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advice on virtualizing oracle servers

Posted on 2014-12-16
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Last Modified: 2015-01-12
we currently have 2 oracle servers running on physical hosts
each box has 16gig ram and 2x12 core cpus (24)
currently the load is not too much
we were thinking of virtualizing these servers for better redundancy etc
we are running vpshere 5.5 on 5 hosts
our hosts have 256gig ram each and 2 x 10 cores cpus (20)
my concerns are around performance and licensing
could i license just 2 hosts for oracle requiring 2 x 2 socket licenses which would be the same licensing costs i currently have
then run both my oracle servers on 1 host and if that host fails they use HA to come up on second host
would the fact that both oracle servers currently have a total of 48 cores be a problem if they were running on 1 esx host with 20 cores
also would i have to dedicate these 2 hosts only to oracle and not allow any other vms to run
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Question by:dougdog
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by:gheist
gheist earned 100 total points
ID: 40502166
No, you need to licence all hosts where vms can go via vmotion.
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Author Comment

by:dougdog
ID: 40502173
i only need to license 2 hosts as i will have drs rules in place that only allow the 2 virtual oracle servers to run on 2 named hosts
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by:gheist
ID: 40502177
That assumption is not valid for Oracle. if in doubt talk with Oracle Sales Rep.
Isolated clusters will be OK, DRS rules in same cluster not.
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by:Alexander Eßer [Alex140181]
ID: 40502178
Please keep in mind that Oracle changed licensing considering VMware 5.1.

There are many hits, one's here:
https://communities.vmware.com/message/2433376
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by:Alexander Eßer [Alex140181]
ID: 40502179
if in doubt talk with Oracle Sales Rep.
Rather talk to an expert for/at LMS ;-)
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by:robocat
robocat earned 100 total points
ID: 40502193
First of all, I'm assuming that you're running Standard Edition (which has socket licenses) and not Enterprise Edition (which requires core licensing)?

If you create a separate vSphere cluster consisting of only 2 hosts, then you can continue on the existing licenses (assuming Standard Edition).

Otherwise you need to license all hosts in the vSphere cluster.

If you go for the 2 host cluster, there's no reason why you can't spread the active Oracle hosts over both machines.
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Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE) earned 100 total points
ID: 40502274
Oracle has to "prove" you are not running your VMs, on all your cores or hosts in a farm.

We've had discussions with Oracle, and Oracle Sales wanted to ensure, that all hosts and there cores were licensed in a 50 Host ESXi Farm!

Oracle Sales, wanted them to purchase 1000 Oracle Licenses!

The solution was to ensure that the Oracle VMs could only run on those two ESXi hosts, by using Affinity Rules to pin the VMs to the Hosts - solution accepted by Client Legal Department, if it was challenged by Oracle, Oracle accepted this!

by way of screenshots and configuration, and it's up to Oracle to prove otherwise! (the the Legal people stated they would lose, because efforts had been made to ensure, that they were no in breach of Oracle licensing!)

You can also partition this way to get round it, present LUNs to only two ESXi hosts in the cluster, and that way, those VMs can only run on two hosts, because the other hosts do not have access to the LUNs!
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Author Comment

by:dougdog
ID: 40502277
yes im running standard
my sales rep told me that as long as i had rules in place to only allow the oracle servers to run on 2 hosts that was all i had to license
also do i need to buy 2 dedicated hosts or can i run other non oracle servers onthe hosts
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Author Comment

by:dougdog
ID: 40502283
yes what Andrew has said sounds correct as thats what sales people told me
ok from a performance point of view where do i stand
do i eed to dedicate these hosts to oracle
or can i run other vms?
currently my 2 physical oracle servers have 24 cores each
and my esx host has 20
is the best practice to buy 2 dedicated hosts
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by:gheist
ID: 40502290
You can run anything else on free memory on those hosts.
No need to buy anything new (provided existing oracle servers are ESXi compatible)
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LVL 117
ID: 40502305
For your environment, with these heavy hitters, I would monitor performance.

You may not find you get the performance required when they are virtual, and return to physical!
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Author Comment

by:dougdog
ID: 40502312
if i were to buy to high spec hosts would i be ok
do i need to jusy monitor cpu and ram on the physical for a week or so
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Author Comment

by:dougdog
ID: 40502322
is virtualizing them maybe a bad idea?
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LVL 117
ID: 40502336
RAM is RAM, whether physical or  virtual.

The problem is hypervised vCPU does not equal a physical core in the real world.

So your 24 physical cores at present on your physical box, may not equal 24 cores on a virtual box!

and when you consider the cost of licensing two HYPERVISOR licenses per HOST, just for two single VMs, the costs do not add up!

BUT, it depends on the reason of why virtuaslise!

Where is the current performance bottleneck ?

16GB of RAM, I've got 64GB in my desktop!

get some more RAM..... if processing is the bottleneck, this may require a change of server....

HA and Availbility, easily sorted with

Double Take HA!

