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Why the sun shines for Oracle and it’s Cloudy for others

Why the sun shines for Oracle and it’s Cloudy for others

First of all, I ‘d like to mention that this draft has been put back from schedule several times over and over again. Asking myself the question, should I really do this? But then again … This is a blog, a very personal humble opinion and you should not agree with me, I can be wrong, I can be right. The truth is probably in between. So, the title “Why the sun shines for Oracle and it’s cloudy for others”, it’s kind of a metaphor that Oracle (until now) has missed the cloud-train.

Recently I came across the website of the Synergy research group and found a nice article  When you see the graph, then you immediately get why uncle Larry is doing all this stuff to beat AWS.

Synergy_cloudy_graph

You see? Find Oracle … it’s in the “Others” group. If this was the rdbms resource manager, i’d not like to be there. I think Oracle was thinking the same 🙂 If you have a look at AWS, it’s virtually no change. Personally I expected a little growth, but apparently not. Microsoft Azure, Google and IBM are taking up the share of the “others”.

Please dig around on my blog, then you’ll see that I recently worked on a project on the Microsoft Azure cloud. Even tough I’d never like Microsoft and I’m not a fan of Oracle on windows, I have to agree that doing this Azure project (apart from some other problems) was a BLAST! Full support from Microsoft, stable cloud environment, easy to configure, maintain … A very positive experience.

Then I had a look at the Oracle Cloud. A bit sceptic. The interface is fantastic! But then you dig a bit deeper and I have hit limits I wasn’t expecting. A very simple example, Oracle wants to position itself as the number #1 cloud provider. To do so, they want to migrate full datacenters to their cloud, GREAT! Wonderfull idea. I mean this.

One story from the Azure-project. Due to a miscalculation (if you want to hear all about it, find me at a conference for my presentation about the journey of a BI stack to the cloud), we needed far more powerfull servers to cope with the load. That wasn’t a problem, but they are expensive. So expensive that if we made the financial calculation again, that we decided to have a look at the other 2 players as well. AWS was easy and competitive, but about the same price, so that means that there was no reason to change. Then we had a look at the oracle cloud.

Remember the demo Larry Ellison gave at OpenWorld, he wants to lift and shift datacenters to the Oracle Cloud. I love that concept. So we went to the Oracle marketplace (I love this term!) and were looking for our windows server version. No worries our db’s are running on linux 🙂 But err … no decent windows servers available in the marketplace 🙁

Cloudy_limited_choice

Then also … I find that the interface is slow … very slow … and sometimes even unstable.

Cloudy_failure

Some friends had even difficulties to cancel their trial subscription. I can go on like this for a while, but one of the other “no-go’s” for this customer was this entry in the FAQ:

“I have hardware VPN appliance in my datacenter. Will Corente VPN work with my existing appliance?

Currently, third-party VPN appliances will not work with the Corente service. VPN endpoint locations will need to install a Corente Services Gateway.”

This Customer wanted another choice and that was impossible. That’s a pity.
EDIT (24/02/2017): The Oracle cloud, just as the others, is evolving very rapidly. Thanks to Philip Brown (@pbedba) for pointing me to these links about a Third-Party Gateway to an IP Network in Oracle Cloud and a Third-Party Gateway On-Premises to the Shared Network
So it seems that currently it is possible, which is good news! So hopefully the FAQ will be updated quickly.

Ok, let’s do database as a service then. It’s the #1 database company (and yes, I’m an Oracle fanboy), so that should work for a decent price. Right?

I’ll take the anonimized example I use in my presentation as well. 3 prod db’s, 35TB, 15TB and 6TB + their dataguard instances and then for each db 8 non-live versions (Dev, Dev New Release, Test, Test New Release, Int , Int New Release, Uat, Uat New Release). Then you immediately spot, WHY the cloud is an option. Treat this databases as cattle, not as pets. So automation and provisioning would be key. But for production, it should be feasible, right?
Let’s explore the options … In summary … not too much except the full blown exadata option, which was (compared to the Azure solution we had figured out) extremely expensive. Even then we left out mechanisms for cloning those databases in an automated way to non-prod systems.

It’s a bit a frustrating blogpost and I feel so sad writing and reading it. So for Oracle in my opinion, the sun is still shining on premises and I do hope for them the clouds will come, but the way it is now, I’m afraid they ‘ll miss this train. I believe more in the data on premises, but the cloud will definitely take it’s place and we should definitely embrace it. I totally agree with the statement “there will be a co-existence for the next 5 a 10 years”. Ofcourse some other hype will be there by then, but that’s another story.

But Oracle … you still can win this battle!

