesday 31 January 2012

Press Review #7

Here is a little press review around Oracle technologies, and Solaris in particular:

Analyzing Interrupt Activity with DTrace

Interrupts are events delivered to CPUs, usually by external devices (e.g. FC, SCSI, Ethernet and Infiniband adapters). Interrupts can cause performance and observability problems for applications.

Performance problems are caused when an interrupt "steals" a CPU from an application thread, halting its process while the interrupt is serviced. This is called pinning - the interrupt will pin an application thread if the interrupt was delivered to a CPU on which an application was executing at the time.

ZFSSA/S7000 major update

The first major software update of S7000/ZFSSA/Fishwork in over a year is now available. With the original version "2011.Q1" it seems a bit delayed, perhaps due to the departure several key persons behind the software post Oracle acquisition of Sun.

The all-seeing eye of DTrace

I was recently involved with a problem related to backup software running on Solaris, as part of a general health check of the system I stumbled on something interesting that was not visible using conventional tools.

Windows 8: Getting More ZFS'ish

Storage has always been a part of operating systems. Over time, storage capabilities have increasingly became more sophisticated in operating systems, consuming features from 3rd party partners. Occasionally, a vendor will release very sophisticated increments to their operating systems. Windows 8 is projected to receive more ZFS-like features, to make it more competitive with Solaris, when Sun release ZFS over a half-dozen years ago.

Big Data : opportunité Business et (nouveau) défi pour la DSI ?

Comme le souligne une étude de McKinsey ("Big Data: The next frontier for innovation, competition, and productivity"), la maîtrise des données (dans leur diversité) et la capacité à les analyser à un impact fort sur l’apport que l’informatique (la DSI) peut fournir aux métiers, pour trouver de nouveaux axes de compétitivité. Pour ne citer que 2 exemples, ils estiment que l'exploitation du Big Data pourrait permettre d'économiser plus de €250 milliards sur l'ensemble du secteur publique Européens (identification des fraudes, gestion et mesures de l'efficacité des affectations des subventions et des plans d'investissements, ...). Quant au secteur marchand, la simple utilisation des données de géolocalisation pourrait permettre un surplus globale de $600 milliards[...]

Activity of the ZFS ARC

Disk I/O is still a common source of performance issues, despite modern cloud environments, modern file systems and huge amounts of main memory serving as file system cache. Understanding how well that cache is working is a key task while investigating disk I/O issues. In this post, I’ll show the activity of the ZFS file system Adaptive Replacement Cache (ARC).

Engineered Systems and Enterprise Architecture (or: How to Sell Dog Food Online)

One of the first things that customers and sales teams realize when dealing with Engineered Systems is: They fundamentally change the IT architecture of a business.

Change is good, it means progress. But change is sometimes seen as a bad thing: Change comes with fear.

The truth is that Engineered Systems really empower IT architects to add value to their business, application and data architectures, without worrying about the technology architecture.

New My Oracle Support User Interface to Replace HTML-Based User Interface on January 27, 2012

On January 27, 2012, we will upgrade My Oracle Support’s current HTML-based user interface (UI) to a new one built using Oracle’s Application Development Framework (ADF). This upgrade is driven by customer feedback, and will help provide our My Oracle Support HTML-based users more streamlined access to support information and services.

NEW CERTIFICATION: Oracle Certified Associate (OCA), Oracle Solaris 11 System Administrator

Oracle Certification announces the release of the new "Oracle Certified Associate, Oracle Solaris 11 System Administrator" certification. This certification is for Oracle Solaris system administrators who possess a strong foundation in the administration of the Oracle Solaris 11 Operating System and are proficient in essential system administration skills such as managing local disk devices, managing file systems, installing and removing Solaris packages and patches, performing system boot procedures and system processes.

Solaris Tip: How-To Identify Memory Mapped Files

A memory mapped (mmap'd) file is a shared memory object, or a file with some portion or the whole file was mapped to virtual memory segments in the address space of an OS process. Here is one way to figure out if a given object (file or shared memory object) was memory mapped in a process or not.

New Storage Magazine awards for NAS...

Storage Magazine just came out with the January 2012 issue, showing Oracle Storage doing quite well (#1) with the Oracle ZFSSA 7420 and 7320 family. Check out pages 37-43 of this month's Storage Magazine. Storage Magazine: (pages 37-43)

SSDs and the TPC-C top 10

If SSDs are so great, shouldn’t we see the results in TPC-C benchmarks? They are, and we do.

But there are some surprises.

MWAC in Global Zone

Solaris 11 has a new cool feature called Immutable Zones. [...] Immutable Zones basically allow for read-only or partially read-only Zones to be deployed. You can even combine it with ZFS encryption - see Darren's blog entry for more details. The underlying technology to immutable zones is called Mandatory Write Access Control (MWAC) and is implemented in kernel. So for each open, unlink, etc. syscall a VFS layer checks if MWAC is enabled for a given filesystem and a zone and if it is it will check white and black lists associated with a zone and potentially deny write access to a file (generating EROFS).

IBM Slashes Some Power7 Processor Prices

The new year is well under way and IBM, as we report elsewhere in this issue of The Four Hundred, has closed out last year and is facing whatever new challenges it has. The big one is that new Opteron 6200 processors from Advanced Micro Devices and Sparc T4 processors from Oracle are out, and the even bigger problem is that the Xeon E5 processors from Intel are shipping under NDA to selected customers and are expected to launch this quarter.

With Power7+ machines expected this year, intense competition from X86 and Sparc iron, and a bunch of Power7 machines probably sitting in the barn at IBM's resellers, there may never be a better time to get a discount on Power7 processors.

How Dell Migrated from SUSE Linux to Oracle Linux

How Dell planned and implemented the migration, including key conversion issues and an overview of their transition process.

In June of 2010, Dell made the decision to migrate 1,700 systems from SUSE Linux to Oracle Linux, while leaving the hardware and application layers unchanged. Standardization across the Linux platforms helped make this large-scale conversion possible. The majority of the site-specific operating system and application configuration could simply be backed up and restored directly on the new operating system. Configuration changes were minimal and most could be automated, easing the administration effort required and helping achieve a reliable and consistent transition procedure.

