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exalogic

Software. Hardware. Complete.

A lot is happening here at Oracle Open World, more than my brain can master right now. Exalogic, ZFS storage, Unbreakable Enterprise Linux, Fusion Apps (finally), Oracle VM for Solaris, etc… Some of those topics aren’t that important for me and/or my customers right now, because they are just out of reach like, for example Exalogic. I read that a full box setup will go for just over 1.000.000 US$ so that is a setup I won’t be managing for a while. On the other hand from an Oracle perspective this is the logic next step to make to provide a solid complete solution from apps layer down to the hardware layer providing a boxed solution for Oracle’s most demanding customers regarding performance, best of breed and availability.

Oracle Open World 2010

It has very good technology features in there of which I hope it will be open for us “general” database consumers in the near future. One of those Exadata features I would really like to get my hands on would be the in memory index functionality, if not only that it fits perfect with the way I handle XML data, that is “content” based. An other feature would be, for instance, those storage cell optimizations. Anyway, until now, when trying to enable them, it only comes back with a “Exadata Only” warning, so I will have to wait a little (I hope).

So now, I am currently following Wim Coekaert‘s OEL / Unbreakable Enterprise Linux kernel session called “Oracle’s Linux Roadmap”, if not only being interested in the statement of direction about ZFS, OEL and/or Oracle Linux. Oracle Linux will be a fork as far as I have read and/or will it be an option to chose while installing Oracle Linux. From now (Oracle 5.5 and onwards) you can chose installation for a Red Hat Linux kernel strict install or a for Oracle optimized Unbreakable Linux kernel install. You can, although I haven’t tried it yet, also update the kernel afterwards with the Oracle optimized kernel.

Some of Oracle's Open Source contributions

So what is this Oracle Unbreakable Linux kernel part all about…?

Until now you could download the freely available binaries or source code of Oracle Enterprise Linux and applications would run unchanged if they were compatible and supported on RedHat. No code change needed and Oracle will/would fully support it. Until now there were, as mentioned during the presentation, not one single bugs reported of Oracle Enterprise Linux not being compatible with RedHat. Oracle Enterprise Linux is used by an enormous amount of big customers and among others also implemented in the Exadata set-up’s and has cheaper support offerings than, for example, RedHat support. So far so good; nothing new.

But as was mentioned, these limits of being strict Red Hat Compatible had some mayor disadvantages for Oracle, like fixing bugs from a new Red Hat distribution to be properly working in, working with, an Oracle software environment. Red Hat does not validate Oracle software, plus Red Hat adapts community efforts very slowly. So these were some of the reasons why Oracle now created the Unbreakable Enterprise Kernel. Be aware this is not the old thing called the Unbreakable Linux program but actually a new Linux kernel.

So this new Oracle kernel is a fast, modern, reliable and optimized for Oracle software. It’s, among others, used in the Exadata and Exalogic machines to deliver extreme performance. From now on its also allows Oracle to innovate without sacrificing compatibility. In short, regarding the software: It now includes both the Unbreakable Enterprise Kernel and the existing strict Red Hat Compatible Kernel. During boot time you can chose for or the strict Red Hat one or the optimized for Oracle software Unbreakable Enterprise Linux kernel.

As Oracle states “Oracle now recommends only the Unbreakable Enterprise Linux Kernel for all Oracle software on Linux”. You could wonder about what this means regarding certified solutions. My guess would be that Oracle will push the the Oracle Unbreakable Enterprise kernel (OUEL?) but will certify on both kernels if not only that a lot of Oracle’s on Demand services are still based on Red Hat environments.

Until now the OUL kernel has made huge improvements compared to Red Hat, for example, 400% gain regarding 8kb flash cache reads (IOPS)… Oracle also has now the ability to support bigger servers, up to 4096 CPU’s and 2 TB of memory, up to 4 PB clustered volumes with OCFS2 and advanced NUMA support. CPU’s can stay now in a low power state when the system is idle. Also this power management supports ACPI 4.0 and fine grained CPU and memory resource control.

The Oracle Unbreakable Linux Kernel

All these additions will flow back into the community which, of course, is what Linux is all about. Some other stuff which Oracle pushed back into the stream/kernel source is better data integrity, stop corrupted data in memory from actually being written by detecting in flight memory corruption; on hardware fault management level, errors detection and logging before they effect OS or application and, for example, automatic isolation of defective CPU’s and memory which will avoid crashes and improves application up time. Diagnostic tooling has been made less resource intensive hoping that people won’t switch them so when a performance or corruption issue happens, then there will trace info. During the presentation the “latencytop” diagnostic tool was mentioned as an example.

The Oracle Unbreakable Enterprise Linux kernel can be downloaded via or the public-yum.oracle.com from OEL 5.5 and onwards or use the ULN network. Follow instructions to download via the public yum server and/or look up instructions via public-yum-el5.repo and apply it on your current 5.5 system, a different way to achieve the same would be to use “up2date oracle-linux” via yum if you have already bought/installed/registered with Oracle Unbreakable Linux support.

Wim described it in more detail on his blog via

(1) On ULN we created a new channel “Oracle Linux Latest (ol5_x86_64_latest)” which you can subscribe to. It’s really very simple. Take a standard RHEL5.5 or OEL5.5 installation, register with ULN with the O(E)L5.5 channel and add the Oracle Linux 5 latest on top as well. Then just run up2date -u oracle-linux

the oracle-linux rpm will pull in all the required packages

(2) On our public yum repo we updated the repo file public-yum-el5.repo . So just configure yum with the above repo file and enable the Oracle Linux channel. [ol5_u5_base] enabled=1 and run yum install oracle-linux

The OUEL kernel improved also on some miscellaneous thinks like NFS IPv6 support and RAID 5 to RAID 6 support. There will be a new volume manager kind of GUI that will support your LUN creation, deletion, expansion and snapshot of NAS storage. All the work done is submitted to the mainline kernel and enhancements will trickle down and be tested in the Enterprise Linux distribution (be aware: Oracle Enterprise Linux is not the same as the Oracle Unbreakable Enterprise kernel).

