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Cutting Edge
Apr 23

The latest version of Ubuntu (Jaunty Jackelope) has hit the streets – I’ve been using it for a few weeks now and it is simply more of the same great stuff.   The only difference I’ve really noticed is boot speed and I didn’t have to download and install OpenOffice 3.  So far it has been a breeze to install and run on both a VM and physical hardware.  Still fast, secure and incredibly easy to use.  Very nice.  That being said, for full production servers, I still prefer RHEL for Enterprise Server applications.  With the addition of some VM technology, Ubuntu may become a contender in that arena soon.  Maybe 10?

However, the most exciting part of the release wasn’t the Desktop or Server Editions, but rather the Netbook Remix.   After getting to use it a bit on a friend’s netbook, there really is no real competition for it.  Vista is slow and bloated on a Netbook, CE & XP just seem clunky and very, very dated – And out of all the Linux distros, Ubuntu Netbook Remix is by far the most polished and complete out of the box.  It is really the current gold standard for Netbook OS’s.

Apr 22

Once upon a year ago, when Sun Microsystems acquired MySQL, there were many bloggers who theorized that Big Red, who had a long-running, close partnership with Sun, was pulling some strings in this deal.  The people who endorsed the idea that Oracle couldn’t put the kibosh on MySQL without a PR headache (But Sun could), were dismissed as crazy, conspiracy-theory people.  My only surprise so far is the courteous lack of ‘I told you so’ popping up in the expert blogs.

So where do we go from here?  Oracle doesn’t have any experience in hardware.  If they keep most of Sun’s staffing, and continue to fund their innovation efforts, we may continue to see excellent products from them.  But will they retain their stellar brand identity?  Will they abandon the Sparc chip architecture and adopt x86?  It seems the best solution here looks more like a tightly coupled partnership rather than a merging of the two companies.

From Oracle’s whitepaper on the decision, MySQL’s fate seems a little less promising:

MySQL will be an addition to Oracle’s existing suite of database products, which already includes Oracle Database 11g, TimesTen, Berkeley DB open source database, and the open source transactional storage engine, InnoDB.

This doesn’t sound like Oracle is poised to grow MySQL and allow it to flourish.  At this time MySQL 6.0 is in Public Alpha, and has added the Falcon transactional engine as an advanced alternative to InnoDB, and SolidDB.  Looking at the architecture, this engine brings some industrial-grade caching, recovery, and long transaction support to MySQL.  Couple this with the real deal disaster recovery 6.0 is bringing to the table, and you have a free multi-platform database that rivals everything an Oracle database can offer outside of Enterprise Edition, and soundly trounces the latest Microsoft SQLServer offering.

But will Oracle put the resources toward MySQL, to allow it to be all it can be?  Personally, I don’t see it happening, but I hope I am very, very wrong.


Oct 22

Finally!!!  Oracle has published an Early Adopter Release of the Oracle SQL Developer Data Modeling package!

Right now it is a standalone product, but they are planning to integrate this into their excellent, platform independent, and affordable (read as: FREE!) SQL Developer tool.

I’m a big fan of SQL Developer, and it is readily adopted by clients due to price and functionality.  With no cost associated, I’ve seen anyone from developers to testers to integration groups use this tool to great effect.  But for the longest time, designers and architects were left with mostly 3rd party choices for creating data model design and structure.

I’m currently installing and testing this product, and will publish results – Good or Bad.

More to come!

Aug 10

Black Hat and DefCon, the premier Information Assurance venue for bleeding edge vulnerability and exploit research just wrapped up in Las Vegas.

The Good: The published presentations including a host of discussion about security in a virtualized environment, the sad state of Microsoft SQL Server security, and much, much more. Topping it all off was the announcement of the Windows Vista security bypass exploit via the browser by Mark Dowd and Alexander Sotirov. This is a particularly bruising find on Microsoft’s latest flagship, as it is quite a resource consumer, fairly annoying to use, but at least it was secure… Maybe now is a good time to try Ubuntu?

The Bad: The Pwnie Awards.  Unless you are in the ‘Most Innovative Research’ category, this is BlackHat’s Hall of Shame for security shortcomings.   A lesson learned from other’s mistakes is hopefully a lesson you don’t have to experience first-hand!

And the Ugly: A group of reporters from E-Week were covering Black Hat 2008 for their Security News.  They were too lazy to use their secured VPN to log into their home servers, so they just let their credentials pass in the clear… At a hacker convention… The shameful part is they threw the three responsible attendees out when they tried to submit these credentials to The Wall of Sheep.

Brian Fedorko

Jul 29

If you haven’t explored server virtualization, there is no better time! VMWare has announced that ESXi is now free! (CHEAP!)

Q. ESXi only supports a single VM, what is the advantage of this?

A. Portability & Flexibility. Since the VM isn’t tied to the hardware, it is ultimately transportable. Have a test server and production server? You can copy the REAL production VM to the test server. If you’re developing, you can copy the VM, archive it for Configuration Management purposes and promote the test environment to production with little risk for surprises due to differences in configuration!

