Over the last 18 months I have had the good fortune to talk to a lot of Virtualization Infrastructure Administrators on the subject of VMware and databases. One of the things I hear the most is:
“We are 50% virtualized and our goal is to get to 75% this year. To do that, we have to get a handle on our databases.”
While I appreciate the goal, this is easier said than done. You see, I used to be part of the problem.
I worked with databases, ETL, and analytics for more than 10 years. Before I came to VMware, I really didn’t have much experience with virtualization, and I didn’t see the need for it (other than running Windows applications on my MacBook Pro, of course). As long as data was correct and available I didn’t really worry about much else.
|>> Heading to Oracle Open World this week? Find author Morgan Goeller alongside the rest of the vFabric team at booth #1733 demoing VMware’s answers on how to virtualize databases and applications.|
Today, I spend a lot of time helping companies identify ways to virtualize and cut costs. What has really opened my eyes is the proliferation of databases that are hardly used. When I reflect on my past life, I saw Oracle databases sourced, provisioned, and managed individually, with one database per physical server. Today, this problem is rampant and has left a wake of under-utilized, under-managed servers, especially in Tier2/3 Production systems and DEV/QA environments. When you multiply this times hundreds of servers, it is easy to see that databases are a great opportunity for cost savings through hardware and license consolidation. In fact, the New York Times recently published an article on the topic of waste in data centers – let me cite two unusually interesting points:
- “A single data center can take more power than a medium-size town.”
- “McKinsey & Company analyzed energy use by data centers and found that, on average, they were using only 6 percent to 12 percent of the electricity powering their servers to perform computations. The rest was essentially used to keep servers idling and ready in case of a surge in activity that could slow or crash their operations.”
So, why haven’t we fixed database utilization already? Well, the extra effort required to virtualize databases has traditionally turned off database people like myself – as we want to build systems that do more, not cost less. So, databases became a roadblock on the path to virtualization. The fact is, VMware customers have always been able to virtualize databases. To ESX, a payload is a payload…an Oracle database server is treated the same as a web server or a Windows application when it runs inside a VM. However, databases have some special performance and memory requirements. So, sometimes they just need a little extra TLC. And, with just a few additional capabilities, databases can turn into the perfect candidates for virtualization.
Looking back, what I needed was a solution that would let me keep the same databases and tools I was already using but allow me to reap the benefits of virtualization. VMware’s vFabric Data Director (vFDD) does this. Data Director is a platform that extends vSphere to do “data-aware” virtualization. While the “outside world” doesn’t even know that the database is virtualized (including the DBA), Data Director gives us all the benefits of virtualization like multi-tenancy and isolation, dynamic resource scheduling, vMotion, and resource pooling.
The end result is that where we use the same Oracle databases we have today, but are able to dramatically reduce hardware and licensing costs. For instance, EMC was able to consolidate databases by a factor of 13:1, saving millions of dollars.
|About the Author: Morgan Goeller is an evangelist at VMware. In the past, he has worked for Netezza, Daman, America Online, IBM, and more. Some of his accomplishments include the architecture and design of solutions for IBM AS/400, Linux, Apache, Java, Oracle, Netezza, and Sybase. His solutions span mission critical systems, distributed systems, data warehouses, ETL, loan processing, statistical models, and system performance monitoring in the financial services, healthcare, media, consulting, software, and other industries. Morgan graduated with a degree in Mathematics/Scientific Computation from the University of Utah.|