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Virtualizing Database Servers
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TOPIC: Virtualizing Database Servers
Virtualizing Database Servers 10 Years, 11 Months ago Karma: 2
I have a lot of conversations wrapped around how companies can save money with Virtualization. Undeniably it is the single most
beneficial technology to consolidate equipment and simplify highly available environments, plus design in a very natural business continuity plan
such as disaster recovery.

When it comes to databases, email servers, and systems that generate a traditionally high random I/O rate, you should think twice and even a third time.
Technically, if it runs on an X86/X64 based operating system, yes you can do it, and it works - to a point. Performance is generally the first thing to
fall off the edge of acceptable in an end-users eyes.

More importantly, think about why you went down this road in the first place, to save money. If you spent $47k per processor for EE or ($17K for SE)
and you virtualize it, what did you actually do? First off, you've put yourself in a position in which support does not have to help you, they don't have to support
the database software if it isn't running natively on a hardware based OS. If there is a problem, you need to recreate it on a standard system before they are required
to look at it. Secondly, you've isolated yourself away from the hardware yet another layer (the main purpose of virtualization) and introduced performance robbing management overhead, which is a necessary cost of computing. Don't optimize, vitrualize, consolidate the least expensive portion of your system if you're wanting to save money in this area, you'll only put yourself in a bad position down the road.

If at all possible, always design your database servers to run on an actual OS, directly on the hardware. You can virtualize your database server in more than one manner that is cost effective and takes advantage of what is designed into the software.

Run more than one database server on a single physical server. Push the transaction logs to a storage array or NAS unit and protect them like they are made of gold.
Have your database server running on shared storage, can even be the same array used for your other virtualized server, just on separate LUNS.
Running more than one database on a system has been around for a long time and is highly supported. Clustering with VCS is an excellent way to ensure uptime for a single
database server on multiple physical systems. The licensing is quite attractive because you are only running on a single system at any given time. If Oracle RAC will suite your application, then possibly look at it as a solution.

Another way to look at virtualizing a database server is to look at physical or logical domains on a system. Here you are actually running on the hardware locally, getting
maximum performance, but the machine is limited in how many resources you're able to attach to and utilized. Not necessarily available in the X86/X64 arena, but allows you
to completely separate OS and database versions on the same server and have complete flexibility.

Another note of interest, don't run your application or users on the same physical server as your database software. Having them separate is more valuable than you'll ever imagine. Again, why waste the precious database server cycles on the application using the data? Use the client/server model of system design and architect your systems, it's been around for a very long time and has proven itself over and over again. Obviously, do what's right for the application, but in general this should be your first design goal.

Bottom line, you spent a lot of money on database server licenses - use them to their maximum potential and get all value you can out of them. There are ways to virtualize
a database correctly to ensure you get the maximum value for what you've licensed for and absolute best performance from the hardware exercising the software you've licensed.
Save money by building your systems in a manner that are supportable, and in a standard configuration that makes sense for your organization. If you virtualize your licensed database products, you've most likely cost your company more money without knowing it. Again, this is one of those situations that "Just because you can, doesn't mean you should!"

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