Questions & Answers to replatforming webcast

Q&AA 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.

Final thought:

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!

This post first appeared on Dirty Cache by Bart Sjerps. Copyright © 2011 – 2017. All rights reserved. Not to be reproduced for commercial purposes without written permission.

Legal case – Oracle vs customer

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Another example of Oracle apparently ignoring all business ethics and charging a customer €300,000.- for an environment where common sense leads to a more reasonable license fee of €4,000.-

I always wonder why customers (even very large and powerful ones) accept this behaviour without a fight and pay the fines or avoid it by buying into Oracle’s stack – while they would prefer a technical superior solution from another vendor. I don’t mind competition – it’s healthy for everyone – but I’ve seen too many examples where customers knowingly go for the mediocre solution because they are scared of the bullying by their database vendor if they go for the best one.

But this time it seems one (Dutch!) customer actually does not accept being pushed around and starts a legal battle with Oracle on insane licensing rules.

Copy/paste from the Linkedin article of Licenseconsulting:

“Some time ago we created a review report for a rather new and small Oracle client, who purchased Oracle software licenses in order to run them on a VMware platform. According to the client the (additional) cost of running Oracle on vCenter would be €4000.-. Oracle’s legal counsel confirmed in writing that the cost would be almost €300.000.- using VMware vCenter, and just a fraction of that cost if the client would use OracleVM instead.”

Read the entire post here

A must read if you are concerned with Oracle on VMware license issues.

 

Straight Talk on Oracle on VMware licensing

Last year on march 19, 2015, Database Trends and Applications (DBTA) hosted a webcast covering the licensing part of running Oracle on VMware.

As DBTA archives old webcasts after one year, I asked for permission to re-publish because I think it’s too valuable to have it hidden in the digital eternity (also why I have put it on a separate static blog page instead of a normal blogpost).

Speakers: Don Sullivan of VMware, Dave Welch of House of Brick, Daniel Hesselink of License Consulting, and Dan Young of Indiana University.

Sponsors: VMware, IOUG

The video is about an hour so take your time – but it is a definite MUST READ if you want to learn the truth about Oracle/VMware licensing. In the video it is explained how to value certain licensing documents, how to set up your VMware farm to avoid compliance problems, and most of all, it effectively handles a lot of the Oracle on VMware licensing FUD.

Get a cup of coffee, and view the webcast here: Straight Talk on Oracle on VMware licensing.

Enjoy!

 

This post first appeared on Dirty Cache by Bart Sjerps. Copyright © 2011 – 2016. All rights reserved. Not to be reproduced for commercial purposes without written permission.

Oracle LMS response to licensing on VMware

fineprintLast week I was in London to attend the UK Oracle User Group licensing event. After a number of sessions with excellent material leading to very interesting discussions (one was showing – with permission – some of my own content, with the comment that it saved this customer “a shitload of money” – thanks John for the mention :), there was a session from Oracle LMS UK (License Management Services).

A few interesting points from their presentation are worth sharing as otherwise you would not get much insight in the working methods of LMS.
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Oracle on VMware: Caging the license dragon

Virtualizing databases has huge financial and operational benefits – in particular with Oracle, where physically deployed database servers are typically heavily under-utilized which leads to huge over-spending on license cost.

Of course poor efficiency on database servers leads to higher processing requirements, to higher number of CPUs purchased, and in turn to massive additional license and maintenance revenue for the software vendor.

No surprise that software vendors attempt to stop or delay efforts to reduce poor efficiency in any way they can, using all the tricks in the playbook plus a number of dirty tricks that you will never find in books on business ethics.

mouse-trap-helmet-smallThe latest roadblock Oracle has come up with is what we’ll refer to as the VMotion trap.

Disclaimer: I will not be liable for any false, inaccurate, inappropriate or incomplete information presented in this post. If you want to use the information in this post, verify the legal implications yourself or with advise from an independent, specialized 3rd party.

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Baking a cake: trading CPU for IO?

Sometimes I hear people claim that by using faster storage, you can save on database licenses. True or false?

The idea is that many database servers are suffering from IO wait – which actually means that the processors are waiting for data to be transferred to or from storage – and in the meantime, no useful work can be done. Given the expensive licenses that are needed for running commercial database software, usually licensed per CPU core, this then leads to loss of efficiency.

Let’s see if we can visualise the problem here with a common world example – Baking a cake.
 
 

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Interview with Madora

A while ago I was interviewed by Kay Williams of Madora Consulting.

Madora Interview

As many customers are overwhelmed by licensing, audit and compliancy issues, I highly recommend my EMEA readers to reach out to Madora if you need independent assistance in that area.

In the interview we discussed a bit of my background, the challenges my customers are facing and how we help them, a bit on the future of Oracle and EMC as well as things like Cloud computing, how EMC sometimes competes with Oracle, my views on Oracle Engineered Systems, and where the two companies are fundamentally different. It has been out there for a while but I was enjoying vacation so I haven’t mentioned it before, but here it is :-)

Expected reading time about 10 minutes. Many thanks to Kay for the interview!

