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Press Review #3

Oct 04, 2011 | 10 minutes read
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Tag: Press

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

Sun ZFS 7000 Storage Appliance 2010.Q3.4.0 Release

A new minor update to the 2010.Q3 software has been posted. Note that the release has over 80 bug fixes and includes a Disk Shelf SIM firmware upgrade, ZFS resilvering performance improvements and Update Healthchecks.

What's New in Oracle Solaris 11: Oracle University session at Oracle Open World for System administrators and Developers New

Course Description: This 1-day seminar provides a detailed look at the newest key features of Oracle Solaris 11 and how to use these features within your deployments. You will learn how to implement the new packaging system, how using the default file system, ZFS, will improve your data management capabilities, how to deliver fully virtualized networking, and how to use the advanced user, application, and device security.

Developing Enterprise Applications for Oracle Solaris

Oracle Solaris delivers a highly robust, scalable and secure platform for developing and delivering mission-critical enterprise and ISV applications:
. Run Oracle Solaris 10 applications unmodified in Oracle Solaris 10 Zones on Oracle Solaris 11
. Protect your investment with the industry's first and most extensive binary compatibility and source code guarantees
. Leverage Oracle Solaris 11 cloud-ready application deployment technologies such as IPS, SMF and Zones
. Maximize application performance, increase application observability and enhance developer productivity with Oracle Solaris Studio
. [...]

IBM POWER Roadmap... 7+ now late and only an almost 3 years projection for 8?

Thank you for the IBM August 2011 POWER Roadmap tha the public marketplace has been begging for... did we miss the POWER7+ release??? A POWER 7 February 2010 launch would have POWER 7+ August 2011 launch (and today is August 31, so unless there is a launch in the next 23 hours, it looks late to me.) Sketchy details on something possibly 3 years out??? No commitment beyond (almost) 3 years for POWER???

Solaris 10 Update 10 Eminent and Imminent

Oracle's Solaris and SPARC public road map is pretty clear - Solaris 10 Update 10 release is expected 2H 2011 with Solaris 10 Update 11 scheduled for 2H 2012.

In a little more than 1 month away, Oracle OpenWorld 2011 is scheduled (October 2-6, 2011) to occur, which means significant announcements!

Disable Large Segment Offload (LSO) in Solaris 10

LSO saves valuable CPU cycles by allowing the network protocol stack to handle large segments instead of the traditional model of MSS (TCP Maximum Segment Size) sized segments. In the traditional network stack, the TCP layer segments the outgoing data into the MSS sized segments and passes them down to the driver. This becomes computationally expensive with 10 GigE networking because of the large number of kernel functional calls required for every MSS segment. With LSO, a large segment is passed by TCP to the driver, and the driver or NIC hardware does the job of TCP segmentation (LSO offload the segmentation job on Layer 4 to the NIC driver). An LSO segment may be as large as 64 KByte. The larger the LSO segment, better the CPU efficiency since the network stack has to work with smaller number of segments for the same throughput.

So in simple words, use LSO for better network performance while reducing processor (CPU) utilization.

100% of Solaris users use RBAC

Some of us in the Solaris Security Engineering group been asked a few times recently questions like "so how many customers actually use Solaris RBAC ?" The answer we give is usually variant of "For Solaris 10 onwards 100% of users use RBAC". Surely that is wrong and we can't guarantee 100% of users of Solaris 10 and Solaris 11 are or will be using RBAC can we ? We don't have data to back that up because we don't even know who all the users of Solaris actually are. It actually is correct we don't need data on usage to back it up. The reason being you can't turn RBAC off in Solaris 10 onwards it is always in use in parts of the system that 100% of users of Solaris always use.

The kernel always checks Solaris's fine grained privileges (82 distinct privileges in Solaris 11 Express), even if the process is running "as root". So 100% of Solaris systems make RBAC privilege checks.

Oracle Unveils Oracle VM 3.0

News Facts:
. Today at an event for customers, partners and industry experts, Oracle announced Oracle VM 3.0, the latest release of Oracle’s server virtualization and management solution.
. Oracle VM 3.0 is suitable for all datacenter workloads and features new policy-based management capabilities, advanced storage management via the Oracle VM Storage Connect plug-in API; centralized network configuration management, improved ease-of-use and Open Virtualization Format (OVF) support.
. With the centralization of storage management alongside of logical network configuration and management, Oracle VM 3.0 allows administrators to streamline and automate end-to-end virtual machine provisioning for a significant reduction in time and overhead, simplifying IT processes and helping to reduce costs.
. Oracle VM 3.0 helps customers deploy enterprise software in a rapid, repeatable and error-free manner with immediate availability of over 90 Oracle VM Templates for Oracle applications, middleware and databases.
. Oracle VM 3.0 is four times more scalable than the latest VMware offering, supporting up to 128 virtual CPUs per virtual machine, at a fraction of the cost. Oracle VM 3.0 demonstrated support for up to 160 physical CPUs and 2TB memory using Oracle’s Sun Fire X4800 M2 servers.
. When compared to VMware vSphere5 running Red Hat Enterprise Linux guest VMs, Oracle VM 3.0 running Oracle Linux guest VMs is four times less expensive.
Oracle VM is free to download, has zero license cost, and affordable, enterprise-quality support is offered through a simple subscription model per server. Terms, conditions and restrictions apply.
[...]

Using smpatch to apply Solaris Cluster patches and other enhancements

It is now possible again to use the in-built Solaris 10 patch automation utility, 'smpatch' / Update Manager, to download patches for products such as Oracle Solaris Cluster and Oracle Solaris Studio, as well as Oracle Solaris Operating System patches. It is now also possible again to use 'smpatch' / Update Manager on 3rd party hardware.

