Virginia ABC speeds data migration to OCI with Oracle Zero Downtime Migration

The administrative agency for alcohol-related laws moves workloads to OCI and Oracle Enterprise Database Service to cut support costs in half.


Using Oracle Zero Downtime Migration, we were able to move multiple databases to OCI in a single weekend. It would have taken us at least two years and a lot of headaches to migrate them one by one.

Dennis SchultzSenior Oracle DBA, Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control Authority

Business challenges

Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC), an authority appointed by the state’s Secretariat of Public Safety and Homeland Security, manages the sale and distribution of distilled spirits via 395 stores throughout the state. Employees rely on the agency’s technology infrastructure for critical activities such as human resources, financial, and inventory management.

The agency employs a multicloud and hybrid cloud technology strategy using applications and services provided by Oracle, Microsoft, and others. Historically, its primary operational workloads were hosted on-premises, provisioned, and maintained by a combination of internal staff and managed services provided by AIS Network. AIS supported eight major databases, plus numerous smaller ones, synchronizing interactions between them and the applications they support. For any given online service, there were myriad links to the main database and to complementary cloud and on-premises databases.

This infrastructure required a complex portfolio of licenses and support contracts. Adding a new database required additional hardware, software licenses, support agreements, and add-on licenses associated with complementary tools for such areas as business intelligence, integrations, and data encryption. Over time, the total cost of supporting this infrastructure became disproportionate even as on-premises technologies began to constrain the agency’s ability to adopt innovative technologies. The situation prompted Virginia ABC leadership to evaluate if moving large workloads to the cloud would significantly lower costs and enable internal staff to have more control over technology infrastructure.

Virginia ABC selected OCI to gain scalability and elasticity while also lowering overall IT support costs.

Why Virginia ABC chose Oracle

Oracle and Virginia ABC worked with Oracle on a proof of concept (POC) to migrate one major database to Oracle Cloud Infrastructure (OCI). Based on the results, ABC selected OCI and Oracle Enterprise Database Service to migrate its primary workloads to cloud. The agency was able to validate that it would reduce costs while also simplifying management of contracts and licenses associated with its technology infrastructure. The agency also recognized that it would gain the ability to use additional services within OCI to adopt modern technologies.

Also, ABC saw that OCI would support the agency’s growth while also providing the high levels of system performance and flexibility that it was seeking. Another key factor in the decision was that Oracle’s support team provided a clear path for quickly migrating the agency’s data to the cloud with low risk, tapping Oracle Zero Downtime Migration methodologies and tools.

With OCI’s automated database management capabilities, Virginia ABC eliminated the time, complexity, and downtime of applying system patches manually.


The Oracle ZDM technical support team assisted with the initial proof-of-concept database migration. Oracle ZDM follows Oracle's Maximum Availability Architecture best practices to minimize database downtime. The physical migration option leverages Recovery Manager and Oracle Data Guard, and the logical migration option uses Oracle Data Pump and Oracle GoldenGate. Approximately a week prior to the migration, the proof-of-concept database was replicated as a target database in GoldenGate. The technical team then scrutinized the target database for any bugs or errors while it was continuously kept in sync with the production database using Oracle ZDM. On the following weekend, the team dynamically doubled server capacity to accelerate the go-live without any downtime. 

Based on the results, Virginia ABC migrated more than 7 TB of data, including all development, test, and production workloads to OCI using ZDM in a single project. At the same time, technical staff also performed an upgrade from the agency’s on-premises Oracle database to Oracle Enterprise Database Service. By combining these processes, the agency eliminated the cost and time associated with upgrading as a separate project. During the upgrade, Oracle Data Pump was used to fix some existing data issues, including defragmentation, which resulted in reducing the size of some databases by as much as 20%. The migration to OCI and the database upgrade were completed as planned in a single weekend with no system downtime.

The agency’s technical staff estimated that migrating the databases one by one using traditional methodologies would have taken as long as two years and required extensive manual work that would have monopolized IT resources. During that time, there would also have been considerable risk of data errors or inaccuracies along with users experiencing high latency, especially when application links used tunneling protocol to connect to one of the databases in Azure or IASN.

After the migration, Virginia ABC’s technical staff focused on fine-tuning system performance and evaluating other OCI services and capabilities. The agency enjoys elasticity and scalability to meet its computing requirements while also reducing overall costs by about 50%. The time, cost, and complexity of provisioning new data center resources on-premises was eliminated. Patches are applied automatically, with little intervention required by IT staff. Previously, applying patches would have taken hours to complete and require staff to log into the system in the middle of the night on weekends to avoid having outages impact end users. Overall, IT staff now enjoy the ability to have more control over server management, whether it’s resizing servers and storage or deploying new servers on demand.

Published:March 17, 2023

About the customer

Virginia ABC’s more than 4,700 employees serve the Commonwealth of Virginia to administer alcohol-related laws with an emphasis on public safety. The agency helps ensure an orderly and regulated system for convenient sales and responsible consumption of alcohol.