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  • October 19, 2017

Isolation and Agility with Economies of Scale

Patrick Wheeler
Vice President, Product Management

It’s not just about scale. Scale on its own can be viewed as a negative. As organizations scale beyond a single office, communication gets more difficult and you need more layers of management. It’s harder to be agile – analogies with turning around an oil tanker come to mind. These problems show how cost can increase exponentially with scale.

With sophisticated automation, technologies associated with first-generation clouds can improve this cost model to a nearly linear function. Let’s consider a development environment, for example. To support ten developers, you might need ten virtual machines (VMs). To support twenty developers, you’ll need 20 VMs. There is an intrinsic cost to each VM, even if it’s not carrying any great workload. Hence the linear relationship between cost and scale. However, this was still an important step in the right direction.

Oracle Multitenant is the architecture for the next-generation Database Cloud. Multitenant changes the situation completely. Multitenant delivers true economies of scale. The expensive model of a VM containing a database is replaced by a pluggable database (PDB). Because there is negligible intrinsic cost to a PDB, the cost of each developer’s PDB is reduced to the actual work they do. All developers’ PDBs can be consolidated into a single multitenant container database (CDB) and the costs of running that CDB can be shared among those developers. In terms of compute resources that’s because there’s a single set of background processes and a single shared memory area (the SGA). In terms of administration, that’s a single CDB to be backed up, configured for high availability, patched, etc.

Economies of scale through consolidation are of limited use if that consolidation comes at the expense of isolation and agility.

In the multitenant architecture of Oracle Database 12c Release 2 (12.2) we build on what was already a powerful suite of isolation capabilities to deliver a comprehensive model, which can simply be configured to deliver precisely the appropriate level of isolation for a particular use case. With great isolation it becomes realistic to consolidate at great scale because the individual workloads being consolidated do not interfere with each other.

Agility puts in positive terms the avoidance of cumbersome consequences of consolidation conveyed by the analogy of turning the tanker. Scale can reduce unit costs through vast purchasing power but those gains are offset if scale comes at the expense of agility. In database terms, agility is about the speed and efficiency of creating, cloning (and even destroying) databases. It’s about moving them between servers, between data centers, between data centers and the Cloud, and moving them around in the Cloud. This can be for all sorts of reasons; as equipment is retired and replaced with capacity in the Cloud, for load balancing, for changing service levels or for handling peak loads. These are essential capabilities for the modern enterprise and the sophisticated functionality of Multitenant makes them as frictionless as possible.

The key point about economies of scale is that if the savings outweigh the costs of scale, there is true return on investment. The beauty of Multitenant is that the economies of scale are so great that the return on investment is far more readily achieved than with other models. Multitenant delivers true economies of scale, and the two go hand-in-glove.

Multitenant delivers isolation and agility with economies of scale.

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