Today EMC’s Chad Sakac blogged about a significant update to Oracle’s support policy for VMware ESX environments – Oracle no longer explicitly excludes Oracle RAC from being virtualized. It should also be noted that Oracle’s support is limited to “issues that either are known to occur on the native OS, or can be demonstrated not to be as a result of running on VMware.” In other words, if it’s not a known bug, customers may be asked to reproduce problems on the bare metal. Like Chad, this is an issue I have blogged about repeatedly over the last couple of years. For a historical perspective, you can read the following posts: Oracle Changes its Position on x86 Hypervisor Support (Unfair Licensing Remains) (May 2009) Oracle Honors its New Year’s Resolution: Non-Oracle x86 Hypervisors are Now Supported (May 2009) A New Year’s Resolution for Oracle (December 2008) Oracle and the Big Elephant (August 2008) While Oracle should be applauded for supporting RAC in VMware environments, RAC support has not been the top customer requirement. Most Oracle customers license Oracle products by CPU core. In VMware environments, Oracle has asked customers with core-based licensing to license every physical core in an ESX cluster. The result is that customers often have to pay added licensing fees to run Oracle workloads in VMware VMs. Some clients have had to run Oracle workloads in small ESX clusters to stay within licensing compliance. Many have decided not to virtualize Oracle products until licensing restrictions were eased so that organizations would not have to pay more to run Oracle workloads in x86 VMs. Some customers are more fortunate. For example, one client I have worked with migrated 100 Oracle database instances from AIX to RHEL/ESX last year. Their motivation was to save on IBM support costs, which they estimated at close to $200,000 annually. This particular client had a site license with Oracle, making the migration to ESX practical because they didn’t have to pay additional licensing fees to run in the ESX environment. The root of the problem stems from the fact that Oracle considers the x86 hypervisor “soft partitioning.” Oracle’s policy on software partitioning states that “soft partitioning is not permitted as a means to determine or limit the number of software licenses required for any given server.” This rule also applies for Oracle’s own hypervisor – Oracle VM (OVM). However, Oracle makes an exception for Oracle VM, but only when VMs are pinned to physical CPU cores. That requirement complicates the execution of essential virtualization features such as live migration (vCPUs must be re-pinned to the target host’s physical cores after migration). An interesting side note in the licensing conversation is that Oracle allows licensing...

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