As Published In
Oracle Magazine
November/December 2011



Application-Driven Virtualization

by Fred Sandsmark


Oracle VM 3.0 delivers virtualization performance and management, from hardware to applications.

Heralding a new era of “application-driven virtualization,” Oracle announced Oracle VM 3.0, the latest release of its virtualization solution, which integrates with Oracle’s applications-to-disk stack and improves virtualization management at lower cost than competing solutions.

Oracle VM 3.0 is optimized “up” to the application level and “down” to the hardware level—a strategy mandated by the marketplace, according to Edward Screven, chief corporate architect at Oracle. “The virtualization solution our customers need is one in which they can manage the application and all of the dependent technology components,” Screven said at the August 23, 2011, Oracle VM 3.0 launch event.


Organizations today want virtualization for all their applications—not only test and development instances but also large, business-critical applications—and Oracle VM 3.0 delivers it, Screven said. “We enable customers to virtualize every database if they choose, and that means running large VMs [virtual machines],” he explained. Oracle VM 3.0 can create a virtual machine with up to 128 virtual CPUs (vCPUs)—making it four times more scalable than VMware vSphere 5, which supports only 32 vCPUs. And each Oracle virtual machine can handle up to a terabyte of memory. “The things we’ve done to make Oracle VM more scalable, more reliable, and to have lower overhead benefit all kinds of server software,” Screven said. “Oracle VM is an excellent choice for Oracle software, for non-Oracle software, and for customer-written software.” 

In addition to running large VMs, Oracle VM 3.0 also improves application support within VMs. “Most of the vendors that provide virtualization solutions or products are focused on the VMs alone,” explained Wim Coekaerts, Oracle’s senior vice president for Linux and virtualization engineering, at the launch event. Competitors require their customers to license and install an operating system; license and install (and patch) applications; and then manage it all.

By contrast, Oracle VM offers more than 90 preconfigured templates, called Oracle VM Templates, that include the operating system, database, and applications. “You download a file, start it up, use your Web browser, and log in,” Coekaerts explained. “That saves days, if not weeks, of time in a very complex environment.”

This simplicity extends to cloning virtual machines. “Other virtualization vendors have no knowledge of what’s running inside the VM,” Coekaerts said. A cloned operating system might be able to handle a new IP address and host name, but applications usually can’t, so customers must manually find and fix these parameters. Oracle VM Templates automate the complex, error-prone process of cloning virtual machines. These templates can be created by Oracle, by internal developers at an organization, or by third parties such as independent software vendors or solution providers.

Spanning the Stack

Oracle’s virtualization strategy extends across the complete technology stack, from applications to disk. Oracle tests all of its applications and technologies in virtual environments, on Oracle hardware, in its own datacenters; it also runs the entire Oracle On Demand hosted application service—more than 6,000 virtual machines—using Oracle VM.

“We make sure that every new piece of hardware shipped from Oracle is tested with Oracle VM,” Coekaerts said. Indeed, support contracts for Oracle’s Sun server and storage systems, which are preloaded with Oracle VM, include support for Oracle VM at no extra charge.

Next Steps

 LEARN more about Oracle virtualization solutions


 WATCH the launch event Webcast


 Calculate your savings with Oracle VM 3.0

And while Oracle VM is tuned for full-stack Oracle workloads, it also works well with non-Oracle operating systems (including Windows and other Linux distributions) and supports standard x86 hardware—Oracle’s and others’—in addition to Oracle’s SPARC servers.

Powerful Management

Oracle VM Manager 3.0, the browser-based virtualization management application included with Oracle VM 3.0, is more interactive and capable than its predecessor, Coekaerts said. It leverages Oracle Application Development Framework and Oracle WebLogic Server 11g to simplify administrative operations via a Web-browser-based user interface. “If you have a Web browser, you can connect to our management console,” he said, where you can discover and manage thousands of virtual machines and physical servers, configure virtual networks, and create server pools. Oracle VM Manager is also used to access VM Storage Connect, Oracle’s plug-in architecture that leverages native capabilities, such as snapshots and cloning, in third-party storage systems.

Other features of Oracle VM Manager 3.0 include dynamic power management, which automatically consolidates virtual servers and powers down hardware when workloads are low, and reverses the process when demand increases; dynamic resource scheduling, which ensures that adequate network and CPU resources are available to keep VMs running optimally; and high availability, which can reboot a crashed VM automatically or migrate a mission-critical VM to another physical server if hardware fails. Oracle VM Manager 3.0 also includes an improved live migrate feature and an enhanced Oracle Virtual Assembly Builder.

Tying It All Together

Oracle VM’s pricing is based solely on support costs. Oracle VM support for a two-socket server with unlimited memory costs US$599 per server; servers with more than two sockets cost US$1,199 per server. For example, based on 250 two-socket servers with 96 GB of memory, Oracle VM costs more than US$2.5 million less than VMware vSphere 5 over three years, when VMware’s license and support costs are totaled. “We’re very low cost compared to our competitors,” Coekaerts said. “We have all the features that people need, and we’re tying in stuff that others can’t because we have all the components in-house.”

Oracle VM is simply the best choice, Screven said, whether you’re virtualizing an Oracle workload or a non-Oracle workload. Wrapping up the event, he concluded: “We’re more scalable, certainly less expensive, and very focused on making sure that our customers can use virtualization in an application-driven way.”

Fred Sandsmark is a regular contributor to Oracle Magazine.


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