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.


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.

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.

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 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!



Oracle’s at it again – stuffing a card up their sleeve!

Oracle continues its record of having 0 (i.e. ZERO) credibility.  How many times has Oracle been called out for publishing & making statements about competitors solutions that were just flat out wrong leading one to wonder if it is more than the standard competitor FUD and benchmark exaggerations but purposefully meant to mislead.

Take a recent Oracle blog post by @Brian-Oracle at  Oracle is hell bent to produce a TPC-C benchmark on a POWER8 server since IBM has not.  I do not work for IBM and have not heard any official reason but have heard they do not see TPC-C as a good benchmark of platform performance which is why you do not see any entries since 2013 by any vendor.

There is a Oracle Marketing troll who posts as @PlinkerTind for this El Reg article who asks what is IBM scared of.  What he fails to disclose is that IBM would love to run a Oracle benchmark on POWER8 but the software license agreements state if the product is being used for benchmark purposes it requires the approval of the owning company.  Well, Oracle doesn’t permit it except for Oracle benchmarks such as Oracle EBS.  Why would Oracle not want to let IBM conduct a benchmark using Oracle DB? Because it would show what customers see who run it and what prospects wee who evaluate it that POWER controls software licensing; Oracle, DB2, EnterpriseDB, and every other product.  Fewer servers, fewer sockets, fewer cores, etc.
Back to the Oracle blog, author writes “On a per chip basis, the SPARC T7-1 server demonstrated nearly 5.5 times better performance compared to an IBM Power System S824 server”.  Let’s break it down using the authors “vernacular”.  A T7-1, although it is actually 8 x quad core chiplets and not a single 32 core chip as Oracle likes to claim,  yet this author along with the other Oracle marketing trolls refer to a 2 socket S824 & S822 as a 4 chip system – essentially for the Scale-Out servers, they call each socket two chips because of how IBM builds the chip using a Dual Chip Module (DCM) vs the Single Chip Module (SCM) in the Enterprise servers.  Now,  IBM who engineered the chips says it works functionally as 1 chip in 1 socket.   (Ref: IBM POWER8 S824 Redbook

So, the Oracle blog authors says the SPARC  32 core chip, by HIS words is 5.5X better performance than the POWER8 S824 server. Thus, 6 cores vs 32 cores or 5.33X.  6 cores because Oracle is comparing Chip to Chip.  Thus, they consider it reasonable and credible to compare their 32 core SPARC T7 chip vs a 6 core POWER8 chip.  That is so disingenuous.
Next, the author chose the 24 core S824 running at 3.52 GHz vs the 4.13 GHz T7-1. Why didn’t Oracle pick the 16 core S824 running at 4.15 GHz?  That way they could call it a 4 chip, 2 socket with 4 cores per chip system vs Oracle’s 32 core, single socket, single chip (that is really 8 x quad chiplets) system. Using the 16 core S824 would give the SPARC T7-1 server 2X more cores allowing for easier extrapolation?  Oracle did set the ASMI mode to favor performance but it is the 2nd best option to use (there is a better option but since Oracle doesn’t know the platform they either chose not to or didn’t know what to select). Even with this set, their is still a clock frequency discrepancy.  Now, I’m not hung up on the clock frequency because most Intel servers have lower clock frequency.  Unlike Intel which cannot run all of their cores at the higher clock frequency like POWER there are times when the clock frequency comparison being made is vastly different can’t be helped.  That’s not the case though with POWER.  IBM offers servers ranging from 3.0 to 4.35 Ghz making it easy for them to choose one that makes the comparisons as close as possible.

Next the author says “On a per core basis the SPARC T7-1 server demonstrated nearly 3% better performance per core compared to an IBM Power System S824 server.”. I’ll just refer to the above paragraph where the T7 clock frequency was running 17% higher.  Then he says “At the system level, the SPARC T7-1 server demonstrated nearly 1.4 times better performance compared to the IBM Power System S824 server.”. 24 cores times 1.4 = 33.6……hmmm. You tested a 1 socket vs a 2 socket server running with a 17% higher clock.  I point out the 1 vs 2 socket server because with POWER  processors I would expect a single socket to be slightly better performing than a 2 socket than a 4 socket than a > 4 socket server.  Taking into account other factors that do not require the memory & I/O provided by those extra sockets.  Again, if they want to test on a per core basis that can be done with any system. If they wanted to test on a per socket basis then do it with the T7-1 and even use the S824 but only use 12 cores.  Otherwise, compare a T7-2 vs a S824 which would be 64 vs 24 cores.

