Weekend mumblings: Oracle and VMware

I’ve had VMware and Oracle on my mind recently, probably for three reasons:

  1. In the last week or so, I’ve been involved in a two discussions about the viability/supportability of Oracle E-Business Suite on VMware, one on OracleCommunity.net, and the other on LinkedIn.
  2. The IOUG recently sent out a VMware-sponsored email entitled, “Why Oracle DBAs should care about virtualization.”
  3. I am an unreformed, unrepentant nerd.

So, if you're up for some lazy Saturday evening musings about Oracle and VMware, keep reading. I’ll try not to ramble too much.

FUD or misinterpretation? The difference between “supported” and “certified”

The crux of the recent online discussions in which I participated was the age-old question: Will Oracle support customers running on VMware, or not? The confusion arises from a My Oracle Support note stating Oracle’s position on the topic: Support Position for Oracle Products Running on VMWare Virtualized Environments (Doc ID 249212.1). If read too quickly, or too conservatively, it’s possible to conclude that Oracle won’t provide full support for its products in a VMware environment. Coupled with the knowledge that Oracle offers its own virtualization product, Oracle VM, that it does fully certify and support, it’s easy to see where Oracle customers might think twice about considering VMware as a virtualization platform.

It’s important to remember, however, that when it comes to Oracle products, there’s a big difference between certification and support. Certification of Oracle software on specific hardware platforms, for example, is pretty much out of scope for Oracle Support, and VMware is, in effect, providing a virtual hardware platform upon which to run your systems. The My Oracle Support note referenced above actually spells out pretty clearly how Oracle will support you if you’re running on VMware. What the note effectively states is, “If the reported issue looks like a problem with our software, we will support you. If your issue looks like it’s related to VMware, we’re going to send you to VMware for resolution.” While it might seem like this is a less-than-usual level of support, it’s actually entirely fair. If your problem could be traced to the OS, after all, you could expect to be referred to the OS vendor. Similarly, if the conclusion were that you had hardware problems, you could expect to be sent to your hardware vendor.

Incidentally, this illustrates a core benefit of the Oracle-OEL/Solaris-Oracle-VM technology stack: if you have issues that require intervention from Oracle Support, whether they’re with software, hardware, or virtualization layer, there’s no concern that you’ll be left playing “vendor volleyball.” Your issues will be handled entirely by Oracle, and there won’t ever be any finger-pointing between the various product support teams, because everyone is living in peace and harmony. *ahem* :-)

Bottom line: Currently, yes, you’ll be supported if you run your Oracle environment in VMware. Unless your problem turns out to be VMware-related, in which case you probably want VMware’s help anyway.

That’s great and all, but does it work, particularly in production?

DIsclosure time: I’ve had my doubts in the past about the viability of VMware for production E-Business Suite environments, as noted here in a comment on Steven Chan’s blog. I’m just one guy, though. VMware’s products have matured since then, and some of the problems I alluded to were not strictly VMware issues. Even back then (2005-2006), though, I was comfortable running Grid Control and some production Oracle Collaboration Suite application tiers in VMware. From what I’ve read, things have only gotten better with VMware vSphere.

It’s worth noting that VMware itself runs Oracle products, including E-Business Suite, in a VMware virtualization environment. They also have a list of customer references on their web site; if you elect to use VMware in your production Oracle environment, you won’t be in uncharted waters. If you’d like to read about the experiences of an Oracle customer running on VMware without the marketing filter of the vendor’s website, I recommend reading Jay Weinshenker’s blog. That’s twice I’ve linked to him in two blog posts, but I’m not digitally stalking him, I swear. He just writes interesting stuff. ;-) I’ll probably link to him one more time before I’m done here.

Why not just use Oracle VM?

I have far more experience with VMware than I do with Oracle VM, so it shouldn’t be surprising that I present as a VMware fanboy. Oracle has made a clear commitment to the virtualization space, however, and has put together an attractive package to support it. Oracle VM might be a good fit for you, particularly if you:

  • are interested primarily in virtualizing Oracle products (note: Oracle VM can be used for non-Oracle virtualization needs as well)
  • haven’t already made an investment in VMware in other parts of your IT infrastructure.
  • prefer having just one vendor to flog when things go wrong. :)

References/Additional reading

As if I haven’t packed enough links into this post, here are a few more:


  1. Posted 27 June 2010 at 16:50 | Permalink

    Thanks for the references to my writings :D It was blogs and tweets by people like you and Steven (who is, to me, the corporate face of all things Oracle EBS - and a good one!) that got me to finally start blogging.

    I hope to learn to be more concise in my writings, thanks for managing to slog thru them!


    p.s. I surely can't pick on you for being a "unreformed, unrepentant nerd." - Last night, I was late to a dinner with an old boss I had driven 3+ hours to see because I wanted to finish my latest blog post (on Lessons learned from a virtualized Oracle upgrade). And then I twittered from dinner. Sigh, nerd-tastic.

  2. Posted 27 June 2010 at 17:11 | Permalink

    Hi Jay,

    Nice to hear that I've had a part in inspiring a blogger, particularly one with such interesting stuff to share. It's unfortunate that I can't also offer inspiration (unless negative example counts) for being concise. My understanding is that it comes with practice, but so far all I've managed is a nagging feeling that I need an editor. ;-)


    John P.

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