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The perks to virtualizing Oracle on vSphere 6

VMware vSphere 6 has new features and maximums that lower the barriers to virtualizing Oracle.

Using a virtualized infrastructure based on vSphere will benefit a business by reducing the number of potential issues that can affect production, such as the termination of an application when a server fails.

In addition to its high availability feature, an administrator can boost performance of a virtualized application by feeding it more resources. Better speeds are what a business needs, and Oracle database administrators can ensure their systems are well-provided for by making key adjustments.

In the book Virtualizing Oracle Databases on vSphere, authors Kannan Mani and Don Sullivan explain the benefits of virtualization and, more specifically, virtualizing Oracle on vSphere. One chapter in the book focuses on the basic concepts of virtualization and the software defined data center (SDDC). The authors also dive into the benefits that accompany the decision to virtualize Oracle on vSphere.

SearchVMware talked with both Mani and Sullivan about the efforts to put a critical application in a virtual environment.

Are there any issues with licensing when virtualizing Oracle on vSphere?

Migrating Oracle software to virtualized infrastructure will not cost any more than what it costs on non-virtualized infrastructure. Unfortunately, there is a significant amount of misinformation that has been disseminated around this subject for years. The only important advice that anyone interested in this subject needs to understand is that the only relevant information comes from the Oracle contract itself. The Oracle Master Agreement (OMA), which replaced the Oracle License Service Agreement, is clear that each processor that Oracle software is run or installed upon must be licensed, nothing else. VMware has produced a document named the "Understanding Oracle Certification, Support and Licensing for VMware Environments" which is highly instructive on this subject. Also VMware, in cooperation with Database Trends and Analysis, House of Brick and License Consulting, produced a webinar which is essential viewing for anyone interested in learning the facts about Oracle on vSphere licensing. The links to the document and the webinar can be found at this blog.

From an administrative perspective, what are the benefits of moving Oracle onto the vSphere platform?

The benefits of running Oracle on vSphere are the same as running any business-critical application or database management system on vSphere. These benefits fall into two categories with the first being the resource management capabilities, which start with the ability to manage all dimensions of performance to include processing through vCPUs, memory through the allocation of the exact amount of memory needed for that VM and the Oracle System Global Area (SGA) being utilized. The resource management capabilities extend to the networking and storage as well. Our book Virtualizing Oracle Databases on vSphere focuses a significant number of pages on the details pertaining to the resource management discussion. Second is the set of features that are indigenous to the platform of virtualized hardware known as vSphere that allow for the various different service-level agreements to be satisfied with minimal effort and resources. Server level high availability, disaster recovery, performance guarantees, provisioning time constraints and security requirements are counted in that conversation. Overall, implementing Oracle on virtualized infrastructure using a true platform of virtualized hardware running on a non-paravirtualized hypervisor optimizes the implementation of all business-critical applications. This essentially makes an Oracle database administrator's daily jobs simpler.

What is the biggest obstacle to run Oracle on vSphere? Has it gotten easier as vSphere has matured?

It is fair to say that all the major obstacles to effectively running and managing Oracle databases on vSphere have been overcome. The performance overhead is minimal -- under 5% -- and the scalability limitations have disappeared with the introduction of vSphere 6 and the 128 vCPUs and 4 TB memory limitations of a VM. The support and licensing issues have been dismissed to the historic scrap heap of other IT red-herrings. There is simply no definable significant drawback to inhibitor to running 99.9% of all the database management systems on vSphere.

What are some features in vSphere 6 that make running Oracle an easier proposition?

The most significant components of vSphere 6 are the new limitations on the size of a VM. But the feature known as extended vMotion which allows for vMotion to occur across cluster boundaries is also a major enhancement. Check out the vSphere 6 and Oracle database scalability study here.

Next Steps

What’s new in vSphere 6 virtualization platform

New features you can look forward to in VMware vSphere 6

VMware vSphere 6 promises better storage

This was last published in July 2015

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Since Oracle states that unless you are using processor affinity or processor pinning that VMware is utilizing soft partitioning and you'll be responsible for licensing every core in a cluster that is running Oracle Enterprise CPU licensed software, are you willing to legally indemnify companies from any attempt by Oracle's legal staff to demand or sue for licensing fees due to VMware soft partitioning? Are you also willing to cover any and all legal expenses occurred as a result of your stance on licensing Oracle on VMware using soft partitioning? If yes, I would love to talk.
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