Read the comments for an article about POWER9 at AnandTech   Look for comments by @Brutalizer who is an Oracle Marketing troll.  He gets crushed by the the commenters as they rightly point out that Oracle ran the Oracle benchmark on the POWER8 server with no disclosure on the full details of how the server was configured; How many DIMMs were used?  Filling all 16 DIMM slots makes a difference than just 8 or 4 DIMMs since all 3 configuration options can achieve the configured 512 GB Ram. Although a few tunables were disclosed as if to demonstrate that Oracle made an effort to give the POWER server a fair shake, I question the ones used. I won’t disclose what I would have done differently as I like that Oracle looks like petty fools in their effort to show Oracle on POWER8 performance. If they were interested they would authorize IBM to run their own benchmark – or accept my POWER challenge where we run a customers workload on each of our servers.  Alas the cowards have yet to acknowledge it let alone accept it.

The lesson I hope readers learn from my blog is not that Oracle software and hardware products are bad, they are not at all.  However, they have this seemingly uncontrollable need to overstate and mislead customers by any effort to get customers to consider and god forbid buy their products.  Yes, in this poker game we all play there is bluffing and smart play but with most vendors it is within the rules.  With Oracle they always seem to have a card stuffed in their sleeve as they seem incapable of competing fairly making them resort to unscrupulous behavior such as the Oracle blog.

P.S.  I do not accept any of the results obtained by Oracle testing the S824.  If IBM conducted the same test running Oracle with AIX on POWER8 I am confident the results would make the S824 look far better than stated by Oracle.  One can only draw the conclusion that Oracle optimized their T7-1 to achieve the most favorable results.  IBM should have the same opportunity.  Of course, my Power challenge to Oracle is the real-world test using actual customer data.  Maybe this blog will get Oracle to man-up!

Shiny objects & Distractions

Yet another blog on the non-stop marketing tactics by Oracle where they attempt to deflect attention on their many product weaknesses and try to create differentiation where there is none.

This latest attempt by Oracle has them promoting the performance of Oracle 12c over SAP HANA for the SAP Business Warehouse Enhanced Mixed Workload benchmark also known as BW-EML.  Oracle promotes this claim at with a whitepaper posted at available for download as a pdf.

Oracle is known for making wild claims only supported by marketing claims and “Oracle internal tests”.  This is important to understand as these claims may entice customers to consider products that have not undergone any critical analysis.  One example is Oracle’s Exadata product. The Exadata name has become synonymous with Oracle’s family of integrated appliances that include discrete solutions: database, application  and data warehouse. The Exadata database solution  has zero published benchmarks yet the web is riddled with claims by Oracle on its superior performance over competitive offerings. Oracle is now claiming they have submitted their Oracle 12c in-memory database results to SAP for review and publishing for the BW-EML benchmark which SAP has yet to do.

It appears since SAP has chosen to not publish Oracle’s 12c result that Oracle is taking matters into its own hand to publish their BM-EML result since SAP is not. I have no knowledge if SAP is choosing to sit on the results but I do know this; the reason you see very few industry benchmarks on non-Oracle systems using Oracle database (enterprise edition) is for the same reason Oracle is accusing SAP of doing.  As part of Oracle’s end user license agreement they require any user who publishes performance results to submit the results to Oracle for review and approval.  If Oracle does not approve the result that user / vendor cannot publish it.  A good example where Oracle has limited their competition from publishing benchmark results using Oracle database is with the SAP Tier-2 Sales & Distribution benchmark.  Benchmark results are available at  I checked yesterday (Sept 19th) and could not find any current results using Oracle Enterprise Edition database on any non-Oracle or non-SPARC servers (ie Fujitsu has results on their SPARC servers) since a HP result from around 2008.

Oracle is trying to convince SAP customers their 12c database product is relevant for in-memory Business Warehouse workloads. They further tout superior performance with a 2 socket X5-2 server using Intel’s Haswell E5_v3 chipset totaling 36 cores.  Oracle typically achieves higher results by throwing significantly more cores and memory than required by competitors and definitely not by innovation; whether that competition is IBM POWER or Intel.  One of Oracle’s “Go to” tactics is to mask and manipulate the details  stating things like “Our (Oracle) 8 processor beats IBM’s 8 processor by 2X”.  We saw that when they compared their SPARC T5-8 to a Power7+ 780 server. Of course, the devil is in the details and those details are this.  Oracle historically refers to their chips as sockets and  processors (ie the full chip that plugs into the motherboard socket) and this is whats used in published results.  They use these names interchangeably.  IBM tends to use socket when referring to a model of server such as “The S824 is a 2 socket server” or “The E850 is a 4 socket server”.   In almost all cases they refer to performance results using cores or processors which are used interchangeably. IBM tends to use chip or socket synonymously and cores or processors as the component that makes up that socket/chip.  Using Oracle terminology, the T5-8 system is configured with 8 processors of 16 cores each totaling totaling 128 cores.   This specific  IBM Power7+ 780 server only has 32 cores though yet Oracle chose to compare their 128 core server to it.  Why are you asking? This model of Power7+ server uses a 4 core per socket configuration.  Each server chassis of which it can scale from 1 to 4 chassis scales from 4 to 16 sockets or 16 to 64 cores.  This is how Oracle marketing claims 8 socket vs 8 socket which they publish their results.  As you can see though, they do not divulge to the reader that it is really 128 SPARC cores vs 32 Power7+ cores.  They leave it to the reader and consumer to figure this out taking no responsibility that they are intentionally trying to deceive and distort the facts.

