Ok, the followup to my earlier post on the latest in the ongoing Oracle/VMware saga has to be heard to be believed. If you haven’t read the original, please go back there and start there.
So, I’m still not going to post the Oracle President’s email address (those furious enough can easily find it by looking at other posts). I’m also not going to post his original comments, which were paraphrased, so I wanted to give him the benefit of the doubt (being a public face can be hard – trust me). But, I’ve seen the form response (clearly an automated response or a cut/paste based on some typos) – so I will put it here, it shows incredible insight into what we’re dealing with here.
If you’re curious – and who couldn’t be – read on…
First of all – are you pissed about Apple’s shutdown of Google Voice or other apps? I am. I think it’s ridiculous. There’s clearly logic in the “keep the experience nice and integrated”. That’s thinking about your customers. but there’s also a clear line that gets crossed when you shutdown apps that demonstrate “nice experience and integrated”, but conflict with your own interests. That’s being a monopolist – and actively hurting your customers. With that in mind, read on – first with the response to people who are inquiring re: the support policy of Oracle and VMware.
Emphasis is mine, and I have removed the name of the person who got the email - but it is otherwise unchanged.
“XXX,, thanks for your note.
There is a misperception out there so let me clarify. We never said customers were not interested in virtualization and we already recognize customers want to run their applications in a virtualized environment and we encourage them to do so which is why we offer Oracle VM with no license charge. We do support, test, and certify aginst the Oracle VM environment. I didn't say we needed to hear from customers who wanted to use VMware; we arleady agree that virtualization is important.
What we've said on other VMs is that we will respond to support issues as they arise but so far we've elected not to formally certify any third party VMs because virtualization is intricately linked to the rest of our stack. A lot of our customers run database grids and we support virtual clusters which requires our clusterware for internode communication interacting with our VM for HA features which is why people use RAC in the first place. We also use virtualization to provision RAC clusters and do live migrations.
But that requires an engineered product family that takes advantage of our shared storage, clustered file system, clusterware, and our shared everything environment. We are supporting a complete system of deployment for virtualized computing and not just a hypervisor. That's what allows the advanced functionalty. e.g. availability that doesn't rely on network pings to determine whether a guest is running or not. This reduces the chances for false positives/negatives when determining whether a VM has failed. It also assures that a VM is restarted correctly without any risk of shared data corruption. We of course built our business on protecting data at all costs and the VM interacts at such a low level with our stack that we've elected to certify the one we could fully engineer and test. We have to protect the data and reduce the risk.
We're trying to make it as easy as possible for people to run our database in virtualized environments. We are providing additional add ons for free such as VM templates that are downloadable and already preconfigured e.g. Oracle Enterprise Linux and the Oracle database. Quicker ramp up town with a single configuration installation script. Our version of Linux distribution is paravirtualized and we get significant performance benefits as a result. We can also do live migrations as well as capacity and power management (turn machines off an on). Much like the mainframe where virtualization was created, its a complete system from end to end.
We do respond when customers call and work with VMware and other third parties if an issue arises. We are always opening to revisiting issues but that's where we are right now. Our VM is free so the only motivation is to provide a reliable and well tested environment for HA, clustering, and grid computing
As for licensing, most of our customers now have unlimited license agreements which means it doesn't matter how many VMs, cores, or processors you decide to deploy. We think this is easier for both sides and encourages adoption of the technology. Thanks Charles”
First of all – what do YOU think? Please comment!
I’ll tell you what I think.
I’ll paraphrase the key points:
- customers want virtualization, but only really oracle VM - which is 'full stack' and not VMware which is 'just a hypervisor'.
- VM HA is not able to do what RAC can (true). But then again VM HA/FT do something RAC cannot, which is bring simple, low cost HA options to Oracle where the higher SLA and featureset of RAC is not needed. Further – VMware is much more than a hypervisor, or VM HA. What about FT? What about SRM? What about Lab Manager? What about all the elements of vCenter and the management suite? What about all the vStorage and vNetwork integration?
- Re licensing (as big a problem as support) - most use Enterprise Edition with ELAs and unlimited licensing, so the per physical socket stuff isn't a problem.
- The dated FUD on paravirt Linux performance is also interesting – though far less important than the other items.
