Oracle is a mess & customers pay the price!

Chaos that is Oracle

Clients are rapidly adopting open source technologies in support of purpose-built applications while also shifting portions of on-premises workloads to major Cloud providers like Amazon’s AWS, Microsoft’s Azure and IBM’s SoftLayer.  These changes are sending Oracle’s licensing revenue into the tank forcing them to re-tool … I’m being kind saying it this way.

What do we see  Oracle doing these days?

  • Aggressively going after VMware environments who use Oracle Enterprise products for licensing infractions
  • Pushing each of their clients toward Oracle’s public cloud
  • Drastically changing how Oracle is licensed for Authorized Cloud Environments using Intel servers
  • Latest evidence indicates they are set to abandon Solaris and SPARC technology
  • On-going staff layoffs as they shift resources, priorities & funding from on-premises to cloud initiatives

VMware environments

I’ve previously discussed for running Oracle on Intel (vs IBM POWER), Intel & VMware have an Oracle problem. This was acknowledged by Chad Sakac, Dell EMC’s President Converged Division in his August 17, 2016 blog in what really amounted to an Open Letter to King Larry Ellison, himself. I doubt most businesses using Oracle with VMware & Intel servers fully understand the financial implications this has to their business.  Allow me to paraphrase the essence of the note “Larry, take your boot off the necks of our people”.

This is a very contentious topic so I’ll not take a position but will try to briefly explain both sides.  Oracle’s position is simple even though it is very complex.  Oracle does not recognize VMware as an approved partitioning (view it as soft partitioning) method to limit Oracle licensing. As such, clients running Oracle in a VMware environment, regardless of how little or much is used, must properly license it for every Intel server under that clients Enterprise (assume vSphere 6+).  They really do go beyond a rational argument IMHO. Since Oracle owns the software and authored the rules they use these subtleties to lean on clients extracting massive profits despite what the contract may say. An example that comes to mind is how Oracle suddenly changed licensing configurations for Oracle Standard Edition and Standard Edition One. They sunset both of these products as of December 31, 2015 replacing both with Standard Edition 2. What can only be described as screwing clients, they halved the number of sockets allowed on a server or in a RAC cluster, limited the number of cpu threads per DB instance while doubling the number of minimum Named User Plus (NUPs). On behalf of Larry, he apologizes to any 4 socket Oracle Standard Edition users but if you don’t convert to a 2 socket configuration (2 sockets for 1 server or 1 socket for 2 servers using RAC) then be prepared to license the server using the Oracle Enterprise Edition licensing model.

The Intel server vendors and VMware have a different interpretation on how Oracle should be licensed.  I’ll boil their position down to using host or cpu affinity rules.  House of Bricks published a paper that does a good job trying to defend Intel+VMware’s licensing position. In their effort, they do show how fragile of ground they sit on with its approach  highlighting the risks businesses take if they hitch their wagons to HoB, VMware & at least Dell’s recommenations.

This picture, which I believe House of Bricks gets the credit for creating captures the Oracle licensing model for Intel+VMware environments quite well. When you pull your car into a parking garage – you expect to pay for 1 spot yet Oracle says you must pay for every one as you could technically park in any of them. VMware asserts you should only pay for a single floor at most because your vehicle may not be a compact car, may not have the clearance for all levels, there are reserved & handicapped spots which you can’t use. You get the idea.

oracle_parking_garage

It simply a disaster for any business to run Oracle on Intel servers. Oracle wins if you do not virtualize, running each on standalone servers.  Oracle wins if you use VMware, regardless of how little or much you actually us.  Be prepared to pay or to litigate!

Oracle and the “Cloud”

This topic is more difficult to provide sources so I’ll just stick to anecdotal evidence. Take it or leave it. At contract renewal, adding products to contracts or new projects like migrating JD Edwards “World” to “Enterprise One” or a new Oracle EBS deployment would subject a business to an offer like this.  “Listen Bob, you can buy 1000 licenses of XYZ for $10M or you can buy 750 licenses of XYZ for $6M, buy 400 Cloud units for $3M and we will generously throw in 250 licenses …. you’ll still have to pay support of course. You won’t get a better deal Bob, act now!”.  Yes, Oracle is willing to take a hit for the on-premises license revenue while bolstering their cloud sales by simply shuffling the Titanic deck chairs. These clients, for the most part are not interested in the Oracle cloud and will never use it other than to get a better deal during negotiations. Oracle then reports to Wall Street they are having tremendous cloud growth. Just google “oracle cloud fake bookings” to read plenty of evidence to support this.

Licensing in the Cloud

Leave it to Oracle Marketing to find a way to get even deeper into clients wallets – congratulations they’ve found a new way in the “Cloud”.  Oracle charges at least 2X more with Oracle licenses on Intel servers that run in Authorized Cloud Environments (ACE). You do not license Oracle in the cloud using the on-premises licensing factor table.  The more VM’s running in a ACE,  the more you will pay vs an on-premises deployment. To properly license an on-premises Intel server (remember, it is always an underlying proof that Oracle on POWER servers is the best solution) regardless if virtualization is used, assuming a 40 core server, would equal 20 Oracle Licenses (Intel licensing factor for Intel servers is 0.5 per core). Assume 1 VMware server, ignoring it is probably part of a larger vSphere cluster.  Once licensed, clients using VMware could theorectially run Oracle as many VM’s as desired or supported by that server. Over-provision the hell out of it – doesn’t matter. That same workload in an ACE, you pay for what amounts to every core.  Remember, if the core resides on-premises it is 1 Oracle License for every 2 Intel cores but in a ACE it is 1 OL for 1 core.

AWS
Putting your Oracle workload in the cloud?  Oracle license rules stipulate if running in AWS, it labels as vCPU’s both the physical core and the hyperthread. Thus, 2 vCPU = 1 Oracle License (OL). Using the same 40 core Intel server mentioned above, with hyperthreading it would be 80 threads or 80 vCPU.  Using Oracle’s new Cloud licensing guidelines, that would be 40 OL.  If this same server was on-premises, those 40 physical cores (regardless of threads) would be 20 OL ….. do you see it?  The licensing is double!!!   If your AWS vCPU consumption is less vs the on-premises consumption you may be ok. As soon as your consumption goes above that point – well, break out your checkbook.  Let your imagination run wild thinking of the scenarios where you will pay for more licenses in the cloud vs on-prem.

Azure
Since Azure does not use hyperthreading, 1 vCPU = 1 core.  The licensing method for ACE’s for Azure or any other ACE if hyperthreading is not used, 1 vCPU = 1 OL.  If a workload requires 4 vCPU, it requires 4 OL vs the 2 OL if it was on-premises.

Three excellent references to review. The first is Oracle’s Cloud licensing document. The second link is an article by Silicon Angle giving their take of this change and the last link is for a blog by Tim Hall, a DBA and Oracle ACE Director sharing his concerns. Just search for this topic starting from January 2017 and read until you fall asleep.

Oracle
Oracle offers their own cloud and as you might imagine, they do everything they can to favor their own cloud thru licensing, contract negotiations and other means.   From SaaS, IaaS and PaaS their marketing machine says they are second to none whether the competition is SalesForce, Workday, AWS, Azure or any other.  Of course, analysts, media, the internet nor Oracle earnings reports show they are having any meaningful success – to the degree they claim.

