Live Migration of EBS Services Using Oracle VM

[Editor: This is the fifth of a five-part series on virtualization and cloud topics from Ivo Dujmovic, an architect in our Applications Technology Integration group.]

Breaking news: you can now achieve live migration of E-Business Suite instances on Oracle VM (OVM).  This is the High Availability and Fault Tolerance Holy Grail.  In an environment configured to support live migration, end-user sessions running on one node in a virtual machine server can be migrated transparently to a different node on a different virtual machine server.  You have asked for this functionality for more than a dozen years and many Oracle partners offer solutions to achieve this.  After all these years, Oracle can provide you a solution for E-Business Suite environments using Oracle VM.

Why was this so hard for Oracle E-Business Suite?  Well, the short answer is that we have hundreds of products using many different technologies as part of the E-Business Suite, and many of them had complicated session state handling (some in the database, some on the middle-tier), caches that needed to be kept synchronized, and so on.  While all technical problems are soluble, this one was just not feasible to solve within E-Business Suite itself. 


Architecture diagram showing failover of virtual server in an HA-enabled server pool

Virtualization Changes Things

In an conventional (non-virtualized) architecture, the failure of a specific application tier node would force a logout of all end-users with sessions on that particular node.  Any transactions that were mid-stream on that application tier node would have been lost.  On a virtualized platform, end-user sessions can be migrated from one machine to another without the end-user noticing. 

OVM's live migration feature has some requirements, including the need to have look-alike machines on same subnet.  These requirements are discussed in detail in:
Oracle VM also currently restarts the VM if the Virtual Machine Server fails, which would mean the end-user session does need to be restarted. We expect that these behaviors should improve over time.

In addition to the great live migration feature, OVM also has cloning functionality, which work seamlessly work if you use our EBS templates or virtualization kit.

Your Feedback is Welcome

This concludes my mini-series on virtualization and the E-Business Suite.  We're extremely interested in hearing about your use cases and your experiences with our new templates and virtualization kit.  Tell us what you think via our new OVM Templates discussion forum.

References
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Comments:

For the Live Migration with EBS are you suing Shared Appl-Top ? if yes how ?

Posted by Didier Wojciehcowski on January 28, 2010 at 09:39 PM PST #

Hi Didier,

Live migration is an OVM-based virtualization concept: the whole virtual machine floats over to new hardware while preserving its memory state, network & storage bindings.

This is orthogonal to using Shared file systems for E-Business Suite. It works irregardless of what file sytem setup you are using for E-Business Suite.

Thanks,
Ivo

Posted by Ivo Dujmovic on January 29, 2010 at 04:38 AM PST #

I have been reminded to call out a specific issue / limitation of Live Migration. Depending on the load of the VM to be migrated, the live migration might be slower. This is to be expected if you think about what is taking place: the source machine's active memory state needs to be serialized onto disk, transferred to destination machine and then reincarnated into a new machine instance's memory image. We can imagine a situation where the source memory is changing fast enough that the destination memory is working hard to keep up.

There might even be a breaking point depending on load and setup characteristics (memory I/O bandwidth, available cpu, disk, network characteristics).

The bottom line is: live migrations work best under light load. Under heavy load, you might have problems live migrating.

We are hoping to do some load tests, but welcome your own findings, especially the real world ones!

Thanks,
Ivo

Posted by Ivo Dujmovic on January 29, 2010 at 04:07 PM PST #

This is an impressive point in the evolution of Oracle VM.

Honestly. I mean that.

I recently attended a local Oracle User Group meeting where a company had gone down the path of implementing Oracle VM and has seen lots of benefits.

Without doubt, virtualization is the way to go these days.

I, however, won't be trying or encouraging any of my clients to try Oracle VM any time soon. I instead steer them towards VMWare. VMWare has had live migration (what VMWare calls vMotion) for years. And it works fine under severe heavy IO loads.

I could go on and babble about VMWare here and why it's the best thing since sliced bread, but there's no point. Instead I'd like to suggest a few things Oracle can do to make Oracle VM more appealing to the people who matter when it comes to adoption

1) Have some sort of desktop based virtualization where I can run Oracle VMs - hopefully now that the acquisition of Sun is complete, their virtualbox product can be expanded to handle this. I'd love to utilize some of those Oracle VM templates like the one for OEM or E-Business, but I'm going to have a hard time just trying it when I need a whole dedicated server.

2) Start working on educating DBAs on IOPs and basic performance tuning. They don't get it. I've looked at 10s of environments where they keep adding CPUs (and more licensing revenue for Oracle...) yet not realizing the problem is they're at the limit of the disks. Or that they could benefit from more RAM, or even just utilizing that RAM better (buffer cache, etc). Sure, OEM is very useful for figuring out some of this or even handling it automatically, but seasoned DBAs rarely want to spend the time to getting something as beastly as OEM up and running.. which is where we get back to #1.

