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Oracle Premier Support on Dell and HP – why this matters Comments Off on Oracle Premier Support on Dell and HP – why this matters

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So there were a rash of news reports about Oracle pulling third party support contracts for Solaris x86 – specifically with HP and IBM. It seems this was all a storm in a teacup, handled with the usual communicative excellence from Oracle (seriously, guys, *come on*).

Oracle have announced new support agreements with HP and Dell. This is important for a couple of reasons, which I’ll explain here as the mainstream press seems to have conveniently glossed them over in their rush to backpeddle on their previous “OMG Solaris is dying!” claims.

Firstly, it’s becoming clear that Oracle are having a lot more success than Sun when it comes to showing other x86 server suppliers who wears the trousers. Sun’s line was pretty much “Your customers want it, so go on, sell Solaris licenses and support – please”. Oracle’s new deal with HP and Dell is a lot more impressive:

Oracle today announced Dell and HP will certify and resell Oracle Solaris, Oracle Enterprise Linux and Oracle VM on their respective x86 platforms.

and:

Customers will have full access to Oracle’s Premier Support for Oracle Solaris, Oracle Enterprise Linux and Oracle VM running on Dell and HP servers. This will enable fast and accurate issue resolution and reduced risk in a company’s operating environment

It’s not just Solaris – it’s Oracle’s entire stack: Solaris x86, Oracle Linux, and Oracle VM. It’s clear Oracle are able to use their database sales .

The second big development has really been overlooked:

World-class Oracle Solaris support on any certified x86 system on the Solaris Hardware Compatibility List (HCL)

That’s right – Oracle are offering Premier Support for Solaris on all certified systems on the Solaris HCL. That’s over 500 server systems – all qualifying for Premier Support.

This is even more relevant when taken in the context of Oracle’s previous comments about increasing investment in SPARC. Why divert development effort to the low x86 end, when you can get your hardware partners to supply the really cheap, low margin gear? Give your customers a neat upgrade path, using the same Solaris OS on a tightly integrated Oracle x86 cluster.

Then supply the customers another upgrade path when they really need to scale – Solaris on SPARC, all the way up to beefy M9000s. The OS is the same, the database is the same, and Oracle can provide customers with a well defined and (relatively) painless upgrade path – which they supply.

This is a real shot in the arm for Solaris x86 and will go a long way to allay the fears of sites who’ve chosen to deploy on x86.

Sun and Oracle – aftermath of the big event Comments Off on Sun and Oracle – aftermath of the big event

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Last week Oracle held a marathon 5 hour webcast session, where they laid out their plans for Sun and their technologies. Sun’s website now redirects to Oracle, and although all the old Sun website links are still live, it’s now Oracle through and through.

The webcast held no surprises, really. As I mentioned previously about the Sun/Oracle merger and Larry’s talk on Oracle’s use of Sun technology, Oracle weren’t going to ditch Sun’s hardware line. The analysts were full of hysterics and gloom, but I’ve yet to meet an analyst who has the slightest clue of what’s going on. They’re paid to make noise and sell ‘research’, not to know what they’re talking about.

As predicted, there’s more investment in Sun’s hardware line, including lots more tasty new CMT processors, and a scaling up of the line to larger multi-socket machines. The high end gear will continue, as will the partnership with Fujitsu. SPARC continues to get a lot of investment and love, and will be a big focus going forwards. Amen to that.

Pretty much all of the software stack will stay and get integrated with Oracle’s offerings. I note with distaste that Oracle’s crappy Internet Directory remains the ‘enterprise’ offering for LDAP and identity management, with Sun’s LDAP products being pushed at smaller deployments. On the OS side, it’s a bit of Linux, and Solaris, Solaris, Solaris – Oracle recognise it’s the best commercial UNIX currently on the market, and that the feature set is unmatched.

Storage lives on, with Sun’s excellent Amber Road Storge 7000 Unified Storage boxes becoming ZFS appliances. Particularly exciting is their integration into OEM – imagine simple management of RMAN backups to ZFS appliances, giving low level snapshots and all sorts of goodness. I can see a lot of places going for that in a big way.

The big question for me was around OpenSolaris. No mention of it at all. It’s Open Source – that particular cat is out of the bag, and it’s not going away. So the question is what sort of effort will Oracle put behind it? Lots of new, OpenSolaris specific features – the new IPS packaging system and the Automated Installer – have potential, but aren’t up to scratch yet, and quite frankly don’t play well with existing Solaris infrastructure.

My bet is we’ll see less effort in re-inventing the wheel, and more focus on making OpenSolaris a more palatable Solaris 11. There’s a big Solaris installed base out there, and the focus on x86 and new features has so far meant that OpenSolaris isn’t really a credible upgrade path.