ZFS Storage Appliance Calculator

Hardware and Systems Upgrade

Learn how to upgrade and why refreshing your data center makes good business sense.

Oracle Solaris and Oracle SPARC T4 Servers—Engineered Together for Enterprise Cloud Deployments

Over the last 25 years, the Oracle Solaris has been developed hand-in-hand with systems built around the SPARC processor. Oracle Solaris is tightly integrated with the many system level capabilities of the SPARC T4 processor, providing scalable, high-performance compute capability coupled with integrated high-speed networking and cryptographic acceleration.

Today, with Oracle Solaris 10 and SPARC T4 systems, existing applications can receive an immediate performance boost and at the same time companies can begin extending their operations into the cloud with Oracle Solaris 11.

Use the OPN Fast Track to move your Application to Oracle Solaris 11

The first building block is the Oracle Solaris binary guarantee. It warrants that Oracle Solaris 10 binaries can be executed on Oracle Solaris 11 without recompilation.

Even binary compatible applications rely on all the frame works which have been provided with Oracle Solaris 10. Applications who need this fine grained support of the older Oracle Solaris 10 infrastructure are likely to work smoothly on Oracle Solaris 11systems using an Oracle Solaris 10 branded zone. This will work as long as the applicaton has been supported to run in a Oracle Solaris 10 zone before.

Oracle and the Solaris Brand

When Oracle Corp. acquired to save some brands of Sun Microsystems April 2009 through January 2010, much was made about the enterprise software giant’s entry to the hardware business. Now, two years on, things are looking up for one of the industry’s better known platforms for performance and stability through the last couple decades—Solaris. Just last month, Markus Flierl, Vice President of Software Development, Oracle, told MIS Asia what Oracle has been doing to breathe new life into Solaris and where he expects the new platform to add value to industry users.

Friday 30 December 2011

Press Review #6

Here is a little press review around Oracle technologies, and Solaris in particular:

Oracle Solaris Crash Analysis Tool 5.3 now available

The Oracle Solaris Crash Analysis Tool Team is happy to announce the availability of release 5.3. This release addresses bugs discovered since the release of 5.2 plus enhancements to support Oracle Solaris 11 and updates to Oracle Solaris versions 7 through 10.

Hard Partitioning!

Since December 2, LDoms count as "Hard Partitioning". This makes it possible to license only those cores of a server with Oracle software that you really need.

Announcing Release of Oracle Solaris Cluster 4.0!

Oracle Solaris Cluster 4.0 offers the best availability for enterprise applications with instant system failure detection for fastest service recovery. It includes out-of the box support for Oracle database and applications such as Oracle WebLogic Server and is pre-tested with Oracle Sun servers, storage and networking components. It is optimized to leverage the SPARC SuperCluster redundancy and reliability features and delivers the high availability infrastructure for the Oracle Optimized Solutions.


Oracle E-Business Suite Release 12.1 Certified on Solaris 11

Oracle Solaris 11 was announced last week, and I'm pleased to also announce that Oracle E-Business Suite Release 12.1 is now certified on Oracle Solaris on SPARC (64-bit).

LDoms networking in Solaris 11

The network stack for Oracle Solaris 11 has been substantially re-architected in an effort known as the project Crossbow. One of the main goals of Crossbow is to virtualize the hard NICs into Virtual NICs (VNICs) to provide more effective sharing of networking resources. The VNIC feature allows dividing a physical NIC into multiple virtual interfaces to provide independent network stacks for applications.

How low can we go ? (Minimised install of Solaris 11)

I wondered how little we can actually install as a starting point for building a minimised system. The new IPS package system makes this much easier and makes it work in a supportable way without all the pit falls of patches and packages we had previously.

Oracle Solaris Studio 12.3 Launched!

Oracle Solaris Studio 12.3, Oracle's advanced C, C++ and Fortran development tool suite, accelerates application performance up to 300% on Oracle Systems, provides extreme application observability and enhances developer productivity. Oracle Solaris Studio 12.3 is optimized for Oracle Solaris, Oracle Linux, and Red Hat Enterprise Linux operating systems.

Disgruntled employee? Oracle doesn't seem to care about Solaris 11 code leak

The source code for Oracle's Solaris 11 operating system is now out in the open for anyone to peruse and compile, thanks to a furtive posting of a compressed archive that has been mirrored across scores of bitstreams and filesharing sites. But so far, Oracle hasn't moved to do anything about it, and the question remains whether the code was leaked by a disgruntled Oracle employee, or if this is the strangest open-source code-drop in history.

The Rise of Engineered Systems

The point is:
Building IT systems is complicated, time-consuming, error-prone, unpredictable, resource-intensive, expensive and risky.

Or, more shortly:
The way we build IT today is broken.

That's what Oracle’s Engineered Systems are about.

How to Install and Configure a Two-Node Cluster

Using Oracle Solaris Cluster 4.0 on Oracle Solaris 11

How to quickly and easily install and configure Oracle Solaris Cluster software for two nodes, including configuring a quorum device.

The case of the un-unmountable tmpfs

Every once in a rare while our development machines encounter an fatal error during boot because we couldn’t unmount tmpfs. This weekend I cracked the case, so I thought I’d share my uses of boot-time DTrace, and the musty corners of the operating systems that I encountered along the way. First I should explain a little bit about what happens during boot and why we were unmounting a tmpfs filesystem.

2000x performance win

I recently helped analyze a performance issue in an unexpected but common place, where the fix improved performance of a task by around 2000x (two thousand times faster). As this is short, interesting and useful, I’ve reproduced it here in a lab environment to share details and screenshots.

Flame Graphs

Determining why CPUs are busy is a routine task for performance analysis, which often involves profiling stack traces. Profiling by sampling at a fixed rate is a coarse but effective way to see which code-paths are hot (busy on-CPU). It usually works by creating a timed interrupt that collects the current program counter, function address, or entire stack back trace, and translates these to something human readable when printing a summary report.

