Sunday, 3 May 2009

Oracle support backlashing

Jeff Browning, an EMC employee has raised some exceptionally great points on the current state of affairs that surrounds Oracle support within Virtualised environments. Within his post is a simplified view on why he feels the current support model or more should I say the lack of support model at Oracle is technically floored and really not about the actual technology and more about the corporation building an agenda to basically monopolise and gain more revenue, read it as it sets some ideas running in your head.

Being an early adopter of Vmware Virtualisation has meant that in the past I have faced this type of support hurdle many a time and felt of the same opinion, one example being SAP, from the way I see it, it took SAP large amounts of use case and almost eating the dog food themselves first internally to gain trust with ESX 2 being used to host its main B2C training and demo suites.

The scalable benefits of ESX VI3 arrived with larger than 3.6GB of addressable RAM per VM, multiple CPU's and it was then the start of them being able to comfortably provide customers with full blown production support for running SAP within a Virtualised environment. Microsoft is another one, they have in the last year introduced the SVVP program to ensure that Microsoft software customers play straight dice and align MS software versions to the latest releases and service pack revisions to gain break fix support from them. Although larger enterprises were able to gain acknowledgement for support entitlement under their Premier support agreement it was always a grey area of what would actually happen when the inevitable phone call had to be made and you had to migrate or replicate a problem with the software which was running say 10000 Exchange accounts! (it just wasnt practical lets face it).

In regards to why we still have a lack of clear positive Oracle alliances is that they more than likely still see Vmware (and other Hypervisors or soft parition mechanisms) as a threat to licensing and associated revenue, this is one of or if not the most important part of Oracles business model. Run considerably more Oracle workloads on less physical processors or run Oracle within a DRS cluster and that's less revenue for them. On the licensing front they do seem to have tailored licensing for VMware (bit funny as its not supported) to mean that you have to license ALL possible hosts that a VM running Oracle could run upon, as you can gather this is just ridiculous and almost a non starter.

When it comes to aligning Oracle to any goal or hope of a complete virtualised datacentre you can see its just not going to fly and add up on your business case (or at least be easy at the moment), the licensing model is no doubt designed for large mainframe Iron which has no dynamic virtualisation capability such as Live migrate or resource scheduling. Interestingly however they now support LDOM's which is a Hypervisor based Virtualisation tool (this was predate the SUN acquisition), I can't find if they have tailored licensing plan for this yet (they do for CMT Sparc processors) but this is a Hypervisor so no technical issues or arguements exists here then with the hypervisor indirection being used so this just increases the suspicion that Licensing rules the roost over virtualisation support.

Hopefully in future we will see some real movement in Oracle licensing schemes and acknowledged support, it is obvious that they are dependant on each other. Other issues arise within larger enterprises as it is hard to determine and show your data/dba teams that running Oracle on VMware is a reality, I could probably add loads of detail on how and what you can do to achieve this but will save for another rainy day.

The whole support, licensing and 100% virtualised datacentre vision will start to become more interesting when Vsphere arrives with all of its great scalable benefits along with the high availability benefits that are brought to organisations that can enable you to consolidate Tier 1 workloads, This was what happened in my example of SAP and others around release of ESX 3 so hopefully Oracle will acknowledge this and can forklift customers into building enough revolt to get Oracle on the straight and narrow and get focused on who is the most important person at the end of the day.....the paying customer.

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