As I expected when I first heard the news, Oracle are going to be leveraging Sun’s technology and services and own and optimise the entire stack, from the silicon up to the application. This gives them a chance to really tune everything and to go head to head with IBM. May you live in interesting times, as they say.

Obviously there’s more, lots more. Oracle have handily posted up each section of the webcast so you can pick and choose which session you want to watch here. There are also a series of special short webcasts which focus on specific product areas – you can view them all here.

PS: as a side note, Thomas Kurian, who presented the Software Strategy webcast, managed to give one of the dullest presentations I’ve seen. Seriously, that was a really important session, but I almost nodded off a couple of times. Dire.

SuCLE lives: Oracle/Sun merger approved by the EU Comments Off on SuCLE lives: Oracle/Sun merger approved by the EU

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The Oracle takeover of Sun has finally been approved by the EU, after a long delay while the EU competition folks had to discover that, in fact, MySQL wasn’t the only open source database on the planet. Shocking discovery, I know.

Oracle are holding a webcast next Wednesday 27th, where Mad Larry will be laying out his stalls and plotting the roadmap to world domination. You can sign up here – well worth a listen, if only because now Oracle are fully off the leash they’re free to really put the boot in to IBM and HP.

On a related note, I find Monty Widenius’ objections to the merger/takeover/sale bizarre. Sun paid the shareholders a cool $1 billion for MySQL AB – a ridiculous amount. They can do what they want with it. Surely if that caused you problems, you shouldn’t have sold it in the first place?

Selling something, then trying to force the new owners to let you have back control so you can build a competing commercial business off it – for free – is, quite frankly, greedy and deeply shady. And in the meantime, the delay has damaged Sun, their customers, partners – oh, and the career prospects of all those MySQL AB guys who now work for Sun. I’m sure Monty will be crying them all a river as he rolls around in the big stack of cash he got from Sun.

It’s a strange contrast to the behaviour of the Jboss folks, where after the sale the application server has been transformed via RedHat cash into a credible platform that’s met with some solid commercial success.

The loss of critical skills in IT Comments Off on The loss of critical skills in IT

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There’s a recurring problem in IT, and although it’s been going on for years, only now is it starting to bite. With the increase in easy to use GUIs to manage systems, critical skills are starting to disappear. New starters in all areas of IT are able to quickly manage complex systems, but without learning the underlying hard stuff – which means that, when things break, the outages are longer and the fixes prove more difficult.

Here’s a great article from Enterprise Storage Forum. It covers the more common RAID levels that are used today, but also touches on how this knowledge is being lost to storage administrators.

No one who cut their teeth on Veritas Volume Manager or Disksuite can deny that storage administration is easier now than it’s ever been for new admins. However, that knowledge of how to carve up disks, how storage virtualisation worked, how to eek every last ounce of performance out of your system, is now being lost. Trust the SAN storage to optimise itself. Buy some more cache. Monitoring tools are so expensive from the vendor, and we don’t really understand what they do – just fit some more disk trays.

On a wider level, this article in Wired highlights some of the concerns in the US from DARPA about the declining numbers of teenagers learning maths, technology, and hard science – which is slowly leading to a shortage of hard-core geeks.

It’s a problem I’m seeing in more and more companies – even big consulting outfits. The people are great, they can learn quickly, and they can manage large, complex solutions – but they don’t have an understanding of the underlying technology at a low level. More often than not, this leads to to extremes: underestimating what the technology can do (leading to excess cost for the client, as they spend more on kit and consultancy than they need), or overestimating what the technology is capable of (leading to excess costs for the client as they have to buy more kit and consultancy).

This is clearly a pretty poor state of affairs: clients get a raw deal on their IT projects, consultancy companies get a bad reputation as shysters – and less people want to get into a career in IT because, let’s face it, it’s a bit of a mess.

The solution? I don’t know. When I was a teenager we had the Computer Literacy Project, and BBC Micros we had to hack about with to get them to do anything. It was an instructive education and a great time to be involved in IT.

Now, however, hardware hackers are viewed with suspicion. The endless war on terror is making things difficult for someone who carries some homebrew electronics in their pocket – Hack-A-Day has some good editorial coverage here.

Ultimately, I think the hacking scene holds the key to getting more people interested in hardware and software – just as it did 30 years ago.

NVidia: Mad Science Comments Off on NVidia: Mad Science

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In possibly one of the best named marketing efforts ever, NVidia have announced their “Mad Science” promotion – just in time for Christmas! The deal is simple – buy a Tesla card now, and get a free upgrade to the equivalent Fermi based card when they start shipping:

When you purchase a Tesla C1060 GPU Computing Processor through this promotional offer, you will qualify for a no penalty upgrade to a Tesla C2050 or a Tesla C2070 GPU Computing Processor. Start experiencing GPU computing today on a Tesla C1060 and be assured to be one of the first to receive the new Fermi-based Tesla C2050/C2070 GPU Computing Processor.

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