Virtualisation @ UKOUG Middleware SIG
31 May 2011 by Simon Haslam (in Events)
Last Wednesday we held a UKOUG Application Server & Middleware Special Interest Group (SIG) meeting, themed around virtualisation, and I thought I'd write a short post about it to give readers an idea of what they're like.
What was unusual about this SIG was that it was a "dual venue" event: we have a single agenda for the day but roughly half of the speakers are at each site with their presentation being relayed live to the other location. The first time we took this approach, back in March, the feedback was mostly positive but there were comments that questions from the audience were hard to hear and that the secondary site couldn't see the flipchart from the discussion session so. In an attempt to address these points we tried setting up a webcam and roving mic. I'll admit this didn't work as planned - my indestructible, 2004 ThinkPad didn't really have the horsepower to run the webcam (with local and remote video), the webinar, PowerPoint and remote desktop. Also the alignment of the webcam proved tricky and it didn't really have a wide enough field of view to capture the whole room. What worked slightly better was the shared Google Doc acting as a virtual whiteboard during the discussion session and which could be edited by both sites simultaneously. Anyway, if we do carry on this "dual venue" format, I feel there is still room for improvement.
So, now for a quick run through of the sessions:
|Firstly, Sudhakar Naidu took us through the latest middleware updates from Oracle Support. Many, if not most, of the SIG delegates will be production administrators so I think it's useful to have someone from Support on hand to talk to informally about the latest issues, alerts and so on. I always download the slides too as the MOS note numbers can be handy.|| |
Next came Wayne Lewis who really set the scene for the day by talking about Oracle's Linux and Virtualisation strategy and where it added most value to IT infrastructure. In particular, there were several people in the room very interested in Wayne's comments and slides about OVM 3.0 (covered by the Oracle "safe harbour statement"). I think it's fair to say he was robustly questionned by delegates regarding the Oracle stance on VMware but coherently explained Oracle's motivations.
|After the coffee break I gave a presentation about WebLogic Server
Virtual Edition. Work commitments had caught up with me and I have to
admit I wasn't as prepared as I would have liked to have been. I was determined to
get the demos in, though these are always more time consuming than you
think, and I overran horribly. My summary is that WLS VE is
an attractive product with a great future (and definitely warrants a
full day's seminar!). The slides are available to UKOUG members for the
next few weeks and will be free for anyone to download from the Veriton website in a
The audience, having survived my demos, went straight into the networking session where we split into small groups to discuss the topics: "Virtualisation products in use; Problems so far; What can Oracle do to help." In brief the groups came up with:
- About two thirds of delegates were using or had experience of VMware, one used "XP mode" on a desktop, a couple used OVM and the remainder had no virtualisation products in use. No-one had VMware + Oracle running on production systems (apparently because of the Oracle support position).
- Problems included Oracle licence partitioning, multiple deployment of middleware VMs from a gold image and that OVM templates were a "bit unusable" for real applications but OK for training. Someone felt that OVM was Oracle's "best kept secret".
- Some groups suggested that there could be free training and more documentation for OVM. One group suggested "pay as you go" licensing based on VM runtime. People would like to see more OVM reference sites. There were some further comments on Oracle licensing under VMware.
After lunch Wayne followed up on the Oracle support position regarding VMware. Then Mike Doherty described his organisation's experiences of OVM on which they have been running their Test, Training and Development environments for a couple of years. Mike had some very useful tips including pinning CPUs in OVM (rather more subtle than you might think) which no-one I spoke to afterwards had known about but thought would be very useful for OVM implementations.
| ||Time was now flying by! Next Paul Done talked about the technical details of Exalogic. Paul's the second of the WebLogic "bike" book authors to speak at the SIG (Phil Aston having given a presentation on WebLogic clustering a couple of years ago). This topic was a little indulgence on my behalf - whilst Exalogic doesn't yet support virtualisation (apparently this is coming in V1.1 in the second half of this year) there are lots of optimisations of interest to a middleware audience.|
Finally a(nother) highlight for me was James Morle, hot off a plane from Geneva only an hour or so earlier, talking about processor virtualisation extensions, I/O (both storage and network) and memory management. Whilst James' research had a VMware bias he said much of it also applies toOVM environments too. Personally I picked up a lot including transparent page sharing (a kind of dedupe for memory which I'd never come across before) and how the hypervisor/balloon driver behaves under acute memory pressure ("death on a stick")!
So overall, personally I felt I had a very worthwhile and constructive day at the SIG, and hope other delegates did too. Slides are available on the UKOUG website and the next Application Server and Middleware SIG is on 14th September.
PS. one of the delegates, David Roberts, who is also a keen photographer kindly took all these shots for us. I
particularly like his panoramas which capture the true "networking"
essence of the day for me.