Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Oracle Appliances

Earlier today there was a conversation on the Cloud Computing group where Christopher Steel wrote, "I also [see] a play for Oracle to get into the Database appliance space. With the Sun acquisition, they now have the hardware, OS, and support pieces to delivery out-of-the-box
enterprise Database solution."

I got a tickle out of this because back in 2002, I was Chief Architect for Sun's Enterprise Engineering group where we designed appliances. Ted Persky and I published a Sun BluePrint Online article describing our Oracle - Veritas - Sun (VOS) designed appliance for running Oracle RAC. Technically, this was a challenge because none of the major products used (Solaris, VxVM, Oracle RAC, and required patches) were suited for installation in a factory. So we had to make the glue to put them together for a factory process. Anyone who has ever done this by hand will understand the difficulty of the task, and would have appreciated seeing how well the system worked out of the box -- you could go from out-of-the-box to fully operational RAC cluster in about 30 minutes!

Introducing such a product in 2002 was challenging enough for an appliance built with major components from multiple companies. But the biggest barrier to market acceptance was that nothing was happening in 2002. Nothing. Nada. Nil. Nichts. The dot-com boom had busted and nobody was buying anything. The product never went anywhere and was ultimately shelved.

So what is different today? Oracle is buying Sun and getting into the hardware business. Veritas was bought by Semantic and technologies like ZFS, ASM, and QFS are putting the squeeze on VxVM. The recession means that nothing is happening again. What can I say, but it is just the circle of life...

Sunday, April 19, 2009

ZFS Tutorial at the USENIX Technical Conference

I will be conducting a tutorial on ZFS at the USENIX Technical Conference in San Diego on June 14, 2009. I hope you can attend!  Here is the blurb in the conference agenda.

S2 ZFS: A File System for Modern Hardware NEW!   

Who should attend: Systems engineers, integrators, and administrators who are interested in deploying ZFS on Solaris, Mac OS X, or FreeBSD. Participants should be familiar with storage devices, RAID systems, logical volume managers, backup, and file system features. Special emphasis will be placed on integration considerations for virtualization, NAS, and databases.

File systems developed in the mid 20th century were severely constrained by the storage hardware available at the time. ZFS was conceived with an eye toward the hardware of the future and how storage would evolve. This perspective on the future presented an opportunity to rethink how file systems use storage hardware. The result of this endeavor is a new way of managing data which can evolve as the hardware changes, while remaining compatible with earlier notions of file system use. Along the way, new concepts such as the Hybrid Storage Pool provide new opportunities for optimization, efficiency, and data protection. In this tutorial, ZFS will be examined from the bottom up, to build a solid understanding of the data-hardware interface, and then from the top down, to provide insight into the best ways to use ZFS for applications.

Take back to work: A solid understanding of the concepts behind ZFS and how to make the best decisions when implementing storage at your site.

Topics include:

  • Evolution of hardware and file systems
  • Storage pools
    • RAID data protection
    • Import/export and shared storage
    • Pool parameters and features
    • On-disk format
  • Data sets
    • Volumes
    • POSIX-compliant file systems
    • Snapshots
    • Replication
  • Practical considerations and best practices
    • Deployment and migration
    • Virtualization
    • Sharing
    • Performance, observability, and tuning
    • Data protection
    • Hybrid storage pools
    • Backup, restore, and archiving