Profiling data can be thousands of lines long, and difficult to comprehend. Flame graphs are a visualization for sampled stack traces, which allows hot code-paths to be identified quickly and accurately.

Visualizing Device Utilization

Device utilization is a key metric for performance analysis and capacity planning. In this post, I’ll illustrate different ways to visualize device utilization across multiple devices, and how that utilization is changing over time.

As a system to study, I’ll examine a production cloud environment that contains over 5,000 virtual CPUs (over 600 physical processors).

Coming Soon: My Oracle Support Next-Generation User Interface

My Oracle Support will receive a new user interface built using Oracle Application Development Framework (Oracle ADF). The new interface is designed to deliver faster, more streamlined access to support information and services. The upgrade will bring immediate benefits and also establish a new, state-of-the-art platform for service innovation over time.

More thoughts on ZFS compression and crash dumps

Thanks to Darren Moffat for poking holes in my previous post, or more explicitly pointing out that I could add more useful and interesting data. Darren commented that it was a shame I hadn't included the time to take a crash dump along side the size, and space usage. The reason for this is that one reason for using vmdump format compression from savecore is to minimize the time required to get the crash dump off the dump device and on to the file system.

Oracle Solaris 11, Aimed at Cloud Deployments, Enhances Network Virtualization

December 07, 2011 - IDC Link

Although customer updates have been shipping to customer sites for many years, this was the first major release of Solaris in seven years — and the first major release since Oracle acquired Sun Microsystems in January 2010. Following a beta program that began in 2010, there were more than 750 customers with Solaris 11 in production at launch.

Oracle Solaris runs on the Oracle SPARC hardware systems and on x86 server systems (systems based on Intel or AMD x86 microprocessors). Oracle sees this dual-platform approach as a differentiator from the two other major Unix operating systems, IBM AIX and HP-UX 11 v3, which run on POWER and Itanium systems, respectively, but not on x86 architecture. […] This dual-platform support, with SPARC and x86, gave Solaris a bigger footprint in datacenter through the early 2000s and helped sustain the full portfolio of 11,000 Solaris ISV applications.

Oracle has expanded the functionality of Solaris with Oracle Solaris 11 — adding new features related to virtualization and cloud computing. There is a very short list of vendors that show this kind of continued investment in operating systems — including Microsoft (Windows); Red Hat (Linux); and the two leading Unix competitors, IBM and HP.

SPARC T4 Server eBook

The Oracle ACE Program Newsletter| December 2011

Thursday 1 December 2011

Press Review #5

Here is a little press review around Oracle technologies, and Solaris in particular:

Oracle Delivers On SPARC Promises With New T4 Processors And Systems

This is a major milestone for Oracle and its server community. The virtues of the SuperCluster aside, it is the first tangible product of their commitments to a renewed investment in SPARC processor technology, and as such, it looks impressive. It retains the highly threaded throughput-oriented architecture of the T-series, and makes major improvements in single-threaded performance, which was a weakness in previous generations of T-series technology. But most importantly, it is early, laying to rest the ghosts of previous disasters at Sun and Oracle, validating not only Oracle’s intentions but their ability to execute with this new stream of CPU architectures.

CloudSigma invites Solaris to frolic on its cloud

CloudSigma, an infrastructure cloud operator based in Zurich, is letting customers run Solaris and the ZFS file system on its cloud, giving it full peer status with Linux and Windows operating systems.

Robert Jenkins, CloudSigma CTO, tells El Reg that the company is not putting servers using either Sparc64 or Sparc T series processors into its clouds. However, the company will let the x86 version of Solaris 10 run around its cloud and play alongside of myriad Linux and Windows distributions.

The System Developer's Edge, by Darryl Gove

Selected Blog Posts and Articles

The Developer's Edge was envisioned as an almanac for developers, something that gathered together a set of useful resources that could be dipped into, referred to, or read cover-to-cover. The book was never intended as the only location where the information resided, however some of the content is no longer available elsewhere, making it fortuitous that it has been captured here.

While the main body of text has not been changed, the book has been updated to the Oracle brand. The title has changed to include the word "systems", to target the intended audience more clearly.

Oracle Enterprise Manager Cloud Control 12c: Complete, Integrated and Business-Driven Cloud Management

Everyone is now talking about cloud and most of the IT vendor has latched on to the Cloud promise. Traditional systems management vendors are no exceptions. However, in most cases, Cloud is treated as a technology fashion, the newest buzzword in the ever changing landscape of enterprise technology.


This whitepaper delves into what really makes an enterprise Cloud. It covers the complete cloud life cycle and how Oracle Enterprise Manager 12c offers a complete, integrated and business-driven cloud management.

Engineered and General Purpose Systems

The virtues of Oracle's engineered systems, news about which came to the fore at Oracle OpenWorld2011, are discussed by Jeff Savit's blog post Engineered and General Purpose Systems, where he stresses the economy to the user of Oracle's integrated approach in saving customers time spent on the "non-revenue generating efforts" involved with designing and configuring enterprise systems. Because Oracle's engineered systems are designed to be optimal for a particular workload class, validated and proven by Oracle to be reliable, simple to purchase, configure and manage, and have dramatically superior performance for their target purpose. Furthermore, Savit notes, these systems are built on industry-standard components rather than rare or exotic chips, in order to take advantage of price/performance advances. So, while there will always be a niche at least for general purpose systems, the advantages of the engineered system will prove compelling in most instances, Savit predicts.

Replacing the Application Packaging Developer’s guide

The guide is a lot shorter than the old book – currently 56 pages, as opposed to the 190 pages in the document it replaces. Some of this is because of the fewer examples we have, but also we don’t have to write about patch creation, complex postinstall or class-action scripting or relocatable packages. IPS is simpler than SVR4 in many ways, though there is a learning curve, which this book aims to help with.

The SPARC T4 servers are here!

