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Oracle VM for x86 Review

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At Oracle OpenWorld 2007, Oracle announced its entry into the x86 server virtualization market with the first release of Oracle VM for x86. Oracle marketed Oracle VM for x86:
“Faster, Cheaper and Scalable Server Virtualization; Fully Supported for Deploying Oracle and Linux
 
Oracle today announced Oracle® VM, server virtualization software which supports both Oracle and non-Oracle applications. Oracle VM offers scalable, low-cost server virtualization that is up to three times more efficient than existing products from other vendors. Key Oracle products including Oracle Database, Oracle Fusion Middleware and Oracle Applications are certified with Oracle VM.”
 
 
Oracle VM for x86 is Oracle's leading edge virtualization software that was designed to make Oracle databases, middleware and applications easier to deploy, support, and license, on commodity x86 hardware. With Oracle VM for x86 software you can build your own high performance Oracle virtualization solution using the same compute, network and storage as your VMware systems managed by Oracle VM Manager, Enterprise Manager, or by OpenStack.
 
Oracle software running on Oracle VM for x86 can be licensed at the virtual machine level as well as the physical processor level. Licensing is at the virtual machine level is referred to as hard partitions, and at the physical processor level as soft partitions.
 
Oracle offers commercial support for Oracle VM for x86, and OpenStack on third-party hardware, bundled with Sun hardware, Exadata, Exalogic, Exalytics, the Oracle Database Appliance, and the Private Cloud Appliance
 
Note: Oracle VM for x86 is the default virtualization platform used for Exadata, Exalogic, Exalytics, the Oracle Database Appliance, and the Private Cloud Appliance.
 
Oracle VM for x86 consists of a server component, and a 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. Oracle VM Manager can be installed on Oracle Linux and Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5U5+, and 6+ x86_64. Oracle VM for x86 support includes a limited-use license for the MySQL Database and WebLogic, as long as they are “only” used for Oracle VM Manager.
 
Oracle VM uses the concept of a "server pool" to group together and centrally manage one or more server pools. If more than one location exists, Oracle VM server pools may be dispersed to different locations managed by a local, or a centralized Oracle VM Manager instance. Oracle VM server pools can also be managed via Enterprise Manager with a plug-in named the Oracle VM Infrastructure Cloud. Oracle VM servers pools can be added to Enterprise Manager by registering Oracle VM Manager.
 
The Oracle VM Infrastructure Cloud provides centralized management, monitoring, alerting for all objects managed by Oracle VM Manager. The Oracle VM Infrastructure Cloud also includes a self service portal to deliver Oracle VM for x86 virtual machine templates, and assemblies in a Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) delivery format. A right to use license for the Oracle VM Infrastructure Cloud is bundled with Oracle VM for x86 support.
 
The next table contrasts the high-level features from Oracle VM Manager, and the Enterprise Manager Oracle VM Infrastructure Cloud.
Capabilities
Oracle VM Manager
Enterprise Manager
Centralized Oracle VM Server Pool Lifecycle Management (Oracle VM Servers, Server Pools, Networks, Storage, Virtual Machines, Templates, & Assemblies)
Self Service Provisioning
  • Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) virtual machine template provisioning
 
Oracle Application Lifecycle Management
  • Patching & Provisioning
  • Monitoring, Alerting, and Notifications
  • Help Desk Ticketing
 
 

Oracle VM with OpenStack

Oracle VM servers managed by OpenStack have an entirely different features than Oracle VM servers managed by Oracle VM Manager or Enterprise Manager. For example, Oracle’s virtualization portfolio leverages Oracle VM for x86 for virtualization, and relies on a variety of additional Engineered Systems, Oracle software, hardware and storage products for network and storage virtualization, availability, fault tolerance, backup and recovery, data replication, and disaster recovery. Each feature is sold separately by its respected Oracle sales team.
 
Oracle VM servers managed by OpenStack have the entire OpenStack feature set that includes software defined networking (SDN), software defined storage (SDS) including object, block, file, and scale-out storage, high availability, fault tolerance, a self service portal with Infrastructure as a Service delivery, and much more... OpenStack support is included as part of Oracle Premier Support for Oracle Linux, Oracle VM, and Systems.
 
Note: OpenStack support most of the contemporary hypervisors such as VMware, Hyper-V, Oracle VM, Xen, KVM, and many more.
 
One of the advantages of using OpenStack is the number of storage and compute options, ranging from traditional SAN/NAS block, and file storage, to hyper-converged scale-out storage. For example, along with SAN, or NAS storage, OpenStack Oracle VM compute nodes can be deployed as hyper-converged compute and storage servers with Ceph. Ceph can aggregate, stripe, and replicate local storage across multiple servers. Ceph is a unified, distributed, replicated open source storage solution that is OpenStack integrated. Oracle VM servers managed by Oracle software are limited to traditional local non-clustered storage, SAN/NAS block, and file storage without hyper-converged capabilities.
 
Other advantages of using OpenStack with Oracle VM is software defined networking (SDN), also referred to as network virtualization with Open vSwitch. Open vSwitch has been included in Oracle VM server for quite a long time, but it was never exposed due to the 2012 Xsigo acquisition. The Xsigo software defined network and storage technologies have gone through many changes at Oracle.  The Xsigo technologies found a home in the Oracle Private Cloud Appliance (PCA). Oracle VM with OpenStack along with the Oracle Private Cloud Appliance are the only two products in Oracle’s virtualization portfolio with software defined network and storage.
 

Key Features and Specifications

The following two tables show the Oracle, Non-Oracle, and virtualization feature matrices.
 

