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Oracle Exalogic Virtual Configuration Review

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At Oracle OpenWorld 2010, Oracle announced the latest addition to its Engineered System portfolio, Exalogic. Oracle marketed Exalogic as:
“The World’s Only Integrated Middleware Machine Delivers Unprecedented Java Application Performance”
 
As of this writing Exalogic X5 is the latest release, and the fourth-generation Exalogic system. Today Oracle markets Exalogic as “World's Best Foundation for Applications”
 
Oracle Exalogic is a preassembled hardware and software solution engineered to provide extreme performance, reliability, and scalability with Oracle and Java applications. Exalogic consist of a Sun Rack Units populated with Sun Server X5-2 compute nodes, an Oracle ZFS storage appliance, a Cisco Catalyst switch, as well as Sun InfiniBand and Ethernet networking components, running physical or virtual Oracle Linux or Solaris x86 operating systems with Oracle and Java applications. The number of components in each Exalogic system varies based on the hardware configuration;  1/8, 1/4, 1/2 and full rack configurations.
 
From 2013 through 2015 the number of Intel processor cores doubled, which increased the cost to license Oracle software on Exalogic 50%. To address the 50% cost increases Oracle introduced Capacity On Demand and Trusted Partitions.
 
Capacity-on-demand (CoD) allowed Exalogic compute nodes to be installed with a subset of its processor cores turned off so that the Oracle software license costs could be reduced. For an Exalogic X5-2 system, a minimum of 40% of cores per compute node must be enabled. An Exalogic X5-2 compute node has 2 Intel 18-core processors, so a minimum of 14 cores per node (i.e. 7 cores in each processor) must be enabled.
 
The initial Exalogic release only supported a Physical Configuration, which hindered its adoption. The second release included both Physical and Virtual Configurations using Oracle VM for x86. The Virtual Configuration brought the benefits of virtualization to Exalogic, and Trusted Partitions. Trusted Partitions allow Oracle software to be licensed at the virtual machine level instead of the physical processor core level. Capacity-On-Demand with Trusted Partitions allow customers to right-size their Oracle software licensing with any Exalogic configuration.
 
Note: Trusted partitions require that each virtual machine using a trusted partition to be managed by Oracle Enterprise Manager.
 
Exalogic Virtual Configurations, also referred to as Virtual Data Center (vDC) utilizes both the Oracle VM for x86 server and management component. The server component is based on the open source Xen.org hypervisor, named Oracle VM server. The Xen hypervisor is a type 1 hypervisor that installs directly on hardware. Oracle makes subtle changes to the original Xen.org code that create a unique Xen distribution, which Oracle maintains and redistributes as Oracle VM server. Oracle VM server is designed to support the most demanding high I/O workloads like Oracle Databases.
 
The default management component is a traditional Oracle WebLogic application, named Oracle VM Manager. Oracle VM Manager consists of two J2EE applications using a MySQL backend, with an Oracle Application Development Framework (ADF) administrative web portal. Exalogic does not utilize the Oracle VM Manager administrative portal, the Exalogic Control Stack uses Enterprise Manager Ops Center as the primary user interface, as well as Enterprise Manager for monitoring, and application management.
 
The Exalogic Control Stack consists of Oracle VM Manager, Exalogic Control Browser User Interface (BUI), which is actually Enterprise Manager Ops Center, Enterprise Manager, as well as a hand full of command line utilities.
 

Key Features and Specifications

Exalogic does not have the feature matrix one might expect from a contemporary converged infrastructure offering. The following two tables show the Oracle, Non-Oracle, and virtualization feature matrices.
 

Oracle and Non-Oracle Support Matrix

The next tables show Exalogic’s Oracle and Non-Oracle workload, hardware and operating system support matrix.
Product
Oracle
Database
Oracle
Middleware &
Applications
Oracle
Business Intelligence
Non-Oracle
Java Applications
Oracle/Sun Hardware
Non- Oracle/Sun Hardware
Support
Oracle Linux
Non-Oracle
Operating System
Support
Oracle VM for x86 Software
 
 
 
 

Exalogic Virtual Configuration Feature Matrix

Oracle Software Product Certification and Support
Oracle Product Certification and Support
Oracle Software License Management
Hard Partitions
 
Soft Partitions
Trusted Partitions
Capacity-On-Demand
Key Features
Supported Guest Operating Systems
Oracle Linux and Solaris x86
Centralized Management
Application Management
Available with Enterprise Manager
Monitoring, Alerts and Notifications
Available with Enterprise Manager
RBAC / AD-Integration
Available with Enterprise Manager
Cross-Vendor Management
 
Browser Based Management
Self Service Portal
Available with Enterprise Manager
Chargeback
Available with Enterprise Manager
Hypervisors Patching
Virtual Machine Patching
 
Live VM Migration
Automated Live Migration
 
Power Management
 
Integrated HA (Restart VM)
VM Fault Tolerance
 
Storage Migration
 
Live VM Snapshots
 
Backup Integration API
Available with the Enterprise Manager CLI
Integrated Backup
Available with additional Oracle software and hardware
VM Templates
Replication and Site Failover
Available with Oracle Site Guard with Oracle Enterprise Manager
Virtual disk thin provisioning
Memory Dedupe
 
