Friday Jan 24, 2014

Why Virtualized Platform is the best deployment option for Oracle Database Appliance

Recently a user asked, what are the considerations for using the Virtualized Platform configuration or the Bare Metals configuration on Oracle Database Appliance? Certainly, the Virtualized Platform configuration seems to provide everything that the Bare Metals configuration does plus more.

Listed below are some of the considerations for why you may want to prefer to use the Oracle Database Appliance Virtualized Platform option.

1. A single hardware environment for deploying both database and applications

2. Database runs in a Virtual Machine (ODA_BASE) with direct access to storage (for native performance)

3. Control licensed CPUs by configuring ODA_BASE domain with the required number of CPU cores (and memory)

4. CPU cores (and memory) not assigned to the ODA_BASE domain are not wasted and are available for use by other, non-database Virtual Machiness

5. Oracle provided pre-configured VM application templates enable rapid deployment for both the database and applications

7. Use VLAN to provide separate networks to different Virtual Machines

8. Use shared repository to grow storage for VM repository

9. No VM expertise needed; Oracle Appliance Manager (oakcli) makes it easy to setup and manage the virtualized environment

Thursday Oct 03, 2013

Comparing Oracle Database Appliance (ODA) with manually built and assembled systems

I thought I ought to have this note to outline the differences between typical old-style system building approach and the engineered system approach used for Oracle Database Appliance. Oracle Database Appliance is a unique, modern product that is revolutionary and disruptive. It is an Oracle engineered system that serves as a highly available database and application server. Its benefits are unique and unparalleled. However, as with any new, disruptive product, users may not readily recognize all the benefits. Often new customers ask for the benefits of choosing Oracle Database Appliance versus building your own system. The matrix below tries to summarize the benefits.

Oracle Database Appliance

Manually assembled systems

Single vendor – Customer only needs to contact Oracle for any and all problems with the system. Oracle is able to rapidly diagnose the problem, match it with a fingerprint of the issue, and provide immediate solution.

Multiple vendors – Servers, storage, networking gear, and software components may be sourced from different vendors, that causes finger pointing and makes it hard to obtain support quickly and effectively

No integration required – Oracle Database Appliance is a pre-integrated, pre-tested, pre-tuned configuration. It requires no integration, other than simply plugging in some cables.

Extensive integration required – The components sourced from multiple vendors must be compatible and interoperate successfully.

Instant deployment – Deployment of Oracle Database Appliance in a customer environment is as easy as plugging in the cables, powering on the system and issuing a command.

Long drawn error prone deployment process – Deployment of a manually built system requires setting up and validating each component, going through multiple steps to configure operating system, networking, storage, database, and so forth. A missed-step can be costly.

Best practices are included – Oracle Database Appliance is built from the grounds up with Oracle’s best practices in mind. These best practices cover operating system, networking, storage, database, and performance and availability best practices.

Best practices implementation requires considerable extra effort - Best practices must be identified and implemented for each component. This may not be an easy task by any measure.

Patching is quick and predictable – With a known hardware and software configuration, Oracle is able to provide pre-tested, complete patch bundles that cover the entire firmware and software stack. Further, Oracle is able to structure and tune the patching process so that it executed flawlessly in an optimal amount of time with predictable results.

Patching is time consuming, risky and unpredictable – Customers often patch one component at a time, thereby increasing the frequency of patching. Patching process is unpredictable and therefore risky. Vendors have no way of testing the exact configuration that a customer may be using.

Problem diagnostics are immediate – Oracle knows exactly which information and logs are required for instant diagnosis of problems as well as how to collect it. Oracle makes it trivial for customers to collect the information. Quick diagnosis results in rapid problem resolution.

Problem diagnostics is complex and long drawn – Multiple experts may be needed to diagnose problems. Often it may not be readily apparent what information is relevant and required for a corresponding problem. Longer diagnosis results in delayed problem resolution.

Performance is predictable – An engineered system makes deploying workloads a science not an art. The system capacity and capability can be quantified exactly and workloads can be deployed using simple mathematics.

Performance may not always be predictable – Making workloads perform on manually assembled systems remains an art. Due to the various components and stack layers from different vendors, typically configured using an imprecise math, it is usually not possible to define capacity and capability correctly.

