What’s new in Oracle Java 7

Despite the gnashing of teeth in 2009 when Oracle bought Sun Microsystems, Sun's stewardship of Java seems to have passed, with very little turbulence, into capable hands. The language continues to evolve to address the productivity needs and desires of end users and mesh with the new computing models driven by the growth in web applications, mobile devices, and advances in hardware design and enterprise architectures.

Disaster Recovery Gets Some Fresh AIR

When it comes to disaster recovery, there has historically been a limitation on disk storage. While tapes can easily be sent offsite to be used for restores after a site outage, disks do not offer the same flexibility. Some OpenStorage technologies, support out-of-band replication in which the contents of the disk storage are replicated between devices. In these instances, NetBackup has no knowledge of the data, which complicates recovery in a NetBackup protected environment because the replicated data can only be accessed after recreating the NetBackup catalog. Replication is done by importing the entire contents of the disk storage at the remote site using the bpimport command. The nbcatsync utility, introduced in NetBackup 6.5.6 and 7.0.1, can address this challenge as well, but it relies on being able to restore the catalog from a catalog backup and then post-processing it to reconcile the disk device mappings, resulting in a very time consuming process.

LiveUpdate Improvements in NBU 7.1

LiveUpdate is a NetBackup feature that allows administrators to quickly and easily upgrade NetBackup clients under central control using a special NetBackup policy. Previous releases of NetBackup offered limited functionality for LiveUpdate, providing only the ability to upgrade to a minor update of the current version (e.g., from NetBackup 6.5.5 to 6.5.6). In contrast, NetBackup 7.1 has the ability to update a client even if it’s running a previous major version (NetBackup 6.5 and later). LiveUpdate operates with any supported NetBackup client system, including UNIX, Linux and Windows machines, and can update a mixture of UNIX, Linux and Windows clients from a single LiveUpdate policy. It’s important to understand that NetBackup LiveUpdate is not the same as the LiveUpdate service that many other Symantec products use. The NetBackup version only runs when the administrator explicitly executes it and it does not pull data from Symantec or any other location on the Internet. All update information is contained on servers that are controlled by the NetBackup administrator. It’s also important to note that other installation methods are still supported; LiveUpdate is an optional tool. If administrators prefer to use the standard NetBackup client installation utilities, they may still do so.

Virtualization, the dark side

The race to virtualize everything has created a host of unintended consequences, not the least of which is how to meet the SLAs (service level agreements) for application backup. As we move into cloud alternatives this problem will only grow since your cloud provider will have to provide this to you on an application by application basis. Every virtual machine is essentially a set of large files such as VMDKs in a VMware context. These large files are typically stored in storage arrays which can be connected via iSCSI or Fiber Channel or on NFS volumes. Traditional data protection techniques such as VMware's VADP, or VMware VCB rely on an agent to protect VMDK files associated with virtual servers.

Reducing 2AM headaches part 1: Standardize

One of the most effective ways to reduce fire fighting in daily administration is by standardizing the operating environments and automating deployment and configuration. A standard operating environment (SOE) that can support multiple use cases is a more robust and tested platform to build upon. It provides a uniform environment for troubleshooting when something goes awry. Reducing the differences in your operational environment to critical changes also reduces the overall complexity in multi-tier environments. Using centralized automation tools to define, build, and deploy these standards streamlines the process even more. Standardization is not a new concept, nor is it disruptive way of thought. The industrial revolution owes part of its existence to standardization. Computers and gadgets get reviewed and reviled based on adhering to standardized parts and ports. Yet for some reason, every environment I've worked in has one-off, bespoke systems to one degree or another. Some had admins who thought it was easier, better, smarter, more secure to build custom environments. Some had admins who wrote wrapper scripts around standard UNIX utilities because they didn't like the way a particular error was handled. The only real outcome was increasing difficulty of maintaining and replicating the systems. While bespoke suits will fit better at first, you'd best be prepared to work hard to exactly maintain your shape otherwise you're in for regular and expensive tailoring.