What does Amazon's support of Oracle VM mean?

You may have heard an announcement during Open World about support for Oracle's database and applications on Amazon's EC2 cloud.  What was actually announced, and what does it mean for Oracle customers and partners?

First the announcement.  From the press statement:

"Amazon Web Services and Oracle Announce Certification and Support of Oracle Applications, Middleware and Databases on Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud using Oracle VM."

The first question I get asked is:  "Now that Oracle is supporting Amazon's version of Xen, when will Oracle support Citrix/VMware/KVM/etc."

This is a trick question, as Oracle has not announced support for Amazon's version of Xen at all.  Rather, Amazon has announced support for using Oracle VM on EC2 instead of their version of Xen.  And Oracle has always supported their products on Oracle VM.  So Oracle has not changed their position at all.  Rather, Amazon has said that they want to support Oracle customers on their cloud, and the proper way to do that is to support Oracle VM.

So you now have a choice when you create a new VM on EC2: use Amazon's Xen when you don't need support from Oracle, and use Oracle VM when you do.  Amazon is giving their customers additional choices, which is good for everybody.

The second question I get asked is:  "Do I have to pay for Oracle VM licenses if I use Amazon's EC2 with Oracle products?"

Again, a trick question.  There is no license cost associated with Oracle VM, so you naturally do not need to pay anything to Oracle to use Oracle VM on Amazon EC2.  

The better question is:  "Can I use my existing Oracle database/middleware/application licenses on EC2 with Oracle VM?"

This is a more clear-cut answer:  "Yes"

From the announcement:

"Customers may use their existing Oracle licenses on Amazon EC2 at no additional license cost, or they may acquire new licenses from Oracle. AWS and Oracle will deliver Oracle software on Oracle VM with hard partitioning, and Oracle's standard partitioned processor licensing models apply. Oracle Unbreakable Linux Support is available for Oracle Linux on Amazon EC2 as well."

And how will customers install products onto EC2?  They can use a library of templates provided by Oracle to get a pre-built Amazon Machine Image (AMI).  Need a new 11g database?  Select the appropriate template and Amazon will create it for you while you wait.  You can configure a full stack, from applications to operating system, in a few hours.

This is obviously good news for customers, but what about Oracle's partners?

This is an opportunity for Oracle's cloud partners to offer their customers hybrid cloud models (a hybrid cloud has both private and public components).  Systems integrators can scale private clouds to handle everyday workloads, and allow for larger workloads to spin up on VMs in Amazon's EC2.  An example would be holiday sales for a catalog company.  For 10 months of the year, the server load is fairly standard, with minor peaks and valleys.  But during the Christmas holidays, demand can go up by 500%.  Instead of over-provisioning the hardware, which would be extremely expensive and wasteful, Amazon can cover the additional hosting for a fraction of the cost of a larger private cloud.

Partners that make tools that manage Oracle's virtualization products can build EC2 functionality into their systems, enabling customers to have a fully automated hybrid cloud with one-button deployment.

Amazon.com has provided a great way to try out Oracle VM, without the hassle of installation and management of the product, and without provisioning new servers for a test lab.  Thanks, Amazon.com!
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