Most recently, Oracle gained attention for updating how clients can license Oracle products in ACE’s as mentioned above.  As you might imagine, Oracle licenses its products slightly differently than in competitors clouds but they still penalize Intel and even SPARC clients, who they’ll try to migrate into the cloud running Intel (since it appears Oracle is abandoning SPARC).  The Oracle Cloud offers clients access to its products on a hourly or monthly in a metered and non-metered format on up to 4 different levels of software. Focusing on Oracle DB, the general tiers are Standard, Enterprise, High-Performance and Extreme-Performance Packages. Think of it like Oracle Standard Edition, Enterprise Edition, EE+tools, EE+RAC+tools.  Oracle also defines the hardware tier as “Compute Shapes“. The three tiers are General Purpose, High-Memory or Dedicated compute

Comparing the cost of an on-premises perpetual license for Oracle Enterprise  vs a non-metered monthly license for the Enterprise Tier means they both use Oracle Enterprise Edition Database. Remember a perpetual license is a one-time purchase, $47,500 for EE DB list price plus 22% per year annual maintenance.  The Enterprise tier using a High-memory compute shape in the Oracle cloud is $2325 per month.  This compute shape consists of 1 OCPU (Oracle CPU) or 2 vCPU (2 threads / 1 core).  Yes, just like AWS and Azure, Intel licensing is at best 1.0 vs 0.5 for on-premises licensing per core. Depending how a server might be over-provisioned as well as the fact an on-premises server would be fully licensed with 1/2 of its installed cores there are a couple of ways clients will vastly overpay for Oracle products in any cloud.

The break-even point for a perpetual license + support vs a non-metered Enterprise using High-memory compute shape is 30 months.

  • Perpetual license
    • 1 x Oracle EE DB license = $47,500
    • 22% annual maintenance = $10,450
    • 3 year cost: $78,850
  • Oracle Cloud – non-metered Enterprise using High-Memory shape
    • 1 x OCPU for Enterprise Package for High-Compute = $2325/mo
    • 1 year cloud cost = $27,900
    • 36 month cost: $83,700
  • Cross-over point is at 30 months
    • $79,050 is the 30 month cost in the Cloud
  • An Oracle Cloud license becomes significantly more expensive after this.
    • year 4 for a perpetual license would be $10,470
    • 12 months in year 4 for the Cloud license would be $27,900
    • Annual cost increase for a single cloud license over the perpetual license = $17,430
  • Please make your checks payable to “Larry Ellison”

Oracle revenue’s continue to decline as clients move to purpose-built NoSQL solutions such as MongoDB, RedisLabs, Neo4j, OrientDB, Couchbase as well as SQL based solutions from MariaDB, PostgreSQL (I like EnterpriseDB) even DB2 is a far better value.  Oracle’s idea isn’t to re-tool by innovating, listening to clients to move with the market. No, they get out their big stick – follow the classic mistake so many great clients have done before them which is not evolve while pushing clients until something breaks.   Yes, Boot Hill is full of dead technology companies who failed to innovate and adapt. This is why Oracle is in complete chaos.  Clients beware – you are on their radar!

 

 

HPE; there you go again! Part 1

Updated Sept 05, 2016: Split the blog into 2 parts (Part 2). Fixed several typo’s and sentence structure problems. Updated the description of the Superdome X blades to indicate they are 2 socket blades while using Intel E7 chips.

It must be the season as I find myself focused a bit on HPE.  Maybe it’s because they seem to be looking for their identity as they now consider selling their software business.  This time though, it is self-inflicted as there has been a series of conflicting marketing actions. From what they say in their recent HPE RAS whitepaper about the poor Intel server memory reliability stating in the introductory section that memory is far and away the highest source of component failures in a system.  Shortly after that RAS paper is released, they post a blog written by the HPE Server Memory Product Manager stating “Memory Errors aren’t the end of the World”.  Tell that to the SAP HANA and Oracle Database customers, the latter which I will be discussing in this blog.

HPE dares to step into the lion’s den on a topic with which it has little standing to imply it is an authority how Oracle Enterprise software products are licensing in IBM Power servers.  As a matter of fact, thanks to the President of VCE, Chad Sakac for acknowledging that VMware has a Oracle problem.  On August 17th, Chad penned what amounts to an open letter to Larry & Oracle begging them …. No, demanding that Larry leave his people alone.  And, by “his people”, I mean customers who run Oracle Enterprise Software Products licensed by the core on Intel servers using VMware.

Enter HPE with a recent blog by Jeff Kyle, Director of Mission Critical Solutions.  He doesn’t distinguish if he is in a product development, marketing or sales role.  I would bet he it is the latter two as I do not think a product developer would put themselves out like Jeff just did.  What he did is what all Intel marketing teams and sellers have done from the beginning of compute time when the first customer thought of running Oracle on a server that wasn’t “Big Iron”.

Jeff sets up a straw man stating “software licensing and support being one of the top cost items in any data center” followed by the obligatory claim that moving it to an “advanced” yet “industry-standard x86 servers” will deliver the ROI to achieve the goals of every customer while coming damn close to solving world hunger.

Next is where he enters the world of FUD while also stepping into the land of make-believe.  Yes, Jeff is talking about IBM Power technology as if it is treated by Oracle for licensing purposes the same as an Intel server, which it is not.  You will have to judge if he did this on purpose or simply out of ignorance.  He does throw the UNIX platforms a bone by saying they have “excellent stability and performance” but stops there as only to claim they cost more than their Industry standard x86 server counterparts.

He goes on to state UNIX servers <Hold Please> Attention: For purposes of this discussion, let’s go with the definition that future UNIX references = AIX and RISC references = IBM POWER unless otherwise stated.  As I was saying, Jeff next claims AIX & POWER are not well positioned for forward-looking Cloud deployments continuing his diminutive descriptors suggesting proper clients wouldn’t want to work with “proprietary RISC chips like IBM Power”. But, the granddaddy of all of his statements and the one that is complete disingenuous is:  <low monotone voice> “The Oracle license charge per CPU core for IBM Power is twice (2X) the amount charged for Intel x86 servers” </low monotone voice>.

In his next paragraph, he uses some sleight of hand by altering the presentation of the traditional full List Price cost for Oracle RAC that is associated with Oracle Enterprise Edition Database.  Oracle EE DB is $47,500 per license + 22% maintenance per year, starting with year 1.  Oracle RAC for Oracle EE EB is $23,000 per license + 22% maintenance per year, starting with year 1.  If you have Oracle RAC then you would by definition also have a corresponding Oracle EE DB Licenses.  The author uses a price of $11,500 per x86 CPU core and although by doing he isn’t wrong per se, I just do not like that he does not disclose the full license cost of #23,000 up front as it looks like he is trying to minimize the cost of Oracle on x86.

A quick licensing review. Oracle has an Oracle License Factor Table for different platforms to determine how to license its products that are licensed by core. Most modern Intel servers are 0.5 per License.  IBM Power is 1.0 per License.  HP Itanium 95XX chip based servers, so you know also has a license factor of 1.0.  Oracle, since they own the table and the software in question can manipulate it to favor their own platforms as they do, especially with the SPARC servers.  It ranges from 0.25 to 0.75 while Oracle’s Intel servers are consistent with the other Intel servers at 0.5.  Let’s exclude the Oracle Intel servers for purposes of what I am talking about here for reason I said, which is they manipulate the situation to favor themselves. All other Intel servers “MUST” license ALL cores in the server with very, very limited exceptions “times” the licensing factor which is 0.5.  Thus, a 2 x 18 core socket would have 36 cores. Ex: 2s x 18c = 36c x 0.5 License Factor = 18 Licenses.  That would equal 18 Oracle Licenses for whatever the product being used.

What Jeff does next was a bit surprising to me.  He suggests customers not bother with 1 & 2 socket Intel “Scale-out” servers which generally rely on Intel E5 aka EP chipsets.  By the way, Oracle with their Exadata & Oracle Database Appliances now ONLY use 2 socket servers with the E5 processors; let that sink in as to why.  The EP chips tend to have features that on paper have less performance such as less memory bandwidth & fewer cores while other features such as clock frequency are higher, a feature that is good for Oracle DB.   These chips also have lower RAS capabilities, such as missing the MCA (Machine Check Architecture) feature only found in the E7 chips.  He instead suggests clients look at “scale-up” servers which commonly classified as 4 sockets and larger systems.  This is where I need to clarify a few things.  The HP Superdome X system, although it scales to 16 sockets, does so using 2 socket blades.  Each socket uses the Intel E7 processor, which given this is a 2 socket blade is counter to what I described at the beginning of this paragraph where 1 & 2 socket servers used E5 processors.  The design of the HP SD-X is meant to scale from 1 blade to 8 blades or 2 to 16 sockets which requires the E7 processor.