The M-Series are designed with Mainframe-class RAS features (Reliability, Availability, Serviceability). They are based on the Sparc64-VII+ CPUs, excelling at single threaded performance.

The T-Series are the CoolThread servers, with the CMT (chipmultithreading) design, they are designed to run heavily parallel workloads, concentrating on throughput, running up to 512 threads actively at the same time, if desired.

The latter category just got a brand new update, let's see, what makes the T4 special.

Completely disabling root logins on Solaris 11

Password (PAM) caching for Solaris su - "a la sudo"

User home directory encryption with ZFS

Immutable Zones on Encrypted ZFS

OpenSSL Versions in Solaris

HOWTO Turn off SPARC T4 or Intel AES-NI crypto acceleration

Here are a few technical blog entries stacked up using new security capabilities of Solaris 11:

  1. Completely disabling root logins on Solaris 11
  2. User home directory encryption with ZFS & PAM
  3. Password caching for Solaris su
  4. Immutable Zones on Encrypted ZFS
  5. OpenSSL Versions in Solaris
  6. HOWTO Turn off SPARC T4 or Intel AES-NI crypto acceleration

Oracle VM vs. VMware vSphere Cost Calculator

This online calculator let you experiment with different scenarios and see the total cost of ownership in real world dollars for various solutions.

Oracle Solaris 11 Engineered for Oracle VM Server Virtualization

Oracle Solaris 11 was announced today. Oracle Solaris 11 is engineered for Oracle VM sever virtualization on both x86 and SPARC based systems, providing deployment flexibility and secure live migration.

Solaris 11 DTrace syscall Provider Changes

Oracle Solaris 11 dropped many commonly used probes from the DTrace syscall provider, a disappointing side-effect of some code refactoring in the system call trap table (PSARC 2010/441 “delete obsolete system call traps”). This breaks a lot of scripts and one liners, including many that are used to teach beginners DTrace. Functionality is still (I think) possible, albeit by learning trap table mappings and tracing those.

What's new on the Solaris 11 Desktop?

Much has been written today about the enterprise and cloud features of Oracle Solaris 11, which was launched today, but what's new for those of us who just like to have the robustness and security of Solaris on our desktop machines? Here are a few of the Solaris 11 desktop highlights.

UNIX - Dead or alive?

The extinction of UNIX is not going to happen in our lifetimes

Looking to the future of UNIX, Fichera predicts vendors will offer improved scalability in both hardware and software; and that there will be improvements in oline maintenance and availability, along with improved partitioning and in systems management tools as well. None of these developments, it hardly need be said, could take place without sufficient marketplace interest in UNIX. Fichera is confident that it exists and will continue. He also expects continued interest in UNIX from Oracle, IBM and HP.

The IPS System Repository

Some packages in the zone always need to be kept in sync with those packages in the global zone. For example, anything which delivers a kernel module and a userland application that interfaces with it must be kept in sync between the global zone and any non-global zones on the system.

Performing a pkg update from the global zone ensures that all zones are kept in sync, and will update all zones automatically (though, as mentioned in the Zones administration guide, pkg update will simply update the global zone, and ensure that during that update only the packages that cross the kernel/userland boundary are updated in each zone.)

SPARC T4 OpenSSL Engine

The SPARC T4 microprocessor has several new instructions available to perform several cryptography functions in hardware. These instructions are used in a new built-in OpenSSL 1.0 engine available in Solaris 11, the t4 engine. These new crypto instructions are different from previous generations of SPARC hardware, which has separate crypto processing units./p>

Solaris X86 AESNI OpenSSL Engine

The Intel Westmere microprocessor has six new instructions to accelerate AES encryption. They are called "AESNI" for "AES New Instructions". These are unprivileged instructions, so no "root", other elevated access, or context switch is required to execute these instructions. These instructions are used in a new built-in OpenSSL 1.0 engine available in Solaris 11, the aesni engine.

My New Favorite Tool: Oracle VM VirtualBox

This article explains how I used Oracle VM VirtualBox to save time when testing database installation procedures. Oracle VM VirtualBox proved to be an incredibly useful tool because I could easily create multiple OS installation test cases as well as snapshot my progress at various points along the way.

Virtually the fastest way to try Solaris 11 (and Solaris 10 zones)

If you're looking to try out Solaris 11, there are the standard ISO and USB image downloads on the main page. Those are great if you're looking to install Solaris 11 on hardware, and we hope you will. But if you take the time to look down the page, you'll find a link off to the Oracle Solaris 11 Virtual Machine downloads. There are two downloads there:

  • A pre-built Solaris 10 zone
  • A pre-built Solaris 11 VM for use with VirtualBox

Critical Threads Optimization

The hardware is providing mechanisms to dynamically resource threads according to their runtime behavior.

We're very aware of these challenges in Solaris, and have been working to provide the best out of box performance while providing mechanisms to further optimize applications when necessary. The Critical Threads Optimization was introduced in Solaris 10 8/11 and Solaris 11 as one such mechanism that allows customers to both address issues caused by contention over shared hardware resources and explicitly take advantage of features such as T4's dynamic threading.

Solaris 11 : les nouveautés vues par les équipes de développement

Pour ceux qui ne sont pas dans la liste de distribution de la communauté des utilisateurs Solaris francophones, voici une petite compilation de liens sur les blogs des développeurs de Solaris 11 et qui couvre en détails les nouveautés dans de multiples domaines.

Sparc M4 chips etched by Oracle, not Fujitsu

In a briefing with El Reg to discuss the Solaris 11 launch, we pointed out that while the logical domain (LDom) partitioning technology on the Sparc T series was good and competitive with anything in the RISC/Unix and x86 server spaces, the dynamic domain hardware partitions used in the Sparc Enterprise M machines were a little bit rigid by comparison and that Oracle had to do something to bring LDoms to the future M4 processors.

Solaris 11 Customer Maintenance Lifecycle

This new blog is all about the Customer Maintenance Lifecycle for Image Packaging System (IPS) based Solaris releases, such as Solaris 11. It'll include policies, best practices, clarifications, and lots of other stuff which the writer hope you'll find useful as you get up to speed with Solaris 11 and IPS.