  • Think about the past, think “back to the future”! How did you win ground in the past? Make it EASY TO USE. So, the trial subscription, make it really free to subscribe and unsubscribe without having to provide credit card details. Have a look at your colleagues of apex, they are doing a GREAT job!
  • Support us. Support is key. If we choose to be dependent from a cloud provider, offer good support. Resolve (i don’t say respond, but really resolve ) SR’s really quick (< 0,5d in the local timezone) as speed in the cloud is key.
  • No unplanned outages please! Make it stable,no suddenly disappearing machines. Outages are acceptable, but communicate them, be very transparant.
  • Invest in a good extensive marketplace. Currently, you’re at the point of Microsoft Azure 2 years ago. You have the experience, the knowledge, the social network,… it must be feasible to fill this marketplace really quick with recent and decent software. Vendors are asking for it … hear them. Make the marketplace a shopping mall or a candy store.
  • Engage your partners! It’s lonely at the top and if you’re high you can fall very low. If the product is mature, and if partners get easy access to features-to-come (compare it to private/public preview with Azure), customers will start to trust you and dare to take the move.
  • Don’t push the “cloud-on-premise” too hard. It’s no cloud at all, it’s just an interface. People don’t get this idea. Keeping the costs of the own datacenter and pay extra for this service. It’s difficult to understand. I do believe in this mechanism as a “step to the cloud”, but make it free (or very very cheap). So that people can use the engineered systems to put their environment on, once done, call DHL/Fedex or some other partner and move them to the Oracle D.C. Done.
  • Don’t change the rules if you can’t win and don’t get agressive. Yes I’m referring to the core-factor story regarding AWS and Microsoft Azure. I heard some customers making the comparison with children “if they can’t win, they change the rules” I couldn’t think of any response at that time … it felt they were right.
  • Provide a clear cloud advantage. This can be for instance that if you are adding a compute layer to host your db yourself, the EE licenses would be included. Or change the license model (in the oracle cloud) that eg. all the options are “free” included in the EE license. If you make that cheaper than the on premises licenses, you will certainly win ground without putting the customers from other certified cloud providers in a strange position.
  • Provide an easy mechanism that customers can go back/away very easily without extra cost. This sounds very strange, but people don’t like to be in prison, so they are very scared about “loosing their data to someone else” or going through a lengthy process to get it out the cloud again (if needed for one reason or another).

Basically, it comes down to one sentence: Listen to your customers, Listen to what they want, don’t push things through their throat. It’s not too late yet. People are interested in it, engage them, don’t scare them.

Once again, this is a very personal opinion and I might be right, but I might be wrong as well. I think by discussing this, more beautiful and working (usable) clouds can be created.

Cloudy_but_sunny

And remember, when it’s cloudy, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it will rain 🙂

As always, questions, remarks? find me on twitter @vanpupi

ORACLE DB IN THE AZURE CLOUD – PT2

ORACLE DB IN THE AZURE CLOUD – PT2

During the BI in the cloud project, one of the aspects we had to test is the network. Here is how we did it to figure out how the network performs and most of all, is it stable?

One of the most important things in a cloud environment is the network. It connects devices to eachother and makes it possible to have communication between devices. Sounds obvious, right?

Some tests we have done, were relying very heavily on the network, such like nfs, smb,… and in the beginning, we didn’t manage to get it stable. At some period in time, you have the “I-should-find-some-time-to-do”-moment. This was one of them. I should find some time to, in a very easy quick way, to check if the network remains “ok”. So, I came up with the most basic test a network test could be: ping! Ping? Pong, yes an easy ping. I know that firewalls give lower priority to ping but in this case they are configured well so this is good to go.

The test consists out a very little tiny script, which does 10 pings, some cli magic to grep the time out of it and record it in a file. It’s a quick and dirty script, and it’s a lot better to store it in a database. But hey, we just needed an idea, is the network stable or not. This script goes in the crontab for every 5 minutes on each of the 3 servers. This generates data and I harvested this data after a couple of days.  I would like to mention (oh oh, comment storm coming up) that regarding the network in this Microsoft Azure subscription, windows and linux servers are performing the same. Prerequisite is that you configure them well, so we did that 🙂

The first test is done on 2 servers, one linux and one windows, and stored in a different availability set (AS).

PTest1svg

This is no excel-graph. I would like to thank my team-lead Geert De Paep for letting me put my data into Pandora. Pandora is a tool which puts database data into every kind of svg-graph you would like. For the people interested, I can share the excel graph as well, but there were high peaks. To keep my detail, I needed the exponential graphs and pandora is the ideal choice to do so.

This looks to me that for every ping packet series, the first one takes some time and then it gets pretty stable.

The second test is also done on 2 servers, one linux and one windows. This time that are stored in the availability set (AS). But there’s a little other difference. The network throughput we had on other machines was bit disappointing. Hey Microsoft, can you do something about it? The answer was very easy. Use the preview of accelerated networking. So that is what we did.

PTest2svg

Strange behaviour in the beginning, but I assume, as it is a preview, that still something was going on. Timings are a bit lower, which is good. But also the same behaviour. One “slower” ping and then good results. Although between 18h and 20h we see some higher times on a daily rate. I think I should gather more data on this as well to spot if it is a recurring trend.

So that brings us to the third and final test. Just the same setup as the second one, except that it runs between 2 linux boxes. Azure, your results please!

PTest3svg

The graph looks different, but spot the time. While the windows boxes were shutdown between christmas and new year. No no no, it’s not because windows crashed, they were simply shutdown and resources are reused for other things.
But I do like the consistency. Still the same behaviour. One longer ping and then the rest lower but consistent.

As always, questions, remarks? find me on twitter @vanpupi