Oracle supports VMware DRS Host Affinity (but does not want you to know it)

Update August 31

At VMworld all of a sudden Oracle seemed to have changed its policy of being unclear/unfair about licensing Oracle on VMware.

Richard Garsthagen, Director of Cloud Business Development Oracle EMEA, confirmed in an interview which was filmed by VMworldTV that vSphere DRS Host Affinity is one of the ways to limit the movement of VMs and thus limit the license cost for Oracle.

The video was published at Wednesday August 29, 2012. However one day later the video all of a sudden was removed for yet unknown reasons. It is very likely someone working for Oracle sales did not like the clearness and fairness of Garsthagen and requested to have the video removed.

Luckily the video was recorded by Daniel Hesselink, a consultant on Oracle licensing. See the video here which proves customers can perfectly use DRS Host Affinity or any other tool to limit the number of Oracle licenses.
Read the complete story here.

Update April 2, 2013: To show Oracle auditors the movements of VM, this script can be used: http://www.lucd.info/2013/03/31/get-the-vmotionsvmotion-history/

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My original posting continues here.

Oracle and server virtualization has not been a good relationship so far. Oracle initially did not support issues if the Oracle instance was running on a virtual machine. Lately the company relaxed their policy a bit in favour for their customers. Read more about this in the posting titled Oracle slowly starting to support VMware

Not only support was a big issue for virtualization of Oracle servers. The biggest was probably the licensing costs involved. Oracle states that an Oracle instance needs to be licensed for the number of CPU’s the instance can possibly be run on. If a customer is running a VMware cluster with 10 hosts each having 2 CPU’s the customer needs to buy 20 CPU’s licenses for a single Oracle instance. That is a big investment. So the customer decides to install Oracle on a physical server. An alternative approach would be to use a dedicated VMware cluster with a few hosts for just Oracle virtual machines. The disadvantage is additional management and less efficient use of compute and memory resources.

Since the release of vSphere 4.1 VMware has a new feature called DRS Host Affinity. Using rules a virtual machine can be limited to run on a selected number of hosts in a cluster. So instead of the virtual machine being able to run on 10 servers, it could be restricted to run on only two. That makes a lot of difference in license costs.

Oracle tries to keep it’s license policy as unclear  as possible so customer decide to be better safe than sorry and buy more licenses they legaly would need. Not every customer has a legal department to study and understand the agreement. I hope this will soon be over.

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About Marcel van den Berg
I am a technical consultant with a strong focus on server virtualization, desktop virtualization, cloud computing and business continuity/disaster recovery.

2 Responses to Oracle supports VMware DRS Host Affinity (but does not want you to know it)

  1. Hi Marcel
    I have read this article three times and followed the link until the end of the internet. I can’t find any claim to show that Oracle sees Host Affinity as “hard partitioning”. They see it as “soft partitioning” and require that all hosts in a cluster is licensed.

    Btw. I love the word “Support” because it has at least three different meanings: some people reads it as “works”, some as “is allowed” and others as “you can get help”. Which version did you aim for in the title?

    Michael Monberg

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