Service requests can be opened automatically – In case of a problem, such as hardware failure, a service request can be opened automatically by the system using Oracle Auto Service Request. A solution may be available even before the customer recognizes the problem.

Service request initiation and management is complex – In case of a problem first the correct vendor needs to be identified. The service request needs to be manually managed and diagnostics data needs to be identified, manually collected, and sent to the vendor. Manual analysis of diagnostics further delays solution that may need to be tested before it is deployed.

Storage is integrated and managed as a whole – Storage is pre-integrated with the servers and the system is managed end-to-end as a whole, including monitoring, management, diagnostics, and repair of storage.

Storage is separate and managed separately – Storage is managed, monitored, diagnosed and repaired separately, typically provided by a different vendor and managed by storage administrators

Pay-as-you-go licensing saves costs substantially – Significant CPU power available but only CPUs used need to be licensed while the remaining CPU power is available for instant deployment if and when needed

Must pay for all CPUs on the system upfront – All CPUs present in the servers must be licensed upfront whether fully used or not. Additional CPU addition typically requires costly hardware upgrades

Versatile system with support for both native and virtualized environments – The same system and software supports both native and virtualized implementations, switching from one to the other is easy

Typically vendor specialized hardware sold for native or virtualized implementations – Implementation of native and virtualized environments could be fundamentally different.

Host both application and database in a single system (system in a box) – Supports hosting of entire application stack in a single system; virtualized platform makes it possible to segregate different tiers of application stack into different virtual machines that are easy to size and tune

Application is typically hosted on separate hardware (one system many boxes) – Application, web, and database tiers are typically hosted on separate hardware and storage; it is not easy to resize these environments unless hardware is replaced

It is amazing!

Monday Aug 06, 2012

Oracle Database Appliance Value Proposition for Small and Mid-size Businesses

Today most customers want their databases and systems to be always available (always on!). No one, whether it is a customer, an employee, a partner, or anyone else, wants to deal with a down system. The “seven second rule” that summarizes customers’ patience threshold is all well known in the internet driven world. In today’s fast paced world with a plethora of information and product sources available at one’s fingertips, the general level of consumer patience is greatly reduced. High availability and good performance is ever more important. But many a times, customers leave their HA and performance needs unfulfilled. Why? Because they think,

1. For middle sized businesses reliable HA hardware is expensive

2. There are significant upfront costs in setting up HA systems

3. HA systems are just hard to implement

4. There is substantial on-going management cost associated with HA systems, etc. 

If a small or medium sized business used the “traditional approach” to assembling and building HA systems, then it may indeed be true that it is simply out of reach for many of these customers to deploy real HA systems.

The Oracle Database Appliance addresses this problem for these small and medium sized businesses. Not only is the Oracle Database Appliance hardware more cost effective, it is extremely easy to deploy (the deployment process takes about 1 hour total). The pay as you grow licensing model for software really directly addresses the high up-front cost issue. You can buy the highly available, robust Oracle Database Appliance at a fraction of the cost you would incur if you put a system of such capabilities together yourself. Not only that, you only pay for what you need in terms of software licensing. And you still enjoy the capability to scale WHEN you need more capacity, without the need to dump old hardware and migrate to a new hardware! I think, there cannot be a greater value proposition than this.

The other major challenge that customers have in deploying HA systems is that they may not currently have the skills within their staff to implement high availability solutions. Again, Oracle Database Appliance addresses this problem directly. With the Database Appliance the need for local HA expertise is significantly diminished. The processes associated with the entire life cycle of the product from deployment to patching to diagnostics data collection and maintenance are all streamlined and substantially automated. Customers can deploy, operate, and manage their Database Appliance environments without deep technical skills. Further, dealing with mundane things is not necessary either and the staff can focus on more important, strategic work!

What is more is that due to a standard configuration and pre-tested software and hardware, the processes associated with the deployment, management, maintenance, and diagnostics are extremely reliable and predictable. This virtually eliminates the risks typically associated with building HA systems. Now SMBs can deploy HA systems to compete in today’s world, do so at a fraction of the normal cost, and be confident that their investment can generate immediate returns.

