As Published In
Oracle Magazine
May/June 2012

AT ORACLE: In the Field

Virtualized Communities

By Andy Flower


A virtual community discusses virtualization and delivers real information.

Oracle’s launch of Oracle VM 3.0 in 2011 underscored the increasingly important virtualization layer in data and application architecture. Nearly all computing platforms are being virtualized, and indeed 62 percent of Independent Oracle Users Group (IOUG) members who responded to a 2009 survey have deployed virtualized database servers to support development, testing, and production requirements. Without a more recent survey of the same IOUG members, we cannot be absolutely sure, but the number of IOUG members who have deployed virtualized database servers through 2012 has almost certainly increased.

Optimize Physical Resources

A physical machine can be partitioned as one or more virtual servers. To the users and to applications running on a virtual server, operations appear to run on an independent physical server. Virtual servers enable us to optimize the use of our physical resources by sharing them and running a mix of applications, which distributes and balances the workload to get greater utilization of those physical resources.

No longer do we need a dedicated machine for each database or application server. We can use just enough of a machine’s capacity to optimally handle the workload. We now have a greater capacity to have more servers running more applications without a linear increase in server hardware. Along with this ability to maximize resources comes a greater capacity to support high availability and disaster recovery.

Configuring a physical server is a time-consuming process. From the day it arrives on your loading dock to the day it is fully provisioned and usable can take days or weeks. Virtualization doesn’t eliminate this initial provisioning of physical hardware, but once the hardware is provisioned and the virtualization software is installed, provisioning a new virtual server happens in minutes or hours instead of days or weeks.

According to the same 2009 IOUG survey, 81 percent of respondents see an annual increase in the number of servers needed to support their businesses. Beyond the resource flexibility and time savings, virtualization can also address the need to increase server utilization while minimizing hardware costs. The benefits of virtualization were clear in 2009, but the experience and information needed to take full advantage of virtualization were not.

A Virtual Community Grows

For several years, IOUG members have sought information on how best to run their Oracle software on virtual servers. More recently, perhaps as a consequence of engineered systems such as Oracle Exadata or the recent improvements in Oracle VM, our members have become more interested in Oracle VM. Not surprisingly, as has often been the case when a topic is being vigorously discussed and debated, some have wanted to formalize the discussion, idea sharing, and peer networking.

Next Steps

 LEARN more about the IOUG Virtualization SIG and other SIGs

Thus, in the summer of 2011, the IOUG Virtualization SIG was born, and it is one of IOUG’s fastest-growing special interest groups (SIGs). It includes proponents of both Oracle VM and other vendors’ virtualization software. The SIG has a regular schedule of Webinars and a dedicated educational track in the IOUG Forum at COLLABORATE.

I am a virtualization novice, as you can tell from this column. But, as an IOUG member, when I needed to find out more about virtualization I did the three things any community member should do:

  1. Join the IOUG Virtualization SIG and the associated LinkedIn group.

  2. Go to the IOUG Virtualization SIG Website and access the Webinar archives to find and watch recorded Webinar presentations, and add the next Webinar to your calendar.

  3. Contact your peers that are actively involved in the IOUG Virtualization SIG to benefit from their expertise.

Some of IOUG’s most tenured and well-known members are active contributors to this SIG, underscoring its importance to our community. If understanding everything from the basics of virtualization to advanced implementations is important to you, then do what I did: join the IOUG Virtualization SIG.

While you are joining, have a look at the other IOUG SIGs. Perhaps you will find another growing virtual Oracle community to join and begin taking advantage of an IOUG SIG.



Andy Flower Headshot

Andy Flower
( is president of IOUG and has been an active volunteer with the organization since 1998. In his day job, he is an information management and business intelligence consultant with Right Triangle Consulting.




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