Oracle VM Review
Ability to patch with no downtime


Primary Use Case

A disclaimer: Though I have been working with various flavours of Linux since Slackware 1.2 in 1996, and I more recently focus in more enterprise computing and Oracle Database, my opinions tend to be colored with those use cases. 

Improvements to My Organization

  • Ability to patch with no downtime.
  • Ability to ensure all prerequisites are satisfied without manual intervention saves time, effort, and makes the systems that we deploy for our clients more secure. 
  • Licensing costs are less for Oracle Linux and for clients moving to the Oracle Cloud, as it is included in the price of the subscription.

Valuable Features

The ability to live migrate VMs on the fly from one hypervisor to another has been very useful.

Room for Improvement

  • We do have a little trepidation with systemd, as it does have a learning curve. 
  • Changing the binary logging format feels like a retrograde motion to us, but sadly almost all Linux variants have moved in this direction.

Use of Solution

More than five years.

Stability Issues

Initially, we had some teething troubles that we found were due to use of an unsupported storage solution. We switched to an Oracle ZFS appliance, and since then, we have had no issues.

Scalability Issues

We did not encounter scalability issues. However, we are constrained by our hardware since this is a development setup.

Customer Service and Technical Support

We have found support personnel of the EMEA region with whom we have interacted to be very knowledgeable. They were very supportive and had a very good grasp of both Linux and the product.

Initial Setup

The initial setup was quite simple. We also were able to upgrade to various newer versions with minimum handholding.

Implementation Team

We implemented in-house.

We are certified implementors of this technology now.

ROI

We were able to deploy our solution at near zero cost compared to other vendors since the licenses come with our Oracle hardware. Therefore, it is difficult to calculate ROI, as it is a very large number.

Pricing, License Cost and Setup

If you choose Oracle hardware, then this virtualization software is included along with support. Licensing of various oracle applications is one of the more expensive components of any implementation, the ability to hard partition it is a major advantage which outweighs any other disadvantage for various x86-based solutions.

Other Solutions Considered

We evaluated using Oracle VirtualBox, but it was more for desktop virtualization and did not fit with server virtualization. We also tried KVM, but the complexities in migration from one host to another deterred us, and the management was not as seamless for multiple hypervisors.

Given Oracle VM's favorable licensing policy allowing hard partitioning using virtualization, we found this to the the most optimal method to recommend to clients.

There are compelling reasons why one might prefer Oracle Linux to Red Hat Linux. Some of the major factors are:

  1. One throat to choke. It is very useful to have one vendor on the pointy end of the stick. No finger pointing, and all buck passing is internal. Also, given the dev team is often using the same OS flavor, it can be a benefit in the first place. 
  2. Optimised for databases. Many of the options: RPMs and settings which are best used to run a database are packaged into a single RPM that can be automatically deployed on Oracle Linux, but must be painfully and manually setup on RHEL. 
  3. Ksplice: The ability to patch all aspects of a running Linux system, including the kernel with zero downtime is something that no other Linux provides. The UEK is enough of a differentiator to get the nod.

Other Advice

I recommend this for any customer wanting to reduce their licensing costs for packaged applications.

Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: We are Oracle Diamond partners. We also have alliances with Red Hat.

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