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Oracle Private Cloud Appliance Review

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On June 24, 2014, Oracle announced the latest addition to its Engineered System portfolio, the Virtual Compute Appliance (VCA). In 2015 the Virtual Compute Appliance was re-branded as the Private Cloud Appliance (PCA). Oracle markets the Private Cloud Appliance as:
“A Turnkey Converged Infrastructure Solution for Private Clouds and Virtually Any Application”
 
Oracle positions the Private Cloud Appliance against market leading converged infrastructure solutions that integrate the best-in-class compute, network, and storage technologies. The market leading converged infrastructure solutions offer the best-in-class Cisco compute and network components, VMware software, and EMC, or NetApp storage, including broad operating system, application, and VDI support.
 
The Private Cloud Appliance consist of a Sun Rack II 1242 base rack with 2 dedicated Sun Server X5-2 controllers, an Oracle ZS3-ES storage appliance, Oracle Virtual Networking, as well as Sun InfiniBand and Ethernet networking components, running Oracle Linux, Red Hat Linux, CentOS, Solaris x86, and Windows virtual machines. A single Private Cloud Appliance Rack can support up to 25 Sun Server X5-2 compute nodes. The Sun Server X5-2 compute nodes are sold separately.
 
The Private Cloud Appliance supports Trusted Partitions. Trusted Partitions allow Oracle software to be licensed at the virtual machine level instead of the physical processor core level. Trusted Partitions allow customers to right-size their Oracle software licensing with any Private Cloud Appliance configuration.
 
Note: Trusted partitions require that each virtual machine using a trusted partition to be managed by Oracle Enterprise Manager.
 
The Private Cloud Appliance 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 Oracle VM for x86 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. The Private Cloud Appliance uses the Oracle PCA Dashboard as the primary user interfaces, Oracle VM Manager, as well as Enterprise Manager for monitoring, and application management.

Key Features and Specifications

The Private Cloud Appliance is the only Oracle Engineered System with contemporary Converged Infrastructure Solution features, and broad Oracle software support.

Oracle and Non-Oracle Support Matrix

The next table shows the Private Cloud Appliance 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
 
 

The Private Cloud Appliance Virtualization 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, Red Hat Enterprise linux, CentOS, Windows, and Solaris x86[b]
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
Integrated Backup
Available with additional Oracle software and hardware
VM Templates
Replication and Site Failover
Available with ROAD for Oracle VM, and 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
 
Max Memory - Host
256 GB
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
PVM: 256 PVHVM: 128[c]
Max Memory
246 GB
Max vDisk Size
OCFS2: 64 TB NFS: 10 TB
Serial Ports
 
USB Support
 
Hot Add/Plug
 
Graphic Acceleration
 
Dynamic / Over-Commit
 
Memory Page Sharing
 
Large Pages
OVF Support
Scripting API
[b] Supported Guest Operating Systems:
Oracle Linux Release 7.x
Oracle Linux Release 6.x
Oracle Linux Release 5.x
Oracle Linux Release 4.x
Oracle Solaris 11
Oracle Solaris 10
Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7.x
Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6.x
Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5.x
Red Hat Enterprise Linux 4.x
CentOS 6.x
CentOS 5.x
CentOS 4.x
SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 11.x
Microsoft Windows Server 2012 R2
Microsoft Windows Server 2012
Microsoft Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1
Microsoft Windows Server 2008 SP2
Microsoft Windows Server 2003 R2 SP2
Microsoft Windows 8.1
Microsoft Windows 8
Microsoft Windows 7 SP1
Microsoft Windows Vista SP2
 
[c] Oracle VM supports two unique virtualization modes, paravirtualization mode (PVM mode) and hardware virtualization mode (HVM & PVHVM). Windows and Solaris x86 only support HVM and PVHVM modes, Linux supports PVM/HVM and PVHVM. Oracle VM Servers can support both PVM mode and HVM/PVHVM mode simultaneously on a single compute node.
 
Acquisition and Maintenance Costs
 
The Private Cloud Appliance consists of a base rack with two control nodes, and one ZFS Storage appliance. Compute nodes are sold separately one node at a time.
 
Note: The Private Cloud Appliance is sold by the Oracle hardware sales team, and partners.
 
Configuration
Nodes
List Price
Oracle Premier Support for Systems
(Annual)
Premier
Support for
Operating
Systems
(Annual)
Base Rack
2
$117,400.00
$14,088
$9,392
ZFS Storage System
1
$46,100.00
$2,136
$1,424
Virtual Compute Appliance X5-2 Server
1
$17,800.00
$2,136
$1,424
 
To use an Private Cloud Appliance, customers will need to purchase the following:
  • Oracle Premier Support
Notes:
  • Oracle Premier Support for Systems covers the servers and storage.
  • Premier Support for Operating Systems covers Oracle Linux, Redhat Linux, CentOS, and Solaris.
  • Hardware installation and software configuration services are not included.
 
To run Oracle software on an Private Cloud Appliance, customers will need to purchase the following:
  • Oracle Database licenses
  • Oracle WebLogic licenses
  • Oracle Middleware licenses
  • Oracle application licenses
 

The Competition

Oracle positions the Private Cloud Appliance against market leading Converged Infrastructure solutions. Unlike the market leading Converged Infrastructure solutions that use widely adopted best-in-class compute, network, and storage technologies from industry leaders Cisco, EMC, NetApp, and VMware with broad application, and VDI support, the Private Cloud Appliance introduces a unique Oracle/Sun compute, network, storage, and virtualization stack with broad Oracle application and operating system support, without VDI. The Private Cloud Appliance is the ideal single Oracle hosting platform, but fails to compete against the market leading Converged Infrastructure solutions that target Non-Oracle environments.

The “Oracle on Oracle” approach resulted in an Oracle centric Converged Infrastructure solution that is missing key Non-Oracle functionally. For example, the Private Cloud Appliance adds significant value to Oracle software deployments leveraging functionality from products across Oracle’s hardware, storage, application, and management stack. The aforementioned Oracle  features add no value for Non-Oracle environments, thus limiting Private Cloud Appliance value to Oracle deployments.

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