Oracle in perspective


A brief overview of alternatives…

This document focuses on the perception of the Oracle database related to ‘Small and Medium businesses’, European Style.
First we will take a quick look at Enterprise licensing and give a ballpark idea of prizes en possibilities. Next I will put this in perspective with more detail and will highlight possibilities to get ‘high end results’ with what is branded as ‘entry level’ investments. Everywhere I say Oracle, I mean the Oracle database.

Oracle is investment intensive
Oracle Enterprise Edition licenses are price-listed for over € 35.000 per processor. These CPU’s actually are not ‘real CPU’S’ but units which are defined according to Oracle’s Core Factor Table.
An Oracle Enterprise Edition license allows you to a) install and use the Oracle Enterprise Edition software and b) buy additional tooling to complete the Enterprise software stack. In this setting there is Oracle Active Data Guard, Oracle Database Vault, Partitioning, etc. to consider.
With Oracle Enterprise Edition it is possible to create a high performance, high available and ‘disaster resistant’ environment. Where it needs to be remarked that this program-set comes with an according price tag.

Oracle Standard Edition environment
A special exception in the Oracle license politics is the Oracle Standard Edition database. This installation uses the exact same database-software (binary compatible) as the Enterprise Edition edition but comprises a significantly reduced set of features and options that can be found in this global overview. The most important question is if these features and options are really needed to realize a high performance, high available and ‘disaster resistant’ environment.
Let’s first quickly zoom into a practical example the indicate an investment-perspective.
Based on a HP Proliant DL380 Gen8 E5-2690v2 Server with 2 processors with each 10 cores.

— Oracle Enterprise Edition:
2 x 10 cores x 0,5 core factor = 10 licenses x € 37,492 = € 374,920 excluding maintenance.
— Oracle Standard Edition:
2 x 1 processor = 2 licenses x € 13,813 = € 27,626 excluding maintenance.
— Oracle Standard Edition One:
2 x 1 processor = 2 licenses x € 4,578 = € 9,156 excluding maintenance.

In this setting we can save up to € 365,764 by leveraging Standard Edition. The reason is that the Standard Edition software is significantly cheaper but mainly because of the fact that the Standard Edition software is licensed per processor socket in stead of by the units defined by the ‘Core Factor Table’!
The limitation is that Standard Edition has a limit of 4 sockets per server and Standard Edition One is limited to 2 sockets per server. This is an important fact!

Room for investment
In our example it is possible to decide in favor of Standard Edition One. What we can subsequently deduce is that we have a theoretical budget of about € 350,000 available to make sure we have a sufficient high performance, high available and ‘disaster resistant’ installation. Even if we were to consume all of this budget, which is not very likely, the return on this investment remains high because the year-by-year support-cost for this environment is ((10 x € 8,248.19) -/- (2 x € 1,007.15)) € 79,467.60 per year cheaper.
In this calculation possible discounts have not been included. Looking at the volume of the investment differences any discounts will have to terminating influence. The year-by-year support-cost will remain based on the original price of the software.

Virtualization
One of the most significant hurdles with leveraging the Oracle software is virtualization, where technical considerations are not the toughest to deal with; the license consequences are!
As we concluded, Oracle Standard Edition is applicable on max 4 processors. In case of virtualization, it is true that all processors of all hardware, where the Oracle database can migrate to, either automatically or with live migration.
With this rule it is nearly impossible to leverage Standard Edition licenses and will is it be nearly impossible to use virtualization in a ‘small to medium business’ setting… Unless a smart alternative is chosen.

Alternatives
1. The abstraction layer
By leveraging virtualization-software as a abstraction layer, a server installation can be separated from the physical hardware configuration on which it runs. By using this alternative it is possible to recover from hardware failure more efficiently.
2. 2 x 2 sockets
By using a limited virtualization-cluster of 2 nodes with 2 sockets each having the maximum possible number of processor cores, the complete advantage of virtualization can be created using the maximum advantage of Standard Edition. Please note that we would need a Standard Edition license. Alternatively you could create a cluster with 2 x 1 socket to facilitate the usage of a Standard Edition One license.
3. ESL
In the case software from a third party is used, this software development party can agree on using a Embedded Software License; from Oracle. This form of licensing is quite specific and is therefor not further discussed here.
4. What will virtualization not solve
Virtualization is not replacement for Backup and it is no alternative for disaster proofing an Oracle database. These specific tasks are resolved by using backup of standby database tooling.

Tooling
In the beginning of this article it is indicated that the Oracle Enterprise Edition software give you the right to buy additional tooling to complete the Enterprise Software installation.
Alternatives for this tooling are also available for Standard Edition installations. Please consider:

  • Dbvisit as an alternative for Oracle Data Guard or Oracle Golden Gate
  • OraSash as an alternative for Oracle Active Session History
  • Nagios or SPS GenSys as alternatives to Oracle Enterprise Manager

Conclusion
Based on the information above we can conclude there are good possibilities to leverage the Oracle Database in a ‘Small and Medium Business’ environment. The information above is no complete and ultimate description of all possibilities, but this quick overview gives enough to work with to zoom into any specific challenge.


2 thoughts on “Oracle in perspective

  1. Hi, the 4-socket limitation means that in a virtualised / clustered environment, each server can only have up to 4-sockets: it is NOT the case that you need to count sockets in the cluster. This is a subtle difference to a RAC cluster where the socket count is divided by the number of nodes (and so you are limited to 2×2 sockets or 4×1 socket).

    1. Hi Paul,
      Thank you for your comment. To my knowledge, this ‘difference’ does not exist (at least I have not been able to find proof). If you have any information of this kind, please share it as it would certainly improve this story.
      Thinking along those lines there would be no virtualization issue with Oracle since you can run (for instance) 164 sockets (eg. 2624 cores) on SE as long as you use just 4 socket nodes, which appears a bit harder to believe (to me).

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