Thursday May 16, 2013

Oracle VM Templates – Provisioning Made Easy

Business application deployment and maintenance is one of the most complex projects faced by the enterprise. In many cases, these are high visibility and high risk efforts, with substantial budgets, and, if done right, will result in transformational change. Conversely, if things do not work out as planned, the results will almost certainly be disastrous.

It’s no secret that keeping a business critical application running at optimal efficiency is no easy task. Depending on which study one is to believe, operational aspects of an IT organization can consume up to 70 percent of the IT budget, so keeping these costs in check can go a long way in enhancing the resources available for more innovative activities. This post will focus on how Oracle VM Templates leverage Oracle virtualization technologies to deliver success in this area.

Oracle VM Templates encapsulate best deployment practices allowing organizations to simplify scaling of applications, speed patching, and enjoy the latest application releases all the while decreasing application deployment time to minutes instead of hours. One doesn’t need a mathematician to see the potential for savings here.

Moreover, Oracle VM Templates provide an innovative approach to deploying a fully configured software stack by offering pre-installed and pre-configured software images. This reduces both installation and configuration costs and ongoing maintenance costs, so organizations can achieve faster time to market and lower the cost of operations.

Oracle VM Templates are available directly from Oracle, free of charge, for a broad spectrum of world-class applications. The key item of note here is that these are being continually updated even as the applications themselves evolve. Oracle has pushed the bar further with the first set of Oracle VM Templates specifically built for Oracle Exalogic, adding to the Oracle VM Templates already available for standard hardware platforms.

Oracle Exalogic Oracle VM Templates for Oracle E-Business Suite12.1.3, Oracle’s JD Edwards EnterpriseOne 9.1, Oracle’s PeopleSoft PeopleTools 8.52, Oracle’s Siebel CRM 8.1.1.8 and 8.2.2, Agile PLM 9.3.1.2 and Value Chain Planning 12.1.3.8 are available now.

Making the Right Choice

Choosing the right VM Template is a critical decision in the process. With the proliferation of deployment models including cloud-based, on-premise, and hybrid approaches, the decision for an application manager is not an easy one. As one might expect, there are a variety of choices available in this area, although a closer examination suggests that an Oracle VM Template selection is the best approach.

Let’s start with a comparison against VMware. As one of the legacy providers in the virtualization area, the vendor knows a thing or two about the topic. The company’s Virtual Appliance Market Place has become a place where the company’s partners, user community and third-party vendors can post virtual appliances - similar to Oracle VM Templates - and the vCloud Director can then use them to build multi-tier applications or launch them as needed.

Here is where the differences start to come in:

  • Certified and Supported: Oracle provides 100+ fully certified Oracle VM Templates for all Oracle Applications, O/S, DB, Middleware and Enterprise Manager at eDelivery. With VMware, the responsibility to deliver and support is with numerous individual providers.
  • Cost: Oracle provides all its VM Templates free. Oracle VM license has zero cost and the templates are engineered by Oracle. Did I mention available for free? The only licensing fee required is the Oracle Application(s). With VMware, it is left to the providers whether and how much to charge.
  • Automation: Oracle Virtual Assembly Builder (OVAB) allows you to manually build virtual assemblies or one can introspect an existing Oracle Application deployment and automatically build equivalent assemblies to launch as needed. With VMware, introspection is a manual process which is very time consuming and prone to errors and omissions.
  • Stability: Oracle provides stable solutions for the Oracle Exalogic environment. VMware has announced its intention to divest the vFabric products to parent company EMC-owned Pivotal Initiatives subsidiary, resulting in a lot of uncertainty.
  • 7-10x Faster: An independent study by the Evaluator Group found that “Oracle VM Templates on Oracle VM 3.1.1was magnitudes faster than traditional install performed on a VMware vSphere 5 deployment.” Magnitudes!

The decision should be fairly clear versus VMware.

Now let’s take a look at IBM’s offerings in this area. The table below provides the details; however, some of the themes that stand out are the following:

  • Cost: Oracle’s VM Template offerings are available for a zero license fee, fully certified, without risk, and backed by Oracle support. The converse is true for IBM where add-on products are licensed separately, incrementally adding to cost and risk.
  • Ease of Access: Oracle’s VM Templates are available via download. For IBM customers, a myriad of partners and third-party providers create a jumble of separately licensed offerings.  
  • Automation: The Oracle Virtual Assembly Builder (OVAB) can introspect an existing Oracle Application Deployment and automatically create an “equivalent” virtual assembly, without requiring manual work.
  • Standardized IT Process: OVAB allows customers to encapsulate the metadata about the applications, i.e., how it should be deployed, managed, into the assembly. This is critical for IT as it helps to encapsulate expertise inside a format that is repeatable, hence making the error-prone process of deployment risk free and error free. This leads to a reduction of operating expenses—all good for IT!

