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How to Minimize Oracle Database Licensing Cost in a VMware Virtual Environment

October 11, 2012

Installing an Oracle (News - Alert) database instance on a virtual machine hosted by a VMware ESX server is a tricky proposition. Specifically, since Oracle doesn't recognize third-party soft partitioning technologies in terms of licensing database instances, the result can end up being very costly. However, there are ways to achieve this goal while actually cutting down on costs.

A recent blog post from Vincent Brasseur on the Flexera Software blog outlines a simple scenario to do so.

To begin with, we have to acknowledge the fact that all databases don't have peak CPU loading at the same time, as applications' idle and busy periods are bound to fluctuate. Then, there's the fact that the number of processors needed in a VMware virtual environment is less than on individual servers with an identical set of databases, since CPU resources are share in the former instance. As such, the rule of thumb for dedicated servers, 'peak usage times two,' doesn't apply in a virtualized environment since CPU resources are shared and each database will have differing peak demand times.

The basic result is that oversizing between 25 to 50 percent is acceptable. This means that a setup of 15 dedicated Oracle servers, each with a 12-core CPU, can be easily consolidated into a cluster of four VMware ESX physical servers with 32 cores each.

The primary benefit of doing this is to lower Oracle license consumption by a hefty sum — about $1.24 million by Brasseur's calculations — but VMware ESX servers hosting Oracle databases in a cluster has further advantages. For example, VMware's VMotion allows for regulating of virtual machine loads across ESX servers without direct human intervention.

All in all, VMware ESX/ESXi is an excellent way to save substantially on Oracle database licensing, but it does add some complexity to software licensing management due simply to the nature of Oracle licenses.

Flexera Software is a provider of strategic solutions for Application Usage Management. The company recently stated that its 2012 Key Trends in Software Pricing & Licensing report will be published in November 2012, while its ongoing Application Usage Management Benchmarking Report series revealed in September found that publishers sell 20 percent of new entitlements each year via subscriptions.

Edited by Rachel Ramsey
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