With the latest Intel Broadwell EX or E7 chipsets, the number of cores available for the HD SD-X range from 4 to 24 cores per socket.  Configuring a blades with the 24 core E7_v4 (v4 indicates Broadwell) equals 48 cores or 24 Oracle Licenses.  Reference the discussion two paragraphs above.  His assertion is by moving to a larger server you get a larger memory capacity for those “in-memory compute models” and it is this combination that will dramatically improve your database performance while lowering your overall Total Cost of Ownership (TCO).

He uses a customer success story for Pella (windows) who avoided $200,000 in Oracle licensing fees after moving off a UNIX (not AIX in this case) platform to 2 x HPE Superdome X servers running Linux.  This HPE customer case study says the UNIX platform which Pella moved off 9 years ago was actually a HP Superdome with Intel Itanium processors server running HP-UX.  Did you get this? HP migrated off their own 9-year-old server while implying it might be from a competitor – maybe even AIX on Power since it was referenced earlier in the story.  That circa 2006 era Itanium may have used a Montecito class processor. All of the early models before Tukwila were pigs, in my estimation.  A lot of bluff and hyperbole but rarely delivering on the claims.  That era of SD would have also used an Oracle license factor of 0.5 as Oracle didn’t change it until 2010 and only on the newer 95xx series chips.  Older systems were grandfathered and as I recall as long as they didn’t add new licenses they would remain under the 0.5 license model.  I would expect a 2014/2015 era Intel processor would outperform a 2006 era chip, although if it would have been against a POWER5 1.9 or 2.2 GHz chip I might call it 50-50 J .

We have to spend some time discussing HP server technology as Jeff is doing some major league sleight of hand as the Superdome X server supports a special hardware partitioning capability (more details below) that DOES allow for reduced licensing that IS NOT available on non-Superdome x86 servers or from most other Intel vendors unless they also have an 8 socket or larger system like SGI – oh wait, HP just bought them.  Huh, wonder why they did this if the HPE Superdome X is so good.

Jeff then mentions an IDC research study; big deal, here is a note from my Pastor that says the HPE Superdome is not very good; who are you going to believe?

Moving the rest of the blog to Part 2.

 

 

Intel Vendors & VMware have a Oracle Problem

Houston, we have a problem!

Intel server vendors Dell, VCE, HPE, Cisco, Lenovo, Fujitsu, Hitachi, Huawei, white box vendor Super Micro and any other server vendor using Intel chipsets have a problem if their customers use VMware to host Oracle Enterprise products (ie Database).

What’s “their” problem

In a nutshell, Oracle’s position is that customers running their Enterprise products like Oracle Enterprise Edition Database,  licensed by core (all cores in the server x 0.5) in a VMware environment must license every core on every server in which that Oracle workload could ever potentially reside managed by vCenter.  Server vendors, VMware, consultants and so on have a vested interest for Oracle to not do this because this Oracle tax is an extreme approach with their licensing terms that concern customers if they are running Oracle on Intel servers for fear Oracle will initiate a LMS audit leading to a substantial license settlement.

Quick Background

In my previous blog I wrote about “Intel; the Great Charade” where I discuss  each new generation of Intel processors having less performance per core than the previous generation.  As you read this and the ones referenced in this article (VCE & HoB) keep this ‘per core’ licensing approach in mind as this topic is central to how Oracle (typically) licenses its enterprise products.  For example, if a clients current server models are Sandy Bridge or Ivy Bridge era servers and plan to upgrade to the latest generation Broadwell you actually decrease the per core performance while increasing the number of cores per socket (if staying with the same SKU). Meaning 12 Ivy Bridge cores requires a little over 13 rounded up to 14 Broadwell cores to deliver equal performance. You don’t upgrade to get equal performance so you now have to move to a 16 or maybe 18 core SKU to gain additional socket performance or go with a higher frequency & lower core per socket SKU to obtain receive more performance per core….but now do you have enough overall performance?  To summarize my previous blog: It takes more cores from Haswell or Broadwell to equal the performance of the previous generation chips.  Since this increase in performance is at the socket and not with the core or thread (where most databases almost almost always prefer a stronger core vs more cores let alone weaker cores in a socket).  Since Oracle’s license calculation on Intel is to license all of cores in the server x 0.5 you may end up buying 1 or 2 extra Oracle licenses for every upgraded Intel server running VMware so be sure to factor that into your budget.

Who is complaining?

I could write the rest of this blog on this topic alone; around the right and wrong of Oracle’s licensing methods in VMware environments but I’ll defer to the thousands already available on this very topic.  This is not the reason I am writing this blog but to call out the self-serving and irresponsible Call-to-Action from House of Bricks and leader of a major CI player; VCE and to discuss why Oracle has no incentive to stop doing what they are doing.

Chad Sakac, the President of VCE which is the the Converged Infrastructure (CI) arm of EMC and soon Dell as the acquisition of EMC should be complete any day.  He is a regular blogger and in my opinion a master of marketing, technology & motivation.  On August 17, 2016 Chad wrote a blog titled “Oracle, I’m sad about you, disappointed in you, and frustrated with you.” in which he lays out how Intel server customers running Oracle Enterprise products, most often Oracle Enterprise Edition Database, are fed-up with Oracle’s abusive licensing tactics when Oracle Enterprise Edition products are installed and running in VMware.  He passionately pleads years of Oracle licensing frustration on behalf of clients while challenging clients to stand up to Oracle and not let them be bullied anymore.  He admits to selfishly partnering with House of Bricks (HoB), a VCE partner by funding their analysis on this situation.  HoB has been a leading voice in this fight in there own right so receiving compensation from VCE check was the proverbial icing on the cake IMHO as they were fighting the fight anyway.  What is VCE’s angle? They either have, or are losing  business due to clients fear of running Oracle workloads using VMware vSphere & vCenter.  There must be enough business at stake or EMC / VCE is desperate enough (not being critical here, just observing) to force them down this path to take such a in your face approach to Oracle.

House of Bricks, who is VCE’s partner and author of the whitepaper had a generally fair and moderated tone throughout the whitepaper.  That said, I do find they are irresponsible by encouraging VMware customers who are running  Oracle Enterprise Edition products licensed by core/processor (not socket or NUP) to run in configurations which are in direct conflict with Oracle’s standard licensing practices.  I’m not arguing the merits, fairness or legality of those licensing practices so save your comments.

Fight Mr Customer So We Can Sell You More!

Simply stated, Chad Sakac, the President of VCE and House of Bricks are actively encouraging system administrators, DBA’s and IT organizations to not only defend your use of Oracle Enterprise products in VMware environments, VMware clusters and VMware environments managed under vCenter but also to license Intel servers using sub-capacity licensing, using the BIOS to limit access to sockets or cores, only license the cores being used by Oracle.  Do these things and stand up to Oracle.  Do it for you….do it for us….just do it!  Of course, VCE funded the HoB paper but they won’t be funding your legal case (or bills) with Oracle.  All of this “encouragement” while at the same time promoting EMC / VMware / VCE products in lieu of traditional Oracle availability & replication products seems a little disingenuous…maybe….why not just keep your argument on the complaint of Oracle licensing with VMware?.  But instead, among many “do this instead of that” statements such as liminating Oracle RAC and use VMware HA and consider EMC RecoverPoint / SRDF in lieu of Oracle Active Data Guard (ADG).

Multiple agenda’s

Much of the HoB whitepaper feels like a marketing slick for EMC / VCE products. Then to have Chad be the front man out front crying on behalf of all customers seems a little too self-serving.