Let's start with a version of its Solaris 11 Customer Maintenance Lifecycle presentation which he gave at this year's Oracle Open World and at the recent Deutsche Oracle Anwendergruppe (DOAG - German Oracle Users Group) conference in Nürnberg.

Saturday 19 November 2011

Forum Oracle : Transformation du Data Center, l'innovation par l'intégration

I had the great opportunity to assist to the french event Forum Oracle : Transformation du Data Center, l'innovation par l'intégration, which took place in Paris last Tuesday, November 8, 2011.

Follow the slides corresponding to this event.

Title: Changing the Game by Simplifying I.T.

Speaker: Olivier Brot, Senior Sales Director Hardware BU Country Leader

URL: (fr) (1,5 MB)

Title: The Oracle Story

Speaker: John Abel, Chief Technology Architect; EMEA Server and Storage

URL: (en) (5,8 MB)

Title: Datacenter Transformation with Oracle Engineered Systems

Speaker: Dario Wiser, Head of Datacenters & Servers, HW Business Development EMEA

URL: (en) (2,7 MB)

Title: Comment construire votre Cloud avec Oracle ?

Speaker: Eric Bezille, CTO Oracle HW Business Unit France

URL: (fr) (1,3 MB)

Title: Oracle Exadata Database Machine & Oracle Exalogic

Speaker: Denis Martin, Exadata Business Development Manager; Antonio Ferreira, Architect Software

URL: (en) (3,5 MB)

Title: New Engineered Solutions : BigData et Exalytics pour anticiper l’explosion de nos données

Speaker: Pascal Guy, Architecte groupe EMEA Expert Server

URL: (en) (1,5 MB)

Title: Déploiements rapides, performants et sécurisés des applications avec la nouvelle génération des systèmes SPARC

Speaker: Jean-Yves Migeon; EMEA Oracle HW Business Development; Eric Bezille

URL: (fr) (2,6 MB)

Title: Transformative Oracle Storage Solutions For Datacenter Consolidation, Virtualization and Cloud

Speaker: Jacques Villain, Principal Sales Consultant, EMEA Long Term Storage TEAM

URL: (en) (2,5 MB)

Title: Présentation ALTARES: Optimisation du Datacenter

Speaker: M. Christophe Le Caignec, Directeur Système et Sécurité Informatique, ALTARES

URL: (fr) (0,2 MB)

Title: Realize The Full Potential of Your Application Infrastructure with Oracle’s Virtualized Systems

Speaker: Christophe PAULIAT, Sales Consultant, Hardware BU

URL: (en) (1,2 MB)

Title: Total Cloud Control with Oracle EM 12c

Speaker: Alain Scazzola, Business Development Manager

URL: (en) (4,4 MB)

Tuesday 15 November 2011

Oracle Solaris 11 Launch Highlights

Here is a little press review around the launch of Oracle Solaris 11:

Oracle Solaris 11 How to Articles

  1. Installation
  2. System Configuration
  3. Network Management
  4. Software Management
  5. Virtualization
  6. Development

Oracle Solaris : 11 New Things You Need To Know (Flash Video)

Recent Benchmarks Using Oracle Solaris 11

The following is a list of links to recent benchmarks which used Oracle Solaris 11.

  1. SPARC T4-2 Delivers World Record SPECjvm2008 Result with Oracle Solaris 11
  2. SPARC T4-4 Produces World Record Oracle OLAP Capacity
  3. SPARC T4-2 Server Beats Intel (Westmere AES-NI) on ZFS Encryption Tests
  4. SPARC T4 Processor Beats Intel (Westmere AES-NI) on AES Encryption Tests
  5. SPARC T4 Processor Outperforms IBM POWER7 and Intel (Westmere AES-NI) on OpenSSL AES Encryption Test
  6. SPARC T4-1 Server Outperforms Intel (Westmere AES-NI) on IPsec Encryption Tests
  7. SPARC T4-2 Server Beats Intel (Westmere AES-NI) on SSL Network Tests
  8. SPARC T4-2 Server Beats Intel (Westmere AES-NI) on Oracle Database Tablespace Encryption Queries

UNIX 03 Product Standard Conformance

Oracle Solaris 11 is certified on SPARC and X86-based platforms as conforming to the UNIX 03 product standard, effective November 8, 2011, per The Open Group.

Oracle dubs Solaris 11 world's 'first cloud OS'

'Absolutely spanking' IBM and HP

More importantly, the delay is the result of Oracle's desire to fully leverage the Sparc processor, the Solaris operating system, and the Oracle stack of database, middleware, and application software as a highly tuned system with a better system for testing and patching software in the entire stack as it changes and thereby allowing Oracle to command a premium for Sparc-based systems because they are easier to operate and support.

This is, of course, the old AS/400 value proposition that IBM has been selling its midrange customers for more than two decades. The difference now is that Oracle actually believes it, and IBM, which makes a lot more money selling services to integrate piece parts and support them than selling its Power Systems running the integrated IBM i software stack, can't afford to.

Fowler opened up his technical review of Solaris 11 by reminding everyone that Solaris had more deployments than HP-UX and AIX combined, and added that "operating systems are something that only improve over time."

Fowler said that Solaris 10, which was launched in January 2005, would be getting its own updates soon and would, in fact, be supported on future Sparc T5 and M4 systems due next year.

On roadmaps for the past year and a half, Fowler has shown that Oracle's long-term goal is to deliver in late 2014 or early 2015 a machine that has 64 sockets with a total of 16,384 threads and supporting 64TB of main memory.

Oracle Solaris 11: The First Cloud OS

Oracle Solaris 11 is the first operating system engineered with cloud computing in mind. We believe you should expect more from your OS -- especially as you start considering public, private and hybrid clouds for enterprise-class workloads.

And what's most important: all of this is integrated, engineered and optimized to work together: the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. It's the power of this that makes Oracle Solaris unique.

