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An Oracle blog about Database and Grid Infrasructure Maintenance

  • January 20, 2013

Journey to Database Cloud

Burt Clouse
Sr Principal Product Manager

Understanding the benefits of a database cloud usually leads to the question “How do I get there?” As the question itself implies, making the
transition from a complex, legacy environment to a database cloud is a
journey. Like any journey, clear goals
and a plan to achieve them are the keys to success. Oracle’s “Journey to Database Cloud” is a
maturity model that guides this process.

Each step of this journey delivers specific benefits. Knowing what
you want to accomplish will help you identify the phase you need to implement. The key benefits and characteristics of each
phase are:

Standardization: Simplify to reduce operational costs and business risk

Standardized deployments limit
the number of environments and the processes that manage them to the smallest possible set
of options. Hardware and software infrastructure are deployed in modular
“building blocks.” Database versions are limited. Because each environment is simplified, each is
easier to manage and maintain, which lowers operational costs.

A service catalog defines the
deployment options for building blocks, and for the database configurations which
end users may choose from. Because a small set of standard deployment patterns are followed, new deployments are easier to implement
and can be activated with less risk.

Standardized components can be
consolidated effectively since they can share a common infrastructure. And the higher degree of standardization that
is applied, the higher degree of consolidation that can be achieved. Keep that in mind when evaluating the
proposal from some vendors that transforming a datacenter into a private cloud
is a simple matter of shuffling software stacks into virtual machines. This “quick fix” approach sounds attractive,
but like most “quick fixes” it does not address the underlying problem of
datacenter complexity. On the contrary, the added complexity of this approach
results in lower standardization.

Consolidation: Efficiency reduces datacenter
footprint - both hardware and software

In a traditional environment,
servers are generally underutilized. Consolidating workloads onto shared infrastructure allows higher
utilization and therefore a reduction in server footprint. This
lowers both capital  and operational
costs: lower power consumption and lower IT management expense since
there
are fewer physical environments to operate and manage.  Software environments are
also decreased, meaning there are fewer software elements to purchase,
monitor and maintain.

Several features and options of
the Oracle database enable the consolidation of multiple databases onto shared hardware
and software infrastructures. Features
such as Database Resource Manager and Instance Caging facilitate sharing
compute resources. Products such as
Oracle Audit Vault and Database Firewall enable enterprise-grade security in
consolidated environments.

That brings up another problem
with the “build your cloud by putting everything in virtual machines”
idea: virtual machines consume footprint
and introduce performance overhead. They also require special skills and tools.  You
can avoid those issues by consolidating directly onto the operating platform and
achieve higher densities and better performance.

Service Delivery: Automate to increase business agility

Once organizations have
successfully standardized their deployments and implemented their consolidation
strategy, the next opportunity is to enable service delivery. By replacing manual processes with automated
and dynamic capabilities, the environment responds quickly to changing
workload conditions and requirements, which translates to faster operations and better
agility. In the context of private
database clouds, this means delivering Database as a Service (DBaaS).

In the standardization phase we
defined a service catalog to describe the deployments to choose from. One focus of service delivery is to provide
those choices via self-service, with as little manual attention from IT staff as
possible. Self-service for end users
allows them to choose from a menu of service options to create their own
database environments online. This frees
up IT for higher value initiatives.

Automated, dynamic management of
resources is another key characteristic of a service delivery environment. In a consolidated environment managed with
manual processes, adjusting a database’s footprint or resource allocation
requires human intervention. Even
noticing the need to make an adjustment requires human attention. By contrast, a service delivery environment uses tools to monitor and dynamically adjust
resource allocations, without human intervention and without impact to running
workloads. Features such as Oracle Quality
of Service Management apply policies to monitor and manage workloads
automatically and dynamically.

Enterprise Cloud: Unify services for location independence and
unlimited capacity

One limitation of the service
delivery environment is that workloads are bound to specific servers in a cloud pool. And while resource allocation
within the pool is dynamic, pools are fixed in size (each one is typically one
of the “building blocks” defined in the service catalog). This means that if a workload outgrows its
pool, manual intervention will be needed to add compute resources to the pool,
or to move the workload to a larger pool. Or, if the
pool goes offline, there will be a service interruption while the service is
reinstated on a different pool.

In an Enterprise Cloud, pools are
dynamic and may grow or shrink as workloads dictate. Workloads are not bound to any specific pool,
so if changes in workload patterns indicate that moving a given workload to a
different pool is the best choice, the workload will be moved there without
service interruption. Some workloads may
even be distributed across geographically separated pools.

The ability for pools to grow and
shrink dynamically and for workloads to migrate among pools of a unified cloud allows
workloads access to virtually unlimited capacity. Since pools can be geographically separated,
planned and unplanned outages of entire sites will not impact service
availability.

The unified cloud is analogous to a utility service such as the electricity grid. Each user sees unlimited
capacity and uninterrupted availability, and pays for resources as they are consumed.

Choice and Flexibility are Essential

You may choose to make a large
change to reach your end goal, or you may choose to make incremental changes. For example, some customers have
chosen to work with a standardized environment for some time before starting their
consolidation efforts. Other customers
made the move immediately to consolidation because they were keen on saving
costs and floor space as aggressively as possible.

You might treat different
workloads and environments differently. For example, one group within an organization may be technically and
culturally ready to move their databases into a service delivery
environment. Another group may be ready
to standardize and consolidate, but not ready to implement service delivery. In this example, if the “consolidate only”
group sees the tangible benefits the service delivery group enjoys, they’ll probably decide to make
that step too.

You’re probably on the journey already…

While you were reading about the
phases of the journey, you probably noticed several guidelines that you
implement to varying degrees today. Standardization, for example, is a well-established approach that did
not spring into existence when the industry starting talking about
consolidation and service delivery. For
standardization, what’s new in the context of the journey is recognizing the
importance of this step and how the choices made here will have downstream impacts.

Wherever you are starting from
and wherever you want to go in the journey to database cloud, Oracle
has the products and services to get you there. And we have years of collaboration with customers in all areas of
enterprise, government and education who have made this journey successfully,
and continue to evolve their solutions with our cloud-enabling portfolio. We look forward to being a partner and mentor in your journey.

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