My Good Buddy Larry

Now back to Oracle….everybody knows I am NO Oracle fan.  A good day is any day I beat Oracle (anybody beats Oracle) or reduces their revenue.  But, with regard to Oracle’s practices on how they license their Enterprise products in a VMware environment, they have ZERO (0) motivation to loosen their licensing rules given Intel’s continued growth in the marketplace – Oracle is in the drivers seat!  Oracle wants customers to buy infrastructure from them running OracleVM with Oracle Linux hosting the Oracle software stack.  Oracle receives ALL of the Sales & Support dollars this way.  In addition to this, Oracle is predisposed to litigate.  Larry likes to fight!  HP and now HPE, SAP, Google (2 suits, going to a 3rd), Rimini Street, Oregon Healthcare, Mars and many more.  The Oracle v Mars case is a recent example of how Oracle goes after customers using their License Management Service (LMS) group to drive license revenue thru audits.  “Mars stated that Oracle was unwilling to “come to a mutually agreeable process” for completing an audit. Oracle then sent Mars a letter stating Mars had materially breached its license agreement”.  The greatest leverage clients have is to move off of Oracle products (hardware & software) to alternative solutions; specifically database variants such as IBM DB2, Microsoft SQL Server or Open Source alternative PostgreSQL from EnterpriseDB not to mention the many NoSQL alternatives that probably do a far better job.

Alternatives

If VCE really wanted to partner with an enterprise quality commercial-grade database technology to help clients run VMware with sub-capacity licensing for just the servers where the workloads are running and find an alternative to Oracle, they should look at IBM’s DB2 . DB2 is available in multiple editions from a free edition to Advanced Enterprise Server Edition.  What makes it different and better than both Oracle or SQL Server is that AESE, for example, includes many of the products & features that a client desires of Oracle Enterprise Edition products yet have to pay for À la carte.  DB2’s AESE cost $56,210 (list price for 70 PVU) per license which would match up against the Oracle Enterprise Edition portfolio which when you add up those products cost over $225K (Note: DB2 ESE is a level down from AESE, cost less and probably meets 90% of the customers requirements so the story just gets better).  DB2 always includes its first year of maintenance then 20% each year thereafter while Oracle always charges 22% for the first year then 22% each year thereafter.  Of course, DB2 runs 2X faster with Linux on POWER vs Intel. Clients can try it out for free in SoftLayer for 30 days running Linux on a OpenPOWER server.  Since LoP isn’t the topic of this blog, I’ll save that for another day but know that at least both Intel with VMware and IBM POWER servers support sub-capacity licensing with virtualization.

DB2-S822LC-vs-HPDL380

I didn’t write this blog to be a shill for IBM’s DB2 either, it just came to me as I was reading the HoB paper as it felt like they were trying to slyly present SQL Server as a more agreeable alternative to Oracle – maybe they are … either way thought I would mention DB2 for some balance.

There is ONE Platform …

At the end of the day, clients have a choice if they run Oracle products such as PeopleSoft, JD Edwards, Oracle Apps, Oracle E-Business Suite (EBS) or standalone Oracle Enterprise products like Database, RAC, WebLogic and many others.  Clients can run Oracle on Intel with VMware then surely deal with the risk and issues discussed by Chad and House of Bricks OR clients could run Oracle on the only platform which controls Oracle licensing without all of the consternation, debate and angst; IBM POWER servers running AIX.  For those who have read this far and were begging to say “But POWER servers have a core license factor 2X of  Intel so they cost twice as much”.  Enough please! I may hire House of Bricks to write a paper to put an end to this FUD, myth and farce. With POWER8 outperforming Intel servers generally around 2X per core it eliminates this argument right here. But, since we are talking about licensing a product at the core level it is important to remember that POWER servers support sub-capacity licensing natively, without debate from Oracle.  Last and most importantly, IBM’s Power Hypervisor suite, called PowerVM manages the compute resources more efficiently where it scales the 2X performance per core advantage typically increasing it up to 4X, 8X, 12X, even 20X (your mileage will vary).  This isn’t a performance advantage as much as it is an efficiency statement.  I call it the “Total Cost of Efficiency” as it takes into account the TCA, Performance advantage & Hypervisor efficiency and depending on the discussion, years 2-5 maintenance which is TCO.  I have personally sized, architected and delivered these solutions to customers who have in turn realized these very savings.

Now the Call-to-Action!

If you believe VMware & Intel are a critical part of your business identity that make your products better then continue using them with your Oracle products. You will pay more (compared to POWER) due to lower performance & less efficiency and pay the Oracle tax.  If you view IT as an enabler to your bottom line and use the right tool for the job then give me a call as I can help you as I have helped dozens of others save $100K’s to $M’s with IBM server technology.   Oh, and for those last few sharpshooters who want to remark that IBM servers are more expensive go ahead and save your comment.  First, I’ll shut you down by comparing a proper IBM server with the class of Intel server that you present me.  Next, we won’t go the 1 for 1 server route. As I recently showed a customer a reduction of 24 x Dell servers with 596 cores or 298 Oracle licenses to 7 x POWER8 servers with 168 cores and Oracle Licenses. My 7 servers are far less expensive than your 24 servers  not to mention the infrastructure required to support it (power cables, LAN/SAN cables, switch ports, cooling, etc). What makes me different is I show you how it’s possible to save  significant money running Oracle on IBM servers. What makes Ciber different is we have an Oracle consulting practice to help you implement, migrate or optimize your environment.

Are you keeping score?

However, unlike Oracle and Intel, who in their own ways are both becoming very rigid and proprietary. IBM is going in the opposite direction by actually opening up their own technology as well as embracing the open source community.

Are you keeping up with all of the changes taking place with IBM’s Power portfolio over the last 2 years?  How could you as there have been so many changes to just about every area on the platform.  Just in case, let’s review some of the features and changes.  Now, since I don’t work at IBM, don’t have a magic 8 ball or a direct line to Doug Balog, IBM’s Power General Manager there is a chance I will get something wrong and I’m sure I’ll leave a few things out.  What I will do though, is not talk about any upcoming products – which between you and me – They will be freakin awesome!

