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Oracle screw over Solaris experts with new certification rules 2 comments

I can cut Oracle a lot of slack – they’re a big, slow organisation, and having swallowed Sun there are sure to be some bouts of indigestion, in between a few burps as the more troublesome bits get expelled.

But the latest update on how certifications are granted is ridiculous. Read the note on Oracle’s Education website:

Important Changes to Java, and Oracle Solaris Certifications

Beginning August 1, 2011, Java Architect, Java Developer, Solaris System Administrator and Solaris Security Administrator certification path requirements will include a new mandatory course attendance requirement.

The summary is – even if you pass the certification exams, you cannot be certified unless you attend a relevant hands-on course.

Your experiences may vary, but personally I have always found vendor-run training courses to be useless. They are not teaching you skills you need – they are teaching you how to do things the way the vendor wants you to. Training courses are not always the best way to learn things, and on every single one I’ve been on, there’s been someone who hasn’t bothered with the course pre-requisites – and so the training slows down to the pace of someone who is a total beginner. That is not the way to learn.

Perfect case in point – Sun used to say that to add a user, you’d fire up the admintool GUI. This even came up in the certification exam, and if you said anything other than ‘use admintool’, you’d fail that question.

Meanwhile, in the real world, people were editing passwd and shadow, running useradd, or hacking away at NIS and LDAP. No-one used NIS+ – so naturally, that too featured in the certification exams and the courses.

Vendors want to teach you how to use their specific tools to increase sales and penetration. Fine. But that isn’t teaching you the useable, transferrable skills you need to be a really good sysadmin.

By forcing course attendance, Oracle are making it clear that to be an ‘expert’ in Solaris, you have to a) have paid them lots of money for that bit of paper, and b) know how to use Oracle tools, over and above any real skill or understanding of the OS.

This is short-sighted, greedy, and stupid. It devalues the Solaris certifications by clearly showing them to be about making money for Oracle. It means that someone who invests heavily in Solaris and UNIX skills will be valued less by HR (and less technical managers) than someone who has paid Oracle a bucket load of cash.

It also unfairly penalises small businesses and consultancies. If you’ve got a few UNIX guys, why not pay for some books, let them self study, and then fork out £300 or so for a few exams? That’s a world away from having them out the office for 5 days, and paying upwards of £3000, for a course that is unlikely to give them any new knowledge.

This is wrong. This is ill-considered, and turns a useful way of showcasing your Solaris skills into a valueless exercise in fattening Mad Larry’s wallet.

Exploring Solaris Auto-Registration Comments Off on Exploring Solaris Auto-Registration

Last night I gave a presentation to LOSUG about Solaris Auto-Registration. Well, actually, auto registration was a part of it, but it also got into service tags (which I think are pretty cool).

The main point of all of this was to use auto registration and service tags as a way of showing how you need to poke and pull apart new features and applications to understand how they work. Only once you have that understanding can you make an informed choice on where or how to implement them.

A copy of the presentation in PDF format can be downloaded here:exploring_solaris_autoregistration.pdf

I hope people find it interesting, and that it encourages you to do some hacking around in your own infrastructure.

Solaris 09/10 is out Comments Off on Solaris 09/10 is out

Oracle have announced that Solaris 09/10 is out. Along with a number of new features, two things really stick out:

1) Oracle have begun putting a lot of effort into tuning and integrating Solaris and Oracle. If you’re an Oracle database shop and you’re not running Solaris, you need to be paying close attention to this, because it’s the future for Mad Larry’s database cash-cow.

2) Perpetual licensing. Gone is the stupid 90 day eval – if you’re doing anything that’s not production, you get Solaris for keeps.

Except for any included software package or file that is licensed to you by Oracle under different license terms, we grant you a perpetual (unless terminated as provided in this agreement), nonexclusive, nontransferable, limited License to use the Programs only for the purpose of developing, testing, prototyping and demonstrating your applications, and not for any other purpose.

Clearly the short sighted and ill considered “90 day evaluation” clause generated enough of a negative backlash from customers for Oracle to change tack. Hopefully with some of the confusion out of the way more people will be picking this up and playing with it.

OGB resigns, OpenSolaris canned – or is it? Comments Off on OGB resigns, OpenSolaris canned – or is it?

As expected the OpenSolaris OGB have officially thrown in the towel. Plans have been leaked internally from Oracle showing that they are going to stop open development of OpenSolaris.

All pretty much expected, and hopefully this will be the ‘jumpstart’ that the OpenSolaris community needs to start pushing community distros and community code.

What a lot of the peanut gallery commentators have missed is that this doesn’t spell the end of any OpenSolaris development. Oracle will still release code, just after a long-ish delay. This is a clearly a tactic to address people like Nexenta, who are directly competing with Oracle in the open storage space – where there’s an awful lot of money up for grabs.

There are pluses and minuses for all of this – to get an idea read these posts from Ben Rockwood and Joerg Mollenkamp to see the view from both sides of the fence.

The big plus for existing Solaris shops – and yes, it is a plus – is the return of Solaris Express. Specifically Solaris 11 Express, which should be appearing sometime after OpenWorld.

The death of SX:CE was a massive mistake from Sun – OpenSolaris was too far ahead of current shipping Solaris versions, and it made any sort of planning or roadmap to implement new features impossible, especially in a large environment. You know, those big corporate Solaris/SPARC shops who paid Sun’s bills?

The return of Solaris Express gives these guys – the ones who pay big money to Oracle – a chance to evaluate new features, plan out a deployment/upgrade strategy. Which means it’s much more likely they’ll stick with Solaris, take advantage of the new features – and continue to pay money to Oracle.

Sadly for Oracle they seem to have handled Solaris with all the deftness and tact of IBM with OS/2. Getting all bullish with licensing and support costs without giving your customers solid roadmaps and upgrade plans is pretty amateurish.

OpenSolaris – turmoil in the community Comments Off on OpenSolaris – turmoil in the community

The continued silence from Oracle is causing a bit of a stir in the OpenSolaris community. The OGB (the governing board for the OpenSolaris community) has given Oracle an ultimatum – appoint a liaison to the community by August 16th, or the OGB will dissolve and dump things back in Oracle’s lap.

Peter Tribble has a good take from the OGB’s point of view here, and Ben Rockwood shares his frustrations here.

In the meantime, the Nexenta guys (who count a number of excellent ex-Sun Solaris chaps amongst their number) have said to sit tight and wait for some news. Out of all the community distributions, Nexenta seem to have the talent and business plan to push forward a solid product built around Oracle’s sources.

As well as checking out Nexenta Core, I’d recommend keeping an eye on Alasdair Lumsden’s efforts to get a community OpenSolaris distribution up and running.

The most notable silence so far on the OpenSolaris lists has been from Joyent – they’re heavy users of OpenSolaris, and it’s pretty key to their business. Are they rolling their own custom distribution internally?

Oracle’s attitude to user groups, smaller Sun partners, and communities around products like OpenSolaris and Lustre has been appalling. Lack of communication and transparency is the least of the problems.

Yes, Sun was a big company, and yes, integration of a bottom-up culture like Sun’s into a top-down culture like Oracle was always going to be painful. But it’s been a year since Oracle bought Sun, and it’s not like they didn’t know what they were getting.

I’m sitting tight for Oracle OpenWorld in September, because there will be a slew of relevant announcements then. Yes, the continued silence from Oracle is pretty poor – but it’s the way they run things, and hopefully post OpenWorld we’ll be seeing some changes in the way Oracle operates.

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