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Future State - The Oracle Consulting Blog

Why and how you should move to Gen 2 Cloud

Kathy Wu
Communication Manager

Authors:

Carl Neirynck, Applications senior project manager  

Marco Papini, Senior principal technology consultant

 

LALUX experience flexibility and stability while optimizing costs thanks to a migration built on trust with Oracle.

We have been working on a project with La Luxembourgeoise (LALUX) to move their on-premises database to our Gen 2 Exadata Cloud at Customer (ExaC@C). This is an interesting on-going project as LALUX will be the first customer live on this new platform in our EMEA region. We had our first go-live in August 2020, and in 2021 we have had 3 additional successful go-lives. In this article we share our insights from this project, highlighting the process and business achievements.

 

“LALUX would like to invest further in additional opportunities based on the current status of the implementation.” 

- Vincent Arnal, LALUX CIO

 

An Oracle customer since 1994

Let’s start this story by giving you a picture of our relationship with LALUX. Oracle has been active in Luxembourg since 1994 and LALUX became our first customer in the insurance sector. LALUX was founded in 1920, making it the oldest and longest-running insurance company in Luxembourg. It’s also amongst the leaders of the insurance sector, with about 500 employees and more than 1,000 agents.  

The company’s mission is to offer security and protection to its end-users, and we at Oracle are here to help on its journey by providing our technology and expertise.

LALUX needed to replace its on-premises hardware infrastructure, with the aim of modernizing its IT infrastructure as a necessary step to continue expanding the business. 

Thanks to the sustainable relationship built over the past few years with LALUX management and our database administrator team, Oracle has retained its role as trusted advisor. This is why LALUX thought of Oracle when planning its IT modernization. 

 

Three reasons to choose Oracle Cloud

When LALUX began to consider the alternatives to commodity hardware, Oracle Cloud was a natural candidate. After some reflections, customer selected Oracle Consulting services in January 2020.

During the initial evaluation, what immediately caught the company’s attention was the concept of our Generation 2 ExaC@C

 

  1. Performance. The great stability and flexibility of Cloud, the increased performance on the query execution time of Exadata, and the behind-your-firewall guarantee for data privacy regulation compliancy, are among the reasons LALUX chose our ExaC@C.
     
  2. Cost. Even though our product set out a strong case for the migration, we still needed to prove the financial benefits, as being able to cut down costs in the long-term is a major goal. Being on the Oracle Cloud will reduce system administration costs, while Consumption based flexibility can optimize consumption costs by scaling resources up and down in real-time for true pay-per-use subscription pricing, proving tangible cost-effectiveness. 
     
  3. Expertise. Through several hands-on workshops with LALUX, our consulting team demonstrated deep expertise, as well as establishing trust and confidence with the customer as a business partner – and not just as a vendor. It was the confidence that shone through from our consulting team that convinced the customer to go for ExaC@C.

 

“We went for ExaC@C because we trust your teams. You have great professionals who convinced me.” 

- Vincent Arnal, LALUX CIO


 

The technology behind the migration

As with every migration project, you should prepare and execute an extensive testing phase, covering all aspects of the application. 

One of the first tasks that was carried out was the delivery and installation of 2 Exadata. The process was smooth thanks to the exhaustive checklist provided to the customer and an on-site visit to assure everything was well-prepared for the delivery. 

 

Normal delivery expectations are over a month, however the whole process in this instance took only 10 days from the onsite visit, with an additional week for installation and setup.

The last step was the assistance to the customer, provided by Oracle consulting and customer success manager teams, to create the Cloud account and the configuration of the Exadata Infrastructure. It’s an important process that includes the generation of the passwords and the installation of the certificates needed to achieve the separation of role between what is managed by Oracle (hypervisor, storage, internal networking) and what is the customer’s responsibility (virtual machine and databases).

This takes us to the fun part of the project: the migration. One point of attention was the different endianness of the source platform (IBM PowerPC, a big-endian system), which limited the strategies for the migration. The chosen solution, considering also the size of the source database (around 4TB), was the cross-platform transportable tablespace method, using an incremental recovery manager (RMAN) backup to reduce the downtime, as it greatly simplifies backing up, restoring, and recovering database files.

In the project we changed the platform, from PowerPC to Intel, the architecture, from single-instance mono-tenant to real application cluster (RAC) multitenant with Data Guard, and we aimed to also upgrade the version of the databases, from 12c to 19c.

 

“Deployment, testing and move to production timing were well organized, planned, managed and executed; as a result, AIA business experienced the go-live as a non-event with no complaints formulated/received”

 - Vincent Arnal, LALUX CIO

 

 

The user acceptance testing (UAT) covered both the application functional test and the night batch processing. Testing was supported by a mutually agreed UAT test scope, acceptance criteria and a detailed planning including daily reporting.

Needless to say, the night batch test was the easiest to perform, as we had already an automated series of script to execute all the tests. Some of them required some tuning of the database on the Exadata, some other, relying on PL/SQL script, were observed to have an important gain in performance. One of them reached an impressive 60% of the total time passing from around 48h to 16h out of the box. Some other application-driven batches were also showing an overall gain in the total execution time. 

The application’s functional tests required an additional effort from the customer, involving creating a document with necessary instructions around performing a test with good coverage of all end-user regular activities. 

The good news was that this additional effort turned out to be a valuable project investment, as it became part of the normal application lifecycle, to be performed before releasing to production with each major application update.

 

“The current state boosts future confidence even when the number of databases is going to increase and provides energy for the future.” 

- Vincent Arnal, LALUX CIO

 

The benefits of moving to Gen 2 ExaCC

At the end of the first important milestone, the migration of the most business-critical application, we are happy and proud to say the customer has expressed satisfaction with the investment! 

What contributed to deliver the milestone as expected was not only the excellency of the product itself, but also the professionalism and commitment shown by the Oracle team, who proved to be able to listen and even anticipate the customer needs by addressing all requirements in an effective way.

The important benefits achieved with the solutions included: 

  • Improved high availability and disaster recovery
  • Flexibility in resource and cost allocation
  • Improved security, as both data-at-rest and connections are transparently encrypted 
  • Licensing simplification, as all the database options are included in cloud model
  • A paid-according-to-processor allocation means giving new opportunities to implement important features, such as Data Masking

 

What important learnings can be had from this migration?

Customer satisfaction is the key to a successful project. Building an important integration with the customer DBA team and having a very effective, transparent relationship with management played a vital role. The success of this project has been possible because of the high degree of cooperation, confidence and transparency between the diverse teams involved. This was reflected by high commitment from the LALUX CIO, our project sponsor, and IT-manager on taking real-time decisions and keeping the project implementation momentum. Supported by technological progress in automation offered by Oracle Cloud, we were able to focus more on the project and less on the technical nuances.

 

If you are interested in our Gen 2 Exadata Cloud at Customer, you can reach out to us directly here.

We have also another article going deeper into the technical part of this LALUX migration. You can read it here.

 

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