Oracle Linux UEK3, Huge Pages and VMware


For those of you using Oracle Linux with UEK3, here are a couple of important blog posts that may have passed you by.

Thanks guys!



WebLogic 11g, Forms, ADF, Oracle Linux and VMware


Following on from my recent batch of “what I’m doing at the moment” style posts, I just thought I would mention some of the infrastructure I’ve been installing and configuring recently…

We are still part way through a migration from Oracle Application Server to WebLogic 11g. There are many applications to migrate and test, fortunately not by me, but they fit into two main categories.

Some of our high profile applications of each type are already running in production on WebLogic and the general feedback has been very positive. I guess most of this comes down to the hardware refresh. :)

There are still a few more apps to migrate, but everything is pretty close to the end of testing now, so hopefully it won’t be long before we can say a not-so-fond farewell to Oracle Application Server!

All of these WebLogic installations are running on top of Oracle Linux 6 inside VMware virtual machines. So far we’ve seen nothing untoward about this setup and I would have no reservations about recommending this approach to others.

If you have any questions/concerns about Oracle Linux, you might want to read my Oracle Linux : Frequently Asked Questions article. If you have any concerns about Oracle’s stance as far as VMware support goes, you might want to read this.



Tomcat, Oracle Linux and VMware


Following from yesterday’s post about Cloud Control 12cR3, Oracle Linux and VMware, I thought I would just mention something I put live yesterday evening.

We have a 3rd party Java-based application that runs on Tomcat 7 and Java 7 that until recently was running on RHEL5 on physical hardware. It runs against an Oracle database, but that is not housed on this server. This application is not that big, but it is *very* high profile as it is what we use to process our REF submissions. If you know anything about higher education in the UK, you’ll know that REF is a very big deal, especially as we are within a couple of months of the next submission.

As I mentioned in February, like many of our systems, the resource utilization on the physical hardware was not optimal. We had this single Java app running on a server with 64G RAM and 12 cores, when it was probably using at most 6G and 2 cores. What’s more, there were two physical servers of this specification to provide manual failover, as the vendor does not support any form of clustering for automated failover.

What I did late yesterday was move this across to a VMware virtual machine running Oracle Linux 6. The benefits of this being:

  • We can allocate just the resources we need. The existing physical boxes will be plugged into the VMware cluster and their resources used for something more useful than sitting around doing nothing.
  • We can now use VMware’s HA functionality to provide automatic failover, giving us enough high availability for our needs.
  • Using Oracle Linux gives us a variety of support options, starting from $0 upward.

IMHO this is another classic no-brainer as far as choosing a virtualized environment over physical and gets me one step closer to my vision for our systems… :)

If you are considering moving stuff to VMware and/or Oracle Linux, you might like to read these posts.




Cloud Control 12cR3, Oracle Linux and VMware


I mentioned some time ago that I was pushing my current company to move much of their gear on to VMware, mostly because of poor resource utilization on many of the servers. That process is still under way.

One thing I wanted to mention specifically was our use of Cloud Control 12cR3. Up until recently, we were using physical kit for this. We had an 11.2 database on HP-UX, With HA provided by HP Service Guard. We had two management servers on physical kit running RHEL5 pointing at this Service Guard package to give us some resiliency in of the OMS. It worked, but it was over complicated and I was never really happy with it for a number of reasons:

  • HP-UX for the databases : I know some of you guys love it, but I don’t.
  • Two management servers : Seems like a waste of kit to me. We either have them on their own boxes and waste lots of resources, or have multiple installations on those boxes, which adds to complexity and management of the kit.
  • RHEL : Why pay for RHEL when we can use Oracle Linux and decide for ourselves if we want to pay for the extra features support gives us, or just use it for free?

So what are we running now? We have one VMware VM, running Oracle Linux 6. That has both the Oracle 11.2 database for the repository and the Cloud Control 12cR3 OMS running on it. We use VMware functionality for the HA of this system.

Why do I like this situation?

