Oracle VM discussion

I have been having internal discussions with a few groups about Oracle VM. I was surprised to find out that this technology has been used internally for more than a year. The two  biggest users are the hosted data centers and Oracle Education. The data center has a policy to deploy images. The education group deploys the hands on seminars and classes using VM images to a server farm.

The product is free to download and use, support cost money. All of the Oracle product suite is supported on this product because engineering has been submitting code changes to the Xen source for a while and testing the product matrix for a while. Complete information can be found in Metalink in Note 464754.1

Paravirtualization means that the operating system knows that it is running in a VM environment. The os hides the fact and presents a standard interface to the applications. PVM is available for Linux with a modified kernel. This allows you to run this on older hardware that does not support hardware virtualization. It is supported in 64-bit and scales upto a 64 core system as well. Each VM can support upto 32 virtual CPUs to aggregate SMP or multi-core chips.

The Oracle VM Manager is currently an XE version of the database with an OC4J connector. The manager is currently only supported on Linux (next release will be Windows) and is manageable from a browser. We are currently building a suite of VMs that incorporate the Oracle stack of applicaitons. We are currently delivering a Linux image. Next will be the database and applicaiton server images pre-installed.

Pricing on the product is no license cost, no live migration cost, no management cost. Support cost is $499 for 2 processor per system per year or $999 for unlimited processors. In OnDemand we went from 6 dual processor boxes (2 prod, 2 dev, and 2 test) consuming 2010 wats at 100% load. If we consolidate this and move dev and test onto the same box we can reduce the box count to four and power consumption to 1180 watts. If we virtualized everything and run production middle tier and database on the same box but different VM instances we can consolidate this to one box and have the middle tier and database dev and test on the other box. We went from 6 systems that were mostly idle to two systems that support multi-tier applicaitons as well as dev and test consuming 660 watts of power. This allows us to reduce server footprint, heat consumption, and keep the management and administration the same.

According to IDC, virtualization is considered a mainstream technology with 22% servers virtualized today with 45% in 12 months. The market should tripple in the next four years with focus on disaster recovery, offsetting new data center construction, and power savings.

The big benefit for this technology is to simplify evaluation and deployment of software. Instead of installing and configurating the operating system and application, we can create a template and allow these templates to be deployed and modified. The time to modify a template is significantly less than the time required to deploy the entire solution. This is a significant potential for partners and ISVs to sell an entire configured solution and not a product that needs consulting to configure and install.

sorry for the non-technical and somewhat repeat of information. These are notes from a webcast that happened yesterday. I figured that the next step would be to go to a vendor that is selling this product and listen to one of their presentations. I also purchased two books. The first is http://www.amazon.com/Definitive-Hypervisor-Prentice-Software-Development/dp/013234971X/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1197562056&sr=1-1
which is the Definitive Guide to the Xen Hypervisor by David Chisnall. The second is http://www.amazon.com/Definitive-Hypervisor-Prentice-Software-Development/dp/013234971X/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1197562056&sr=1-1
 which is Virtualization with Xen by David Williams. I have ordered these books but have not received them yet.

3 thoughts on “Oracle VM discussion”

  1. I love the support for VMs in the Oracle world, my only problem is this still puts a large barrier to entry for developers. With Oracle VM you basically need dedicated hardware and then another interface for managing it. The community really needs something like VMWare VMs so that they can quickly get up and running with a development environment locally on their machine to try the new Oracle products. It can take people a week to setup some of these components in a simple environment just to start playing with them. If we/Oracle could deliver an out of the box experience to people it would really help with adoption. I started a site for this purpose of distributing Oracle based VMs through a torrent feed, but was always stopped due to licensing issues. Does Oracle have anything in the works around the use case I described? Even if they used the Oracle OD data centers to provide rental VMs on demand much like Amazons EC2 it would be a tremendous step forward.

  2. I agree with you that the current release makes it more difficult for developers. To get a development platform to work I had to order a new laptop or steal some cycles from a machine in Dallas that has an Opteron chip. I would prefer something like VM Workstation. Unfortunately, that isn’t the target of this release. The target is the data center and reducing server footprint and cooling issues. You can install a VM Server on a newer laptop and run Windows and Linux in a virtualized environment. With this you can create new images and share them as you described. You do not need the VM Master to control what is running on a VM Server. The Master software just makes it easier to administer and migrate images from host to host. Once you have your VM Server setup, you should have all of the command line tools available to create, manage, and install new images in a new domain. Not having the virtualization hardware really puts a damper on this ability because the paravirtualized kernel is the only option and it is difficult with Windows. In the next few months you should see Oracle and parenters hosting templates and pre-configured installations that they will share or sell if the software bundle will require a license. I see this as a potential business opportunity for a consultant and a way of increasing business. You can charge for your services but deliver templates that you customize instead of doing an install of the operating system, appliation, and customizations on top of it. It will reduce your time to solution and improve your ability to charge more per hour to recoup your cost of creating the template.

  3. I first must say I haven’t thought about the developer angle on virtualisation as said by matt. I do not have a meaning about that.
    I do not find current (intel) virtualisation methods mature enough for production. Most important reason for that meaning:
    lack of resource seperation for the virtual machines.
    The only resources which can be managed are processor and memory, whilst there are many other resources which are very important for performance.
    This means that if some machine is doing intense IO, it will block IO for other machines. Other things to think about: network, systembus.
    This doesn’t mean the technique is worthless. It is a huge saver for mostly idle environments and development environments.
    My two euro-cents on virtualisation

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