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Oracle on VMware vSphere & vSAN – Asks the Oracles

In the last post, we endeavored to explain how to go about an Oracle Licensing Audit effectively by meticulously collecting all artifacts needed for the audit.

We recommend as artifacts, Proof of Compute Enclosure and Audit Trail entries as part of the lists of artifact to collect and store for at least 2-3 audit cycles.

We also concluded that Oracle Licensing Audit should not be taken lightly just as you would for any other software vendor but not special and one does not have to fear it.

This post endeavors to highlight the typical questions customers might have in their minds after reading articles on internet or talking to other colleagues or questions they might have encountered talking to licensing auditors.

 

Oracle Licensing Journey

During the course of my career as an Oracle DBA and Architect working on Oracle technologies, Oracle licensing was one of the facets of a DBA life I had to go through and really , nothing has changed much.

Working as the Oracle Technologies pre-sales Lead in VMware since 2012 and being the lead Oracle pre-sales field guy, talking to customers and clarifying their questions about Oracle licensing on VMware SDDC is one of my charters.

 

Let’s start with the most frequently heard questions from customers and we will work our way down.

 

1) We have been told we will have to license all ESXi servers in Cluster in local site because
a. Oracle counts VMware as a soft partition technology
b. VMware DRS might migrate Oracle VM/s to all nodes in the cluster

This question has been clarified in the first blog post
https://blogs.vmware.com/apps/2017/01/oracle-vmware-vsan-dispelling-licensing-myths.html

To summarize, two things to keep in mind about the “Oracle Partitioning Policy”

  • “Oracle Partitioning Policy” is NOT referenced in any way in the OLSA/OMA and hence is not an artifact in any Oracle Licensing discussion
  • Read the disclaimer in the document “This document is for educational purposes only and provides guidelines regarding Oracle’s policies in effect as of April 5, 2016. It may not be incorporated into any contract and does not constitute a contract or a commitment to any specific terms

 

2) Oracle licensing requires licensing every server in every Site connected to the Primary site where the Oracle workloads primarily resides, starting from vSphere 6.0 because of the cross vCenter vMotion capability.

This question has been clarified in the first blog post
https://blogs.vmware.com/apps/2017/01/oracle-vmware-vsan-dispelling-licensing-myths.html

As we already know, there are only 3 documents which are contractual and relevant for any Oracle licensing discussion and contractual:

  • Technical Support Policy
  • Processor Core Factor Table
  • Oracle License and Service Agreement (OLSA)  / Oracle Master Agreement(OMA)
    o    The OLSA/OMA defines Processor as “Processor: shall be defined as all processors where the Oracle programs are installed and/or running.

Notice the use of the word “are, running ”, they are all in the present tense and indicates current usage, not future usage or proposed usage. The above line does not contain words like ‘could, would, might, may’ or any future probable sense.

What this tell us is that we only need pay for current usage, not what can be used!! So just because we have a cross vCenter vMotion capability does not mean we will go ahead and start vMotioning the Oracle VM’s all days long between sites.

The 2nd series of this blog post talks about creating a “Compute Enclosure” i.e. dedicated vSphere Cluster for Oracle workloads which will prevent vMotion events outside the vSphere Cluster.
https://blogs.vmware.com/apps/2017/06/oracle-vmware-vsphere-vsan-preparing-oracle-audit.html

To summarize, if this were true in the wildest dreams, it would require us to license EVERY existing vSphere host in EVERY datacenter and cloud , be that yours or a company down the street as vCenter’ s and SSO domains are not an obstacle to vMotion. And by this faulty logic we would need to license every host in the galaxy, good luck with that!!

http://houseofbrick.com/the-oracle-parking-garage/

3) Oracle does not certify Oracle workloads on VMware vSphere / vSAN and doing so will result in a non-certifiable environment

Keep in mind, Oracle Does Not Certify Infrastructure. Oracle does not certify anything below the operating system, Oracle only certifies Oracle Products to the Operating System for e.g RHEL, OEL, SUSE etc