  • Cloud Control is a complicated beast and I am a big fan of KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid). Having everything on a single VM is about as simple as it gets.
  • If I am using Cloud Control in this way I pay nothing for the database repository. As soon as you start thinking about RAC or Data Guard to protect your repository you have to pay for Enterprise Edition licenses.
  • Using VMware HA functionality gives us good enough HA for our purposes. We can failover or live migrate between hosts in the data centre, or between data centres.
  • We can clone the whole installation in a few minutes and use that as a base for upgrades. If something goes wrong, we just flip back.

While I was at Oracle OpenWorld I discussed this a number of times and it seems it is a very common approach.

Another thing that came out of those discussions is many people still misunderstand what Oracle Linux is and the support status of Oracle Linux, and more specifically UEK, on VMware. Suffice to say, it’s all supported, as discussed in my Oracle Linux : Frequently Asked Questions article.

If you are struggling to decide how best to run Cloud Control in your organization, I would recommend using a virtual environment (Oracle VM or VMware) and run it on Oracle Linux 6.



All change. Virtualization, here we come!


Followers of the blog will know I dig virtualization. I first ran Oracle in virtualized environments over a decade ago.

In my current company there is a strong virtualization presence in the Windows space. Pretty much all Windows servers, including those running MS SQL Server, are actually VMs running on a VMware farm. The UNIX/Linux side is a little different. Most stuff is still done on physical boxes and what little virtualization is done, uses CentOS and KVM for freebie open source solutions.

There are a lot of architectural changes going on at the moment and I’ve been pushing *very hard* for a switch to the virtual infrastructure (VI) for all our middle tier servers and a few of our databases. It is looking very likely (but not guaranteed) that this will happen.

Q: What is the incentive to switch to a virtualized environment?
A: We have a bad spread of resource utilization at the moment. Some very big boxes doing very little work, but in security zones that are too unsafe to use them for other purposes. Other boxes will soon be maxed out because they have been used to consolidate services. What’s more, some of the servers that are used for consolidation have multiple, conflicting, installations on them which are already starting to cause administration headaches.

Q: How can virtualization help with our resource utilization?
A: Using a 12 core server with 60G of RAM for a little Apache reverse proxy is crazy. For the sake of resilience, we have multiple of these. That’s just the tip of the iceberg. Imagine adding those servers to the farm, carving out some little VMs and leaving all the rest of the resources to do cool stuff with. Sounds like a no-brainer to me. :)

Q: How can virtualization products ease our administration headaches?
A: By far the biggest administration headaches we are seeing in the middle tier relate to having multiple installations of products on a single machine. Doing upgrades and trying to remove old software can cause no end of headaches. Some of our old boxes have 30+ installations on them. It does your noggin in when you are trying to find out what is going on. You often spend much more time trying to identify which installation you should be looking at, than actually doing the task you’ve been asked to do. By moving to the VI we can add a greater level of separation between some of these installations, making life much clearer. Our current vision is one installation per VM. To upgrade we set up new VMs, migrate the services on to them and bin the old VMs. Everything remains clean and simple.

Q: What virtualization product should we use?
A: We have a big investment in VMware. There is a dedicated team who manage this infrastructure and know what they are doing. IMHO it is only Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt (FUD) that prevents other people in the company moving some or all of the Linux stuff on to that infrastructure. Oracle products are only part of the infrastructure, but we understand and accept the Oracle licensing, support and certification implications of this move.

Q: What version of Linux will we be using?
A: Oracle Linux! Yeah baby!

Q: So nothing can go wrong?
A: Don’t be stupid. We are bound to get some pain points, but I think it will be a fantastic move in the right direction.

So now all that remains is to get the final approval and start moving this stuff on to the VI. If this happens I will be ecstatic. If it doesn’t I think my tantrums-per-day ratio will increase, but I’m bottom of the food chain in the company, so I will have to do what I’m told. :) Fingers crossed.