With this Oracle 12c result for the SAP BW-EML benchmark you will note several areas of omission and possible deception. They do not publish any pricing data for using the in-memory feature. Using list price will easily run close to $200K per core and of course depends on whether a few features are chosen or not.  Oracle claims their 1 server with 36 cores beats all others by 2X.  They state in the whitepaper this one server is actually one of 8 database servers in the Exadata X5-2 appliance and not a single 2 socket 36 core standalone server. This is very important to understand as it drives up the software by a factor of 8.  There are a few ways to reduce their Oracle licensing but this is not disclosed and I would argue not likely used.  Since the server used is part of a 8 node Exadata, it would require software be licensed for 8 servers times 36 cores times the Intel licensing factor of 0.5.  This equals 144 Oracle licenses which is multiplied by the licensing cost (let’s just use $200K list price for easy math – it is what it is and is not entirely fixed) $200K which comes to a grand total of $28,800,000. Yes, that is $28.8M USD. Of course, Oracle charges an annual maintenance fee that is 22% times the license price. For this example the customer would pay $6,336,000 per year and every year.

Next, Oracle claims to have used just 1 x 36 core X5-2 server for this workload yet it also has the storage that comes with the 8 server solution. They could have just as easily used their standalone X5-2 server in their attempt to achieve these results. Furthermore, why did they not use the 2 node Oracle Database Appliance (ODA)?  It seems obvious they need the full Exadata infrastructure which heavily relies on SSD based PCIe adapters to achieve the desired performance.  The SSD heavy architecture has become the default configuration on Exadata from previous solutions which relied on high capacity but slower 10K rpm HDD as it delivers higher performance and higher margins.  Don’t forget Oracle shifts some of the database processing and subsequent cost from the DB servers to the storage servers then charge $20k per disk…yes, I said per “disk”.  Suckers line up to the left and those who have done their homework are already running Oracle workloads on IBM’s Power servers.

SAP has been clear in their roadmap.  They are moving toward an architecture developed around HANA.  I can’t blame Oracle entirely for touting their product as a viable database alternative.  IBM’s DB2 with BLU technology is a superior product to Oracle Database Enterprise Edition that runs even faster on Power8 (over SPARC & Intel) and is even less expensive.  Yet, IBM has posted an SAP HANA result running Linux on POWER8 servers for the BW-EML benchmark.  If customers wants to see how DB2 on Power8 performs, they are welcome to view the SAP Tier-2 S&D Benchmark mentioned above for results that are 2X+ greater than Intel and anywhere from 3-4X greater than SPARC per core. Customers are absolutely free to choose Oracle or DB2 for their BW workloads but if they plan to stay with SAP for the long term they are probably investigating, evaluating if not implementing HANA technologies already.

The way Oracle could impress SAP shops would be to publish a HANA result on their infrastructure solutions.  They could always use that opportunity to co-sell the benefits of their own software solutions as better alternatives but as usual, they bust-out on stage holding up their shiny object making  wild claims in their non-stop attempt to distract customers.

I’ll close with this. As part of their performance claims they state they achieve 2X more navigation steps using a single 36 core Oracle X5-2 servers (remember it is really 1 of 8 DB servers + all the storage servers). Glad to see Oracle trying to compare per core performance.  I’ll be on the look out for other examples of their newly found realization that performance and cost is largely dependent on per core performance and not just the sum of excessive cores like the T5-8 or M6-32.  Expect the SPARC M7  with 32 sockets of 32 cores per chip to be released in 2016.  It’s really 8 clusters of 4 core chiplets or essentially two of the old Sun ROCK chips IMO.  The latency due to traffic across the interconnects for coherency and data will be unbelievable (horrible). Would not be surprised that for the few benchmarks they do publish that they M7 models with fewer chip to minimize the cross chip penalty.  Then again, they may go with the 1024 core model hoping it can best a 192 core Power8 E880 servers.  I’m guessing it will be close.

Oracle blogger speaks with forked tongue!

Oracle blogger “kgee” wrote the following at

“Two Ways IBM Has Over-promised and Under-delivered with POWER8 to Date”. “Kgee” goes on to say the the following in which I provide the highlights.

