Oracle VM Review

We can expand or contract the resources, such as memory, that are assigned to different solutions as needed.

Valuable Features:

This is supported by Oracle and optimized for running its database and software. Among the benefits is the ability to create huge pages within a VM, which is very beneficial for databases. The other major benefit is the ability to use OVM as a partitioning mechanism to reduce licensing costs for Oracle software.

Improvements to My Organization:

We are able to run many different solutions on a small number of hypervisors. We can shut down those solutions that are currently not of interest and can expand or contract the resources, such as memory, that are assigned to different solutions so that a developer may struggle a little, but a client demo will fly on the same instance when given 200% more memory. 

We also use the live migration facility to move VMs among servers in our farm so we can perform patching and other activities.

Room for Improvement:

Currently, there are some cases when the GUI and the back-end go out of sync. For example, the GUI shows the VM as running whereas it is actually already shut down. This could be improved.

Use of Solution:

I've used it for over four years.

Deployment Issues:

We had no issues with the deployment.

Stability Issues:

When we were previously using a dual-head storage with automatic storage pathing, we faced issues with compatibility since the shared storage kept getting re-mastered to different heads by the various servers which did not choose to access by the default assigned heads. 

We fixed this by replacing our storage with a supported/certified one. We have seen much better stability when using one of Oracle's purpose-built virtualization appliances, like PCA or ODA, to implement virtualization.

Scalability Issues:

There have been no issues scaling it for our needs.

Customer Service:

The customer service ranges from average to exceptional. We faced an issue with HBA NIC drivers that we could not solve and, at this point, we were told it was driver issue and they left it at that.

Previous Solutions:

We chose this product because of the compatibility with other Oracle software and the ability to reduce license costs.

Initial Setup:

The initial setup was a little challenging at first as when we first started the hypervisor, we did not have support for our raid controller card so we had to learn to compile a custom kernel. However, the latest versions are much better.

Implementation Team:

We did it in-house as we wanted to gain the skills since we are a vendor for other clients. Having gone through the experience and gained a lot of knowledge in the process, we would recommend that it can be a little challenging.

Cost and Licensing Advice:

OVM support licensing is included in the price of any Sun x86 servers. Since we can use the software for partitioning, it helps save on the licensing of other Oracle products that are licensed on a per-core basis.

Other Advice:

We have seen stability challenges if the storage and network is not rock solid. In fact, the most robust solutions are those where the integration is already done, namely Oracle PCA, Oracle ODA, and Oracle Exalogic. These can be a little expensive for smaller setups, though the ODA is a very interesting choice in such constrained budget scenarios.

Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: Diamond partner of Oracle
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