  • Power8 processors support both Big Endian and Little Endian
  • Little Endian offerings are with Linux: RedHat 7.1, SUSE 12 & Ubuntu 14 & 15
  • Big Endian offerings are AIX, IBM i as well as Linux (SUSE 11 & RedHat 6.5 & 7.1)
  • PowerVM supports both BE and LE Operating Systems (concurrently)
  • IBM introduced an alternative hypervisor to PowerVM; an open source alternative based on KVM
  • PowerKVM on Scale-Out models support both BE and LE Linux
  • Still supports the use of VIOS for PowerVM environments with HMC enhancements
  • Uses Kimchi to manage PowerKVM environments
  • SR-IOV adapters (finally) available
  • Nice set of quad port Ethernet (2×10+2x1Gb) adapters available for AIX & Linux workloads
  • 40 Gb RoCE adapters
  • PowerVC based on OpenStack replaces Systems Director (portions of it)
  • PowerVC integrates with VMware’s vRealize allowing it to manage & provision Power Systems
  • Gen 2 of a Converged solution called PurePower using S822(L) servers + V7000 + Mellanox switches
  • 2X performance increase over Power7. Greatest increase that I recall from 1 gen to the next
  • 3X greater memory bandwidth for Scale-Out over Power7/7+ Entry servers
  • Just under 2X greater memory bandwidth for Power8 Enterprise vs Power7/7+ Enterprise servers
  • 3X greater I/O bandwidth for all Power8 servers over all Power7/7+ servers
  • 2X more L2 cache
  • Addition of L4 cache
  • SMT8 that is dynamic per VM unlike Intel with their static 2 way Hyperthreading
  • Up to 1 TB Ram per socket
  • Centaur buffer supports DDR3 & DDR4 memory
  • Scale-Out servers (S & L models) use Enterprise Memory just like the Enterprise servers
  • Significantly more Fault Isolation Registers & Checkers
  • Significant reliability enhancements to processor, cache, memory & I/O subsystems
  • Gen3 I/O Drawers with more PCIe slots per drawer
  • Gen3 PCIe slots (x8 & x16) in all servers
  • Available split backplane in ALL Scale-out servers – YEAH!
  • Significant increase in the number of internal Scale-Out server disk slots: 8 – 18 slots
  • 6 or 8 x 1.8″ disk slots (model dependent) using IBM’s Award Winning (Is it?) Easy Tier
  • Hot swap PCIe slots in ALL models
  • Scale-Out internal disk RAID cache increased from 175 MB in Power7 to 7 GB
  • PowerVM, PowerKVM and RHEV hypervisor options
  • Bare-Metal server option (certain models)
  • Enhanced Voltage Regulator Modules (VRM)
  • Enhanced EnergyScale
  • Some models lowered their software tier from Large to Medium and Medium to Small
  • Some servers received improved warranties
  • Power Enterprise Pools with Mobile Cores & Mobile Memory
  • Integrated Facility for Linux (IFL’s) on E850, E870 & E880
  • L model servers that use PowerVM is called PowerVM Linux Edition equivalent to Enterprise Edition
  • Supported with SAP HANA
  • All non-L models supported with EPIC
  • All Enterprise servers supported with EPIC
  • Delivering roughly 2X performance increase over Intel Haswell EP/EX processors
  • Power8 has 3X greater memory bandwidth than Intel Haswell EP memory in Lock-Step mode
  • Power8 has 2.5(ish) greater memory bandwidth than Intel Haswell EX memory in Lock-Step mode
  • Power8 has 2X greater L1 cache
  • Power8 has 2X greater L2 cache
  • Power8 has 2.5X greater L3 cache
  • Intel has no L4 cache
  • Intel has significantly fewer Checkers
  • Intel does not use anything similar to Fault Isolation Registers
  • Intel 1 & 2 socket servers do not support Machine Check Architecture (MCA)
  • Only Intel 4 socket & greater servers support Machine Check Architecture (MCA)
  • Intel rates their memory capabilities in performance mode which has limited RAS capability
  • For Intel to increase memory resiliency, must use lock-step mode which decreases performance
  • For Intel to increase memory resiliency, can use memory mirroring reducing memory capacity by 1/2
  • All Power8 servers have at least 1 Coherent Accelerator Processor Interface (CAPI)
  • Several CAPI solutions are available today with more coming (very soon – that’s the only hint)
  • Using IBM’s Advanced ToolChain delivers an enhanced SDK & GCC delivering increased results
  • IBM optimized software stack for Power8 delivering greater results per core
  • Optimized ISV stack for Power8 delivering greater results per core
  • ISV’s like MariaDB, WebFocus Express, Redis Labs, ColdFusion, EnterpriseDB, Magento
  • ISV’s like McObject, Veristorm, HelpSystems, SugarCRM, Zato, OpenPro and many more
  • Guaranteed utilization levels from 65 – 80% depending on the model
  • Backbone of Watson
  • Supports Apache Hadoop & Apache Spark
  • Supports BigInsights
  • Supports internal disks for Big Data
  • Supports superior BD storage option using Elastic Storage Server: S822L & GPFS Native Raid
  • Run DB2 10.5 with BLU Acceleration 2X faster than Intel
  • WebSphere & Cognos faster
  • SPSS faster and many more
  • 150+ members in OpenPower Foundation
  • Blue badged Power based solutions
  • Non-blue-badged Power based solutions available
  • PowerVP is awesome
  • Virtual HMC is coming (was a IBM SOD)

I tried to create an exhaustive list to make the point that IBM is investing, engineering and building game changing technology to help customers solve real solutions. However, unlike Oracle and Intel, who in their own ways  are both becoming very rigid and proprietary.  IBM is going in the opposite direction by actually opening up their own technology as well as embracing the open source community.  The list of ISV’s, the use of OpenStack, the use of a open source hypervisor and the most recent announcement whereby VMware’s vRealize will be able to provision & manage Power Systems is a testimony to the change taking place within IBM and with customers.  Expect more of the above and more beyond this. Expect it to blow your mind.

I may come back over time and enhance this list if I get froggy.  Of course, if you are a customer you could always invite me to speak with you and I would be happy to discuss any and all of this.

What would you like to see in addition to the extensive list above?

Why Oracle should sell “cars” – not servers! – Part 1

Yes, I must apologize to car salesman as they should feel slighted by comparing them to an Oracle sales person. However, when you watch a YouTube video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2bvRO8ipXWc by Scott Lynn, Solaris Product Manager at Oracle you can’t help but wonder how businesses continue to fall for what appears to be constant misleading claims and statements.

Here are a few of the claims made by Scott that I will discuss in detail below.

  • Barely 40 seconds into the video Scott claims T5 is the Worlds Fastest Processor – Why yes, this car is the “Fastest” in its class!
  • Claims each generation of SPARC has seen a 2X performance increase (while his own chart doesn’t even show that) – The HP for this engine is up 2X from last years model!
  • Power7+ is only 10% faster than it’s predecessor over the last 3 years – My car is the only manufacturer to make real improvements model year after model year.
  • Compares the $/Perf of M9000 at $18 to T5 @ $4 which is a 78% decrease in price performance – Our latest car is better, faster and cheaper whereas the competition has had issues, slower and cost more for less – that’s what I am hearing at least.
  • Made claims for a European Telco moving from a x86 / Linux / VMware solution to T4 obtaining 10X greater transactions and 2X the performance for the same number of licenses – one customer was able to achieve 55 mpg using normal driving habits – I’m sure you are no different than he is!
  • Solaris is 85% less costly than a typical x86 solution – This car pays for itself!
  • Solaris is almost $1K less per VM than competition at $2543 vs $1591 – For what you get, this car is less expensive. Let’s go talk to the Finance Manager now.
  • VMware uses 10 – 30% overhead while Solaris has virtually 0% overhead – their car has emissions controls but this car is wide open!

I almost do not know where to begin. At the end of the video he threw in a set of floor mats, mud flaps and a oil change.  Below are my responses to Scott’s claims that I listed above.

  • T5 is the Worlds Fastest Processor so says “Oracle”. That’s right, based on their own internal testing the T3 outperforms T2 by 2X. T4 outperforms T3 by 2X. T5 outperforms T4 by 2X. First, by what standard? On a core vs core basis? Socket vs socket? Maybe actual benchmarks? None of us know because they do not publish anything. All we have to go by are Scott’s words – because he said so, it must be true!  Sun published very, very few benchmarks or any other public results for the T2 & T3 servers. They started publishing some with T4 after adding the S3 core – must’ve been feeling their oats 🙂

The image below could be interpreted with some literary license I guess but I’m taking a literal interpretation because they do that to not just imply x86 and Power do not perform from generation to generation like SPARC T series has but in the very picture in which they criticize the competition they show themselves to not scale from generation to generation.  Stunningly inept? Oversight? It will just take a bit more research to provide various data points to support what Oracle actually shows.

T_generations

The picture below shows an example of performance, pricing and sizing manipulation. Oracle uses 2 x 64 core servers to get a 28.8K result vs 2 x 16 core Power7 servers to get a 10.9K result 4X the number of cores to get just 2.6X higher performance. A more likely server solution would be 2 x Power7+ 740 servers, each with 16 cores.  Those servers would have a sell price of approximately $115K each.  There is a similar result on the cousin server running Linux called the 7R2 which delivered 13.1K EJOPs.  Those 2 x 16 core servers with 1/4 the cores of the T5 are roughly 1/2 the results of the T5’s 128 cores at a lower price. With Oracle EE database cost of $47,500 per core and WebLogic at $35,000 per core, each carrying 22% software maintenance per year – starting with the first year.  Of course, the Power solution is using DB2 and WebSphere Application Server which are both less costly than the equivalent Oracle products but the licensing model favors Power in this case. Not because of the Oracle reasons which is to manipulate vendors servers like they do with x86 and SPARC but because the 740 and 7R2 both are 2 socket servers.  Like all 2 socket servers they have a PVU rating of 70 per core.