Enjoy: Madora – Interview with Bart Sjerps of EMC

This post first appeared on Dirty Cache by Bart Sjerps. Copyright © 2011 – 2015. All rights reserved. Not to be reproduced for commercial purposes without written permission.

Introducing Outrun for Oracle

Overview

outrun-logo-transparentIf you want to get your hands dirty with Oracle database, the first thing you have to do is build a system that actually runs Oracle database. Unless you have done that several times before, chances are that this will take considerable time spent on trial-and-error, several reinstalls, fixing install problems and dependencies and so on. The time it takes for someone who is reasonably experienced on Linux, but has no prior Oracle knowledge, would probably range from a full working day (8 hours, best case) to many days. I also have witnessed people actually giving up.

Even for experienced users, doing the whole process manually over and over again is very time consuming, and deploying five or more systems by hand is a guarantee that each one of them is slightly different – and thus a candidate for subtle problems that happen on one but not the others. Virtualization and consolidation is all about consistency and making many components as if they were only one.

There are literally dozens of web pages (such as blog posts) that contain detailed instructions on how to set up Oracle on a certain platform. Some examples:

The Gruff DBA – Oracle 12cR1 12.1.0.1 2-node RAC on CentOS 6.4 on VMware Workstation 9 – Introduction
Pythian – How to Install Oracle 12c RAC: A Step-by-Step Guide
Martin Bach – Installing Oracle 12.1.0.2 RAC on Oracle Linux 7-part 1

Even if you follow the guidelines in such articles, you are likely to run into problems due to running a different OS, different Oracle version, network problems, and so on. Not to mention that in many cases the “best practices” provided by various vendors are often not honoured because they tend to be overlooked due to information overload…

Some people have hinted to use automated deployment tools such as Ansible (i.e. Frits Hoogland – Using Ansible for executing Oracle DBA tasks) but there are (as far as I know) no complete out-of-the-box solutions.

EMC has published several white papers and reference architectures with instructions on how to set up Oracle to run best on EMC. Still, some of the papers are not a step-by-step manual so you have to extract configuration details manually from various (sometimes conflicting) sources and convert them in configuration file entries, commands, etc.

So I decided a while ago to go for a different approach, and build a virtual appliance that does all of these things for you while still offering (limited) flexibility in different platform and versions, and preferences for configuration.

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The Oracle Parking Garage

Oracle parking garage

(Thanks to House of Brick Technologies)

 

Fun with Linux UDEV and ASM: Using UDEV to create ASM disk volumes

floppy-disksBecause of the many discussions and confusion around the topic of partitioning, disk alignment and it’s brother issue, ASM disk management, hereby an explanation on how to use UDEV, and as an extra, I present a tool that manages some of this stuff for you.

The questions could be summarized as follows:

  • When do we have issues with disk alignment and why?
  • What methods are available to set alignment correctly and to verify?
  • Should we use ASMlib or are there alternatives? If so, which ones and how to manage those?

I’ve written 2 blogposts on the matter of alignment so I am not going to repeat myself on the details. The only thing you need to remember is that classic “MS-DOS” disk partitioning, by default, starts the first partition on the disk at the wrong offset (wrong in terms of optimal performance). The old partitioning scheme was invented when physical spinning rust was formatted with 63 sectors of 512 bytes per disk track each. Because you need some header information for boot block and partition table, the smart guys back then thought it was a good idea to start the first block of the first data partition on track 1 (instead of track 0). These days we have completely different physical disk geometries (and sometimes even different sector sizes, another interesting topic) but we still have the legacy of the old days.

If you’re not using an Intel X86_64 based operating system then chances are you have no alignment issues at all (the only exception I know is Solaris if you use “fdisk”, similar problem). If you use newer partition methods (GPT) then the issue is gone (but many BIOSes, boot methods and other tools cannot handle GPT). As MSDOS partitioning is limited to 2 TiB (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Master_boot_record) it will probably be a thing of the past in a few years but for now we have to deal with it.

Wrong alignment causes some reads and writes to be broken in 2 pieces causing extra IOPS. I don’t have hard numbers but a long time ago I was told it could be an overhead of up to 20%. So we need to get rid of it.

ASM storage configuration

ASM does not use OS file systems or volume managers but has its own way of managing volumes and files. It “eats” block devices and these block devices need to be read/write for the user/group that runs the ASM instance, as well as the user/group that runs Oracle database processes (a public secret is that ASM is out-of-band and databases write directly to ASM data chunks). ASM does not care what the name or device numbers are of a block device, neither does it care whether it is a full disk, a partition, or some other type of device as long as it behaves as a block device under Linux (and probably other UNIX flavors). It does not need partition tables at all but writes its own disk signatures to the volumes it gets.

[ Warning: Lengthy technical content, Rated T, parental advisory required ]

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