Understanding the Value of an Oracle Database Appliance.
If you have seen a presentation on the Oracle Database Appliance, you have likely seen the tag words Simple, Reliable, Affordable. These are right on the mark when it comes to the value of the Oracle Database Appliance. Sometimes customers want a little more quantifying information to back up these values, so let's see what I can do to help.
Simple - Saving time
One of the key aspects of an Oracle Database Appliance that enables us to simplify it's deployment and maintenance, is that it is a known configuration of hardware. There is 1 part number, which represents a single configuration of CPUs, Memory, NICs, HBAs, storage, etc. This makes it feasible for us to create the Appliance Manager software to automate deployment, patching, monitoring and maintenance. We've eliminated a lot of time normally spent acquiring the various components needed to build a 2 node RAC cluster, including servers, storage, OS, and software. Having a known configuration of hardware means we know the characteristics of all the components involved, which means the Appliance Manager can automate the installation and configuration of the Grid Infrastructure, clusterware, and database, using best practices, and tuning to get the most out of the hardware.
By automating the deployment, we have reduced the time to install, configure and tune a 2 node RAC cluster from several weeks down to under 4 hours. The Appliance Manager continues to save time throughout the life cycle of the Oracle Database Appliance by eliminating the time it takes to research available patches, research patch dependencies, dig up all the utilities needed to patch the various firmware in disks, HBAs, BIOS, etc. We do that work, testing it all together, and making it available in quarterly patch bundles. If an issue should arise, the Appliance Manager saves time here as well, by making it easy to validate the configuration is still correct, and best practices are still configured, as well as making it easy to gather logs into a single compressed file for your own use and to send to Oracle support. The Appliance Manager facilitates setting up Automated Service Request (ASR), so that if there is a hardware failure, the Oracle Database Appliance will automatically create a Service Request with Oracle support, to get resolution moving quicker.
As an Engineered System from Oracle, the Oracle Database Appliance also saves time when it comes to support.In a traditional build it yourself situation, there are multiple vendors involved, and multiple support contracts. If there is a problem, you need to figure out which vendor to call, and sometimes deal with multiple vendors for a single issue. With the Oracle Database Appliance, you don't have to think about who to call. For any support issues, just call Oracle, regardless of whether it is hardware, OS, GI or DB. No finger pointing, and no having to deal with multiple vendors.
While the Appliance Manager's automation of installation, configuration, and tuning of the Grid Infrastructure and Database software saves significant time, it also enhances the reliability of the Oracle Database Appliance, by using best practices, and reducing the opportunity for human error. The Appliance Manager GUI Configurator makes it easy to enter the required information for deploying the software in a high availability configuration, taking advantage of the full redundancy in the hardware. Based on the same x86 servers that are used in most of Oracle's other Engineered Systems, the Oracle Database Appliance's X4-2 server nodes are configured with redundant HBAs connecting to the shared storage, redundant, bonded pairs of network connections between the servers, and redundant, bonded pairs of network connections to your LAN, hot-swappable redundant power supplies, and hot-swappable, redundant fans.
One aspect of reliability that is often ignored is updates to firmware. Most customers don't even pay attention to firmware, unless they run into a problem that is fixed by a firmware update. As part of fixing bugs, firmware updates also enhance the reliability of the hardware, as well as enhance the security. With the complete patch bundle approach for the Oracle Database Appliance, it is easy for customers to stay up to date with patches, and get better reliability from the latest firmware updates to disks, HBAs, BIOS, etc.
The Oracle Database Appliance allows customers to take advantage of it's Capacity-on-Demand feature to manage their license costs. Rather than paying for licenses on cores that aren't currently being used, either because you can't get a server with few enough cores, or you expect to grow to need more cores through consolidation or db growth, you can start with as few as 2-cores licensed, then add and license more cores when you need them. The Oracle Database software is the same as you would use on any x86 system, which means there isn't a special version for the Oracle Database Appliance, and that means that everything you do with your Oracle database now can be done with an Oracle Database Appliance, including custom scripts, backups, application certification, and licensing of options. the same license control capability can be applied to other applications and tiers, when taking advantage of the Oracle Database Appliance with Oracle VM, offering even more cost savings.
The Oracle Database Appliance provides customers with a variety of values, particularly when deploying high availability solutions. By taking advantage of a known hardware configuration, the Appliance Manager saves customers significant time, increases the reliability of the system, and enables Capacity-on-Demand to save customers money on licensing costs. I hope the above details have made it easier to understand some of what makes it all possible.