You can get more out of less hardware. For development, your test hardware can be an Oracle 11g database server running RHEL on Monday, a JBoss App Server on SUSE on Tuesday, and an Oracle RAC instance on Oracle Enterprise Linux for emergency scalability on Wednesday, and an impromptu Backup Domain Controller on Windows Server 2008 on Thursday. The same server is the hardware you need when you need it!

Best of all, the VMs you create on ESXi are completely compatible with any of the VM Servers VMWare offers – Port it right into a ESX Server BladeServer or the like, when you are ready.

Q. What about Oracle Licensing on VMs?

A. Oracle does not officially support their products on any VM Server except Oracle VM – Their licensed version of Xen. However, I’ve been running Oracle on ESX on a wide variety of hardware implementations and have yet to experience one problem. Licensing a Virtualized Oracle Server can be expensive on a consolidated VM Server, as you must pay for every socket, whether you are using it for the Oracle Server VM or not – But on an ESXi hypervisor, with single VM setup, the cost is the same as if you put it on the physical server!

Q. What about Microsoft’s Hyper-V – That is free too!

A. Microsoft’s Hyper-V isn’t as ‘free’ or ‘Hyper’ as they would like you to believe. ESXi is free – It sits on the Hardware, requiring no foundational OS. MS Hyper-V requires you to purchase and install Server 2008 to run Hyper-V ($1000-$6000 depending on the flavor). Plus, you get all the overhead of having Microsoft Server 2008 as disk Sspace, memory, and processor overhead!

Then there is the matter of Hyper-V’s supported OS list It supports Windows, Windows, Windows, and SUSE.

Hyper-V space requirement: 10Gb MINIMUM. ESXi: 32Mb

Hyper-V max processors per host: 4. ESXi Max processors per host: 8


In short, If you haven’t tried virtualizing your servers, now is a great time (It is always a great time to save your client/company/self equipment funds!). Now, you have nothing to lose!

Brian Fedorko

Jul 24

Big Blue

IBM announced that their System X and BladeCenter offerings are now “integrated with VMWare ESXi 3.5”. “Wow!”, you may say to yourself “IBM must be considering a close partnership with VMWare to design the ESXi Hypervisor right into their server’s chipset.” And you would be partially right, VMWare and IBM are happily partnering, as virtualization is becoming a huge selling point for BladeServers. But how IBM implemented a chipset integration is a lesson in out-of-the box thinking that is valuable to everyone.

The answer is “USB Flash Memory Stick Drive

The miniscule ESXi (32Mb!!!) fits nicely on a Flash drive too small to even sell today. Stick this on the motherboard’s internal USB drive and congratulations, you now have integrated virtualization right into your Server’s chipset. The simplicity of execution is simply brilliant – And IBM’s customers will invariably benefit from the flexibility virtualization offers with no increase in price due to R&D/redesign/retooling/etc.

Brian Fedorko

Jul 15

Safe and Secure

It is time once again to eliminate bugs and increase the security posture of our Oracle databases. The Advisories and Risk Matrices can be found on Oracle Technology Network. The full availability information is found at Oracle Metalink under DocID# 579278.1

Points of Interest:

  • This CPU contains 11 security fixes for the Oracle Enterprise Database Server
  • None of the security holes for the Enterprise DBMS are remotely exploitable without authentication
  • Oracle Application Express requires no security fixes (This product continues to impress me)
  • ALL Windows platforms running Oracle Enterprise DB Server v10.2.0.3 will have to wait until 22-July-2008 for their CPU
  • Support for Solaris 32-bit and Oracle Enterprise DB Server v10.2.0.2 seems to have been pulled! There’s no CPU for these, and none planned for the October 2008 Critical Product Update as per Oracle Metalink DocID# 579278.1.

Don’t forget to read the patch notes, test thoroughly, and check to make sure you’re using the proper version of OPatch!

Next CPU: 14-October2008

Brian Fedorko

Jun 16

Paper Cash Money!

Oracle’s latest price list was published today!

Oracle Technology Global Price List

There are increases scattered throughout the various licensing options, most notably:

Oracle Enterprise Edition

  • $7500 increase in the base per-processor licensing
  • $150 increase in per-user licensing

Oracle Standard Edition

  • $2500 increase in the base per-processor licensing
  • $50 increase in per-user licensing

Oracle Standard Edition One

  • $805 increase in the base per-processor licensing
  • $41 increase in per-user licensing


  • $300 increase in the base per-processor licensing
  • $60 increase in per-user licensing

Active Data Guard

  • $800 increase in the base per-processor licensing
  • $20 increase in per-user licensing

Advanced Security Partitioning, Advanced Compression, Real Application Testing, Label Security

  • $1500 increase in the base per-processor licensing
  • $30 increase in per-user licensing

Diagnostics Pack , Tuning Pack, Change Management Pack, Configuration Management Pack, Provisioning Pack for Database

  • $500 increase in the base per-processor licensing
  • $10 increase in per-user licensing

Internet Application Server Enterprise Edition

  • $5000 increase in the base per-processor licensing
  • $100 increase in per-user licensing

Enterprise Single Sign-On Suite

  • $10 increase in per-user licensing

This is certainly not an exhaustive list and I’m sure that there are many, many other changes. Rounding up your Enterprise’s licensing and product use information for acquisition planning purposes may be a prudent and proactive task for this month!

