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7/10/2012
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VMware Adds Oracle Database Support To vFabric

VMware says IT managers can use Data Director 2.0 to backup, patch or clone the database like any other virtual machine.

The trend of virtualizing more of the enterprise data center--the database system as well as applications--got a boost Tuesday when VMware announced that its vFabric Data Director 2.0 now supports running Oracle 10g and 11g in virtual machines.

Data Director 2.0 allows a database or virtualization administrator to manage the database system through automated procedures and virtualization policies that resemble those already in use to manage other VMs in the data center.

IT managers may wish to virtualize the database system to make greater use of underutilized hardware. Database servers typically run at 8% to 10% of capacity. Putting more than one virtualized Oracle system on a host helps use more of the host's resources, while guaranteeing its isolation. With two or even three Oracle databases running on one set of CPUs instead of three sets, the Oracle customer can reduce his Oracle license charges, based on CPU usage, by half or two-thirds.

In addition, application developers can treat the database system as more of an in-house service available to them through their standard Java messaging and connection procedures instead of needing the specifics of a point-to-point connection. Virtualized databases may ease both database operational expenses and database application development costs.

[ Want to learn more about vFabric Suite? See VMware's Vision For Next Generation Applications. ]

VMware's vFabric products include a core suite that supports application operation, such as SQLFire and GemFire in-memory data caching systems. VFabric's suite is designed to work with runtime components optimized for the Spring Framework, such as the Tomcat-based Spring tc Server.

In effect, vFabric is a set of integrated products that allow Java developers using VMware's Spring Framework to more easily deploy and manage applications into VMware's virtualization environment. Customers are more likely to stick around, the thinking goes, if VMware supplies convenient tools that make it easier to deploy and manage virtualized applications.

VFabric Data Director is a stand-alone product but is integrated with vFabric's core suite. Through it, a virtualized database system can be managed by the database administrator or virtualization manager much like other virtual machines in the data center. Automated procedures can prompt it to be commissioned and decommissioned, assigned more resources, backed up, patched or cloned, said Fausto Ibarra, senior director of product management for data and analytics, in an interview.

The more limited Data Director 1.0 could manage virtual machines running vFabric Postgres 9.1, a VMware-virtualized version of the open source relational system, PostgreSQL. The addition of Oracle 19g Release 2 and 11g Release 2 to Data Director 2.0 makes the product useful to a much broader set of VMware customers who are also Oracle customers.

Although he couldn't talk about roadmap futures, Ibarra said that Microsoft's SQL Server and Sybase were widely used as well in the VMware customer base. As it matures, Data Director can be expected to serve as one management interface through which several different brands of databases may be deployed and managed.

Data Director is priced at $750 per database VM, running on one or two virtual CPUs. In some cases, two virtual CPUs will equal roughly one physical core. (The pricing then meshes with Oracle's pricing per physical CPU.) Customers may provision as large a database server as they wish, such as a 16-virtual CPU server; it would result in eight license charges, since each license covers a maximum of two virtual CPUs.

Data Director's pricing is another example of VMware pricing based on the virtual, not physical, resource--one database VM. (VCenter Operations is priced per virtual machine managed; vSphere 5.0 Enterprise Plus is priced with a virtual memory limit of 96 GB per host--for as many virtual machines as the customer thinks appropriate to run on such a host.)

Although a separate product, Ibarra said Data Director is integrated with vFabric Application Director, which can be used in the deployment of virtualized applications where an application server, a Web server and a database server need to work together. Application Director maintains templates of such combinations, and can automatically assemble a set of virtual servers based on a previous successfully deployed pattern.

Many companies have a variety of databases that are rapidly accumulating data. "As the data volume grows, management may need to provision more databases and have them available for use by different applications," Ibarra noted. Data Director 2.0 is VMware's approach to using virtualization as a way to reduce the manual processes at the database tier of coping with that data flow.

Extending core virtualization concepts to storage, networking, I/O, and application delivery is changing the face of the modern data center. In the Pervasive Virtualization report, we discuss all these areas in the context of four main precepts of virtualization. (Free registration required.)

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