Oracle and Non-Oracle Support Matrix

The next table shows Oracle VM for x86’s Oracle and Non-Oracle workload, hardware and operating system support matrix.
Product
Oracle
Database
Oracle
Middleware &
Applications
Oracle
Business Intelligence
Non-Oracle
Workloads
Oracle/Sun Hardware
[a]Non- Oracle/Sun Hardware
Support
Oracle Linux
[b]Non-Oracle
Operating System
Support
Oracle VM for x86 Software
 
[a]Oracle VM for x86 Non-Oracle/Sun Hardware Support Details:
 

Oracle VM for x86 Release 3.4 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 the Enterprise Manager and OpenStack
RBAC / AD-Integration
Available with Enterprise Manager and OpenStack
Cross-Vendor Management
Available with OpenStack
Browser Based Management
Self Service Portal
Available with Enterprise Manager and OpenStack
Chargeback
Available with Enterprise Manager and OpenStack
Hypervisors Patching
Virtual Machine Patching
 
Live VM Migration
Automated Live Migration
Power Management
Integrated HA (Restart VM)
Available with clustered Oracle VM Server Pools
VM Fault Tolerance
 
Storage Migration
Only with local storage (experimental)
Live VM Snapshots
Available with OCFS2 storage
Backup Integration API
Integrated Backup
 
VM Templates
Replication and Site Failover
Available with ROAD for Oracle VM and Oracle Site Guard with Oracle Enterprise Manager
Virtual disk thin provisioning
Available with OCFS2 storage
Memory Dedupe
 
Memory Oversubscribe
 
CPU Oversubscribe
I/O Pass-Through (SR-IOV)
Available with OpenStack
Centralized Backup
 
Disaster Recovery
Available with ROAD for Oracle VM and Oracle Site Guard with Oracle Enterprise Manager
Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI)
 
Software Defined Storage (SDS)
Available with OpenStack
Software Defined Network (SDN)
Available with OpenStack
Logical Volume Manager
Available with OpenStack
Virtual Switches
Available with OpenStack
V2V
Available with OVF files
P2V
Oracle VM Server Capabilities
Max CPUs - Host
288 (Tested) 384 (Designed)
Max vCPUs - Host
4096
Max Memory - Host
6 TB
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
PVM: 500,000 MB [c]
PVHVM: 2,000,000 MB [c]
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 x86_64 server that has either Intel or AMD virtualization technologies.
 

Acquisition and Maintenance Costs

Oracle VM for x86 does not require the purchase of any licenses. Oracle offers commercial support for Oracle VM for x86. Oracle VM for x86 support is included in Oracle Premier Support for Systems. Oracle also offers commercial support for Oracle VM for x86, and OpenStack on third-party hardware, bundled with Sun hardware, Exadata, Exalogic, Exalytics, the Oracle Database Appliance, and the Private Cloud Appliance.
 
Support for Oracle VM for x86 on third-party hardware is sold in two packages:
  1. Oracle VM Premier Limited support for x86_64 servers with up to two sockets costs $599.00 per server, per year.
  2. Oracle VM Premier support for x86_64 servers with more than two sockets costs $1,199.00 per server, per year.
 
Support for Oracle VM for x86 on Oracle/Sun x86 hardware is bundled with Premier Support for Systems. Premier Support for Systems costs 12% of the net Sun system purchase price and includes comprehensive support for the system hardware and firmware, as well as operating system support for Oracle Solaris, Oracle Linux, and Oracle VM. Along with hardware and firmware support, Premier Support for Systems includes operating system support for one or more virtual instances Oracle Linux, and Solaris x86 on Oracle VM for x86.
 
Oracle VM for x86 servers, pools, and resources can be managed by Oracle VM Manager, and Enterprise Manager, or OpenStack. A right to use licensing is bundled with Oracle VM support for Oracle VM Manager and Enterprise Manager.
 
Oracle OpenStack for Oracle Linux support is included as part of Oracle Linux Premier Support, Oracle VM Premier Support, and Oracle Premier Support for Systems.
 
Support for Oracle Linux, Red Hat Enterprise Linux, CentOS, Solaris x86, and Windows virtual machine operating systems on Oracle VM for x86 must be purchased separately.
 
Note: Oracle VM for x86 is sold by the Oracle Linux Global Business Unit, and partners.
 

The Competition

Oracle does not test, certify, or support Oracle software on Non-Oracle x86 virtualization platforms. That makes Oracle VM for x86 the only certified x86 virtualization solution for Oracle software. The only competition to Oracle VM for x86 is Oracle Engineered Systems.
 
Within Oracle’s virtualization portfolio 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 running on Oracle VM for x86 can be licensed at the virtual machine level as well as the physical processor level.
 
Each Engineered System introduces a unique Oracle/Sun compute, network, storage, virtualization, operating system, and management stack into the data center. Each Engineered System 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 x86 also requires unique technical skills, Oracle knowhow, and integration into existing IT Policies, Standards, and Procedures. The difference between Engineered Systems and Oracle VM for x86 is that each Engineered System introduces an entirely new Oracle/Sun compute, network, storage, virtualization, operating system, and management stack, and Oracle VM for x86 software deployments only introduce new virtualization software.
 
Oracle VM for x86’s broad Oracle software support, features, and 3rd party (Cisco, HP, Dell, EMC, NetApp, etc..) hardware, storage, and operating system support, and cost (no licensing fees) makes Oracle VM for x86 a cost effective, high performance alternative to Engineered Systems.

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