Oracle Linux Review

Ksplice allows us to apply hot-patching without downtime and avoid scheduling issues across multiple organizations

Video Review:

What is our primary use case?

Fujitsu's Oracle/Intel platform has been specifically designed with Oracle in mind using Oracle VM, Oracle Linux, for our customers wanting to use Oracle product, applications, databases. We've designed it in a way that we get the best possible performance from the applications and databases on our engineered system.

How has it helped my organization?

What it's allowed us to do, initially, it allowed us to develop an Intel platform specifically for Oracle. What's most important for us, where it comes across is the licensing. It's very difficult - sometimes you can build a platform that is optimal, but when you apply Oracle licenses across that platform, it isn't the most economical. All of our Intel platform for this has been optimized towards which Oracle solutions are going to be running on it, to get both the best performance but also that will be economical for our customers.

Because it's specifically built for Oracle, with Oracle applications and solutions in mind, we have standard pricing, a standard way of working, a standard cost for each organization. That allows us to save time, on both bid and, once new requirements come along for each organization, we know exactly what it takes to add to that solution, to add to that platform. The saving for us is, we can feed back quickly to grow, respond to new requirements.

What is most valuable?

With Oracle Linux Ksplice specifically, we have organizations looking for minimum downtime. We're able to apply hot-patching at any time; once we've proven they're tested, ready to go, we don't need to take downtime to apply them.

We have a shared services platform with multiple organizations set on it. So planning downtime across all those organizations becomes more and more difficult. The more organizations we get onto the platform, the less "white space" is available. Ksplice allows us to do hot-patching without the downtime. That, for us, is quite key.

Also, the virtualization, Oracle VM, allows us to get the best performance for our Oracle applications and database solutions. We know it's proven to be more performant with Oracle applications, so we get the best performance out of it on our platform.

What needs improvement?

What we found in moving from Oracle Linux 6 to Oracle Linux 7 was the whole interfacing with the application and the fact that operating had all changed, all the commands had changed. You need to be aware that there is some kind of training, some kind of handover required for your technical guys, understanding different ways of interacting with it. Bear that in mind.

For how long have I used the solution?

More than five years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

What we experienced is, the stability is key. What we can't take into account with customers is how they're going to want to use the platform, once we've installed it, once we've got different solutions running on that platform.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

We have a use case of a shared platform where we have one large organization set on our Intel platform. The virtualization then allows us to grow out for when we get more and more organizations on.

We've just added another huge organization, DHL, they are now set on that shared platform along with another organization. That hasn't impacted it in the least. We are able to scale out and scale with that organization. That organization itself, that specific program, could grow and grow. So it allows us that flexibility to grow that whichever way. If that organization's business case grows and becomes bigger and bigger, the platform can scale out to that.

It also allows us to add in more organizations on the same platform with one overview of managing. For us, as an organization we can manage it from a single point with multiple organizations using it, with no impact on each other.

How are customer service and technical support?

We don't have any problems with Oracle technical support. Our guys can normally resolve most of the issues themselves, but where we do require further help, we have direct contact with Oracle, and the turnaround is what we'd expect.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

There is a gap for the type of Intel platform we're now providing, from an Oracle perspective. For a lot of the platforms we have our own cloud at Fujitsu, our K5, which is not geared towards Oracle specifically, because of the licensing implications. So we knew there was a requirement for a quick, economical, engineered system, so that the customers can either sit in their own datacenters or we'll place it in our datacenters and manage the service that way.

With Oracle VM and Oracle Linux, it then allows us to scale up, scale out as and when the customers want, their requirements grow, their enterprises grow. Or the requirements change over time; it could be an easy path for them to move from on-premise to cloud, or they may want to bring the cloud, themselves, on-premise.

It's the perfect step for them, if they're not quite ready to move to the cloud - they might never want to go to the cloud, but they want to control security, data, data integrity. All the features they're after as an organization - they may want to go one way, they may not want to go the other way. This fits that platform at that point.

For us to work with any vendor, it's the support and ongoing roadmap with that vendor. We need to understand where it's going, where it's going to end up in the next one to two years, as well as then three to four years. We also need to be able to work closely with them to almost guide that roadmap from our experience, and be able to have input into it as well. That is key with any partner and vendor.

How was the initial setup?

The key for us with our engineered systems is specifically how quick and easy it is to "plug in and play," with a solution. We got the platform in place within a couple of weeks and then another week or so to get everything up and running with the virtualizations, and then the Oracle Linux with all the solutions and applications on top of that.

End-to-end it will take us three to five weeks, depending on the install.

What about the implementation team?

We use our in house expertise at Fujitsu.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

As per above, pay attention to how Oracle license their products and make sure you are clear as to the implications of choosing products which can have a significant impact on license cost and supportability. 

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We were driven to some part by how the cost of licensing of Oracle databases and needed to ensure the most cost effective way to do this, so really OVM was the only option for us .

What other advice do I have?

I am the Oracle practice CTO. I work for Fujitsu. We cover all the aspects of IT, for enterprise, for infrastructure, through to applications and managed services. I work for the Business Applications Services, we cover anything around enterprise solutions, enterprise architecture, anything that will aid them in their business process. In my role at Fujitsu I oversee all of the Oracle architects, so any solution owners from infrastructure to applications, and all the bits in between. All architects and solution owners report to me.

In the context of, if you're wanting to use the Oracle workloads, absolutely, this is the way you need to go. For non-Oracle workloads, again, no problems with that at all. From Fujitsu's point of view, and where it sits on our Intel platform, this is a no-brainer. We specifically built it with Oracle in mind. Therefore, using Oracle VM and Oracle Linux was the way forward.

If that's the way you're going, if you're looking to use Oracle applications, Oracle Databases, I would definitely recommend using the OVM and Oracle Linux.

It performs perfectly for what we require it to do. There are, obviously, certain issues that have been highlighted in the next version. That's not the product itself, that's just the usability of it. We would rate the Oracle OVM, the Oracle Linux, eight to nine out of 10.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.

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