DRS Host Affinity rules can be used to run Oracle on a subset of the hosts within a cluster

In November 2011 VMware released a very good whitepaper titled Understanding Oracle Certification, Support and Licensing for VMware Environments. It clearly describes there are no issues on running Oracle on VMware and that running Oracle virtual is cheaper than running on physical boxes.

The whitepaper is the first written statement of VMware I am aware of which clearly states *that according to VMware* DRS Host Affinity can be used to limit the number of Oracle license needed without having to use a dedicated cluster. The text below is taken from the whitepaper.

Oracle cannot be licensed by virtual CPUs today, but as long as Oracle software runs on fully licensed hosts, customers are not in violation of published Oracle policies. In particular, DRS Host Affinity rules can be used to run Oracle on a subset of the hosts within a cluster. In many cases, customers can use vSphere to achieve substantial licensing savings.

A response to the VMware whitepaper is posted by the blog Oracle Storage Guy titled VMware’s Official Support Statement Regarding Oracle Certification and Licensing. The same blog written by Jeff Browning can be read at communities.emc.com as well.
Also at the communities.emc.com forum an interesting thread on using DRS Host Affinity.

Michael Webster wrote a great posting titled Fight the FUD – Oracle Licensing and Support on VMware vSphere. The artivle has a lot of information and tries to get rid of all the FUD spread around by Oracle (not supported on VMware, you need to license all CPU’s)

Dave Welch of House of Brick responded in the thread listed above with a very detailed response explaining the use of DRS Host Affinity. Worth reading!
It remains to be seen if Oracle will ever respond to the whitepaper or even will confirm that DRS Host affinity is a way to limited the number of licenses. I believe they will not respond and will get their money from customers not willing to start a legal battle with Oracle.
Read this blog of Rocela– global leaders in consulting for Oracle licensing, cost management and compliance which states:

We work with clients using VMware and Oracle every day: we are unaware of any change of general stance from Oracle. Therefore, you should be fully aware of the potential licensing implications should Oracle audit your use of Oracle on VMware clusters.

Jeff  Browning of EMC wrote a nice blog explaining the licensing of Oracle on VMware. The blog is titled Oracle Licensing on VMware – no magic

Now that server virtualization is main stream technology companies are starting to virtualize their Tier1 applications on VMware vSphere and other platforms. However there are some concerns and misunderstandings about virtualization of Oracle products.

Organizations believe running Oracle in virtual machines is not cost effective because of the Oracle licensing policy. Sometimes this is solved by using a dedicated cluster just for running Oracle VM’s. Creation of a dedicated cluster is not needed when VMware Host DRS Affinity feature is used. This feature allows virtual machines to be active on a subset of hosts in a cluster. So only the CPU’s in those hosts needs to be licensed for Oracle, not all hosts. I wrote about this earlier in a posting titled Oracle supports VMware DRS Host Affinity (but does not want you to know it).

Also customers are being intimidated by Oracle to buy more licenses that needed. Because of the legal and unclear text most companies do not get into legal fight and pay. However in most cases this is not needed and things can be settled for a much lower price.

Techtarget.com publised an article in 2012 titled Oracle licensing for vSphere 4.1 irks VMware pros . A quote from the article

At the very least, users should “not just foolishly say, ‘My field rep interprets licensing requirements for me,’” Welch said. “The only thing that’s binding is on paper. In my opinion, Oracle is just delighted that this confusion is spreading, when how the licensing works is right here in front of us.”

Also the technical support by Oracle has been an issue. However Oracle does support running Oracle on vSphere and other platforms. In some cases the customer will need to prove the reported issue is not caused by the virtualization stack. I blogged about this in a posting titled Oracle slowly starting to support VMware

There are more interesting posting on the internet about Oracle licensing. Jay Weinshenker wrote an interesting post titled Licensing Oracle on VMware vSphere with usefull thoughts and comments from readers. Another blogposting by Jay titled Yet another way VMware saves a company money on Oracle licenses
House of Brick  can help you purchasing the right number of licenses.

In the Netherlands License Consulting can help you with making sure you do not pay too much for Oracle licenses.

Another concern which slow down adoption of virtualized Oracle instances is performance. As Oracle databases are often used for Tier1 application, performance is critical. A long time thought is that running Oracle on VMware might result in less performance. Several benchmarks showed there is none to hardly any performance difference between running Oracle on physical or virtual servers.

In March 2012 Confio released a whitepaper titled A Comparison of Oracle Performance on Physical and VMware Servers.  Confio is the developer of the Ignite family of performance and monitoring tools, including IgniteVM, the first database monitoring solution created for databases hosted on VMware. IgniteVM installs in minutes. Download a free trial from www.confio.com

The summary of the test: Performance and throughput results, as experienced by the order entry application, were essentially identical for the Oracle database on the physical and VMware servers. IgniteVM focuses on application response time, the most important performance measure. It illustrated identical throughput of 50 transactions per second, and negligible differences in response time for the highest volume queries, with the VM actually running faster at less than 2ms per execution vs. 3ms for the physical server.

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