Oracle VM Review
The templates that are available for provisioning database nodes are very helpful. Using these pre-configured templates makes the deployment process quick and efficient.


Valuable Features

We are using Oracle VM as the platform for running our Oracle databases. The templates that are available for provisioning database nodes are very helpful. Using these pre-configured templates makes the deployment process quick and efficient.

Improvements to My Organization

By virtualizing our database tier on generic x86 hardware, it lowered hardware costs, improved performance, scalability and maintainability. We now have more redundancy than we had with proprietary hardware.

Room for Improvement

Ease of upgrades is certainly a strong candidate for improvement. I started looking at an Oracle 12 template and I have to say I liked the Oracle 11 template better, not from a database perspective but from an OS perspective.

Use of Solution

We initially implemented version 2.2.1 in 2010 but never took it in to production. We had issues with stability that were ultimately traced to how the LUNs were presented to the guests. We went live with version 3.0 in 2011. We're currently on version 3.2.1.

Deployment Issues

We've had no issues with deployment.

Stability Issues

The stability was a major issue initially and it was traced to how the LUNs were presented to the guests. Once that was resolved, the system was pretty solid.

Scalability Issues

I did have an issue with the guests running out of swap space and located a procedure to expand swap space without having to disrupt the LUN numbering convention.

Customer Service and Technical Support

Customer Service:

It was initially subpar.

Technical Support:

It was initially subpar. The issue with LUN presentation was discovered by us and not by tech support. I would think tech support would have been able to at least point us in that direction. Lately, it has been difficult to route issues to the correct group. Once there, however, support has been adequate.

Previous Solutions

For our database tier, we used proprietary hardware that worked well but we were limited to that type of hardware and it was reaching end-of-life. At the time, Oracle was adamant about their hypervisor being the only one that was license-compliant, so that took us in the direction of Oracle VM. I understand Oracle has backed away from that stance for other hypervisors, but at the time we didn’t want to double or quadruple or database licensing costs.

Initial Setup

Unfortunately, I used my VMware experience and applied it to the Oracle VM setup. Looking back, that was probably not the right approach as some things in Oracle VM are very different. The LUN presentation issue came down to poor documentation as there were two ways to present the LUNs and the documentation made it seem the improper method was the way to go.

Implementation Team

We did it in-house, but ultimately had to get Oracle involved for the initial implementation. The version we are currently on is very stable. I should probably consider upgrading, but it’s a lower priority task right now.

ROI

The ROI was very low considering that the initial license was free.

Pricing, Setup Cost and Licensing

Support costs are manageable.

Other Advice

As a hypervisor, it is effective, however the functionality is a step down from VMware. Upgrades are getting easier to do, but still not as easy as VMware.

The current versions seem much more stable than the earlier ones. The best advice I have is to understand the documentation and don’t take prior experience with other hypervisors in to account.

A typical database node-guest configuration:

The disks for the O/S and swap are configured as Virtual Disks while the LUNs for ASM are configured as Physical Disks.

The environment was configured primarily to host our PeopleSoft implementation as well as several smaller databases. However, PeopleSoft is being replaced with another ERP solution so this environment will be used for historical purposes. The future of the other databases is yet to be determined.

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