Virtualised Oracle Database Appliance Proof of Concept – #1 Planning by Simon Haslam

Next week I start working with a customer on a Proof of Concept (POC) on the Oracle Database Appliance (ODA) and they have kindly given me permission to share the (non-confidential) findings on my blog. I have been following the Virtualised ODA pretty closely since last autumn, particularly with regards to running WebLogic and other Oracle Fusion Middleware products on it, so this promises to be pretty interesting.

ODAMy responsibility on the POC is for the WebLogic and Fusion Middleware side, so I probably would not be spending much time on the initial provisioning or how RAC runs on the ODA Base VMs. However, as part of planning my work, I’ve been thinking about the aspects of WebLogic on ODA we need to understand more about:

· Connectivity: the public network on the ODA is provided via 4 onboard 10Gbase-T (copper) ports (as compared to the ODA 1 which had PCI cards with SFP+ slots). This is fine for connecting into our public network as that’s 1GbE, but we have an additional 10GbE network for storage (see below) which is uses active Twinax cables with built-in SFP+ so have had to get hold of a 10GBase-T switch module. This has been more of a problem for those, such as @fuadar, only using fibre for their 10GbE network since there’s no obvious upgrade option for an ODA to provide SFP+.

· Installation/configuration: we know that the WLS ODA "Configurator" can build a single cluster domain with various resources but how much can that be changed afterwards? Our current build system is already highly automated – scripted product installations, patches, domain creation, security configuration and so on. Maybe this is atypical for Oracle’s target market for the "WLS on ODA", but using the ODA WLS configuration tool will mean work to our existing deployment approach. The trick will be not to break Oracle’s "one button patching", though I’m not sure how much investigation of this is possible given that I don’t think there are any WLS patches yet.

· Real-world application considerations: Whilst we have a custom Java EE application running on WebLogic, the production virtual machines also run Oracle HTTP Server (OHS), Identity Management, Oracle Reports plus some other bits and bobs. It will be interesting to see whether it’s better for us to use a provisioned VM template approach, or just have a standard VM (maybe even kick-started) and then install into them as we do now (the latter will be the easiest).

· Load balancing: currently we have a single OHS VM and use VMware to protect it (nice and simple). I would like to see how easy it is to replace the web tier for a real application by Oracle Traffic Director and whether it justifies the WL Suite licences it will use up.

· Storage: the local storage provided to the VMs, carved from the mirrored 600GB 10k SAS-2 disk pair in each server, seems to me to be virtualised ODA’s biggest weakness. Even though middle tiers are, in theory, light on I/O, in practice applications often put more stress on their storage than you expect, whether that’s due to excessive logging, for transactions or in this case, PDF output reports. Fortunately Oracle supports the use of external NFS storage with ODA, and we’ve got some NetApps, so I’ll certainly be trying that out (hence the 10GbE requirement above).

· Admin Server high availability: in production we have the Admin Servers on their own separate management VM and, like OHS, protect them from hardware failure using vMotion. We’ll need an alternative approach with ODA.

· Performance: the ODA X3-2 has E5-2690 SandyBridge-EP processors running at 2.9GHz, a generation newer than we have in production. Currently the POC has no objective to reduce cores used so I do not anticipate processor performance issues. We ran full load testing on the production environment prior to deployment but getting that set up can be quite resource intensive (especially during holiday season) so we may just have to do some sanity tests.

· Management: I would like to see how easily ODA hooks into an existing EM 12c, and what visibility it gives us across the stack down to hardware. Read the article here.

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