S11 X11: ye olde window system in today's new operating system

Today's the big release for Oracle Solaris 11, after 7 years of development. For me, the Solaris 11 release comes a little more than 11 years after I joined the X11 engineering team at what was then Sun, and finishes off some projects that were started all the way back then.

In total, we recorded 1512 change request id's during Solaris 11 development, from the time we forked the “Nevada” gate from the Solaris 10 release until the final code freeze for todays release - some were one line bug fixes, some were man page updates, some were minor RFE's and some were major projects, but in the end, the result is both very different (and hopefully much better) than what we started with, and yet, still contains the core X11 code base with 24 years of backwards compatibility in the core protocols and APIs.

The most inviting Solaris 11 features - Part I, Boot Environments

"Having been involved in various projects around the upcoming Solaris 11 release, we had the possibility to compile a list of features we assume UNIX Engineers will find to be cornerstones of Solaris 11 based platforms. It wasn't easy to keep the list short, due to the sheer amount of innovation and the tight integration of the new- or updated technologies in this Solaris release.

We have planned a series of blog posts with a short preview of each Solaris 11 technologies in the list, in a Question and Answer form."

This is the first post, featuring Boot Environments.

Solaris 11 Released As Cloud Virtualisation OS

The delayed release has been much-anticipated because Solaris still matches the combined user base for HP-UX and AIX, Oracle executive vice president of systems John Fowler claimed. However the transition from Sun to Oracle has hit the server division quite hard and Oracle is no doubt hoping that the new OS release will help turn the tide.

Oracle Solaris Goes to 11

Solaris, a Unix implementation, was originally developed by Sun Microsystems, which Oracle acquired last year. While not as widely known for its cloud software, Oracle has been marketing Solaris as a cloud-friendly OS. In Oracle's architecture, users can set up different partitions, called Zones, inside a Solaris implementation, which would allow different workloads to run simultaneously, each within their own environment, on a single machine.

First impressions of Solaris 11 11/11

I have had a few hours to try the final Solaris 11 release, overall I think it is far more stable and polished than the previous "Early Adaptors" release. Besides the fact that I am unable to use semi-old SPARC gear to test the release since only the latest generations of hardware are supported I have found few real problem so far.

Watch the Oracle Solaris 11 Launch

Watch as Oracle executives Mark Hurd and John Fowler announce the launch of Oracle Solaris 11, which brings proven enterprise capabilities to private, public, and hybrid clouds. Oracle Solaris 11 is the industry's best UNIX operating system with unique features including advanced file system technologies, advanced security, and built-in virtualization in every dimension.

Learn how Oracle Solaris 11 has been engineered, tested, and supported to get the most of SPARC and x86 systems including Oracle Exalogic Elastic Cloud, Oracle Exadata Database Machine, and SPARC SuperCluster engineered systems.

Solaris 11: Oracle Launches Cloud OS

Full highlights of the launch of Oracle Solaris 11.

Wednesday 2 November 2011

Press Review #4

Here is a little press review around Oracle technologies, and Solaris in particular:

Oracle Solaris 11 Launch Webcast

Build Your Next-Generation Datacenter in the Cloud

Watch Oracle executives Mark Hurd and John Fowler live from the Oracle Solaris 11 launch event in New York, and learn how you can build your next-generation datacenter in the cloud.

  1. Accelerate internal, public, and hybrid cloud applications
  2. Optimize application deployment with built-in virtualization
  3. Achieve top performance and cost advantages with Oracle Solaris 11–based engineered systems

Extra, Extra! Show Daily Newspaper Archives Now Available

From opening day through It's a Wrap!, the show daily newspaper covered all the highlights of Oracle OpenWorld 2011. Now, in addition to watching keynote and session replays on, and downloading presentations from Content Catalog, you can also download free .pdfs of each issue.

T4 arrives!

A natural question for SPARC and Solaris customers would be "should I use a T4, a T3, or an M-series product?" Now that T-series has a broader range of applicability, there's more choice in platform selection: a T4 can be used in cases where M-series would have been the only answer. There's more overlap.


In general, the M-series will still have the advantage for vertically scaling workloads that need massive CPU, memory, and I/O capacity, that need the higher redundancy and reliability features, and depend on the ability to add capacity to a running system by inserting CPU boards when needed. The T3 product will still find use in pure throughput computing applications because it has the higher core density and lower software license core factor (0.25 instead of 0.5).


The T4 processor and the servers based on it mark a new level of performance for SPARC processors. With record performance it changes the game (and turns over stale assumptions) about SPARC performance. It also illustrates the commitment Oracle has to SPARC and Solaris, and our increased ability to execute on delivering faster system products. By adding single CPU performance to T-series, it extends the ability to leverage Oracle VM Server for SPARC (LDoms) for a broader range of applications. Big news indeed - and Oracle Open World is just starting up, so watch and closely the next few days.


Oracle Takes The Midrange Fight To IBM

Just like IBM lowered the boom on Sun back in the early 2000s with its AIX on Power ramp--made possible because IBM charged AS/400 shops exorbitant prices for hardware and software so it could discount AIX boxes insanely to win over Sun shops--Oracle is going to lower the boom on IBM and Hewlett-Packard in the portion of the server racket that is devoted to running Oracle, PeopleSoft, Siebel, JDE, and other applications. This time around, Oracle will be making deals on its database, middleware, and application software to help it push its iron. Mark my words. Larry Ellison is not joking around here; he was just waiting for the chip engineers to get the right processor out the door.

Very roughly speaking, I would guess that this Sparc cluster should have roughly the same performance as a Power 770 running database workloads, but it could be higher because of the compression and SQL pre-chewing of the Exadata storage arrays and the flash integrated into the Sparc T4-4 nodes when used in the SuperCluster.

