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Virtualization for Oracle DBs – Some cut TCO by 50%

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One of the biggest IT megatrends of the new millennium has been virtualization.  As of 2011:

While that sounds (and is) impressive, it will draw little more than a yawn from most of many of my DBA and ETL friends.  “Virtualization is great and all”, they say, “but we do real work.  You know, we work with Oracle and with data.” 

And, therein lies the rub.  

Database Virtualization Needs

If there is any part of enterprise that needs to increase flexibility and reduce cost, it is on the data side of IT.  For example, database operations suffer from: 

  1. Expensive licenses (anyone want to shell out for Oracle EE for a 1 GB database?)
  2. Underused servers (the average Oracle server is less than 10% utilized) to
  3. Overwhelmed staff (the average DBA can manage about 40 databases).
  4. Security concerns (do you really want your data living in an anonymous cloud?)

Reducing costs for hardware, software, and staff are problems that virtualization has been solving for more than a decade.  Security is certainly part of our DNA.    So, why hasn’t database virtualization become all the rage?  Even recently, 72% of respondents to Information Week’s 2011 State of Database Technology Survey did not virtualize their primary database.

The primary concern from the database community is around performance.  When database virtualization was first put on the table a decade ago, this might have been a valid concern.  However, ESX 4.0 (released in 2009) largely resolved these issues, and vSphere 5 (released in 2011) can do over 1 million IOPS, or 800x more than the average Oracle database requires.

The only thing standing in the way of the database virtualization tsunami is the tools to make it happen quickly and easily.  This is why VMware’s vFabric Data Director exists.

What is vFabric Data Director (vFDD)?

vFabric Data Director (vFDD) extends vSphere to allow database-aware virtualization for Oracle (and PostgreSQL).  It leverages all the advantages of vSphere to benefit database administrators, developers, analysts, and data scientists.  vFDD is for anyone who creates and uses data in the enterprise.

Data Director helps organizations significantly reduce cost and increase flexibility for Oracle without having to make radical changes to existing systems, processes, or skill sets.  In fact, an Oracle administrator or user shouldn’t ever know or care if a database is virtualized or not.  With vFDD, an organization will use the same Oracle database, operating system, monitoring, and backup/recovery tools they use today.  However, they will be able to remove significant cost and leverage all the advantages of the VMware vSphere platform.

How vFabric Data Director Works

The Data Director architecture is based around the idea of database templates.  A database template is a virtual machine based on a specific layout for the operating system, database, data, and logs. 

Each database conforms to a basic layout:


A DBA is able to create a parent template, installing specific versions of Oracle, an operating system, and monitoring agents.  A central management server will build child databases from parent templates with inherited binaries and configurations.  Child databases can even be populated directly from Oracle RMAN.

Child databases live in their own virtual machines and the management server will configure for the network, disk, and CPU resources provided through vSphere, all safely behind your firewall.  These databases are a snap to patch or update, all you need to do is patch the parent template and the changes can be pushed down to any children automatically.  Best of all, database operations are done with just a few clicks through a web UI or via JSON through a REST-based API.

This model makes it very easy to control and automate database operations, including:

  • Oracle Database creation, execution, and retirement
  • Physical to Virtual (P2V) Oracle Conversion
  • Oracle and O/S patching and Upgrading
  • Oracle migration across platforms and environments
  • Backup and Recovery
  • Database Cloning
  • High availability
  • Resource allocation

In fact, each of these has been automated to the point where administrators can simply set policies and permissions, then grant access to creators (such as developers, analysts, and data scientists) to provision their own databases through a self-service model.

Lower Costs and Better Value

vFabric Data Director 2.0 allows IT to significantly reduce the cost of running Oracle databases without having to change people, processes, or systems. 

Data Director extends vSphere to understand and optimize Oracle databases.  In addition, every database gains the benefits of automatic virtualization. By default, each Oracle instance can be:

  • Resource constrained
  • Elastically scalable
  • Consolidated and Clustered
  • Secured behind your firewall
  • Highly Available

For example, Data Director allows customers to consolidate their Oracle databases simply by ingesting data into Data Director via RMAN.  Underneath the sheets, vSphere consolidates each database VM on the existing virtual infrastructure. Now, Oracle is able to take advantage of all the clustering, dynamic resource scheduling, and high availability services built into vSphere without making changes to the underlying database.

Database consolidation with Oracle and VMware will typically reduce hardware and licensing costs by more than 50%.  Our customers regularly see hardware consolidation ratios between 4-20x and reduction of licensing costs by up to 4x.

If you want to reduce the cost of running Oracle and take advantage of virtualization, learn more about Data Director 2.0 or download an evaluation copy today. 


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.

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Stacey Schneider

About Stacey Schneider

Stacey Schneider has over 15 years of working with technology, with a focus on working with sales and marketing automation as well as internationalization. Schneider has held roles in services, engineering, products and was the former head of marketing and community for Hyperic before it was acquired by SpringSource and VMware. She is now working as a product marketing manager across the vFabric products at VMware, including supporting Hyperic. Prior to Hyperic, Schneider held various positions at CRM software pioneer Siebel Systems, including Group Director of Technology Product Marketing, a role for which her contributions awarded her a patent. Schneider received her BS in Economics with a focus in International Business from the Pennsylvania State University.

3 thoughts on “Virtualization for Oracle DBs – Some cut TCO by 50%

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