Irrelevant thoughts of an oracle DBA

22 September 2011

Rise of the appliances?

Filed under: infrastructure,opinion,unbreakable db appliance — Freek D'Hooge @ 9:52

Some quick thoughts.

Yesterday Oracle announced it’s first database appliance for th SMB market.
Before this, it had already its Exadata and Exalogic appliances for the big environments.
During the presentation Oracle has also indicated that it want’s to continue delivering new appliance products and apparently is no longer interested in selling “commodity” x86 servers.

Symantec has also been busy with appliances for Netbackup.

For some time now, we have seen that the big players in the IT market are leaving their historical background and are trying to offer the complete stack from software over switches to storage. Is this offering of appliances the next step?
Will we see more and more applications offered as appliances?

If so, what will this mean for the independent system integrators?

Also, as these appliances seems to use their own dedicated storage, what does this mean for the SAN?
(I know of some people who will not mourn there decline).

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21 September 2011

Oracle anounces the Unbreakable DB Appliance

Filed under: infrastructure,opinion,unbreakable db appliance — Freek D'Hooge @ 19:33
Tags: ,

More then 10 years after Oracle’s first appliance attempt with Raw Iron and 3 years after the release of Exadata, Oracle has now announced the Unbreakable DB Applicance.

This “cluster in a box” consists out of a 4 RU chassis, in which 2 server nodes,  96 GB memory per node, 12 TB raw shared disk storage  (24 disks) and 292 GB flash disks has been placed.
The two server nodes have a total of 24 cpu cores, but cores can be disabled.
This allows for sub-capacity licensing of the software (with a minimum of 4 cores).

On the software side, the appliance is running Oracle linux and 11gR2 grid infrastructure and 11gR2 db software. Databases on this appliance can run as single node, RAC or RAC One Node.
Oracle enterprise manager is also part of the software stack.

Claims are made towards one button installation of software and patching.
The appliance has also a “phone home” functionality which automatically creates a service request when a problem is detected.

List price for the hardware is $ 50,000 (regardless of how many cores you activate) and for the software the standard DB licensing applies.
Which means that existing CPU licences can be transferred to this appliance.

Oracle positions this system below the Exadata quarter rack, and it is also worth mentioning that this appliance is not expandable.

So far the product launch information.

Some questions / remarks I have:

  • According to the presentation the hardware price remains the same, regardless of how many cores you activate (namely $ 50,000).
    In my opinion, this means that no one will buy this appliance to just activate 4 cores.
    There are much cheaper solutions when you only need a low number of cores (certainly when you consider that most companies already have a san which can be used for the Oracle databases)
  • There are 24 disks in the appliance, which seems low (certainly compaired to the 24 cpu cores).
    However, keep in mind that this storage is dedicated and probably (I don’t have confirmation on this) capable of asm intelligent data placement and command queuing.
    Normally SAN vendors are using an estimate of 180 IOPS per san disk. Oracle however is using an estimation of 300 IOPS per cell disk for Exadata, and tests done by Glenn Fawcett show that they can actually perform even better (around 400 IOPS).
    http://glennfawcett.wordpress.com/2011/05/10/exadata-drives-exceed-the-laws-of-physics-asm-with-intelligent-placement-improves-iops/
    Using the number of 300 IOPS, this would mean that the 24 disks translate to 40 SAN disks (that may not used by any other application, so in reality to even more san disks), which already looks very different.Now, I’m still unsure how it will perform with write intensive databases (oltp or dwh), certainly when several databases are consolidated on this appliance.As this appliance is not expandable, the number of disks may be a weak point, compaired to the number of cpu cores.
    I’m hoping that someone like Kevin Closson (poke poke) will be able to shed some light on this, as my knowledge in this area is rather limited :-)
  • In the presentation it was mentioned that the flash storage is used for the redo logs, but it is unclear if it could also be used to store datafiles or as cache (as with the Exadata smart flash cache)

As with many things the proof of the pudding is in the eating, so I’m looking forward to some benchmarks and presentations by real world customers.
And if anyone from Oracle is reading this, you may always send me a demo machine so I can do some testing on my own  ;-))

update 20:12, fixed wrong memory specification

1 April 2008

open source or freeware

Filed under: opinion — Freek D'Hooge @ 9:39

Say you have put in a lot of effort in developing a pl/sql package that helps you in your job.
You think it does a reasonable decent job and you are thinking about releasing it to the rest of the oracle community.
However you are affraid to lose control over your application. I mean, you have put so much work in it, can you then just give it out hand or would you still want to control it?

Of course you could wrap it and distribute it as freeware, but who would install a wrapped package from the internet into their production databases?
You could try to work arround that by splitting of part of the package needing a higher level of privileges into separate packages which are left unwrapped and can be installed into a different schema. But would this be sufficient?

You would also be the sole responsible for support and bug fixing as you are the only one with access to the code. That is the only one, excluding those who have access to an unwrapper, with which they can revert your code back into its original state (including variable names).

Another option would be to share the source code, but what would happen then? Probably people would start modifying your code.
Is this a bad thing? Maybe that depends if they afterwards would start bothering you with questions as “why it doesn’t work” or not.
Would you allow people to send in their modifications or would you only maintain your own version? Could these modified “versions” then still use the same name as your original package or not?

Then there is the question of licensing. Would you just publish the code, or would you put a licensing on it? If so, which one?

Many questions and few answers.
So tell me, what would you do and how would you do it?

15 November 2007

dba 2.0

Filed under: opinion,rant — Freek D'Hooge @ 13:59

After reading the prodlife blog about the dba 2.0 presentation on oracle open world and Tom Kyte’s blog, I must concur that an oracle dba indeed need management tools to administer an environment (that is a mid-size or large environment). Databases are growing bigger and bigger and maintenance windows are disappearing as snow for the sun, so having tools to help you with managing the databases are very welcome.
This being said, I hate the ongoing trend in oracle presentations and courses to solely focus on managing databases via these tools. In fact they don’t show / learn you anymore how to manage oracle, but how to operate a particular management tool (read: grid control).
What are you going to do when the grid control is not reachable or when you need to manage a database that is not registered in grid control?

I am a consultant dba, what means that I manage database for various customers on different sites. Sometimes this management is done on site, but often it is done via remote access (sometimes having limited bandwith or requiring hopping from one server to another) . So in most occasions the only tool that I can use is sqlplus. And you know what? I love sqlplus! True, sqlplus is not a very convenient tool for browsing through records or to quickly update a single record, but it is available on every platform and combined with a repository of scripts (the true treasure box of an oracle dba) it is a very powerfull tool.
Using scripts also force you (unless you are just copying the scripts from the internet) to investigate in which views oracle is storing which data and how to join the different views together, giving you a better understanding of how oracle works.

It is as Tom wrote on his blog “Having the ability and knowledge to command line when necessary, along with using the tools day to day is the way forward I think”, but is is such a shame that currently often the only focus is on the tool.

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