T5 with 64 cores vs Power7 780 with 16 cores. Oracle picks a entry level vs IBM enterprise class. Intentionally use 4X the cores to get higher results while different classes to show wider cost delta.
T5 with 64 cores vs Power7 780 with 16 cores. Oracle picks a entry level vs IBM enterprise class. Intentionally use 4X the cores to get higher results while different classes to show wider cost delta.
  • Even Scott’s own chart doesn’t show a 2X increase for each generation. If I was going to say it and had the bazillions of marketing dollars that Oracle has I would at least have the red line reflect 2X from generation to generation because now it just looks like he is lying.
  • X86 has only had a 20 – 50% increase. Again, he doesn’t provide any data so we can only speculate. I will write some future blogs on the overstatement of x86 performance but in general, they do get more performance (per socket) with each generation because they tend to double the number of cores per socket: 2 => 4 => 8 => 15.  I can’t find any statements by x86 where they claim a 50% increase on a core vs core basis.  Where they make statements is usually on a socket basis and a lesser degree on a core basis – again, because their per core increase isn’t typically all that spectacular. They increase performance by doubling or adding cores.
  • In comparing Power7+ servers over 3 years one might think you were comparing it to Power6 or Power6+ but I think your marketing department is trying to be sneakier than that. However, Power7+ was first introduced in October 2012 then February 2013. Power7 wasn’t first available until March 2010 which means that Power6+ was the generation of server available 3 years prior. First, P7+ was ~30% per core better over P7 but remember that isn’t who they said they were comparing it to since it was in 3 years. Power7+ is ~43% better over Power6+. By the way, I used a P7+ 750 with 8 cores @4.0 GHz vs a P7 with 8 cores @ 3.0 GHz. In comparing to Power6, I had to pick a server that existed in each generation. I chose the P7+ 780 with 16 cores @ 4.42 GHz vs a P6+ 570 with 16 cores @ 5.0 GHz. Unlike Oracle which likes to compare a IBM Power 795 to their entry level T5 server which is like comparing a SPARC M9000 server to a SPARC T2000 – the servers simply are not in the same class.  The servers I selected are either the same in it’s class in the case of the 750 with one being first generation power7 from March 2010 vs a Power7+ 750 available in February 2013.  Also, the Power7+ 780 which replaces the Power6+ 570.  Unlike some mysterious Oracle internal testing numbers I used IBM’s rPerf numbers which are specific to Power servers (what Power Architects use to size Power vs Power) and used to compare one model to another. The data is available to the public online in their Systems Performance Report.
  • Scott compares the M9000 to a T5. That is like comparing a Cadillac to a Chevrolet Malibu. The M9000 is a true enterprise class RISC server. The T5 is not in the same league as the M9000…For that matter, nor is the M5 or M6 servers (in the same league as the M9000). This is a perfect example of the egregious marketing behavior of Oracle. They compare the cost of the top end enterprise server designed to scale I/O, cpu cores and memory based on the technology of the day with very high RAS features – which comes at a premium. T5’s are entry level servers using current technology for the processors and memory. They glue them together to scale from 1 to 8 sockets. They don’t even say which T5 server? -2? -4? -8?
  • For the European Telco – How many x86 servers? What generation of processors? How many T4 servers? What model? Number of cores, etc? Easy to make claims – He said “This car will go 0 – 6 mph in under 5 sec and get 35 mpg in the city!”.
  • Solaris is 85% less costly than a typical x86 / VMware / Red Hat solution. Here is another Oracle marketing tactic which is to shift topics around. The video is on the economics of Solaris so they mix cost efficiencies of Solaris for SPARC and Solaris x86 leaving the viewer the option to interpret what they say for one (x86) must be the same for the other (SPARC). What they lead you to believe is that Solaris virtualization is comparable by “features” to VMware but nowhere close in cost with OracleVM being considerably less expensive. I am no VMware specialist but what I do know is that Oracle is using OS based virtualization called Solaris Zones, which is included in the OS. That is how they get the cost to $0. On a feature comparison though, VMware is much more robust and feature rich than LDOM’s and Solaris Zones which they generically label both as OracleVM.
  • I don’t dispute the VMware overhead. VMware and its users seem to dispute it but that isn’t the purpose of the comment. We can discuss this in a future blog. They claim the Solaris virtualization is virtually 0%. For which product? They mention Solaris Zones but they also have LDOM’s now called Oracle VM. That has a different overhead amount that requires VM’s for Control and I/O so leaving the reader to believe virtualization is the same between platforms is disingenuous. This snapshot from the SPEC website for SPECjEnterprise2010 shows quite a difference in performance results for a 128 core T5-8 server with one using Solaris Zones and the other OracleVM, presumably LDOM’s. Of course, Solaris has Zones for both x86 and SPARC but they are apples to oranges when compared to VMware for features and functionality. Using the Oracle standard for financial disclosure I will have to do a future blog comparing a Power8 server with AIX using Workload Partitions, which are similar to Solaris Zones. Unlike the x86 server there is still an underlying hypervisor that would allow for separate VM’s with their own OS instance all without having to pay for a virtualization suite
Looks like overhead when using Solaris Zones
Looks like overhead when using Solaris Zones

I’ll pick up part 2 of this “car buying” journey.  You’ve already watched the video and hopefully with my comments pointing out how Oracle massages, manipulates, mis-states and generally exaggerates results or capabilities you are hopefully becoming a skeptic of everything they say.

I’m putting this together a bit faster than I intended but I have a tweet to my new found buddy Phil Dunn of Oracle that I want to hit “send” on so I’m sure I’ll make a few tweaks, updates and corrections.  My intention is to accurately capture their mis-statements without making my own. I’ll correct the record though.  Will they?

Tired of Oracle’s exorbitant pricing? Try IBM’s DB2 v10.5 on Power8!

Feeling choked by Oracle licensing costs? Understand the game the industry uses to mislead consumers to buy more hardware and software vs the only platform that controls server and software cost proliferation.

Why do so many customers get drawn into the Oracle camp? I do not want to take anything away from the Oracle technology right now – we can have that discussion on another day.  Right now, my inaugural blog is about the cost and packaging of Oracle products – primarily Oracle database products.

Are customers getting tired of the Oracle bullying and overpricing?  Just yesterday I spoke with a customer discussing the benefits of DB2 v10.5 and Power8 technologies.  I shared experiences and successes of other customers discussing how it was common for x86 workloads to require 10X more cores compared to Power servers.  This of course directly impacts the TCA / TCO in that it is about 5X less expensive to run Oracle software on Power – you don’t hear this from Oracle sellers and yo wouldn’t expect x86 sellers to say it but they say other things like Power is so expensive – oh, and that it is going away …. so you had better buy x86 and Linux (Oracle Linux of course).  This particular customer I was talking with is now running Oracle on x86 now claiming it is killing their budgets.  They add a new workload and they have to add more servers which means more Oracle licenses.  Upgrade the servers from Sandy Bridge technology to Ivy Bridge and all they do is add more cores but little performance.  Of course, this adds more Oracle licenses and cost – Larry has a mortgage to pay….on 19 or so Malibu homes!

I have a large customer who is seeing upwards of 70% compression in their DB2 v10.5 environment – up from 60% when they first migrated from Oracle several years ago.  It reduced their licensing and maintenance cost significantly not to mention the cost of storage and storage expansion.  They have said it has given their DBA’s a quality of life they never had before. Their enterprise database environment is more stable now than it was before when running Oracle.

What is amazing is when you look at all of the technology that comes with DB2 Advanced Enterprise Server Edition (AESE) which would be in the class of product like Oracle Enterprise Edition but includes all of the features that you pay for with Oracle.  Plus, DB2 also includes the first year of maintenance with each year afterward just 20% not 22% like Oracle which you pay in the first year as well as the cost of all the software licenses.  Oracle will say that AESE is more expensive but the reality is they charge based on PVU which is 70 for a 2 socket, 100 for a 4 socket (this would be equivalent to the 1.0 for Oracle if normalized) and 120 for the Enterprise class servers (6 & more sockets whether x86, SPARC or Power).  This PVU rating system is designed to charge based on the consolidation and feature capability.  The best way I can say it is that the 2 socket is Entry Level, the 4 socket is mid-range and the high-end is like the Lexus of servers in that you expect significant RAS, performance, consolidation, virtualization and other features not found on the smaller models.