Oracle previews Solaris 11, due in November

Fowler did not give the precise number of cores, threads, or memory capacity that Solaris 11 would span, but said Oracle took the time to rework the Solaris kernel with a new scheduler and a new I/O handler that would allow it to span tens of thousands of CPUs, hundreds of terabytes of main memory, exabytes of storage, and hundreds of gigabits of networking bandwidth. (In past presentations of the Sparc/Solaris roadmap, Fowler showed the design goal of a future Sparc system due in late 2014 or early 2015 as spanning 64 sockets in a single system image with a total of 16,384 threads and supporting 64TB of main memory.)

Solaris 11 has support for the dynamic threading implemented in the new Sparc T4 processors, launched last week, and also sports a latency-aware kernel memory allocator, an optimized shared memory stack, a parallel network stack, adaptable thread and memory placement, and enhancements in NUMA I/O (which will be important in future Sparc T series machines, presumably). The scheduler is aware of the different possible topologies in both x86 and Sparc systems and has NUMA-aware kernel memory fan out.


Fowler also said that 600 customers had Solaris 11 running in production already. Presumably he meant actual Solaris 11, not Solaris 11 Express. And he reminded OpenWorld attendees of Oracle's compatibility guarantee for Solaris applications: "Your applications will run on 11 or it is my problem."

Oracle Has Built A Modern, Cloudy AS/400

I've been thinking a lot lately about the juxtaposition of Oracle's "engineered systems" and IBM's "workload optimized systems," not just because these things are grabbing headlines, but because all the major system makers are trying to figure out a new way to sell a very old idea: machines designed to do very specific work rather than being general purpose systems. Only this time around, more than a few of them are trying to make these engineered systems out of commodity processors, memory, disk, flash, and networking components. The secret sauce--and the profit--in each one of them is not the hardware, but how a collection of hardware supports a very specific stack of application software.

If I were Larry Ellison, I would start pitching the cloud against on premise entry servers or build some baby clusters--probably both. Either could mean big trouble for Big Blue and its Power Systems business.

Solaris 10 8/11 (Update 10) Patchset now available

As you may know by now, these patchsets will bring all pre-existing packages up to the same software level as the corresponding Solaris Update. For example, all ZFS and Zones functionality is entirely contained in pre-existing packages, so applying the patchset will provide all the ZFS and Zones functionality and bug fixes contained in the corresponding Solaris Update.

When we release the Solaris Update patchset, we try to fix any serious late breaking issues found with the corresponding Solaris Update patchset. A list of additional patches added and the Caveats they address is contained in the patchset README.

Applying the patchset is not the same as upgrading to the Solaris Update release, as the patchset will not include any new packages introduced in the Solaris Update or any obsolete packages deleted in the Update.

Solaris 9 transitioning to Extended Support

Just a quick heads-up that Solaris 9 will transition to Vintage support (old sun terminology) / Extended support (Oracle terminology) at the end of this month.

Solaris 9 patches released from November 1, 2011, will have Vintage/Extended access entitlement by default, which means that only customers with an Extended Support contract for Solaris will be able to access them.

Oracle Solaris 11 Highlights from Oracle OpenWorld 2011!

Oracle Solaris 11 had some exciting news at Oracle OpenWorld 2011 this year! If you missed the John Fowler keynote or the Oracle Solaris 11 sessions - you can still catch all the highlights from links below.

What's New in Oracle Solaris 11

Oracle Solaris 11 adds new features to the #1 Enterprise OS, Solaris 10. Some of these features were in "preview form" in Solaris 11 Express. The feature sets introduced there have been greatly expanded in order to make Solaris 11 ready for your data center. Also, new features have been added that were not in Solaris 11 Express in any form.

The list of features below is not exhaustive. Complete documentation about changes to Solaris will be made available. To learn more, register for the Solaris 11 launch. You can attend in person, in New York City, or via webcast.

That Perplexing Power7+ Processor

What IBM is telling business partners is that the old Power7 machines and the new Power7 machines are essentially the same except for the memory and I/O capacity differences--including essentially the same price. They have the same software editions riding on top of them and for most customers, according to Big Blue, either machine will work fine. Those who have high-bandwidth networking and storage needs will want the newer machines, or those that are doing lots of virtualization or other memory-chewing workloads. At around $200 per GB, that extra memory is not cheap, so not everyone will want to go there anyway. In 2012, IBM told business partners, it will start pushing the fatter Power7 machines and later in the year it will withdraw the older boxes. The key thing, IBM told resellers was DO NOT DISRUPT 4Q11 SALES.

As I point out elsewhere in this issue, if you are buying one of the skinnier Power Systems from last year's catalog, you should demand some kind of compensation. There's no way the older machines are of the same value on the street with smaller potential memory and slower I/O. It probably isn't much of a difference, but there's no way it can be zero.

This newsletter advocates for Power Systems customers and it wants IBM to do more than worry about fourth quarter sales. It wants IBM to start taking a more aggressive technical fight to Intel so all of us in the IBM i ecosystem can do better.

Using SystemTap

While using SystemTap, I’ve been keeping notes of what I’ve been doing, including what worked and what didn’t, and how I fixed problems. It’s proven a handy reference.

In some recent threads about DTrace, people have asked how it compares to SystemTap – with some commenting that they haven’t had time to study either. I’ve been encouraged to post about my experiences, which is easy to do from my notes. I could (and probably should) get some of these into the SystemTap bug database, too.

What I’m sharing are various experiences of using SystemTap, including times where I made mistakes because I didn’t know what I was doing. I’ll begin with a narrative about tracing disk I/O, which connects together various experiences. After that it gets a little discontiguous, clipped from various notes. I’ll try to keep this technical, positive, and constructive. Perhaps this will help the SystemTap project itself, to see what a user (with a strong Dynamic Tracing and kernel engineering background) struggles with.

Using Oracle Ksplice to Update Oracle Linux Systems Without Rebooting

Oracle Ksplice is an exciting new addition to the Oracle Linux Premier Support subscription. Oracle Ksplice technology allows you to update systems with new kernel security errata (CVE) without the need to reboot, which enables you to remain current with OS vulnerability patches while minimizing downtime. Oracle Ksplice actively applies updates to the running kernel image, instead of making on-disk changes that would take effect only after a subsequent reboot.