Two physical servers, and Server 1 replicating to Server 2, in the event Server 1 fails, Server 2 takes over!

Simple....
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Author Comment

by:dougdog
ID: 40502354
i was told that if i license a host then i can run multiple oracle servers on it
so im thinking license 2 esxi hosts
this means it will be the same licesne cost as currently
the reasons are
everything virtualized
easily add storage when needed
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LVL 117
ID: 40502378
That very much depends on whether the performance is worse on a Host ESXi server.

Virtualisation is a Compromise!

You could argue, connect the physical servers to a SAN, that will allow the easy addition of storage!
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Author Comment

by:dougdog
ID: 40502382
is it correct that if a esx host is licesned that you can run multiple oracle servers on it
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LVL 117
ID: 40502393
With an ESXi host licensed or unlicensed, you can run as many virtual machines as the host has resources. e.g. CPU and Memory.
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Author Comment

by:dougdog
ID: 40502406
so the way forward would be
2 esx hosts in a cluster
both hosts have 2 x 10 core processors
license 1 of the hosts with 2 cpus as there are only 2 sockets
run both my oracle servers on it
in the event of a hardware failure i could migrate both oracle vms to the other hosts and use the 10 day rule
so my licesning would actually work out cheaper than paying for 2 physical servers running 2 cpus each
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LVL 117
ID: 40502413
That is correct.
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Expert Comment

by:robocat
ID: 40502424
For standard edition, you can run as many virtual Oracle instances as you want as long as the hardware host is properly licensed.

If your load is not very high (as you say yourself) then you probably need not worry too much about virtual performance. Make sure you have plenty of RAM and don't oversubscribe on RAM or CPU. And a lot depends of course on the performance of your SAN.

At our company, we do run dedicated hardware to avoid discussions about virtual performance (and avoid discussions about the licensing), although this is strictly not necessary if vSphere is carefully configured.
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by:gheist
ID: 40502426
But even being correct it is a step backwards in terms of resilience as now you have single point of failure - the single host.
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Author Comment

by:dougdog
ID: 40502437
but with vmware then we just power up on another host (unlicensed we run for less than 10 days)
or we license 2 esx hosts
both esx hosts have 2 sockets so this will work out the same price we currently pay for our 2 physical servers with 2 sockets each
then we can have a rule that says to seperate both our virtual oracle servers
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Author Comment

by:dougdog
ID: 40502443
"At our company, we do run dedicated hardware to avoid discussions about virtual performance (and avoid discussions about the licensing), although this is strictly not necessary if vSphere is carefully configured2

Exactly right
if this was not dedicated oracle would get blamed for slowing down all other apps
and all other apps would get blamed for slowing down oracle
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by:slightwv (䄆 Netminder)
slightwv (䄆 Netminder) earned 200 total points
ID: 40502465
Here is the #1 reason to not run Oracle on VMware:
Support Position for Oracle Products Running on VMWare Virtualized Environments (Doc ID 249212.1)

In a nutshell:
Oracle will only provide support if it is a known bug or can be reproduced in a supported environment.  Otherwise you will be referred to VMware to get support.

Not sure about anyone here but when my production database goes down at 3AM, I would want support from the actual provider of the software.
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by:Alexander Eßer [Alex140181]
ID: 40502480
You could argue, connect the physical servers to a SAN, that will allow the easy addition of storage!
Caution here! Keyword is "Remote Mirroring" (regarding licensing)!

Totally agree with slightwv's last comment on Oracle's support position towards VMware based environments. In first instance, I'd go for "Hard Partitioning", second best would be "Soft Part.", but with a officially supported software.
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by:robocat
ID: 40502498
The supported/unsupported discussion is not as big a problem as it seems.

In the real world, Oracle will not refuse support if the bug is not performance related.  Too many companies run a virtual Oracle for Oracle to refuse support for non-performance issues.

If you have a performance issue, Oracle might ask you to reproduce the problem on a physical server. This does not mean that you need to migrate your entire environment to physical, you probably could simple reproduce the issue in a lab environment.
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by:slightwv (䄆 Netminder)
slightwv (䄆 Netminder) earned 200 total points
ID: 40502517
>> Oracle will not refuse support if the bug is not performance related.

Want to bet?

I run development and test in a virtual environment and had Oracle Support stop working on a 'non-performance' issue as soon as they realized I was virtual.

It wasn't until I 'proved' to them it was a bug by reproducing it on a physical machine that they continued working the issue.

>> you probably could simple reproduce the issue in a lab environment.

Care to bet your job on that one?

I had a row corruption issue in production once that required Support to help fix.  Since it was specific to production data it could not be reproduced in a 'lab environment'.

Personally, I would not risk running unsupported in a production environment but every DBA has a different level of risk they are willing to accept.
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by:gheist
ID: 40502529
And when you get back to vmware for Oracle support questions they refer to published best practices document - namely no AMM, no Cloudcontrol etc - more like oracle DB 9
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