3) Improve your support reputation. It's bad. It's why many of my clients refuse to even look at OEL or Oracle VM. They simply don't trust Oracle's support to get the job done. I recently met a DBA who worked at Oracle for 10 years and his stories confirm much of what I suspected. I worked an upgrade this weekend and had to open a Sev 1 for assistance for a problem I was stumped with... that analyst owned the SR for around 5 hours and never sent an email or a call to me or my manager contact. 5 hours. Sev 1. Production Down. Now I'm supposed to trust you with my critical Linux and VM infrastructures?

4) Site to Site automated failover - VMWare has a product called SRM that does this. The array itself does replication and this SRM product ties in to the VM Management console and will automatically bring up my machines at my DR site if I have an issue. No need to call the DBAs in and start changing IP addreses, instances, etc. It's so so necessary with Oracle system involving a middle tier like E-Business.

So there's my suggestions for where to go
o fix your support reputation so your customers want to work with you more.
o Make your product easier to get into Dev/Test environments.
o Educate DBAs - they can push this from within
o Give the C-levels something they can get behind - full automated DR recovery

On a more general point of view, spend some more money and time getting the word out there and getting people to evangelize your product. Go look at how many top notch technical people are out there on twitter or personal blogs talking about VMWare or NetApp for example - now go find me some Apps DBAs as passionate about Oracle (in a good way). They are very very few. Sure, Oracle has a plane, yacht, race car and glossy ads in every magazine or newspaper I tend to read - but actual people evangelizing? Sure, there's Tom Kyte. Cary Millsap. Neither Apps DBAs.

The closest I've found ? This blog. And that's a good thing. But expand on that. Please.

Posted by Jay Weinshenker on January 30, 2010 at 12:57 AM PST #

Hi Jay!

Thank you so much for taking the time to share your thoughts. This kind of feedback is pure gold for us in development, as we sometimes get separated from the real world. I will make sure it is reaches at least some of the ears that need to hear it. I will also do my best to provide updates on your points as time passes.

I couple of thoughts for now. I realize that there are a number of virtualization (add cloud and provisioning) solutions out there. We want to make sure that our customers are educated about the ability to use Oracle's solutions. At the same time we also want to assure that we work great on all other platform solution customers want to use.

As various Oracle offerings work on besting their competition, we want to provide from E-Business Suite a set of industry leading capabilities in the Automated Provisioning / LCM space. which can make the customer successful in the environment of their choosing. That way our customers can use whatever tools they desire/need to in order to continue lowering their TCO.

Again, thank you for taking the time to help us get better. We really appreciate it.

Ivo

Posted by Ivo Dujmovic on January 30, 2010 at 10:25 AM PST #

Hi, Jay,

To follow up on a few points that Ivo left on the table...

>Fix your support reputation

I appreciate your feedback about Oracle Support. I've passed them on to our Support team, but generalities are a little harder to act on than specifics. If you would be willing to provide a specific SR number, our Support management team can work on improving things for that particular area.

>Educate DBAs

We hold sessions every year at OAUG/Collaborate and OpenWorld on EBS performance tuning. We know that only a subset of our EBS DBA community gets to go to those events, so we try to make those materials available online, too. See:

Tuning the Oracle E-Business Suite Environment (OpenWorld 2009 Recap)
http://blogs.oracle.com/stevenChan/2009/11/ebs_tuning_oow09.html

This is a big area, though, and we're also looking at other ways of raising the general level of skill here, possibly via Oracle University.

>full automated DR recovery

Definitely something we'd like to be able to offer. We're working with the MAA and RAC teams on options for this. These are big projects, so they're -- by definition -- long-term projects.

>Getting people to evangelize our product

This blog is a start. I can't do it alone, so I continue to pull people in as guest contributors.

From our private email conversation, when do you plan to funnel your eloquence and passion into your own blog? Your experience is the kind of thing that should be shared with the rest of the EBS DBA community -- we would all benefit from another voice, another viewpoint.

As for other Oracle bloggers, well, time will tell. My blog takes an extraordinary amount of time to manage and write for, and I am one of the few senior staff with the (rapidly-dwindling) capacity and energy to devote to this kind of effort.

Mostly, our staff build products and new features. Anything that detracts from that, including blogging, is seen as non-mission critical today.

I'm trying to change that attitude internally, but it's slow going. Feedback from you and other customers always helps in persuading other teams that they should open up and begin blogging.

Regards,
Steven

Posted by Steven Chan on February 01, 2010 at 07:36 AM PST #

Hello,

I am looking for steps to deploy 11i and R12 on Amezon Cloud.
Could anyone help?

Posted by Atul on May 24, 2010 at 11:36 PM PDT #

Steve,

I am looking for steps to migrate Oracle EBS R12.1.3 Single instance running on AIX (with 11.2.0.2 DB) to Oracle VM...

Could anyone help me on this?

Thanks for your help in advance.

Regards
Ramasamy

Posted by Ramasamy on February 23, 2012 at 12:56 PM PST #

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