What is our primary use case?
We work in agriculture, and where we're located we have two sites in two separate cities in Canada. These are all transactional databases and they have information in them about the dairy industry in our country. We use it for storing data related to dairy cows, dairy farmers, or farmers in general, and we have all the information in the transactional database that holds everything from billing to individual animal data. We probably have about 12 terabytes of data on the Oracle databases.
How has it helped my organization?
The reliability and the ability to store all the information we need is how it helps us the most. I don't know the metrics of the top of my head, I just know it works.
We decided to use Oracle from the start because of its reputation of robustness. It provided us with everything that we needed.
What is most valuable?
The reliability is the solution's most valuable feature. We've had great success with the solution.
The ability to do all the programming we need in one solution is great.
The support has been very good over the years.
What needs improvement?
The main thing we find could use improvement is the licensing costs. It is quite expensive relative to other database vendors. Cost always comes up as an issue for us as we consider upgrade paths. It's not as easy as we would like it to be.
While we really like Oracle, it's difficult sometimes to upgrade from version to version.
I'd like to see the high availability option become available in the standard edition. We have a couple of databases that are still in the standard edition, and we'd like to be able to back those up and have higher availability.
For how long have I used the solution?
We've been using Oracle for a long time. We originally started using it in 1999 just before the Y2K crisis.
What do I think about the stability of the solution?
The stability is very good. I'd rate it ten out of ten. We have some databases that run for a year without rebooting or anything, so I would describe it as very stable.
We do have a couple of international projects for our users that will be accessed from other countries, but it's currently stable.
What do I think about the scalability of the solution?
There's no problem with scalability. It's quite easy for an organization to expand if they need to.
We have many users on the solution, including myself, and I have an administrator role. We have five database administrators that manage the day to day operations of the database. Then we have about 20 developers that develop different applications or make changes to the database for us. There are also internal users. We probably have, I'd say, 500 employees that have access at any given time. Our customers also have access. In total, we have about 15,000 people on the solution.
How are customer service and technical support?
Technical support, on a scale of one to ten, I would give a seven. There are some things that take a little bit longer to resolve than others, however, overall, I would say it's good. It's not very good. It's not excellent. It's good.
Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?
We haven't gone anywhere else and tried any other database software. We did previously use IBM's Mainframe 20 years ago.
The reason why we switched was because we were changing our data center. It's a little bit complicated, but there used to be four organizations that did the same thing we did. And due to the Y2K scare, we decided to merge all these organizations into one data center. It was more of consolidation from different technologies into one Oracle technology.
I was not really involved in that migration. I was there, however, I didn't have a role in it. Oracle was ultimately chosen based on the robustness and they had.
How was the initial setup?
It was a very big undertaking. We moved from an IBM mainframe. With regards to Oracle, the set up was, I would say, easy, however, when you're building a database, there's a lot of things to think of. That's not really the database's problem. You have to think of and plan out your table structure. You have to think of how you're going to set up your database.
The deployment happened 20 years ago. It was a very big project. The implementation took a year to migrate our existing data into an Oracle database. It went well, although it did take about a year to implement.
You need about five people to handle maintenance on the solution.
What about the implementation team?
We used a consulting firm to assist us in the implementation at the time. The experience was good at the time. Still, it was 20 years ago. They're actually out of business now. They may have gone out of business ten years ago, or merged with another company.
What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?
Our licensing costs are between $40,000 and $50,000 per year. Those are the costs that cover maintenance and licensing.
We have an enterprise edition. We pay extra for features that are only available with this particular tier.
Which other solutions did I evaluate?
We did evaluate different databases, including IBM's Db2. And that was it at the time. Microsoft didn't exist back then for databases.
What other advice do I have?
We started using version 7 of Oracle, and now, after so many years on the product, we are up to version 12.
We have six different main production databases that we use for various things. They're all on-premise. They either run in a Linux environment or IBM AIX Unix environment. And we also use a backup Oracle cloud for backing up some of those databases.
The main advice I would give other organizations would be to prepare for the costs. Oracle is kind of more expensive than in most other database software. It's also important to have a good understanding of how Oracle works and the programming. It's quite specialized. However, if you're implementing a big database environment, you need to know that anyway.
Oracle is, I would say, probably the top database provider in the world. Having a big name, for us, was good because we've got other contracts from outside firms that trust us because we house our data with Oracle.
At the end of the day, you get what you pay for, and we don't mind paying more for the peace of mind we get from this solution.
I would rate the solution nine out of ten mostly due to the fact that it's a very solid platform and it's robust and it's scalable. It's the Cadillac of the database world.
Which deployment model are you using for this solution?