VMware price changes could be perfect for Oracle VM uptake…


It’s not very often you see Oracle looking like the cheap option, but Oracle VM has always been pretty attractive on that score. :)

The latest information about VMware vSphere 5.0 pricing sounds like the perfect cue for Oracle to start another big push on the virtualization front, as I’m sure a lot of VMware customers will be swallowing hard as they read the new pricing model. It certainly makes Oracle VM sound even more attractive than it did before.

If Oracle could just get Oracle VM 3.0 out of the door, it might be able to make some serious inroads into the to VMware user base.






VMware Server 2.x on CentOS 5.4 problems…


Since I upgraded my desktop to CentOS 5.4 I’ve been getting loads of problems with VMware Server 2.x. I did a bit of Googling today and it turns out it’s a known problem. I followed the workaround listed at the following URL and it works fine now.

If you are struggling with VMware Server on RHEL 5.4 or any of its clones, give it a go.



Oracle 11gR2 RAC On Linux Using VMware Server 2


I’ve taken my first tentative steps into 11gR2 RAC and it was a big surprise.

11gR2 RAC feels very different to 11gR1 RAC. I can imagine quite a few people wanting to upgrade from 11gR1 thinking it will be trivial and getting a rude awakening…

The Grid Infrastructure (Clusterware + ASM) seems more complicated. There are more installation options, more prerequisites, more background processes and a bigger memory requirement…

I typically install 11gR1 RAC on VMware using 1G of RAM per VM. If you try that with 11gR2 you will get to the end of the Grid Infrastructure installation and have nothing left. The minimum recommendation for Grid Infrastructure alone is 1.5G, but if you want the RAC DB as well you are talking 2.5G. It actually worked fine with 2G of RAM allocated to each VM, but this is a whopping increase compared to 11gR1.

At this point I feel like I know nothing about 11gR2 RAC, but it certainly doesn’t feel like a patched version of 11gR1. If this had been released as 12g I would have still have been surprised by the level of change.

So over the next few days I’m expecting the dust to settle, my residual fear of all things new to subside and I’ll probably change my opinion completely and think it’s all the same as it was before… :)



PS. Please don’t try this installation on your 32-bit Windows laptop with 2G of RAM then write to me complaining it doesn’t work and telling me the article is rubbish… :)

VMware ESX Server 4.0 Released…


I guess the Oracle-Sun news makes everything else seem pretty small scale, so the launch of VMware ESX Server 4.0 will probably go largely unnoticed.

I’ve used many of the VMware offerings (Workstation, Server, GSX Server, ESX Server, ESXi, Intrastructure etc.) and seen the demos of the advanced features and they are impressive, but I have to keep asking myself, what do the majority of people actually want out of virtualization? The answer always seems to be “basic virtualization”. I love all the management tools and extra features VMware offer, but do I need them at the staggering price they cost? No. Actually, all the functionality I need comes in the VMware ESXi hypervisor product. It’s a free bare-metal hypervisor that does the job and everything else is just bells and whistles. So if I were going the VMware route I would take the free option and use ESXi. :)

Of course, there is another option. Without trying to sound like an Oracle fanboy (which I am), I can’t imagine running production virtualization with any product other than Oracle VM. Why? Because it does the job it’s meant to do (bare-metal virtualization) and it’s free. In that sense it is neck-and-neck with VMware ESXi. If you are planning to run Oracle software on your vurtual machines the support issue is much clearer on Oracle VM than ESXi, so the decision is really a no-brainer.

I’m sure there are companies that will need the additional functionality the VMware product set offer, but for many the latest iteration of the VMware products will be feature-creep gone too far. It will be interesting to see how this latest release pans out for them.



Oracle 11g RAC On Linux Using VMware Server 2…


I mentioned in a previous post I had taken the plunge and upgraded to VMware Server 2 on my laptop. Now I’ve also upgraded my main machine at home and it seems to be working fine. Probably the most complicated thing I run at home is a virtual RAC, so I wrote a new article to document the installation:

From a user point of view, the only difference between VMware Server 1.x and 2 is the new web-based managment interface. The VM setup itself is almost identical and as you would expect, so is the Oracle installation.

So far so good.