Oracle Virtual Compute Appliance: The View from Product Management
By Adam Hawley on Aug 13, 2013
First, if you haven't already, read Chris Kawalek's fine summary of today's announcements below. But, as the head of virtualization product management at Oracle, I thought I'd add some comments.
Our goal, and what we are delivering with the Oracle Virtual Compute Appliance, is to perform all the necessary installation and configuration for the hardware and software to allow you to go from power-on to a running application (or database or middleware) in about an hour. Already, one press headline has declared "Oracle tar ledningen på nyckelfärdiga servrar". Now, just in case your Swedish is a bit rusty, that translates to "Oracle Takes the Lead in Turnkey Servers" So what's all the fuss about?
Oracle Virtual Compute Appliance...or "OVCA" as it likes to be called....is a general-purpose, converged infrastructure appliance focused on providing rapid deployment of not-only your hardware infrastructure but also, by virtue of Oracle VM, of all the application stack it hosts. Unlike anything else on the market, Oracle has a large portfolio of ready-to-run Oracle VM virtual machines with enterprise applications, databases, and middleware that have already been installed and configured. So you just need to download the VMs from Oracle and deploy them into your environment and they are ready to go as soon as the VM starts.
Aside from fully automating it to allow it come up and be ready for use very, very quickly, OVCA has been designed to fit easily into your existing data center. As a general purpose appliance, it supports all the OSes you want to run on x86: Linux of various flavors, including our favorite Oracle Linux, but also Oracle Solaris, and Microsoft Windows. And it also provides choice and flexibility for external storage by supporting the use of the excellent Oracle ZFS Storage Appliance as well as storage from major 3rd parties including NetApp and EMC.
Oracle has a great line of engineered systems to pretty much meet your every need, whether it is the "Exa-" class systems that are engineered explicitly for extreme performance with specific applications/workloads or whether you are looking at the " -Appliance" class systems focused on extreme ease of use as we are doing with the Oracle Virtual Compute Appliance. We've been hearing from our customers how much they love their Exa- machines but then they ask us what we've got for "the rest of their stuff", by which they mean legacy software or versions of software, Microsoft servers, or just generally anything that does not demand the extreme performance of the Exa systems.
I tell people that the "Exa-" systems are the supercars of the engineered systems world: exceptionally fast and very tailored for their purpose, while the Oracle Virtual Compute Appliance is sort of like your favorite minivan: very easy and convenient to use, with a great set of general purpose features for every day, general purpose use. Their focus is very different between them, but they are both excellent at what they do. And, in this sense, they are also very complementary and we expect these products to be companions to each other in a lot of data centers.
One of the aspects about OVCA that is very interesting and increasingly important over-time is that the infrastructure it delivers is software-defined. The hardware itself is "wire-once": We wire it up completely in the factory, including pulling cables for ethernet, InfiniBand, and power up to each individual slot in the rack regardless as-to whether you have ordered a server to go in that slot or not. Everything is pre-positioned. This means you will never have to add or move cables inside the rack as you grow. If you add a new node in the field, you just push that node into the slot and the cables are already in-place to push into the connectors on the back of the server....Done. To those of you reading this that have tried to do cabling in a completely full rack, you know why this is important. Racks today are often packed so densely with cables, it is almost impossible to even squeeze two fingers through to connect or remove an ethernet cable, much less a thicker power- or InfiniBand cable.
But let's get back to how the compute and network are software defined, which means you can more easily automate it to configure and expand and change it without ever having to walk into the data center to move cables. This makes you more agile and flexible but also reduces risks of mistakes or damage that come with moving things around in a very densely packed rack. It also presents the opportunities for adding capabilities down the road without having to change the hardware.
Some of the crown jewels of technology in OVCA that enable this are Oracle VM server virtualization on the Sun servers and Oracle SDN software for the Oracle Virtual Networking Fabric Interconnect hardware. In effect, Oracle VM enables "software defined servers" while Oracle SDN enables "software defined networking". This combination allows us to fully automate the system bring-up using the OVCA controller software that serves as an automation and orchestration layer to coordinate the bring-up and on-going configuration activities of OVCA, e.g. discovering servers, putting Oracle VM on them, discovering network hardware, putting software-defined private neworks on them, and then putting the servers into the newly created networks.
Collectively, these capabilities not only produce a great product today but also provide a powerful base for future enhancement and expansion through software.
Since I've only scratched the surface here, to learn more details, a replay of the webcast, including a demo showing the deployment of an Oracle 12c Database in about 52mins from power-on can be found here.
All the information on oracle.com can be found here or by going to www.oracle.com/ovca
And for those of you that are thrilled by the gripping prose usually found in press releases, click here.
So keep an eye out for new information over time on this blog or drop us a Comment below. And, of course, your friendly Oracle account manager or partner would be glad to discuss how you might be able to benefit from standing up a complete application stack in about an hour.