You calculate the cost by taking the  number of cores needed for the workload times the PVU rating times the PVU cost of the product, in this case DB2 AESE v10.5.  Oracle is different as they favor platforms that are either their own servers or servers like x86 that use more software licenses – that’s a company you can trust!

DB2 includes their version of RAC, Active Data Guard, Compression, Tools, Tuning and many more items not to mention IBM’s column in-memory product called BLU — all of the items that you pay for with Oracle but are included with DB2 v10.5.

See the complete feature list for AESE at the following link to compare each DB2 v10.5 Edition.  From the Advanced Enterprise Server Edition discussed here to the Community Express Edition.

Example List of Features:

  • DB2 Database Partitioning Feature
  • IBM DB2 pureScale Feature
  • Row Compression
  • Adaptive Compression
  • Intelligent Mining
  • Workload Management
  • Continuous Data Ingest
  • Change Data Capture (CDC)
  • Unstructured Text Analysis
  • Cubing Services
  • Accessing federated data in DB2 for i or DB2 for z data servers
  • Accessing federated data in non-IBM data servers, except accessing federated data in Oracle databases through SQL Warehousing Tool
  • SQL Replication with DB2 for i or DB2 for z data servers
  • SQL Replication with non-IBM data servers
  • Column-organized tables
  • HADR
  • DB2 Connect
  • Cognos
  • Infosphere
  • Memory / sockets / cores / storage – unlimited
  • DB2 Governor
  • DB2 Advanced Copy Services
  • DB2 merge backup
  • Oracle compatibility
  • Query parallelism
  • Replication Tools
  • Spatial Extender
  • Time Travel Query
  • And more …

DB2 has different pricing model options – by core using PVU’s, by the size of the database regardless of the number of cores and even RVU which is to tie the number of licenses required, measured in RVUs, to the utilization of the software or the resources the software manages.

to tie the number of licenses required, measured in RVUs, to the utilization of the software or the resources the software manages. – See more at: http://blogs.flexerasoftware.com/elo/2011/05/is-ibm-ditching-the-processor-value-unit-pvu-software-license-metric.html#sthash.GGdDp6Hv.dpuf.  They also have a COD feature which lets you buy DB2 license for use on a daily basis so you don’t have to buy them forever like Oracle – that is a great feature.

HADR which is DB2’s improved version of Active Data Guard (ADG).  It is no cost if the remote site is “cold”.  It requires a token 100 PVU licenses at the remote site if “warm” and if the site is “Hot”, it would require full licensing.  Oracle charges full licensing for warm and hot.

The DB2 AESE licenses also come with 5 licenses of Cognos, 10 licenses of Infosphere and “Use Limited” DB2 Connect licenses.

When Oracle DBA’s are emotionally ready to set aside their feelings (I love Ford) and ready to test drive a Chevy they will find that it is nearly identical and can begin administering a DB2 environment immediately.

Taking these database benefits that come with DB2 v10.5 and factoring in the cost benefits listed below why would customers A) Consider Oracle database  B) Continue using Oracle database?

The following table which I borrowed from the blog of Connor O’Mahony shows all of the tremendous features that are included in the AESE version of v10.5 which also includes the first years maintenance.  When maintenance starts in year two it is just 20% vs 22% for Oracle.

Functionality DB2 Advanced Ent. Edition Price
Core Database DB2 Enterprise Server Included
Data Compression Storage Optimization Included
Disaster Recovery HADR Included
Advanced Security Adv. Access Control Included
Data Partitioning Table Partitioning Included
Administration Optim Database Admin. Included
Development Optim Development Studio Included
Performance Tuning Optim Performance Manager Included
Cluster pureScale Included
Active/Active Rep. Q-Replication with DB2 Included
Column Organized BLU Included
Total $66,800

The following table shows the equivalent products from Oracle.  Note how most of them have an associated cost plus their 22% maintenance cost just to buy the license.  UPDATE: Aug 02, 2014 (Adding details for Oracles In-Memory feature) The latest feature which adds cost is the Column organized feature  called “In-Memory” that is built-in to Oracle  Enterprise Edition database.  Even though it is built in to Oracle Enterprise Edition like BLU is to DB2, Oracle charges and licenses separately at $23,000 per core or with the first years maintenance of 22% that would make it $28,060 per core – ouch!   Looking at my original statement prior to this update which follows is that it is both prophetic but sad as I was spot on.  “One thing we know is that it WILL cost money plus 22%!  Larry has to buy airplane fuel for his airline in Hawaii and that’s not cheap!”.

Functionality Equivalent Oracle Software Price
Core Database Oracle Enterprise Edition $57,950
Data Compression Advanced Compression $14,030
Disaster Recovery Active Data Guard $14,030
Advanced Security Label Security $14,030
Data Partitioning Partitioning $14,030
Administration Oracle Enterprise Manager No charge
Development Internet Dev Suite $7,076
Performance Tuning Diagnostics Pack $6,100
Cluster Oracle RAC 28,060
Active/Active Rep. Golden Gate $21,350
Column Organized In-Memory $28,060
Total $204,716

With the cost for all of these “Add-On’s” that many customers use, especially on x86 servers and for sure on Oracle’s ExaData product, Oracle is now just 3X more expensive than DB2.   But, each year the annual maintenance cost will be more; $36,916/core for Oracle vs $13,360/core for DB2.  Looking at your server options to increase the efficiency of the software investment there are two options – x86 and Power.  I am not a “Z” guy so feel free to tell me it is a viable option as well – I’m happy to learn more on this.

Oracle will claim SPARC but they have a hodge podge of virtualization and a history of changing platforms. T5 is a respectable chipset but unless Oracle can drive significant revenues with the platform I am not sure it has a long term future.  I see them mostly using SPARC and Solaris for it’s “mindshare”…it’s fanboi’s – hey, I’m a Solaris fan by the way.  I worked at Sun for 10 years and was an instructor in the U.S. Army at Ft Huachuca focusing on SunOS and Solaris in the mid 90’s.  Oracle’s focus (today) is on producing inexpensive white box x86 servers as a delivery vehicle for voluminous quantities of expensive software.  They recently entered into an agreement with Dell where I expect Dell to begin providing their no-innovation x86 servers to Oracle as part of that partnership.  Win-win for both as Oracle can shed any engineering and manufacturing cost while Dell increases their volume business.

Intel’s x86 with Linux delivers improved stability and scalability for an otherwise deficient platform compared to the Power platform.  Where Linux makes x86 better, Power makes Linux better for example.  Although Linux is an option on Power running in both Big Endian (right ordered) and now Little Endian (left ordered or traditional x86) modes – Oracle does not run with Linux on Power.  DB2 does but does not yet deliver the BLU functionality.   The traditional commercial operating systems are IBM i (OS/400 – the original integrated system) and AIX.  Both of these OSes provide enhanced security, scalability, virtualization and tighter integration with the platform – makes sense since IBM owns the IP for all of it.  Unlike x86 where the chipset comes from Intel, motherboard from a vendor, SAN adapter from a vendor, Ethernet card from a vendor, OS from a vendor, virtualization from a vendor, HA from a vendor, so on and so on.  Do they work – usually but commodity means their tolerances have to accommodate a multitude of vendors, chipsets and other technology nuances.  Probably runs great most of the time but when it does not it may be a fire drill to get 10 vendors together on a call to troubleshoot.

Oracle charges for all cores on x86 times a licensing factor of .5.  On Power, you only pay for the cores used for Oracle times a licensing factor of 1.0.  Oracle isn’t afraid to manipulate these factors to benefit their sales efforts as seen by them lowering a T series generation to .25 and increasing Intel Itanium from .5 to 1.0.  Even while they claim to have the “World’s Fastest Processor” with the T5 which is a joke and a perfect example of the smoke and mirrors perpetrated by the massive Oracle marketing machine they have not increased it to 1.0 for example to match Power if it is so powerful.  The licensing factor table is either based on a foundation of trust or mistrust.  I’ll let  you decide for yourself which it is.

