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Making Choices with Confidence

Oracle tested, customer approved

When integrating various components of a Linux stack, ensuring that all components work together properly prior to set up will save your organization headaches, time and money. Many solution providers are stepping up to the plate to alleviate the stress of selecting and configuring a Linux stack by providing pre-tested, validated and supported architectures.

Making Choices with Confidence
Selecting the right technology components to meet business objectives has never been more complex, and just because things are supposed to work together does not always mean that they will. Different releases of software, different versions of specific drivers and different internal hardware components can become an integration headache for IT departments attempting to set up an application or database on a new server.

Consider the range of challenges: solving driver issues for storage and networking, tuning operating system parameters for optimal efficiency, deciding which software patches are needed. Even Linux offers its own set of challenges; unlike traditional enterprise servers, where the operating system and the server hardware are from the same vendor, with Linux there are multiple distributions and hardware combinations that can be assembled.

This is where Oracle Validated Configurations come into play to ease the Linux deployment process.

Oracle Validated Configurations
The goal of Oracle Validated Configurations program is to provide easier, faster and lower-cost deployment of Linux solutions in the enterprise. The program offers pre-tested, validated architectures–including software, hardware, storage, and network components–along with documented best practices. It is not a prepackaged or preinstalled Linux configuration (although select Oracle partners offer that service, as well), but it provides recommendations and best practices for organizations to use while making decisions during the purchasing and deployment phases of a Linux implementation. The result is improved performance, scalability and reliability of Linux solutions, with faster, lower-cost implementations.

To create these configurations, Oracle has partnered with hardware vendors Dell, EMC, HP, IBM, Network Appliance, Pillar Data, and Sun; platform technology vendors AMD and Intel; operating system vendors Novell and Red Hat; HBA driver vendors Emulex and Qlogic; and networking vendors Brocade and Cisco Systems. In cooperation with Oracle, these partners go through a rigorous testing process to validate complete stacks that can be deployed on Linux.

Oracle works with partners on all aspects of a deployment, from functionality testing and performance optimization to vulnerability assessment and troubleshooting. Partners in the program are in agreement that making sure that configurations work correctly in real-world deployments takes more than just installing and running the software.

"One of the main aspects that attracted HP to the Oracle Validated Configurations program was the test suite that Oracle had developed," said Douglas Small, vice president of marketing, Open Source and Linux Organization, HP. "The kit really attempts to simulate real-world conditions rather than artificial benchmark criteria."

Testing, Testing, Testing
The Oracle Validated Configuration test kit is designed to mimic real-world customer environments by simulating those types of workloads and issues. The tests also leverage Oracle's experience running internal workloads on Linux–such as Oracle On Demand and global IT workloads–and include a variety of configurations, such as different test scenarios for two and four-node Oracle Real Application Clusters. Ultimately, the test kit moves far beyond basic install testing to ensure that a validated configuration of mixed hardware and software will not only install properly but will also run correctly and behave with expected deployment characteristics.

Typical tests include install-related procedures that ensure the components install properly and that any patches are working as intended; functionality-related testing to confirm that operating system requirements are available and working correctly; stress and load testing to verify that the systems will hold up under extreme conditions; and destructive tests, such as pulling the cable on the server or storage, to ensure that components can handle failures gracefully.

In The Labs
The complete testing process requires significant time and resources, as Oracle tests various configurations based on customer input in its own labs.

Besides testing solution stacks in house, Oracle also makes the test kit available to partners so they can run the same tests on their own hardware, in their own lab, to validate new Linux configurations. Once the partners report the results, Oracle validates the configurations and makes them available through the program. This gives partners the opportunity to select the components customers are most interested in and publish new configurations based on new product releases.

Moving forward, Oracle and its partners will continually update existing configurations as components change, such as new server models, storage components or operating system versions, and will add new configurations as they become available.

Benefits
Based on the rigorous testing procedures of the Oracle Validated Configurations, Oracle and its partners give customers the confidence that these configurations will run well and reduce testing efforts, ultimately enabling faster deployment of Oracle on Linux. As a result of the Oracle Validated Configurations program, customers can experience the benefits of standardization, scalability and reliability without the cost and delays of testing or the risk of untested configurations.

To discover more about Oracle Validated Configurations and access best practices and lists of available configurations, visit http://www.oracle.com/technology/tech/linux/validated-configurations.

More Stories By Wim Coekaerts

As well as being a member of the distinguished International Advisory Board of Linux.SYS-CON.com, Wim Coekaerts is director of Linux Engineering at Oracle, where he manages a team of talented Linux developers. Wim, Oracle's Linux liaison, was hand-picked by Oracle Chairman and CEO Larry Ellison to lead Oracle's Linux kernel team and is responsible for ensuring that Oracle works collaboratively with the Linux community.

More Stories By Van Okamura

Van Okamura, an Oracle veteran since 1988, has been involved with Linux engineering projects for almost four years. Currently, Okamura leads the team responsible for Oracle's testing and validation efforts on Linux, including collaboration with strategic partners, creating and running appropriate test kits, testing new releases of Linux distributions and mainline kernel and addressing customer's technical requirements and concerns. Prior to his focus on Linux, Okamura has extensively worked on other popular operating systems and platforms.

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