 

Monday Apr 30, 2012

What is Oracle Database Appliance?

Oracle Database Appliance is an “always on” database system. It does not have to go down if a component fails. Component failures are accounted for and the configuration is built with redundancy and single point of failures in mind. Further, it is a very simple system to deploy and operate.

If you are familiar with Oracle technologies, then technically, the best way to look at the Oracle Database Appliance may be to think of it as a two node Oracle Linux RAC cluster in a single box with shared storage and networking all included in the box. It is built and configured with redundancy to achieve continuous availability in the event of component failures. It addresses all single points of failures within the system.

ü Pre-built

ü Pre-configured

ü Pre-tested

ü Pre-validated

ü Pre-tuned

The current software stack (as of April, 2012) consists of Oracle Linux 5.8 (with the UEK kernel), Oracle Grid Infrastructure 11.2.0.3, and Oracle Database 11.2.0.3. On your Oracle Database Appliance, you can run Oracle RAC databases, Oracle Single Instance databases, or Oracle RAC One (active – passive) databases, or a combination of these.

Oracle Database Appliance is extremely simple to deploy. When you receive your appliance unit, you simply put the appliance in a computer rack, (or you can place it on a table, or in a closet), then you plug in the power and network connections to the Database Appliance and power on the Oracle Database Appliance. You then input the information for your configuration (system names, database names, database size, etc.) and for all practical purposes you just issue a single command to complete the deployment of your Oracle Database Appliance. That command is “oakcli deploy” that you issue from Linux system prompt. More on that will be covered later. The command initiates the entire process of setting up the OS, installing Oracle software, creating the initial database, and optionally setting up a cloud file system volume (a shared file system), configuring Oracle Auto Service Request, etc. as you watch the progress on your screen.

The multiple weeks’ worth of effort previously required in configuring an HA database is no longer necessary! The actual deployment process in fact takes less than one hour. And at the end of that one hour you have a fully functional cluster and a fully usable database available for your application to use.

Customers typically complete their deployments on the day they open the box and put the appliance in the rack. What is really interesting is the side benefit of this ease of use which results in lower chances of errors in configuration. The risks and uncertainties involved in setting up the HA system have virtually disappeared. And that means a lot for users. Now they can go ahead and buy an Oracle Database Appliance knowing that they can have a fully functional highly available database system on the day that it arrives!

Oracle Database Appliance, an Introduction

Even a couple of years ago, if you were building and deploying an Oracle RAC database system, which is basically a highly available database environment, you would start with careful planning and then  assemble all the components - the servers, the storage, the networking components from various vendors, and you would connect them together. Then you would look into what you needed for the software, whether there were any compatibility and interoperability issues in your chosen stack, whether you needed firmware, operating system, clusterware, or database patches and so forth.  And after all this work, you would look into the best practices for your configuration from these different vendors to make sure that your planned configuration was going to be compliant with those best practices. All of this resulted in weeks, if not months, worth of work and cost significant money and resources. And unfortunately, there was still no real assurance that you may not have missed something. Right?

The Oracle Database Appliance completely solves that problem! It attacks the complexity issue head on. It creates a huge value proposition for customers. HA is no longer complex!

In the past customer shied away from HA because it was complex. It was harder to deploy HA systems. They were costly and it took a long time to fully deploy a true HA configuration. Customers did not have the expertise to deploy HA systems.

Complex = Harder + Costlier + Longer

At the same time the need for HA systems continued to increase rather dramatically. In today’s fast paced world, your customers do not wait for a down system to be repaired and brought up. They move on the next vendor whose system is up. High availability is not a luxury but a necessity today.

Downtime = Lost Revenue + Lost Productivity

In addition, if your systems are down frequently and you start losing customers because of this, consider the loss based on the customer lifetime value! That can be really significant.

With the Oracle Database Appliance, you buy a highly available system and not try to build one. You deploy the entire system easily in 1 day instead of three months. You use it instead of constantly try to keep it up. You manage it effortlessly … and you focus on your business.

About

The Oracle Database Appliance saves time and money by simplifying deployment, maintenance, and support of high-availability database solutions. This blog is dedicated to sharing updates about the Oracle Database Appliance from your product team.

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