  1. Power8 is More than a Year late.
  2. Where is AIX8?
  3. Fact: AIX 7 TL3 last November just released “WPAR alt_disk ….”
  4. Fact: Apparently per IBM’s roadmaps, AIX does not yet support SR-IOV
  5. Fact: Consider all of the advantages Oracle just released in Solaris 11.2

Just because you can say it, doesn’t make it true. This Oracle blog is full of wrong statements, mis-statements and “so what”.

1) IBM (imo) releases products when the market is ready for them.  Products may be pulled or pushed as the market and competition require it. Also, SPARC & Solaris are no longer considered significant competition much to the chagrin of Larry who thinks Oracle should be the most relevant.

2) Is that all you have to criticize Power8 for?  I’ll take it! Let me know when you want me to publish the side by side comparison of Power vs SPARC delivery dates. Oracle bought Sun so you own their dates as well!

3) Marketing drives model names for hardware and OS. Remember Solaris 2.4, 2.5, 2.6 then 2.7 – I mean Solaris 7? Then Solaris 8, 9, 10 and 11?  Constant major OS re-numbering require ISV’s to re-certify which is costly and often slow. I applaud IBM for sticking with the current OS strategy  that standardizes on the current two OSes in a effort to eliminate the disruption. Customers can now do minor updates for feature & bug enhancements to get to the next server generation without being required to do a major OS upgrade.

4) The author ‘kgee’ seems to have all of the AIX facts so he/she can tell us if AIX8 is late? I do not think it is and I am not expecting one but I wasn’t expecting one so not sure how it can be late.  That said, AIX delivers more concurrent, dynamic, scalable, and secure features than Solaris.  AIX is also integrated with the hypervisor and hardware for performance, security, serviceability and reliability. Can’t say that with Solaris, much of its RAS features are in the OS.  To do it in the hardware requires significant engineering effort which IBM has in spades.

5) For your WPAR Alt_disk…. comment – congrats! You picked a OS virtualization feature to give the impression AIX is lacking or playing catch-up. Solaris only had Zones, which is a OS virtualization feature as an option for years with no hardware level virtualization offering or capability. Power has delivered PowerVM years before Solaris’s OS only option. AIX added WPAR’s with Solaris 6 which was available in 2007 – just 2 years after Solaris.  As far as the “Alt_disk” vs Live Upgrade. AIX has had that feature since 2001. Guess that puts Solaris behind by 4 years.

6) Unified Archives – Oh great, another new feature from Oracle. Just like the T series, what is that 5 generations of servers in 6 or 7 years? Congrats on a new feature. I’ll take investment protection and stability.

7) No compromise virtualization with Solaris Zones – ha, really. Read your documentation. If you say “No compromise” that means none, nada, nothing yet you say in the definition “an even greater …” inferring an improvement. How can that be if it is already “No compromise”?

8) Power, PowerVM and AIX have delivered Quality of Service for cpu, ram, I/O for years. Congrats for catching up and using the latest buzzword “Software Defined”.

9) While Oracle works to lower the compliance effort with their offering, Power and PowerVM eliminate the effort of meeting compliance with IBM i and AIX through the use of PowerSC.

10) (Note: I forgot to add this in my original response to “Kgee’s” blog. Power servers have offered SR-IOV capabilities starting in October 2012 with Power7+ 770 & 780 servers. However, for all of the neat benefits of SR-IOV, those features are mutually exclusive to features  long available in the Virtual I/O Server (VIOS). So, while Solaris was needing SR-IOV to get these features, IBM has been delivering this kind of functionality since 2004 with Power5.

Other than these 9 (now 10) items I thought your article was pretty good.  Look forward to the next one.”

Solaris is a very good OS, just like HP-UX and other Unix OSes. AIX has enterprise features that in my opinion offer customers more features and benefits. It is a bit of Ford & Chevy. However, where there is no comparison is between Power servers vs SPARC servers. Even though Oracle delivers SPARC products, even new products they are years behind in functionality, capability, security, flexibility and performance compared to Power.  At the end of the day – actually at the start of the day, customers want their servers available, secure, using as much of the resources as needed for as many workloads as possible keeping the real costs under control which is with software like Oracle database. Power controls these products while SPARC and x86 for that matter are meant to deliver a software license delivery vehicle to increase licenses for Oracles profit. Nothing wrong with profit but let’s call a spade a spade.  TCO of Power will always beat the TCO of SPARC (and x86) for these kinds of workloads!


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 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.


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:  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



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.



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.


# of x86 servers

Total # licensed Cores in Solution

1st Year Oracle TCA

Total 1st Year Oracle TCA













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.



*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.