Oracle VM Review

Simple to deploy and configurations have been made simpler and cleaner in the latest release.


Valuable Features:

Stability has proven to be satisfactory. The deployment is simple, a lot of the configurations, particularly the network related ones, have been made much simpler and cleaner in the latest releases (3.3.2+), and the GUI has become more responsive. 

Room for Improvement:

At the moment the discovery of hosts and configuration can be performed only via the GUI and not by a command line on the hosts. To resolve some other issues, we decided to install Oracle Enterprise Manager Cloud 13c to add monitoring capabilities, which OVM Manager lacks completely.

Oracle claims "whatever you can do via manager, you can do via EC", but in my opinion that's not true because a lot of tasks are simply too slow via EC than via the manager.

Use of Solution:

My first attempt with Oracle VM was around two years ago. I was asked to set up a four-node cluster with 3.3.1 release on top of Fujitsu hardware (Fujitsu Primequest 1800E).

Deployment Issues:

v3.3.1 was pretty much disappointing in terms of performance, especially when it came to migration. It took minutes for a VM with a lot of memory to migrate across different hosts. This led us to upgrade the environment to 3.3.2, and changing the underlying hardware. Fujitsu Primequest was dismissed in favor of Fujitsu RX 300 S8 due to a compatibility issue as Primequest were not certified on 3.3.2.

3.3.2 was a bit faster but it didn't take long for us to experience one of its major bugs - the migration of any VM with 64GB plus RAM failing with an OpenSSL error.
This was fixed in a short time with the help of Oracle support who suggested to upgrade the OpenSSL packet.

Stability Issues:

We only had a single crash on one host in more than two years as the kernel panicked. An SR was opened to Oracle, but it led to nowhere.

Scalability Issues:

We've had no issues scaling it to our needs.

Initial Setup:

It's fairly straightforward.  All you have to do is to install via script the so-called "OVM Manager", which is basically a Java administration GUI run on a WebLogic server with MySQL underlying it as a metadata repository. At the time, Oracle Database was a choice too, but it's no longer the case because, as an Oracle guy revealed, the Database engine has a major bug which corrupts lob data which prevents the the manager from working properly.

After that, you then install the OS, a Linux kernel running an Oracle-engineered Xen hypervisor, on top of the hosts. Again, this is quite a simple process and in the latest releases (3.3.2+), it has become more and more a "Next > Next" procedure where you have virtually no freedom of choice over a number of things such as file system layout. The Oracle guy who revealed the Database engine bug told me this is by design as most customers were messing up things during the installation. Finally, you have to discover the hosts via the manager and make all the necessary configurations storage discovery, network layout.

Other Advice:

While the software is still missing a lot of capabilities which its major competitor (VMware) has and a performance boost is highly recommended, it could still be a choice if you have to virtualize Oracle software.

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