Note: For those of you that might be sympathetic to the “we don’t certify 3rd party hypervisors” (I mean, it makes sense on one level - why certify someone else’s product?! The answer BTW is is because your customers ask you to)… You REALLY need to understand – Oracle doesn’t specify or limit Oracle Database support on various server platforms only on operating systems. We (EMC, VMware, customers) are not asking for Oracle to certify VMware. We’re just asking them to take the same stance they do on a server. If you run into a problem with Oracle 11g on a Dell server running RHEL, they check to see that the OS is supported, then they work through it, and then if they are confident that it is a server problem, Dell is engaged. It’s the same model here, just replace “Dell” with “VMware”. VMware is then responsible for support from VMware down (including server/storage/IO). BTW - there are also models where RAC “clusterware” (as Charles calls it – implying incorrectly that it can’t work) can work just fine with VMware (pRDM into guests, and dNFS into guests – also simple and easy ways to reproduce issues on physical, and very useful tools for people virtualizing Oracle). Now, Microsoft provided a formal certification program (SVVP) – if Oracle wanted to do something similar – GREAT. But even if they don’t – just support VMware the same way they support all server platforms.
Now – one thing before we go too far… There’s always a risk of “drinking the corporate koolaid”. Is this ignorance, or does it reflect Oracle’s actual worldview and strategic intent? We can assume Charles is ignorant of a lot of reasons why customers choose VMware overwhelmingly today – that’s certainly fair. No one can be . But, this guy is the President of Oracle, BS in Comp Sci, and holds MBA. He’s worked at Goldman Sachs and advised President Obama. He’s no rube, and this certainly must reflect the core thinking at Oracle.
The other thing in there that (to me) is shockingly clear: Oracle's world view leaves no room for others (EMC and NetApp folks – currently the main Oracle storage partners - note his comment about shared storage in "their stack"). There’s a clear assertion that the only way to have a supported, It’s also amazing how much Oracle (at least in their message to customers – perhaps they ) don't understand that VMware is already much more than a hypervisor to our mutual customers - its a core part of how you build internal and external clouds.
Look – I’m not naive. Every vendor wants to “own the stack”. Heck, EMC does too. But, we’ve realized that we need to win on our merits, that “box out” plays don’t work well – even when you hold a strategic lynchpin (like VMware). It’s legit to say “we can do MORE if you use our full stack – and our efforts are focused there”. It’s not legit to say “you HAVE to use our full stack”. This philosophy of customer choice is an EMC strategy, and has been a core part of why VMware has been, continues to be, and will continue to be run as an independent company partnering with all – even core EMC competitors. It’s why EMC also supports Hyper-V and Xen. If you don’t see something on the EMC e-Lab support matrix – there’s a process (everyone at EMC knows it) to issue an RPQ (this is in essence a formal request to qual). There are days where I resent that we’re open (having a clear VMware love/bias) but I know it’s the right thing for EMC to do, and the right thing for our customers and shareholders.
WHAT YOU NEED TO DO:
Look, a lot of the time, people over-estimate what I, or EMC as a whole can do. Oracle is 5x EMC’s size – we cannot “get them to change their support/licensing policy”. We’re are trying to do something here to help (stay tuned) as a company – thinking of the customer first. While a big effort, it’s a far cry from what Oracle could do with a snap of their fingers.
BUT REMEMBER - every Oracle customer has 10x the leverage with Oracle that EMC does. After all – you are their source of revenue. You hold the power – they don’t. Dear readers, here is my call to action for you:
- Reach out to your Oracle sales team, and tell them their VMware support policy is unacceptable. Tell them you have choices (SQL Server – with the MySQL acquisiton the choices have narrowed). Mean it when you say it. Start considering your options.
- If you’re a smaller customer – perhaps running Oracle on Windows (and there are MANY of you) – Oracle has no virtualization strategy for you, period. Tell them you have choices (SQL Server – with the MySQL acquisiton the choices have narrowed). Mean it when you say it. Start considering your options.
- If you’re a smaller customer – perhaps not running Oracle Enterprise with a unlimited ELA model – Oracle has no licensing strategy for you in a virtual world – period. Expect to keep counting physical sockets. Tell them you have choices (SQL Server – with the MySQL acquisiton the choices have narrowed). Mean it when you say it. Start considering your options.
- If you’re a smaller customer – perhaps using single instance Oracle, and looking for a little bit of higher availability – Oracle’s wants you to by Enterprise under and ELA, and has no interest in simple, low cost HA solutions. Tell them you have choices (SQL Server – with the MySQL acquisiton the choices have narrowed). Mean it when you say it. Start considering your options.
- Realize that while in your world the choice of what you use to build your internal and external clouds may be obvious – and you want VMware. BUT – remember, recognize and respect that infrastructure is subservient to applications – in the real world both architecturally and from most customer’s IT budget standpoint. If you don’t speak up and talk with the application owners and to your IT management – you will be stiff armed by the DBAs and the Oracle apps team, the CIO will overrule you, and Oracle will stiff arm your company for more and more revenue, with worse and worse support models.