More and more I hear companies looking into replacing expensive licensed database options with more cost-effective alternatives, for various reasons: simple cost reduction, or avoiding lock-in, or because of other strategic considerations. In order to kickstart the creative thinking, here are a few hardware and software based methods to achieve cost reduction in database options (on top of Oracle Enterprise Edition). I am assuming the base product stays the same (Oracle Enterprise Edition) as replacing EE with alternatives can be very cost effective – but requires serious changes in architecture and management so I’ll leave that for another time.
While busy preparing another blogpost on my dedupe analyzer tool, I was triggered to write a quick hotlist of reasons why one would strategically choose VMware virtualization over Oracle multitenant option if the goal is to achieve operational and cost benefits. There may be other good reasons to go for Oracle Multitenant but cost savings is not one of them.
As announced in my last blogpost, qdda is a tool that analyzes potential storage savings by scanning data and giving a deduplication, compression and thin provisioning estimate. The results are an indication whether a modern All-Flash Array (AFA) like Dell EMC XtremIO would be worth considering.
In this (lenghty) post I will go over the basics of qdda and run a few synthetic test scenarios to show what’s possible. The next posts will cover more advanced scenarios such as running against Oracle database data, multiple nodes and other exotic ones such as running against ZFS storage pools.
The best thing about being me… There are so many “me”s.
— Agent Smith, The Matrix Reloaded
One of our customers reported less than optimal space savings on XtremIO running Oracle. In order to test various scenarios with Oracle I was in search of a deduplication analysis method or tool – only to find out that there was nothing available that qualified.
TL;DR: QDDA is an Open Source tool I wrote to analyze Linux files, devices or data streams for duplicate blocks and compression estimates. It can quickly give you an idea of how much storage savings you could get using a modern All-Flash Array like XtremIO. It is safe to use on production systems and allows quick analysis of various test scenarios giving direct results, and even works with files/devices that are in use. No registration or uploading of your confidential data is required.
A list of questions being asked to my most recent webcast on Oracle replatforming together with Madora Consulting.
I decided to put the Q&A on the blog so anyone can benefit instead of just the 100+ attendees we had on the webcast (awesome!)
Disclaimer: Some Q&A are about licensing and my answers are according to the best I know, but always consult with an independent expert (like my copresenter Keith Dobbs who I reviewed the Q&A with). Also the topic is highly controversial so don’t feel offended if you disagree 😉
Question: For normal data guard should i have to pay for normal DB EE or SE licenses or no need ?
Bart: Data Guard is free but requires both primary and standby host to be fully licensed. It requires Enterprise Edition. If you use advanced features such as running read-only queries on the standby, then you need Active Data Guard licenses on both nodes. Note that there is no technical difference between “normal” and “active” Data Guard. You need to pay for the license as soon as you use the Active Data Guard features.
Question: I’d like to know about replication Virtualized Oracle DB Server using Vsphere , should I worry about consistency?
Bart: VMware (vSphere) does not buffer any IO and passes any writes directly to the underlying storage. Consistency is therefore not dependent on whether or not you are running virtualized or physical. If you use any kind of storage replication (such as Dell EMC Recoverpoint, SRDF, VPLEX etc) then you must make sure that all volumes for a database are replicated as one “consistency” group, such that after a failover you don’t get timing issues between the different database volumes. As said, this is not depending on whether you run virtual or physical.
Also, I highly recommend testing D/R failover at least every 6 months or so, to make sure your D/R strategy is working in case you really need it. I have experience with customers who added local volumes but forgot to replicate those volumes which resulted in non-recoverable D/R systems. Using Dell EMC snapshot features of your storage array allows you to perform D/R testing during normal weekdays so your primary database and DR replication stay active even while you perform D/R testing (a method that you cannot use the same way with Data Guard unless you break replication or use other workarounds).
Question: How to use VMware in a DR site and the production site has engineered system ? Without high cost
Bart: Interesting scenario. Assuming Engineered System is either Exadata (most likely) or Supercluster (where the storage is the same as Exadata), the challenge here is that Oracle does not allow connectivity of non-Oracle storage, so we cannot use classic SAN replication here. We need to discuss in more detail but a few options you may consider:
Backup Exadata with EMC Data Domain, replicate to another Data Domain in the D/R site and use that to recover your database (you can use it to daily update your standby using replicated backup files). This would be a very cost efficient solution but the trade-off is that it would take some time to recover after a failover (so the RTO – recovery time objective) would not be close to zero.
Use Data Guard (the free version i.e. not using Active DG features) to replicate to a (Dell EMC) system. There are some disadvantages here and care must be taken that you don’t use Hybrid Columnar Compression – as this would have to be de-compressed first in order to start the standby database
Best solution: re-platform production from Engineered System to a Dell EMC proven solution and then you can use any D/R method you like, as well as save on license cost as we have shown in the presentation
Question: How are Madora (consulting) funded / paid for ? How does the local DEll EMC (Think DELL folks) Business Units generate revenue from a Madora engagement?
Bart: I assume this question was asked by one of our Dell EMC colleagues on the call. But sharing it with everyone because no secrets…
I’ve had this question before several times so it’s an important point, and we should have that in a future version of the presentation. There is no formal partnership between Madora and Dell EMC, because Madora must be able to provide a completely independent advice to customers and not be biased because being sub-contracted by Dell EMC. So for Dell EMC sales teams there is no direct revenue stream, however, the chance of winning infrastructure deals increases because
customers can save money and spend it on the infrastructure that is needed to achieve those savings
customers can eliminate uncertainty and make sure they are – and stay – compliant and don’t have to worry about project risks
bringing in license expertise can eliminate the objections raised by the customer on licensing, support, audits etc.
The relationship is purely an informal one but that said, we’ve cooperated succesfully on a number of occasions.
Question: How and why can a Customer move to Standard Edition?
Bart: If you have a database on Enterprise Edition and want to move to Standard Edition (Standard Edition 2 – SE2 – in future deployments as of Oracle version 12) then you must consider if there are any Oracle features in use that are not available in SE/SE2. If that is not the case, you can install a server with SE and move the datafiles, then restart the database. Again, test the scenario before go live as the devil is often in the details. Also you need to make sure you have enough SE(2) licenses because you are not allowed to run Standard Edition using Enterprise Edition licenses (it is essentially a different product). Madora may be able to help converting or re-negotiating licenses. Oracle will probably push back because it’s a huge reduction in their revenue stream.
Question: Can you convert Exadata quarter rack to ovm and reduce the licenses of DB and reuse them in DR site ? without buying new licenses.
Bart: (assuming OVM is Oracle Virtual Machine) – As long as the total number of physical processors is licensed then that should be possible from a licensing standpoint. Note that with OVM you have many of the same (perceived or real) license issues as with VMware (but Oracle doesn’t tell you that). Note that I would not recommend running OVM for consolidation of mission critical systems as it’s not best practice and does not offer the same level of performance management, 3rd party tooling integration and features as VMware, however, on Exadata it may be your only viable option next to running physical. I haven’t seen any customers yet who run OVM on Exadata for mission-critical workloads yet (but there sure will be a few out there – let me know your experiences!) so make sure you know what you are doing before starting such a journey.
I get many more questions during my customer meetings. Maybe I should put a static FAQ page on the topic that I update with new questions, answers and insights… Let me know what you think!