I will spend more time on future blogs discussing the efficiency of Power servers that contribute to licensing differences between x86 that I have  seen having a core ratio of 10:1 in but more likely 4:1 is common.  Yes, 100 x86 cores to 10 Power cores.  It’s based on the workload, utilization and architecture in the end.  Depending on the server which is hosting that workload like a enterprise class Power7+ 780 this is not just plausible but demonstrable.  With Power8, which was just introduced this past June 2014, it is delivering roughly 2X the performance per core over x86.  I say roughly as there are several key benchmarks like TPC, SPEC, Oracle, SAP, Linpack and others.  I like the SAP S&D 2 Tier benchmark as it tends to exercise the server with a load often similar to customer workloads.

I will purposely not cite the exact numbers – go look them up. I have looked at them 10,000 times.  I just want to give you the general numbers. IBM released a 24 core Power8 result in April 2014 which is a 2 socket server that delivered around 21,000 users and ~115,000 SAPS.  Not bad. NEC released a 60 core Intel Ivy Bridge EX E7 v2 result which is a 4 socket server that delivered 20,800 users with 114,700 users.  The Power8 has 60% fewer cores but comparable results.  There are also other 60 core results from IBM, Dell, Cisco, HP, etc that have more users and SAPS.  Not a whole lot more but more.  The point is that Power8 is a beast.

If we were to use the performance results above from the SAP benchmark for Oracle there would be 60 x86 cores and 30 Oracle licenses.  Take 30 x $204,716 = $$6,141,480.  For the Power server, there are 24 Power8 cores and 24 Oracle licenses.  Take 24 x $204,716 = $4,913,184 which is $1.2M less for Power8.  One point of clarification is on the Power server. If you are not running Oracle RAC the cost would be the cost of the database only at $57,950 per core which lowers both the TCA and TCO even more.  Example of 24 licenses: 24 x $57,950 = $1,390,800.

Update: Added a table to make the values above easier to visualize

table-1

table-1a

BUT….But, that isn’t the real story is it?  Is it Oracle?  Is it x86 sellers?  I’m about ready to tell the big secret here to bust this open – this will be bigger than when Geraldo opened Al Capone’s safe with America watching in 1986.  The real story is based on the architecture of the solution.  Customers do not and would not deploy a single x86 server.  They are inherently unreliable lacking serviceability features.  They depend on software clustering like Oracle RAC to compensate for their deficiencies. This means more servers, more hardware like adapters, switches, switch ports, software, maintenance, rack space, cooling, advanced skills, etc, etc.

For the above x86 pricing example, that means there would be 2 x 60 core servers totaling 120 x86 cores or 60 Oracle licenses (are you sitting down?).  That is 60 x $204,716 = $12,282,960.  Oh My Gosh!  Seriously!!!  2 little old x86 servers that are supposed to be inexpensive!  Good enough technology!  The next part of the secret is that Power servers are inherently reliable and serviceable.  You typically do not need multiple servers as it is more common to deploy them in standalone configurations for each workload.  Yes, businesses will decide to invest and use something like PowerHA which can be around $3,000 per core vs Oracle RAC at $23,000 per core (that is without the 22% annual maintenance) but even if we double the Power8 number that makes it $9,926,368.  Note the delta between the x86 and the Power8 Oracle pricing is starting to grow – and this is just for presumably 1 workload – okay, maybe 2 (lots of factors here).  Not a stick of hardware has been bought yet.

table-2

table-2a

As Paul Harvey says, the rest of the story is that the Power8 server won’t license all of those cores but the x86 will.  That is how it is done.  For the Power8 server, they will be sized for the workload – pick a number – let’s say 50% representing a 50% utilization.  That is 12 cores are licensed for Oracle out of the 24 active in the server.  That is now $2,456,592 per server.  Note: Remember if you are using just 1 Power server, with no RAC and there are just 12 Oracle licenses it would be 12 x $57,950 = $695,400.  If you used Oracle RAC though, that brings the cost to $4,913,184 for both servers.  I don’t suggest using RAC if high availability is needed unless you have an availability requirement around 5 minutes or less.  PowerHA can support 5 minutes and less but if 5 minutes is the most your business can tolerate then RAC may be required.  If 5 minutes or more is fine then PowerHA is an extremely mature, robust product that is easily deployed with lots of available skills – look for online resources from Shawn Bodily and Michael Herrera.

Vendor

# of x86 servers

Total # licensed Cores in Solution

1st Year Oracle TCA

Total 1st Year Oracle TCA

X86

2

60

$6,141,480

$12,282,960

Power

2

24

$2,456,592

$4,913,184

Difference

$7,369,776

The saving grace for x86 is that Power is expensive, right?  That is what is written all over the blogs!  Some x86 or software seller is out there right now claiming this so it must be true. Or, they could be ignorant of the facts, lying or both – I’m going with both as I have actively seen / heard it.  This is unfortunate as I try to have a sense of humor with my work even though I am passionate but as a Christian I also must live my life with balanced scales (Proverbs 11 or 20 – take your pick) which is frustrating to work in a industry built on exaggeration that encourages overstating capabilities just to get a purchase order.

Reality is – since Power7 the price / performance for Power has gone down.  Price went down 1/2 while performance went up by 4.  Not 4X per core but by form factor.  With Power6, what was a 16U server with 16 cores is now with Power7 a 2U or 4U server with 16 cores.  That previous 16U server could now provide 64, 96 or even 128 cores.  Performance did go up per core as well – depends on what model we are comparing what to what. Not relevant right now.  With Power8 we are seeing even more performance in a footprint.  That 2U and 4U server are now delivering up to 24 cores for the entry level models while performance per core is also up almost 2X over Power7 with the cost down even more.  With the Linux only models on Power8 they actually have x86 price equivalency.  The models that run Oracle which implies AIX are “price comparable” to x86.  When you see the pricing of Oracle above, the cost of the servers begin to be less significant.  What is the price of that 60 core x86 server?  I’d estimate the Power8 server is about the same price or maybe 25 – 40% more.  Depends if it is a blade product where some of the server cost is shifted out of the blade into the chassis. Power pricing includes the OS and virtualization whereas often the cost of x86 is viewed just at the hardware cost of acquisition.  With x86, if you need to add more workloads what will you do?  Add 2 more servers and $10M more in Oracle licensing costs + 22% for maintenance every year for the rest of your life – Larry needs a new yacht – every year!  With the Power8 server, you could add another 12 core workload on the same server.  So, you don’t HAVE to buy another server, you can provision the new workload in minutes AND the software licensing is significantly less.

Back to DB2, if you look at using DB2 instead of Oracle on the Power8 server you will get more performance per core which means you probably won’t need 12 cores but maybe 6, 7 or even 8.  But, for purposes of our discussion let’s stay with 12.  12 x $66,800 = $801,600.  If you choose to use clustering like RAC then go with DB2’s pureScale which is actually more reliable, scalable and efficient and included.  So, the cost for 2 servers is $801,600 x 2 = $1,603,200.  (I should add that the DB2 pricing for this 24 core model should actually be less since this pricing is built on a PVU rating of 100 whereas the 2 socket 24 core server has a PVU rating of 70.  That is less than the cost of a single server running Oracle.  Plus, the annual maintenance is just 20%.  Now, you can replicate the database using HADR’s log shipping feature that is included with the DB2 license to something like a IBM Managed Solution Provider. This cost would be $66,800 for 100 PVU’s.

table-3

table-3a

*Reminder the pricing used here relies on a normalized PVU value of 100 to make it comparable to Oracle’s license factor of 1.0 for Power. The 2 socket server used in the table above would actually have a PVU rating of 70 which would lower it’s license cost even more increasing the delta between DB2 and Oracle.

What I hope you get out of my inaugural blog is that you don’t have to continue feeding the Oracle machine unless that is what you want – if so that is fine.  If you want options, then consider DB2.  Either way, there is only 1 platform to run your enterprise workloads that scale-out or scale-up with maximum efficiency, security, performance, reliability, availability (hold on – not done yet), serviceability, portability, flexibility, value and quality of service – Power servers.