These steps effectively switch 'smpatch' / Update Manager from using hardware serial number based access entitlement to User based access entitlement, similar to the access entitlement mechanism used when downloading patches via 'wget' or manually via My Oracle Support (MOS).

Oracle Solaris 11 Express Available on Oracle Exadata Database Machines

News Facts:
. Oracle Solaris 11 Express is available on Oracle Exadata Database Machines X2-2 and X2-8, Oracle today announced.
. Customers can take advantage of the mission-critical reliability, scalability, and security of Oracle Solaris to run their online transaction processing (OLTP), data warehousing and consolidated workloads on the x86-based Oracle Exadata systems.
. With Oracle Exadata, Oracle Solaris customers can rapidly deploy an engineered system to manage the largest and most critical database applications, enabling them to run up to 10x faster with the rock solid stability that Oracle Solaris consistently delivers.

Oracle's SPARC T4 chip: Will you pay Larry's premium?

The SPARC T4 chips are presumably timed to hit the market with the impending Solaris 11, which has been in the making for more than six years and which presumably has been tuned to take every advantage of the SPARC T4 chips. The original Sun roadmap had a eight-core, eight-threaded SPARC T series chip coming out in the second half of 2011 for machines with one to four sockets implemented in a 40 nanometer process from Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Corp. This Yosemite Falls processor was supposed to run at 2.5GHz and be based on a new SPARC T core code-named "VT," presumably short for "Virtual Threads" but neither Sun or Oracle have said what VT is short for (probably not Vermont).

Oracle has been hinting that this new VT core, which is now being called S3 we learn from the Hot Chips presentation, has a feature called the critical thread API. This feature allows a high priority application to grab one thread on a core and hog all of the resources on that core to significantly boost performance of that single thread; the other seven threads on the chip get told to sit tight. In the prior S1 and S2 cores, used in the prior SPARC T1, T2, T2+, and T3 processors, the threads were hard coded and their sharing algorithms were set in stone--etched in silicon, to be more precise.

Nyt om næste generation SPARC T-series

Excerpts from the article:
"The new T4 processor, running at 3GHz or more, has features that will also allow T4-based systems to take on some workloads that today are going to Intel Xeon processors, which today perform faster on single-thread workloads than do the T3- series of SPARC processors."

"At the Hot Chips 2011 conference, an IEEE technical conference held at Stanford University from August 17-19, 2011, Oracle systems engineers described the top features of the new T4 processors, including a 16-stage integer instruction pipeline and enhanced cryptographic performance. Among the business benefits associated with the new design will be: double the amount of per-thread throughput performance, compared to T3 – and a range of 2 to 7 times more single-thread performance for business workloads than T3 processors. Given the binary-compatibility of T3 and T4, this means that the same Oracle Solaris applications that have been running on T3 will see considerable speedup on T4, without recompilation."

Why and How to Use Cluster Check in Oracle Solaris Cluster 3.3 5/11

The latest set of enhancements to cluster check is focused on validating clusters during installation and initial configuration. The intent of these enhancements is to enable administrators to perform the most important of the Enterprise Installation Services (EIS) checks themselves. If EIS personnel are involved, they, too, will benefit from using cluster check, as described here. As a matter of fact, the EIS team as well as the Oracle Support Services team played a vital part in defining and implementing these enhancements.

In addition to a new focus on installation-time and configuration-time checking, a seemingly small but quite important change was made to the checks themselves: the way the results are titled. I always recommend that cluster check be run with the -v (verbose) flag to turn on verbose progress reporting. In the past, the checks were titled with "problem statements" that described a problem. Many people would miss the fact that most or all the checks were passing, so they were alarmed by the titles and thought lots of problems were being discovered on their cluster. Now, all existing checks are titled with "check titles" instead of "problem statements." Most of the titles are actually a question and, typically, a "yes" answer means the cluster passed the check.

Now for the big stuff: There are over forty new checks, many of which apply both before clustering is installed (recall that scinstall(1M) runs cluster check before configuring a node) and right after the initial configuration of services. And even though the focus is on initial installation and configuration, these checks are still useful over the entire life of the cluster.

Core Factor for T4 published

Oracle has published an update to the Processor Core Factor Table that lists the (yet to be released) T4 CPU with a factor of 0.5. This leaves the license cost per socket the same compared to T3 and puts T4 in the same league as SPARC64 VII+ and all current x86 CPUs. We will have to wait for the announcement of the CPU until we can actually speak about performance. But this core factor (which is by no means a measure of CPU performance!) seems to confirm what the few other available bits of information seem to be hinting at: T4 will deliver on Oracle's performance claims.

Installing Oracle Solaris 10 Using JumpStart on an Oracle Solaris 11 Express Server

If you are familiar with using JumpStart to install the Oracle Solaris 10 operating system on networked SPARC and x86 platforms, then you probably know that JumpStart can be used to install only the Oracle Solaris 10 OS, not the Oracle Solaris 11 Express OS. However, the JumpStart install server can be an Oracle Solaris 11 Express system.

Your Oracle Solaris 11 Express server can do two different jobs:
. Serve Oracle Solaris 11 Express OS installations using Automated Installer. For more information, see Oracle Solaris 11 Express Automated Installer Guide.
. Serve Oracle Solaris 10 OS installations using JumpStart. This article describes how to set up a JumpStart install server on an Oracle Solaris 11 Express system.