Memory Oversubscribe
 
CPU Oversubscribe
I/O Pass-Through (SR-IOV)
Centralized Backup
 
Disaster Recovery
Available with Oracle Site Guard with Oracle Enterprise Manager
Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI)
 
Software Defined Storage (SDS)
 
Software Defined Network (SDN)
 
Logical Volume Manager
Virtual Switches
 
V2V
 
P2V
 
Compute Node Capabilities
Max CPUs - Host
2x 18-core (36 Cores)
Max vCPUs - Host
Not published
Max Memory - Host
256
SAN Multipath
 
EMC PowerPath
 
Raw Device Mapping
 
Boot From SAN
 
Boot from USB
 
Virtual Disk Format
Raw Image Files (*.img files)
NIC Teaming
VLANs
PLANs
 
Private Networks (Xen Bridges)
 
Jumbo Frames
 
Virtual Machine Capabilities
Max vCPUs
Not published
Max Memory
246 GB
Max vDisk Size
Not published
Serial Ports
 
USB Support
 
Hot Add/Plug
 
Graphic Acceleration
 
Dynamic / Over-Commit
 
Memory Page Sharing
 
Large Pages
OVF Support
 
Scripting API
 

Acquisition and Maintenance Costs

The cost of an Exalogic system varies based on the hardware configuration;  1/8, 1/4, 1/2 and full rack configurations.
 
Note: Exalogic is sold by the Oracle middleware and hardware sales teams, and partners.

Oracle Exalogic Pricing
Configuration
Nodes/Storage
List Price
Oracle Premier Support for Systems
(Annual)
Premier
Support for
Operating
Systems
(Annual)
Eighth Rack
4/1
$250,000.00
$30,000
$20,000
Quarter Rack
8/1
$370,000.00
$44,400
$29,600
Half Rack
16/1
$600,000.00
$72,000
$48,000
Full Rack
30/1
$1,035,000.00
$124,200
$82,800
 
Notes:
  • Oracle Premier Support for Systems covers the servers and storage.
  • Premier Support for Operating Systems covers Oracle Linux and Solaris.
  • Hardware installation and software configuration services are not included.
  • Oracle Engineered System Advisory Service start at $47,500.00.
 
To use an Exalogic system, customers will need to purchase the following:
  • Exalogic Elastic Cloud Software
  • Oracle WebLogic licenses
  • Oracle Middleware licenses
  • Oracle application licenses
  • Oracle Premier Support
 

The Competition

Exalogic has no Non-Oracle competitors. Exalogic competition comes from within Oracle, via Oracle VM for x86 and SPARC/Solaris, the Oracle Private Cloud Appliance, and the Oracle Database Appliance.

Oracle VM for x86

Oracle VM for x86 has the broadest Oracle software support, the most comprehensive features, and is the only solution with 3rd party (Cisco, HP, Dell, EMC, NetApp, etc..) hardware, storage, and operating system support. With Oracle VM for x86 you can build your own high performance virtualization solution that supports not only Oracle database workloads, but also middleware, application, and business intelligence using the same compute, network and storage as your VMware systems. Oracle software on Oracle VM for x86 can be licensed at the virtual machine level as well as the physical processor level.
 
Oracle marketing, and sales do not position Oracle VM for x86 against Exalogic, but nevertheless it's a low cost high performance competitor that supports not only Oracle middleware, and application, but also database and business intelligence with hard partition based licensing.
 
Exalogic introduces a unique x86 Oracle/Sun compute, network, storage, virtualization, operating system, and management stack stack into the data center. Exalogic requires unique technical skills, and integration into existing IT Policies, Standards, and Procedures. Conversely Oracle VM for x86 software provides standardization across the Oracle applications stack using existing hardware and infrastructure.

Oracle VM for SPARC/Solaris

Oracle is aggressively trying to maintain, and grow its Oracle/Solaris install base. Oracle customers on Solaris tend to stay on Solaris. Solaris and Oracle VM for SPARC have broad Oracle software support with hard partition based licensing, and are a cost effective high performance alternative to Exalogic.
 
Exalogic introduces a unique x86 Oracle/Sun compute, network, storage, virtualization, operating system, and management stack into the data center. Exalogic requires unique technical skills, and integration into existing IT Policies, Standards, and Procedures. Conversely if you're a Solaris shop you already have a high performance compute, network, storage, virtualization, and operating system stack that supports not only Oracle middleware, and application, but also database and business intelligence with hard partition based licensing.

Oracle Private Cloud Appliance

The Oracle Private Cloud Appliance (PCA) is Oracle' only Converged Infrastructure solution that is engineered and marketed for general purpose virtualization. The Oracle Private Cloud Appliance has broad Oracle software support, 3rd party operating system support, and trusted partitions that allow customers to license Oracle software via a virtual machine’s virtual CPUs regardless of the number of physical CPUs on the compute nodes or cluster.
 
Oracle marketing, and sales do not position the Oracle Private Cloud Appliance against Exalogic, but nevertheless it's a low cost high performance Exalogic competitor with broad Oracle software support and Trusted Partitions.

The Oracle Database Appliance

As its name suggests, the Oracle Database Appliance was originally engineered for Oracle Database workloads, but now also supports Oracle middleware, and applications with Trusted Partitions.
 
As an entry level solution, the Oracle Database Appliance is a cost effective alternative that competes with Exalogic ⅛, and ¼ racks.

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