Brian Fedorko

Jun 06

So you had a bad day...I’ve always advised my clients: If you choose to outsource your Disaster Recovery (DR), or any other integral, data-drenched portion of your IT domain, you should deposit all the savings directly into a high yield fund. This will be crucial when you have to deal with the litigation, remediation, and PR nightmare that accompanies the customer’s lost and compromised personal data.

Some 3rd party DR providers and Software as a Service (SaaS) vendors tout big savings…

But do you know who is working for them?
What audit records are kept about your data?
Who really has access to them?
Who are they accredited to?
How often is the site security reviewed?
How quickly can they detect an intrusion?
Can they detect data theft by an insider?

The list goes on. All of these WILL effect the total cost of utilizing this type of solution.

But why try to minimize the drain on funds a DR site represents when you can move it in-house and turn it into a revenue generator? I came across this story which details a savvy company that did just that and stands to save $750,000 PER YEAR.

Here are some ideas to turn your liability into a ROI generator:

  • DR Sites do not have to be across the country! 100-150 miles will put you on a different local power grid, and save your company thousands in travel and per diem alone.
  • You can utilize your in-house personnel and corporate knowledge to make informed decisions on maintenance!
  • You can use resources made obsolete during capital replacement, slashing stand-up costs
    By virtualizing, you can host many Virtual Machines with less hardware.
  • The brightest CIOs will utilize their disaster recovery site for: real-time replication of data AND applications, testing and development, and production load balancing.

All this, and your company retains sole strategic contol over the operation, run by employess who have a stake in your success. And that is priceless.

More to come…

Brian Fedorko

Jun 05

He just makes it look easy5 years ago, if you asked the CIO of any Fortune 500 company what they were doing to reduce their carbon footprint, or make their data centers more ‘green‘ or eco-friendly, the answers you recieve may range from strange looks, to a ‘of course we care about things and stuff‘-styled answer. But today, I challenge anyone to ask the same question to the same people and find one CIO who isn’t developing or executing a plan to make their IT more green.

So what happened? Was it a highly-contagious attack of conscience? A wide swing to the left in corporate culture?

Perhaps they may be contributing factors, but large companies are embracing green as the new way to do business because green is the color of money. And embracing eco-friendly practices translates directly into cost savings (which translates directly into profit!). Not only that but, it also impacts scalability, growth potential, and disaster recovery! Many companies with a large IT footprint are seeing savings on the level of 6-7 digits per year!

So how do we get greener? By using what we have more efficiently.

One of the biggest keys is virtualization. If we have a system that leverages software pieces running on SUSE Linux, MSWindows, and RedHat, we would have to have 3 different sets of hardware in the server room. To make it more efficient, we’d have to rewrite these pieces to reside on the same box (costly, sometimes impossible when using COTS), or use an emulator (SLOW).

With virtualization software, such as the popular & powerful VMWare ESX Server, we can Virtualize all of those servers and put them on the same piece of hardware! If those applications are not very resource intensive, we can leverage that underutilized overhead and virtualize several other servers, and utilize that very same hardware!

By embracing this process, we will save the cost of:

  • additional hardware
  • additional power to supply that hardware
  • cabling to the hardware
  • network infrastructure
  • additional cooling
  • additional DR support equipment
  • additional expansion area
  • maintenance contracts

Being able to reduce your hardware footprint by 25%-80% has an incredible impact on overall savings. It also doesn’t take into consideration the savings garnered by using the VMs to clone production Virtual Machines for development, testing, benchmarking, and debugging. Or the ease of maintenence provided by hot-swappable blade servers. Or the ease of test promotion via cloning of Virtual Machines. Or… Well, you get the idea.

It Isn’t Easy Being Green, but the payoff is worth it.

More to come…

Brian Fedorko

May 28

VMWare FusionDear Parallels,

I’ll always cherish the time we spent together. You saved me from the social stigma of needing a rack of boxen against the wall so I could test drive Red Hat, Ubuntu, and SUSE all within 10 minutes on a MacBook. You allowed me to use Microsoft Windows in the same manner that I use Kleenex™ - Once it was filled with Mal-Ware, I could simply throw the mess away, and a new clean one would be ready for use. You helped me explore why ‘upgrade’ is the wrong verb to use when describing the migration from XP to Vista.

I’ll remember our halcyon days of yester-year with misty water-colored memories. But since I have met VMWare Fusion, I can not be parted from it. Not only does it seamlessly share appliances with ALL VMWare products (Including ESX Server - More to come on this essential technology), but it is much faster (Note to CNET: Is there a sane rationale for virtualizing Windows on a Mac to run Adobe Photoshop?). And then there are the free promises of FusionV2

DirectX support. Multi-Screen Support. A free upgrade & a $30 rebate, and I could have been knocked over by a feather.

Thank you for the fond memories, Parallels. Perhaps we will meet again in the future.

Brian Fedorko