Check the Oracle My Support Compatibility matrix
https://support.oracle.com/epmos/faces/CertifyHome?_adf.ctrl-state=1b0svjd59q_9&_afrLoop=217040720487943

VMware ESXi is an Enterprise-Class, Type-1 non-Para virtualized hypervisor

To be s/w compliant across the whole stack, ensure that we run

  • A Certified Oracle version on a certified O/S certified for that product (Certification Matrix on Oracle My Support)
  • the Same certified Guest O/S on a certified ESXi version (VMware Compatibility Matrix)

http://www.vmware.com/resources/compatibility/sim/interop_matrix.php

This way, you are complaint and certified by both the software vendors, Oracle and VMware.

Further Oracle has released the “Hardware Certification List for Oracle Linux” which includes support for OEL 7.x/ 6.x on ESXI platform

https://linux.oracle.com/pls/apex/f?p=117:1:::NO:RP::

 

4) What Audit data do I need to capture for an Oracle Licensing audit and how long should I keep the audit data for?

Here are some of the important artifacts which are useful for an Oracle Licensing audit defense

  • Proof of Compute Enclosure via creating a dedicated vSphere Cluster for Oracle or using Affinity rules to bind Oracle VM‘s to a set of ESXi servers dedicated for Oracle workloads
  • Audit Trail entries which are log file entries for every Oracle VM which shows the Power on /off and vMotion to / from operations.

More information can be found in the below blog url:
https://blogs.vmware.com/apps/2017/06/oracle-vmware-vsphere-vsan-preparing-oracle-audit.html

 

5a) what if Oracle refuses to open a Service Request (SR) for my case?

Oracle cannot refuse to open a SR for any Oracle on VMware SDDC issue because

  • The customer has signed the Technical Support Policy document with Oracle in which Software Technical Support Policies apply to technical support for all Oracle software product lines.

https://www.oracle.com/us/assets/057419.pdf

  • Oracle along with many other companies including VMware, EMC, Cisco are members of this organization “TSANET.ORG”.  Originally established in 1993, TSANet was founded as a vendor neutral global support alliance where companies work together to support mutual customers more effectively. Membership doesn’t simply lower costs and assist with customer support – it improves your customer retention.

http://tsanet.org

Oracle and VMware along with many other companies are members of the TSANET.org star alliance.

https://tsanet.org/our-members

5b) Well that’s all good, what if they open a SR but refuse to help with the SR citing FUD reasons?

Oracle Technical Support has been traditionally known to be very professional and has been engaged with VMware Global Support Services (GSS) at all levels to ensure swift resolution for all customer related issues.

In addition to that VMware is committed to the “Oracle Total Ownership Policy”.

VMware Oracle Support provides customers the following new advantages as part of the existing support and Subscription contract at no additional charge:

  • Total ownership of Oracle Database technical issues reported to VMware Support
  • Access to a team of Oracle DBA resources within VMware Support to troubleshoot issues related to Oracle Databases used as a data store or running within a VM
  • Performance tuning and best practices related to Oracle Database used as a data store or running within a VM

Faster resolution of technical issues in VMware environments via a TSANet collaborative support arrangement between VMware Support and Oracle Support.

Details can be found in the below VMware link:
https://www.vmware.com/support/policies/oracle-support.html

Total Ownership
VMware Support will accept accountability for any Oracle-related issue reported by a customer. By being accountable, VMware Support will drive the issue to resolution regardless of which vendor (VMware, Oracle, or others) is responsible for the resolution. In most cases, reported issues can be resolved via configuration changes, bug fixes, or feature enhancements by one of the involved vendors.

What the above means is, if in any case Oracle Support were to refuse assistance after opening an SR, no need to panic, simply call to open a ticket or open a ticket online with VMware GSS and make sure that the ticket is earmarked for “Oracle DBA team” within the GSS organization.

https://www.vmware.com/support/policies/oracle-support.html

Oracle My Support Note 249212.1 “Support Position for Oracle Products Running on VMWare Virtualized Environments (Doc ID 249212.1)” also states that for Oracle RAC,  Oracle will only accept Service Requests as described in this note on Oracle RAC 11.2.0.2 and later Releases.