Another requirement for getting Oracle Ksplice updates is the use of the Unbreakable Enterprise Kernel from Oracle. The lowest Oracle Linux kernel version at the time of this writing is 2.6.32-100.28.9. This kernel (and newer) can be installed on both Oracle Linux 5 and Oracle Linux 6 distribution versions. Customers with Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) 5 and 6 can do the simple migration to Oracle Linux and apply the packages on their existing installation of RHEL. Oracle does not offer Oracle Ksplice for Red Hat compatible kernels.

How to Create a Customized Oracle Solaris 11 Image Using the Distribution Constructor

This article describes how to create customized Oracle Solaris 11 images that contain customized software.

A brief overview of the reasons for creating a customized Oracle Solaris 11 image is provided. Relevant concepts are introduced, followed by a real example of using the Distribution Constructor to create custom ("golden") images. The example concludes with an illustration of taking the created image and making it available for consumption by systems as part of the provisioning process.

Tuesday 1 November 2011

Quick Review Of OOW 2011

Here is a quick review on the Oracle OpenWorld 2011:

OOW Oracle San Fransisco 2011

OpenWorld Content Catalog

If you missed the show or want to review content you saw during the sessions, you can now download many of the presentations from the OpenWorld site here. This site is open to the public, not just OpenWorld attendees. So even if you weren't able to join us in San Francisco, you can go download PDFs of the content that was presented.

First days of OOW

More news from OOW 2011

A new dawn for SPARC

SPARC presentations from OOW

Oracle Previews Oracle Solaris 11 at Oracle OpenWorld

Prepares for Planned Release of Oracle Solaris 11, the #1 Enterprise OS – Built for Clouds, Later This Year


Solaris 11 is the operating system for Oracle’s recently announced SPARC SuperCluster T4-4 engineered system and Oracle’s SPARC T4 server line. It also powers the Oracle Exadata Database Machine X2-2 and X2-8 systems, as well as Oracle Exalogic Elastic Cloud.

Oracle Solaris is developed, tested and supported as an integrated component of Oracle's "applications-to-disk" technology stack, which includes the Oracle Certification Environment, representing over 50,000 test use cases for every Oracle Solaris patch and platform released.

Oracle Solaris provides customers with the most choice in supported enterprise applications with over 11,000 third-party applications on a wide range of SPARC and x86 systems.


Oracle Solaris 11 guarantees binary compatibility with previous Oracle Solaris versions, through the Oracle Solaris Binary Application Guarantee Program and development compatibility between SPARC and x86 platforms, providing customers with a seamless upgrade path and the industry’s best investment protection.

Oracle's Larry Ellison unveils 'Exalytics' in-memory machine

"We're determined to deliver best-of-breed in every aspect of our computing architecture," Ellison said. "We're in the business of catching up [with IBM] in the microprocessor business. If we don't pass them we'll be very, very close. If our microprocessor is the same speed and we move data a hundred times faster than they do, I like our chances in the marketplace."

From the beginning, Oracle's design goals for its systems were the highest performance for the lowest cost, Ellison said. "For a given task, it will cost you less on an Exadata than it would on a plain old commodity server."

The main idea was a "parallel everything" architecture, with various set of components working in unison for more power and reliability, he said. "These machines should never, ever fail," he said. "Hardware breaks. Software breaks too. But if you have a parallel architecture you should be tolerant of those failures."

Meanwhile, faster chips aren't the best way to make software run faster, because the real bottleneck is storage, according to Ellison. Database performance is "about moving data, and not doing arithmetic on a microprocessor," he said.

Overall, "we move data around a hundred times faster than anyone else in this business," Ellison claimed. Ellison cited a series of companies such as Proctor & Gamble, BNP Paribas and AFG, which experienced vast performance and cost savings through Exadata. Some 1,000 Exadata machines have been installed and 3,000 more will be sold this year, Ellison said.

Oracle enters BI with Exalytics appliance

The Exalytics appliance, revealed by Oracle chief Larry Ellison on Sunday, is designed to run business intelligence analytics at high speeds via a terabyte of DRAM for in-memory computing.

"[Exalytics is] hardware and software engineered together to deliver data analysis at the speed of thought," Ellison said in a keynote speech at Oracle OpenWorld in San Francisco. "Everything runs faster if you keep it in DRAM, if you keep it in main memory."

Although storage costs are notably volatile, DRAM costs around $10 (£6.40) a gigabyte, compared with flash at around $1 a gigabyte and hard disk at 4 cents. However, DRAM has the advantage of allowing data to be processed and the results sent to the consumer at speeds that are orders of magnitude faster than data stored in other technologies.

Fast, Safe, Cheap : Pick 3

Today, we're making performance headlines with Oracle's ZFS Storage Appliance:

  1. SPC-1 : Twice the performance of NetApp at the same latency; Half the $/IOPS.
  2. 2X the absolute performance, 2.5X cheaper per SPC-1 IOPS, almost 3X lower latency, 30% cheaper per user GB with room to grow... So, If you have a storage decision coming and you need, FAST, SAFE, CHEAP : pick 3, take a fresh look at the ZFS Storage appliance.


We are announcing that Oracle's 7420C cluster acheived 137000 SPC-1 IOPS with an average latency of less than 10 ms. That is double the results of NetApp's 3270A while delivering the same latency. As compared to the NetApp 3270 result, this is a 2.5x improvement in $/SPC-1-IOPS (2.99$/IOPS vs $7.48/IOPS). We're also showing that when the ZFS Storage Appliance runs at the rate posted by the 3270A (68034 SPC-1 IOPS), our latency of 3.26ms is almost 3X lower than theirs (9.16ms). Moreover, our result was obtained with 23700 GB of user level capacity (internally mirrored) for 17.3 $/GB while NetApp's , even using a space saving raid scheme, can only deliver 23.5$/GB. This is the price per GB of application data actually used in the benchmark. On top of that the 7420C still had 40% of space headroom whereas the 3270A was left with only 10% of free blocks.

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