What is most valuable?
What I like about Oracle Linux is that out of the box it's already pre-optimized, pre-configured, has all the right RPMs, has checking packages. It's basically all the stuff I would have to do with a different distribution manually. It probably saves me a couple of hours on each time I do a database install, and that's worth a lot. Plus, the performance is better because it's been highly optimized or tuned. The kernels been optimized. The memory management specifically is better, so it makes for a very stable platform.
How has it helped my organization?
Performance and stability. I can get maximum performance with the least amount of effort, and stability-wise, I never have a crash. I've yet to have one.
What needs improvement?
One of them is because I'm lazy, and most people wouldn't admit that, but when you go from version 6 to version 7 of Linux, a lot of commands changed, and even some file locations have changed. I wish they would keep the compatibility mode, or the stupid mode for me for a couple of years. I hate to learn new commands right away, but it is what it is.
Just keeping up, keeping the pace with the Red Hat main distributions, so if Red Hat's on 7.3, I'd like to see Enterprise Linux on 7.3, at the same time. On one occasion, I think they actually beat Red Hat. I think they came out with their point release first. That's what I would kind of like, is for them to stay very aggressive on that, because kernel modifications typically end up being performance. They have taken the best of Solaris and put it into it. They keep adding tools that are necessary for doing performance optimization and monitoring. It's very mature.
What do I think about the stability of the solution?
What's really nice about the stability is that even when you have situations that might cause issues with other OSs, other variants of Linux, Oracle Enterprise Linux seems to do a better job of catching and handling those exceptions. An example would be, maybe I'm doing a wrap-cluster or I'm using ASM, automatic storage management, there are some cases where those products can cause an error that might cause a different distribution of Linux to maybe hang or lock or get confused. With Enterprise Linux it seems to be a non-issue. It's very stable.
What do I think about the scalability of the solution?
I love the scalability. Because of the fact that it's already optimized for performance, I can scale it to whatever maximum numbers I need very easily. The only time I have to make any adjustments is if I'm doing RAC, real application clusters, I may want to tune a little bit differently based on the number of nodes, but it's very minimal.
How are customer service and technical support?
Oracle technical support is like most companies with technical support. It's either great or horrible. It sort of depends on the phone call. Generally speaking, it's great. A lot of times though, if you're in a mission critical situation, you need to get them to escalate you to level two so that you can get beyond the first level and typically you can get an answer quicker. I would say the most interesting interaction I had with them was, one time I was patching an Exadata machine and I did a step wrong because I didn't read all the directions. Did an incorrect step. Ruined my Exadata box. Made sure that they got me to second level support, and then it took us about eight hours working together but we got it recovered. Very few vendors would have spent eight hours, midnight to eight AM, just on a phone call.
Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?
I was an early adopter of Linux, long before companies saw the light, and before it went mainstream. I would say I got into the early adopter, sort of experimental stage, so that I would be prepared when my companies were positioned to take advantage of it, I would already be an expert.
I actually started using Linux, probably about the time that Red Hat was Red Hat version 3, so more than a decade ago, probably closer to 15 years, and part of that was because I could see that the commoditization of hardware was going to mean that server rooms were going to be predominantly Intel, and they were going to predominantly be Windows and Linux, and you'd better know both of them. With Linux being a much lower cost OS, and also hosting databases like Oracle really well, you just knew it was going to end up in the Enterprise environment, and it just made sense to work with Enterprise Linux. Now I worked originally with Red Hat and CentOS, but it very clearly became evident to me that Oracle Enterprise Linux, starting at version 5.8, was just as good, just as stable, offered more with very few differences in the learning curve.
Oracle does have a few additional tools that are not on the standard distribution, but they actually make your job a lot of easier, like for example, one of them is an RPM check. It just checks to make sure we have all of the pre-loaded or the pre-required RPMs loaded, and there's nothing to do other than to activate it, and it just gives you a message. It's not very hard to learn these additional features.
What about the implementation team?
Honestly, if you've done any Linux installation of any distribution, and specifically if you've done CentOS or Red Hat, all that really changes are some of the images and backgrounds and colors and labels, but other than that, it's probably 98% identical, but Oracle does have some optimizations and some additional RPMs already installed. It's a very small difference, but if you know Linux, and even if you're with a different variant, say like a Ubuntu, you'll still be okay. You won't be a fish out of water.
What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?
I think that the licensing model is fair. It's reasonable. What's nice is that if you have the database tech support or maintenance, and you have the Linux support or maintenance, for them it's one phone call. Now you may switch a person on the phone, but you're not having to call and get back in the queue again, so it's nice to deal with one company, especially for a critical asset like a database.
Which other solutions did I evaluate?
The marriage with the database, to me is the most critical or most important item. Now I know that sounds like I may be pandering to Oracle, since they make the database and they make the OS, but it's just a natural. The same as with Microsoft SQL Server. Why do you run it on Windows? Now, I know it's coming on Linux, but where will it probably run best for a long time? Probably on Windows.
Having that marriage between the OS and the database is critical, and Oracle really understands their database, better than anybody else, and they seem to understand Linux as well as anybody else, and they were an early contributor, so it's just a natural progression to put the database on their Linux.
What other advice do I have?
Rating: It’s a 10, because even though there are free alternatives, I mean totally free alternatives, like CentOS, I've quit using them. For me to quit using something that's totally free, with no even maintenance charges, must mean that what I've chosen is worth every penny of whatever costs there are. Oracle Linux is clearly there.