Inside Data 68
by Graham Keitch
Graham Keitch investigates Oracle Database in the Cloud.
HardCopy Issue: 68 | Published: February 26, 2016
In the previous edition of Inside Data (issue 67), I introduced Oracle Platform as a Service (PaaS). This is the middle layer in the cloud stack between Infrastructure as a Service (Iaas) and Software as a Service (SaaS). PaaS provides tools and services for building and orchestrating cloud and on-premises applications. Although principally known for their database technologies, Oracle has an array of products for all layers of the stack. Enterprise grade features and open standards have enabled Oracle to migrate these to the cloud where they provide an unrivalled breadth of technology for systems modernisation and hybrid infrastructure projects. Oracle Applications are now available as SaaS offerings while developer and middleware products that handle data integration, aggregation, analytics and visualisation occupy the PaaS space.
So where does Oracle Database sit in this multi-tiered framework? There’s no single answer to that seemingly simple question because Oracle supports a variety of database cloud deployment models that straddle IaaS, PaaS and SaaS domains. Subscribers to Oracle On Demand pay an additional fee to access the technology via the cloud as a SaaS subscription. Otherwise, DBaaS (Database as a Service) is best considered as a category of its own.
For some time Oracle has recognised a number of third party Authorised Cloud Environments including Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure. Alternative licences are not required for these IaaS platforms but different rules govern the processing power each instance may be exposed to. Standard Edition Two licences can be used in environments with up to eight virtual cores while a processor licence is required for each virtual core in the case of Enterprise Edition. As with on-premises deployment involving multicore chips, a factor that is determined by processor type and make is applied to the core count to provide a discount. Oracle’s own IaaS platform facilitates access to some of the industry’s most powerful database optimised hardware which few businesses could afford to own and manage in-house.
Oracle Database cloud offerings cover a broad range of requirements. The Database Schema Service consists of a single schema and a choice of 5, 20 or 50GB database storage. It includes Oracle Application Express, a browser based SQL and PL/SQL development framework. Data is accessed via RESTful web services and is encrypted by default in the user’s own tablespaces.
The Oracle DBaaS alternative
Oracle DBaaS is an alternative option that allows users to take a more hands-on approach. This is a dedicated virtual machine running a pre-installed instance of either Oracle Database 11g or the latest 12c release. Unlike the single Schema Service, the user is provided with full access to the administrative root for management tasks. One-click automated backup with point-in-time recovery and one-click patching and upgrades are examples of the richer functionality this service provides. Oracle plans a further variant of this which offloads some of these mundane management chores for Oracle to deal with. This will be called DBaaS – Managed.
The most demanding OLTP, analytics and mixed workload use cases may call for Oracle’s dedicated database machines known as Exadata. These servers use high speed InfiniBand for internal communication, intelligent flash storage and other features designed for extreme performance. Exadata Service offers a choice of rack space which can be scaled elastically. The service provides secure network access for customer databases running in dedicated virtual machines while all aspects of the hardware and networking infrastructure are managed by Oracle.
In addition to the choice of service, customers can choose from several database editions and whether to use the high end Enterprise Options. There are numerous other data related PaaS options to consider and choices will have to be made about the most economic and flexible type of subscription. This might seem overwhelming but the cloud does open up flexible access to otherwise unattainable facilities. You can spin up high end editions with Options such as Exadata and take them down again as required while only paying for what you use.
So, how does that work? Oracle has created four editions for the cloud. The first two will be familiar to on-premises users as they are the Standard and Enterprise Editions we know of old. To these they have added two further services called High and Extreme Performance. The former is Enterprise plus most of the Enterprise Options, while Extreme carries a wider range of Options and In-Memory Database technology. Most of the services can be configured for General Purpose or High-Memory Compute shapes based on processing requirements. Each combination carries its own price tag. DBaaS and Virtual Image are available as metered and non-metered. Metered is charged by the month or hour, while non-metered is per month only. Non-metered is the only option for Exadata which is charged for as an Oracle hosted environment based on processing and storage capacity.