Université Laval moves to Oracle Exadata Cloud@Customer with Oracle ZDM

North America’s first French-language university migrates from Oracle Exadata to Exadata Cloud@Customer with minimal production environment downtime.


Moving from Oracle Exadata to Exadata Cloud@Customer allowed us to simplify our architecture and generate cost savings via dynamic scaling as well as reduced system management. Oracle Zero Downtime Migration’s automation capabilities enabled us to migrate and encrypt our databases at the same time, while providing service without interruption to our stakeholders and students.

Maxime DumontDBA, Université Laval

Business challenges

Founded in 1663, Séminaire de Québec became Université Laval in 1852 and, as such, is the first French-language university in North America. Over the years, Université Laval has graduated over 335,000 individuals and worked closely with local leaders in research and development.

The university long relied on Oracle PeopleSoft financial and human resources management applications hosted on-premises on Oracle Exadata. When it came time to refresh legacy  hardware, Université Laval’s leadership wanted to explore ways to modernize the IT infrastructure to support innovation. Historically, IT staff needed to provision the data center to accommodate the highest system demand periods, meaning resources were often idle during low demand. The goals for modernization were to achieve better overall system performance and resiliency while enjoying the cost reduction benefits of cloud automation, elasticity, and advanced security. However, data needed to remain on-premises and any migration to a new infrastructure would require minimal disruption to end users.

Oracle Zero Downtime Migration was key to our success by ensuring a smooth migration of our 200 pluggable databases distributed across 35 container databases.

Maxime DumontDBA, Université Laval

Why Université Laval chose Oracle

Université Laval decided Oracle Exadata Cloud@Customer was the simplest way to move its workloads to the cloud. Exadata Cloud@Customer allows the university to control data for its security, regulatory, and application network latency requirements while gaining the advantages of automated database management services. Oracle Zero Downtime Migration (ZDM) was also selected as the ideal migration approach because it provided a simplified and automated migration experience with zero to negligible downtime.

OCI’s dynamic scaling automatically scales Université Laval’s workloads from 20 OCPUs during normal operations to 92 OCPUs during peak demand.


Within five months, Université Laval successfully moved Oracle RAC Databases 12.2 and 19c from the on-premises Exadata X6 to Exadata Cloud@Customer Gen2 using Oracle ZDM. The university’s current infrastructure consists of two Exadata Cloud@Customer X8M quarter racks. The first is for production, and the second is for development, testing, and disaster recovery. After the migration, performance increased 2X to 8X compared to Exadata on-premises.

Oracle ZDM employed Oracle Data Guard to perform an online physical migration. With this option, Oracle ZDM backed up the source database, created an instance of a standby database from the backup to the target environment, and configured Data Guard to synchronize the source and target databases before switching over to the target database. Université Laval can pause this process at any stage and restart as needed.

Oracle ZDM automatically encrypted data for over 200 PDBs disseminated among 35 CDBs without any downtime. For all these databases, Université Laval also relied on Oracle Data Safe to monitor databases from a security perspective and OCI Object Storage to store and externalize database backups totaling 6 terabytes per week using OCI Storage Gateway. This not only accelerated backups but also helped save storage costs. The university also tapped Oracle Dynamic Scaling, which runs at about 20 Oracle Compute Units during normal operations while scaling up to about 92 OCPUs during peak demand—typically at the beginning and end of a semester. As an added bonus, the university pays only for the resources used. And, with Exadata Cloud@Customer’s ability to run an entire workload on a single environment, Université Laval now has a dedicated disaster recovery environment.

Université Laval also enjoys significantly less database management, freeing up resources to focus on higher-value activities. In addition, with its extraordinary performance throughout all operations, Cloud@Customer is so powerful that it reduces performance tuning to a bare minimum.

Published:June 16, 2023

About the customer

New ideas and excellence are the core values of Université Laval, which over the years has educated and graduated over 335,000 individuals, who in their own contributed to the progress of their community and of society as a whole.