First, let's tackle Standard Edition (SE) vs Enterprise Edition (EE). Not only is there a SE, there is a SE One and SE2. SE2 is new with the 12c release of the database and the same as SE and SE1 but with different processor and socket restrictions. The Oracle 12c documentation details the differences between the different versions. We will highlight the differences here. Note that you can still store data. The data types do not change between the versions of the database. A select statement that works in SE will work in SE2 and will work in EE.
The first big difference between SE and EE is that SE is licensed on a per socket basis and EE is licensed on a per core basis. The base cost of a SE system is $600 per month per processor in the Oracle Public Cloud. The Standard Edition is limited to 8 cores in the cloud. If you are purchasing a perpetual license the cost is $17,500 and can run across two sockets or single sockets on two systems. The SE2 comes with a Real Application Cluster (RAC) license so that you can have a single instance running on two computers. The SE2 instance will also limit the database to run in 16 threads so running in more cores will have no advantage. To learn more about the differences and limitations, I recommend reading Mike Dietrich's Blog on SE2.
The second big difference is that many of the optional features are not available with SE. For example, you can't use diagnostics and tuning to figure out if your sql command is running at top efficiency. You can't use multi-tenant but you can provision a single pluggable database. This means that you can unplug and move the database to another database (and even another version like EE). The multi-tenant option allows you to have multiple pluggable databases and control them with a master SGA. This allows admins to backup and patch a group of databases all at once rather than having to patch each one individually. You can separate security and have different logins to the different databases but use a global system or sys account to manage and control all of the databases. Storage optimization features like compression and partitioning are not available in SE either. Data recovery features like DataGuard and FlashBack are not supported in SE. DataGuard is a feature that copies changes from one system through the change logs and apply them to the second system. FlashBack does something similar and allows you to query a database at a previous time and return the state of the database at that time. It uses the change log to reconstruct the database as it was at the time requested. Tools like RMAN backup and streams don't work in SE. Taking a copy of a database and copying it to another system is not allowed. The single exception to this is RMAN works in the cloud instance but not in the perpetual on-premise version. Security like Transparent Data Encryption, Label Security, Data Vault, and Audit Vault are not supported in SE. The single exception is transparent data encryption to allow for encryption in the public cloud is supported for SE. All of these features are described here.
When we get Enterprise Edition in the Oracle Public Cloud at $3K/OCPU/month or $5.04/OCPU/hour and the only option that we get is transportation data encryption (TDE) bundled with the database. This allows us to encrypt all or part of a table. TDE encrypts data on the disk when it is written with a SQL insert or update command. Keys are used to encrypt this data and can only be read by presenting the keys using the Oracle Wallet interface. More information on TDE can be found here. The Security Inside Out blog is also a good place to look for updates and references relating to TDE. This version of the database allows us to scale upto 16 processors and 4.6 TB of storage. If we are looking to backup this database, the largest size that we can have for storage is 2.3 TB. If our table requirements are greater than 2.3 TB or 4.6 TB you need to go to Exadata as a Service or purchase a perpetual license and run it on-premise. If we are looking to run this database in our data center we will need to purchase a perpetual license for $47.5K per processor license. If you are running on an IBM Power Server you need to license each processor per core. If you are running on x86 or Sparc servers you multiply the number of cores by 0.5 and can run two cores per processor license. TDE is part of the Advanced Security Option which lists for $15K per processor license. When calculating to see if it is cheaper to run on-premise vs the public cloud you need to factor in both license requirements. The same is true if you decide to run EE in AWS EC2 or Azure Compute. Make sure to read Cloud Licensing Requirements to understand the limits of the cost of running on EC2 or Azure Compute. Since all cloud providers use x86 processors the multiplication factor is 0.5 times the number of cores on the service.
The High Performance Edition contains the EE features, TDE, as well as multi-tenant, partitioning, advanced compression, advanced security, real application testing, olap, DataGuard, and all of the database management packs. This is basically everything with the exception of Real Application Clusters (RAC), Active DataGuard, and In-Memory options. High Performance comes in at $4K/processor/month or $6.72/OCPU/hour. If we wanted to bundle all of this together and run it in our data center we need to compare the database at $47.5K/processor license plus roughly $15K/processor/option (there are 12 of them). We can then calculate which is cheaper based on our accounting rules and amortization schedule. The key differential is that I can use this version on an hourly or monthly basis for less than a full year. For example, if we do patch testing once a quarter and allocate three weeks a quarter to test if the patch is good or bad, we only need 12 weeks a year to run the database. This basically costs us $12K/processor/year to test on a single processor and $24K on a dual processor. If we purchased the system it would cost us $47.5K capital expenditure plus 22% annually for support. Paying this amount just to do patch testing does not make sense. With the three year cost of ownership running this on premise will cost us $78,850. If we use the metered services in the public cloud this will cost us $72K. The $6,850 does not seem like a lot but with the public cloud service we won't need to pay for the hardware, storage, or operating system. We can provision the cloud service in an hour and replicate our on site data to the cloud for the testing. If we did this to a computer or virtual image on site it will take hours/days to provision a new computer, storage, database, and replicate the data.
It is important to note here that you need to be careful with virtualization. You need to use software that allows for hard partitioning. Products like VMWare and HyperV are soft partitioning virtualization software. This means that you can grow the number of processors dynamically and are required to license the Oracle software for the potential high water mark or all of the cores in the cluster. If you are running on something like a Cisco UCS blade server that has a dual socket 16 core processor, you must license all 32 cores to run the database even though you might just create a 2 core virtual instance in this VMWare installation. It gets even worse if you cluster 8 blades into one cluster then you must license all 256 cores. This get a little expensive at $47.5K times 128 processors. Products like OracleVM, Solaris Contailers, and AIX LPARs solve this cost problem with hard partitions.
The third enterprise edition is the Extreme Performance Edition of the database. This feature is $5K/OCPU/month or $8.401/processor/hour. This option comes with RAC, Active DataGuard, and In-Memory. RAC allows you to run across multiple compute instances and restart queries that might fail if one node fails. Active DataGuard allows you to have two databases replicating to each other and for both to be open and active at the same time. Regular or passive DataGuard allows you to replicate the data but not keep the target open and active. In-Memory allows you to store data not only in row format but in column format. When data is entered into the table it is stored on disk in row format. A copy is also placed in memory but stored in column format. This allows you to search faster given that you have already sorted the data in memory and can skip stuff that does not apply to your search. This is typically done with an index but we can't always predict what questions that the users are going to ask and adding too many indexes slows down all operations.
It is important to reiterate that we can take our perpetual license and run it in IaaS or generic compute. We can also effectively lease these licenses on a monthly or hourly rate. If you are running the database, you are consuming licenses. If you stop the database, you stop consuming the database license but continue to consume the storage and processor services. If you terminate the database you stop consuming the database, processor, and storage services because they are all deleted upon termination.
In summary, there are four flavors of DBaaS; Standard Edition, Enterprise Edition, High Performance Edition, and Extreme Performance Edition. Standard Edition and Enterprise Edition are available by other cloud providers but some require perpetual licenses and some do not. If you decide to run this service as PaaS or DBaaS in the Oracle Public Cloud you can pay hourly or monthly and start/stop these services if they are metered to help save money. All of these services come with partial management features offloaded and done by Oracle. Backups, patches, and, restart of services are done automatically for you. This allows you to focus more on how to apply the database service to provide business benefits rather than the feeding and maintenance to keep the database operational.
Up next, we will dive into use cases for database as a service and look at different configurations and pricing models to solve a real business problem.