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Oracle on VMware Cloud on AWS – Unraveling the Licensing Myth

This article is a cross-post from the VMware blog, view the article here.

Introduction

With the recent launch of VMware Cloud on AWS from VMware, many Business Critical Application (BCA) workloads that were previously difficult to deploy in the cloud no longer require significant platform modifications. VMware Cloud on AWS, powered by VMware Cloud Foundation, integrates VMware flagship compute, storage, and network virtualization products — VMware vSphere, VMware vSAN, and VMware NSX—along with VMware vCenter Server management. It optimizes them to run on elastic, bare-metal AWS infrastructure.

VMware and AWS presented a Better Together demonstration at VMworld 2017 using an Oracle RAC Database for high-availability zero-downtime client connection failover, supporting a Django-Python application running in a Native AWS Elastic Beanstalk environment. This illustrates the further value you can take advantage of by choosing VMware Cloud on AWS as the public cloud infrastructure for your Oracle RAC implementations.

Oracle and VMware on AWS image
 

Key Points to take away from this blog

Oracle licensing does not change from a licensing perspective, whether you run Oracle workloads on a classic vSphere environment, Hyper-Converged Infrastructure solution like vSAN, or VMware Cloud on AWS.

VMware Cloud on AWS – Compute Cluster Configuration – Initial availability model

At initial availability, the VMware Cloud on AWS base compute cluster configuration contains

• 4 hosts with 2TB of memory total with each host configured with 512GB of memory
• Each host contains dual CPU sockets that are populated by a custom-built Intel Xeon Processor E5-2686 v4 CPU package
• Each socket contains 18 cores running at 2.3GHz, resulting in a physical cluster core count of 144

More details of the VMware Cloud on AWS base cluster configuration can be found in this white paper, as well as in the VMware Cloud on AWS FAQs. An FAQ for third party software considerations can be found at Third Party Technology Solutions.

Understanding Oracle Licensing on VMware vSphere / vSAN environments

As has been very well documented, Oracle licensing is not based on Memory, Storage, Cluster, vCenter or Network. It is either User-based (Named User Plus) or Processor-based (Socket-based in case of Standard Edition 2 (SE2) or core-based in case of Enterprise Edition (EE) ).

There are only 3 documents which are relevant for any Oracle licensing discussion and contract:

Technical Support Policy
Processor Core Factor Table
Oracle License and Service Agreement (OLSA) / Oracle Master Agreement (OMA)

The OLSA/OMA states “Processor: shall be defined as all processors where the Oracle programs are installed and/or running.”

Deploying Oracle Workloads on VMware environments

Some key things to keep in mind when we talk about VMware vSphere Platform, ESXi hypervisor, and vSAN:

VMware vSphere is a platform of virtualized hardware that creates a total abstraction layer between the O/S and the Hardware
ESXi, is a non-Para virtualized, Type1 hypervisor and therefore makes no changes to the kernel of the guest operating system
VMware vSAN, the industry-leading software powering Hyper-Converged Infrastructure solution, in no way changes the location of where compute runs, and hence does not directly impact the licensing impact of any CPU Core or Socket based licensing

When using the Processor (Socket in case of SE2 or cores in case of EE edition) based Oracle licensing model, customers choose one of the 3 approaches:

1) Dedicated vSphere Cluster for Oracle VMs. This model is a widely accepted model purely from an Oracle licensing perspective.

2) Common vSphere Cluster using DRS-Host Affinity rules where the Affinity rules are used “bind” Oracle VMs to a set of ESXi servers pre-designated for Oracle workloads

The above 2 options are explained in the blog post “Preparing for an Oracle audit”.

3) VMware CPU Affinity model which allows for the binding of the VMs running Oracle workloads to specific processors.

More details on Oracle licensing on VMware vSphere Platform, ESXi hypervisor, and vSAN can be found in this article.

All Oracle licensing collateral on vSphere can be found at

• Oracle Licensing Webinar Recording
• Updated Understanding Oracle Licensing, Certification and Support on VMware guide
• Licensing Databases on EMC and VMware Technology

Understanding Oracle Licensing on the VMware Cloud on AWS

With VMware Cloud on AWS, customers who wish to deploy a dedicated SDDC cluster for their Oracle workloads using Enterprise Edition (EE) will use the same formula for calculating the effective number of cores as they have in non-cloud based systems.

For example, in the VMware Cloud on AWS, every host has 2 sockets with 18 cores per socket.

Therefore, the effective number of cores for licensing Oracle workloads using Enterprise Edition (EE) for that 1 host = Absolute number of cores / per socket per host * Processor Core Factor

= 2 x 18 x 0.5 = 18 effective cores per host

Given the effective number of cores liable for Oracle licensing per host in the SDDC cluster, we can then determine the effective number of cores we need to license for Oracle for all of the hosts in the SDDC cluster, taking into account Maintenance, Retirement, and Failed hardware host replacement.

At the time of writing this blog, customers do not have the option to configure cluster affinity rules in the VMware Cloud on AWS SDDC, so using Affinity rules to bind Oracle VMs to a set of ESXi servers is not available.

Conclusion

In conclusion, Oracle licensing does not change from a licensing perspective, whether you run Oracle workloads on a classic vSphere environment, Hyper-Converged Infrastructure solution like vSAN, or VMware Cloud on AWS.

When evaluating licensing for all deployment options it is important to consider Maintenance, Retirement, and Failed hardware host replacement.

Please consult the above reference FAQ or future VMware Cloud documentation to fully understand how these processes work for VMware Cloud on AWS.

All Oracle on vSphere white papers including Oracle licensing on vSphere/vSAN, Oracle best practices, RAC deployment guides, workload characterization guide can be found in the following documents:

Oracle on VMware Collateral – One Stop Shop

Oracle on VMware vSphere , vSAN, VxRAIL & VMware Cloud on AWS – Dispelling the Licensing myths

Oracle on VMware vSphere, vSAN & VxRAIL – Preparing for an the Oracle Audit

Oracle on VMware vSphere, vSAN & VxRAIL – Asks the Oracles

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