The detailed table follows, but I think the expected outcome is clear.

Category

IBM

Oracle

Oracle Differentiators

Product

IBM Workload Deployer (IWD) is hardware appliance which needs to be licensed separately. Provides no runtime environment for applications.

Oracle Virtual Assembly Builder (OVAB) is included as a feature of WebLogic Suite (and Exalogic). OVAB is also available for use with purchase of OVM at no additional charge.

IBM provides a hardware appliance with no application runtime capabilities or any real HW/SW optimization. IBM customers cannot repurpose existing hardware. Oracle provides software based solution with WebLogic Application Server runtime that can be installed on existing hardware.

Patterns, Templates, Assemblies

5 patterns from IBM and 134 patterns from third-party vendors need to be licensed separately in addition to the middleware components used in the pattern.

Certified templates and assemblies for Oracle OSes, DB, Middleware and Applications for free download from http://eDelivery.oracle.com.

Support for majority of IBM Patterns has to come from multiple vendors. Oracle provides fully certified templates, and customers and partners can add their own templates.

Software Cost and Complexity

Numerous licenses. Charge for all software, hardware plus patterns and products along with management tools from IBM, VMware, Red Hat, and others

Free OVAB, Oracle VM Templates for Oracle products and Oracle OSes from eDelivery, Oracle VM Manager, Ops Center with basic EM12c Cloud Control. Customers pay only for Oracle DB, Middleware and Apps.

Complexity and cost are very high for IBM. Oracle solution is simpler to use leading to faster time to value and lower TCO.

Build Automation

Heavy dependency on IBM services for customer application patterns beyond the available patterns

“Introspection” and automatic build of virtual assemblies for Oracle Application deployments, pre-built assemblies for key Oracle Applications and interactive assembly building of user applications by users using a GUI.

Customers usually have to engage IBM services for customization and development of custom patterns beyond what is available out of the box.

Choice of Hypervisor Platforms

Broader hypervisor support (VMware vSphere, Red Hat KVM and IBM PowerVM)

Oracle VM only.

IBM choice of platforms also brings in the complexity of multi-vendor support, multiple management tools and numerous licensing requirements. Your particular configuration may not have been tested by IBM. Oracle provides complete stack and single vendor accountability for support.

Unified Management

IWD adds yet another management console to already scattered and overlapping management interfaces and consoles spanning Tivoli, Rational and WebSphere.

Oracle provides manageability into each product and exposes it in a meaningful way through one integrated management environment through Enterprise Manager platform and associated workload specific integrated management packs

IBM customers must decipher scattered and overlapping functionality leading to higher management cost, risk and TCO.

The figure below shows the ease with which organizations can download and deploy Oracle VM Templates.

It should also be noted that engagement-based offerings, such as from IBM, do not receive full support from the vendor, may (and generally do) cost significantly higher and result in risk for customers due to community dependent support.

Oracle’s offering provides the simplicity that IT departments and application managers are seeking primarily as a result of our engineered system approach and control over the full stack: Oracle Exalogic hardware and software, Oracle Linux O/S, Oracle DB, Oracle Apps, Oracle Middleware and Oracle EM Management.

Oracle can provide a complete solution that is ready to go into production with a few clicks. Oracle VM Templates are the fastest, easiest, most reliable way to deploy Oracle solutions.

Wednesday May 08, 2013

Why IT Innovation? Why Now?

Every organization strives to innovate, not only because it drives growth, but also because it helps avoid the unexpected downside that can result from a disruptive new technology, a shift in customer preferences, another company’s game-changing business model or upheaval in the market.


In order to innovate strategically and continually, companies must encourage and manage experimentation at every level throughout the organization. A recent survey by The Economist, ‘Cultivating Business-led Innovation’, shows that while organizations are starting to focus on getting all departments involved in innovation, IT is under-represented. Many enterprises think of IT as a department to implement rather than generate innovation. According to the Economist, this is a huge missed opportunity. IT innovation is more important now than ever as organizations look for ways to harness technology trends like big data, mobile, cloud and social to make better decisions, improve business processes and engage more effectively with customers.

How can your organization address this missed opportunity? What strategies can be used to promote innovation inside and outside of IT? How can the right business application platform help drive innovation?

Register here for the on-demand webcast “Cultivating IT Innovation with Oracle Exalogic and Oracle Exadata”. Find answers to these questions; get an overview of the report, “Cultivating business-led innovation”, and hear stories from leading companies that support IT innovation.


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