COMMUNITY: Up Close
Open OpportunityBy Jeff Erickson
Membership helps a Linux SIG leader move projects forward.
Todd Sheetz’ experience with Linux in the enterprise began soon after Oracle first certified its database with the open source operating system. “As I got more into Linux, I began meeting people at IOUG [Independent Oracle Users Group] events who had the kind of expertise I needed to start moving away from [Microsoft] Windows,” says Sheetz. “The Oracle people I met helped my company save a lot of time and money on our first implementation of Oracle Clusterware on Red Hat Linux.” That system, says Sheetz, is still going strong, and so is his interest in Oracle on Linux.
When IOUG asked its members in 2007 which new special interest groups (SIGs) they wanted and Linux got a top response, Sheetz saw an opportunity. “When the IOUG board began talking seriously about a Linux SIG, I thought there would be no better way to grow my Linux network than to lead it myself,” Sheetz says. In 2008 he became the first Linux SIG president.
The Linux SIG Experience
It was a frigid 8 degrees Fahrenheit in Waukesha, Wisconsin, Sheetz’ hometown, the day he and I met on a Skype videoconference to explore his experience with the Linux SIG. I angled my camera so as not to highlight the warm March weather outside my California window and asked him how the SIG he leads helps its members.
In the Linux SIG’s two years of existence, the group has gathered experiences and opinions to determine what members need and has arranged Linux-focused sessions and panel discussions at Oracle OpenWorld and COLLABORATE conferences to meet those needs. “Our panel discussions have been a huge success,” says Sheetz. “We’ve had Oracle engineers and support personnel come out to help our members understand how Oracle and the flavors of Linux work together.”
The group has also provided Webinars on Linux scripting and the patching processes that Oracle, Red Hat, and other Linux distributions use to coordinate bug fixes and security updates. “Our most popular Webinar to date is on how Oracle and Red Hat do their patch releases and their certification,” says Sheetz.
The Linux panels at Oracle OpenWorld and COLLABORATE also fielded questions about virtualization. “Our members wanted to know more about how Oracle VM works with Oracle Enterprise Linux,” says Sheetz. “Virtualization is one of those topics that will keep us all very busy, because it’s a good way to make the most out of your hardware budget.”
Sheetz is now a senior DBA at Veolia, an environmental services company with more than US$13 billion in annual revenues. “Most of what we use at Veolia is a major flavor of UNIX,” he says. “But we’ve decided to venture into Linux. It’s got a better price point, and it’s relatively easy to implement.”
Veolia uses a broad Oracle stack, Sheetz says. “We’re also a PeopleSoft user, and having one place to go for the whole stack—PeopleSoft, Oracle, and Linux—holds a lot of benefits,” he says. “When we leverage the relationship between IOUG, the Linux SIG, and Oracle, it shortens our implementation timelines on projects.”
Sheetz adds that Linux SIG membership—and leadership—holds a multitude of benefits. “I go out and look for content that I can share with our members, and I meet with Linux masters whose expertise I can bring to our members,” Sheetz says. “Because of that effort, I get to know those resources better than I would have otherwise.”
Sheetz emphasizes that fellow Linux SIG members are his most valuable resource. “I’ve got several SIG members around the world, some out there in sunny California, who can answer my technical questions or put me in touch with others who can,” he says.
“Linux SIG membership adds a significant layer of benefits for my employer, but also for me personally and professionally,” says Sheetz. “These are real relationships that will be with me for a long, long time.”
Jeff Erickson is a senior writer with Oracle Publishing.