Also see Wim’s post of today on blogs.oracle.com/wim to get more info. I guess, this also counts for Sergio Leunissen’s blog, who is currently hammering his laptop behind me in the audience, while I am writing this. Keep watching those blogs for more info :-)

By the way, while speaking with Sergio about the “naming” of this software, which apparently was driven by the need to have clear distinction between “Oracle Solaris” and more general hardware based “Oracle Linux” architectures.

A Cloud over San Francisco for OpenWorld 2010

Oracle OpenWorld 2010 is just bursting with big cloud-related announcements this week.  As I prepare to present on the Amazon cloud at OOW2010 on Thursday (http://bit.ly/aSKdIQ), I thought I would highlight two of the biggest cloud-related announcements of the week.

Exalogic

We all know about Exadata, Oracle’s hardware-based storage-optimized RAC monster capable of over 1 million IOPS.  In his keynote, Larry Ellison announced Exalogic, an appliance that is meant to provide cloud-like private internal infrastructure.  Oriented towards  middleware, Exalogic’s marketing materials emphasize the elasticity of resources and promote middleware consolidation onto a small set of Exalogic nodes.

Wish List of Oracle OpenWorld 2010 Announcements: Exadata v3 x2-8, Linux, Solaris, Fusion Apps, Mark Hurd, Exalogic Elastic Cloud, Cloud Computing

It’s Sunday morning early in San Francisco and the biggest ever Oracle OpenWorld is about to start. It looks like it’s also going to be the busiest ever OpenWorld for me — my schedule looks crazy and I still need to do the slides for my Thursday sessions (one on ASM and one on cloud computing). Fortunately, my slides for today’s presentation are all ready to go.

OK. Don’t let me carry away — I started this post with the intention to write about what I expect Oracle to announce at this OpenWorld and it seems like the most important announcements happen at tonight’s keynote. I hasn’t been at the Oracle ACE Directors briefing so unlike them, all I can say is pure speculation-based and my wishes of what should be covered. Actually, unlike them, I actually CAN say at least something. :)

  1. Oracle Exadata Database Machine v3 (x2-8) — well, that shouldn’t come as a surprise to anybody by now. I fully expect upgrade of the hardware — new Intel CPUs (probably with more cores), more memory, possibly more flash (this technology moves really quick these days). Maybe 10GbE network can be introduced to address some of the customers demands but I don’t think it’s needed that much. InfiniBand might just stay as it is — I think there is enough throughput but Marc Fielding noted that moving InfiniBand to the next speed level shouldn’t be very expensive. Other then cosmetic upgrade, I believe that hardware architecture will largely stay the same — it works very well, it’s proven and very successful. Maybe something should be done to let customers integrate Exadata better into their data-centers — folks keep complaining of inflexibility (and I think Oracle should stay firm on this and don’t let customer screw themselves up but who knows).
    On the software side, I expect new Exadata Storage Software release announcement that will be able to offload more and more on the storage side. The concept of moving data intensive operation closed to the disks has proven to be very effective. I also expect to have more Exadata features for consolidation. If you didn’t notice, 11.2.0.2 database release few days ago has Exadata specific QoS (Quality of Service) feature. I think this is what’s going to make Exadata to be a killer consolidation platform for the databases — true private cloud for Oracle databases or a true grid as Oracle insists calling it’s private cloud idea. Speaking about software… hm — see Linux and Solaris below.
    And back to consolidation, there must be the new platform similar to Exadata that integrates Oracle hardware and software and that should fill the gap as a consolidation offering for anything else but databases — Fusion Middleware, Fusion Apps and whole lineup of Oracle software. Whether it’s going to have Exadata in its name — I don’t know. It’s going to be names Exalogic Elastic Cloud. It would make sense to support both Solaris and Linux virtualization technologies on that new platform.
    Oh, and I hope to see Oracle start offering vertical focused solutions based on Exadata. Like Retail Database Machine. Maybe it won’t come at the OpenWorld but I think it would be a good move by Oracle.
  2. Solaris and Linux — I’ve been preaching for a while that having acquired Solaris engineering team, it would be insane not to take over Linux distribution from RedHat and start providing truly Oracle Linux. I was expecting Oracle to do that for a while. Either that or change Oracle’s commitment from Linux to Solaris on x86 platform. If Oracle is serious about Solaris now then the best indication of that would be Solaris x86 powered Exadata. In other words, the future of Linux and Solaris at Oracle should be made clear during this OpenWorld.
  3. Fusion Apps — god, I really hope something will be out. After all those years talking about it, I can’t stand anymore hearing about the ghost product (or line of products). I think it’s also confirmed by Debra Lilley’s increased activity over the past year — she is buzzing unusually strong about it. ;-) Of course, Fusion Apps will be all about integration of zillion of Oracle products into one system (which is a very difficult task). Oh, and if Fusion Apps are announced then they will run best on Exadata, of course. Oracle Fusion Apps Machine?
  4. Mark Hurd — finally, I’d be very keen to see the first serious public appearance of Mark Hurd as Oracle’s co-president. I think he will set the tone for the future of Oracle’s hardware business. So far it’s been all about profitability which is probably the best thing Oracle could do with otherwise dead Sun hardware business.

That’s all. I’m sure there will be more. I didn’t mention SPARC and that’s not because I forgot.

This OpenWorld promises to be very interesting!