 

6) What if Oracle asks us to replicate an Oracle on VMware issue on a physical platform?

Oracle reserves the right to require reproduction of the problem on either physical  or virtual environments.

Even in the case of bare metal servers environment , if Oracle support suspects issue is caused by the underlying hardware , then they can request to reproduce the same issue on another physical host with the exact same hardware specifications.

The real reason for the above request is because Oracle has no visibility into the hardware stack i.e. BIOS, Firmware, Drivers, and HBA etc and the fact that Oracle products are only certified to O/S , not hardware, so this is only way they can eliminate hardware related issues.

This is no different from the stance on virtualization with VMware. As stated earlier, to be s/w compliant across the whole stack, ensure that we run

  • A certified Oracle version on a certified O/S certified for that product (Certification Matrix on Oracle MySupport )
  • The same certified Guest O/S on a certified ESXi version (VMware Compatibility Matrix)

This way, you are complaint and certified by both the software vendors, Oracle and VMware.

 

7) What can you tell me about VMware GSS team?

VMware Global Support Services (GSS) Team is a World Class Support organization with follow-the-Sun Support with warm “hand-offs” and 24×7 Support comprised of All Senior Support Engineers who are former Oracle DBAs.

https://www.vmware.com/support/services/production.html

VMware Global Support Services Overview
https://www.vmware.com/files/pdf/support/global.pdf

The Support process and VMware GSS – Oracle Technical Support engagement process can be depicted by the workflow below

 

Conclusion
In conclusion, there are no issues running Oracle software / products on VMware SDDC as VMware ESXi is an Enterprise-Class, Type-1 non-Para virtualized hypervisor and does not trap x86 binary instructions coming down the stack for purpose of simulation / emulation unlike any other para-virtualized hypervisors.

Further there are no support or certification issues when it comes to running Oracle products n VMware SDDC as explained above.

Need Further Help?
For any additional Oracle Licensing on VMware clarification or help, please reach out to your respective VMware Account teams who can get our team involved in a discussion (Internal VMware folks can reach directly to us at the Tier1-Apps-Sales-Support team mailing list) and we can definitely help guide you and connect you to some of our Premier specialist partners for further discussions.

Oracle on VMware SDDC Collateral
All Oracle on vSphere white papers including Oracle licensing on vSphere/vSAN, Oracle best practices, RAC deployment guides, and workload characterization guide can be found in the url below

Oracle on VMware Collateral – One Stop Shop [Customer]
https://blogs.vmware.com/apps/2017/01/oracle-vmware-collateral-one-stop-shop.html

This entry was posted in Oracle, vSphere on by .
Sudhir Balasubramanian

About Sudhir Balasubramanian

I’m currently a Staff Solution Architect – Data Platforms working in the Global Field and Partner Readiness team at VMware focused on Oracle Technologies. I have 20+ years hands on experience with Oracle Technologies having worked as an Oracle DBA & Architect, Oracle RAC/Data Guard Expert . I am also experienced in EMC SAN Technologies having worked as an EMC SAN Administrator. Principal Oracle DBA/Oracle Architect (1995 – 2011) [ Sony Electronics, Teletech Corp, SAIC, Active Network, Sempra Energy Holdings] , VMware [2012-] Member of CTO Ambassador Program VMware vExpert VMware VCA – Cloud VMware vBCA Specialist I am also the Author of “Virtualize Oracle Business Critical Databases” which is a Comprehensive authority for Oracle DBA’s on the subject of Oracle & Linux on vSphere I am a recognized Speaker@ Oracle Open World, IOUG, VMworld, VMware Partner Exchange, EMC World, EMC Oracle Summit and various other Webinars. I am an Industry recognized expert in Oracle and Virtualization technologies I frequently blog at https://blogs.vmware.com/apps and http://virtualizingoracle.wordpress.com

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