December 24, 2013  by admin

Oracle Database Appliance, is it worth it ?

With a such title, I’m pretty sure to stir up passions 😀
Nevertheless, it’s finally a reasonable question regarding the price of the beast…
Every companies try now to maximize their ROI and buying an appliance, which base price is $60,000, deserves to think about it (it’s a ridiculous price compared to an EXADATA Full Rack but the target is not the same).


Now, answering to this question is not necessary an easy task. Indeed, even if an appliance may have many advantages (system ready to use, management facilitated,…), there are also several cons to take in considerations (limited customisation, blackbox in case of trouble, expansive…).
=> The idea is therefore to define if an appliance offers much more advantages than a “conventional” solution.


Please take note that I won’t do any comparison with MSSQL equivalences. I really think that Microsoft now offers an exceptional Database/BI package which is clearly more attractive than Oracle in term of price but this is another topic…


So, let’s talk about ODA !


The full hardware specifications will be detailed in chapter 3 but here is a quick overview of the product:
– Two independent nodes
        2 CPU (x86) per node
        256GB of RAM per node
        2 x 600GB local disks for the O/S
        1 x Internal SAS HBA
        2 x External SAS HBA
        10GbE Interconnect
        4 x External 1/10GbE
– A shared storage
        4 x 2.5” 200GB SSD (Redo)
        20 x 2.5” 900GB HDD (Data)


Everything is redundant and the storage offer the following configuration:
– Double mirrored: 9TB
– Triple mirrored: 6TB

Normal redundancy (Double mirrored)
Backup mode: Local 3.6 4.5 248
Backup mode: External 7.2 0.98 248
High redundancy (Triple mirrored)
Backup mode: Local 2.4 3 248
Backup mode: External 4.8 0.65 248


1. Deployment, Maintenance, and Support
As explained in my introduction, the ODA is an appliance (no, really ?) and an appliance is supposed to help you to save time and money by simplifying deployment, maintenance and support of high availability database solutions.


Is it really the case ?
Definitively YES ! And I can even give you the name of the component which makes this management so easy: OAKCLI


OAKCLI is the Oracle Appliance Manager which is precisely located between the O/S (Oracle Linux 5.9) and the Clusterware stack (Oracle




The tool is a Command Line Interface (/opt/oracle/oak/bin/oakcli) ensuring the following functions:


– Apply / copy the core configuration key (nb of cores to enable…)
– Configure ODA devices (network, disk…)
– Validate and diagnose ODA components
– Deploy OS/DB updates and patches
– Deploy Database engine
– Deploy Database instances


Some details about this last point.
There are 6 databases classes available with OAKCLI from very small (XS) to extra extra large (XXL):


Components XS S M L XL XXL
CPU_COUNT 2 4 8 12 24 32
SGA (MB) 4096 8192 16384 24’576 49’152 65’536
PGA (MB) 2048 4096 8192 12’288 24’576 32’768
Processes 200 400 800 1200 2400 3200
Log files size (GB) 1 1 2 4 4 4
Estimated databases capacity 16 8 4 2 1 1
Estimated iops 206.25 412.5 825 1’650 3’300 3’300

These classes make your work much easier but you’ll probably have to customize them later (resource_manager_plan not set, only one control file…)


The tool coverage is so wide that, finally, except for the tasks “purely” related to the database administration, you will always use this tool.
And the last but not the least, even if it’s clearly not perfect (server pool limitations…), most tasks are often easier and even faster than doing them with conventional tools…


2. Licensing
Another strength of this appliance is the fact that you can – at last – use hard partitioning on x86 processors without entering into the Oracle licensing grey area.
You can officially license 2(*), 4, 8, 12, or 16 cores on each server and increase later on this value depending of your needs (once purchased, reducing the number of cores is still not possible though).
One disadvantage – there’s always a bad point – is that you can only license Enterprise Edition…


(*) seems to be only available when using OVM.
More details here:


3. Hardware cost
OK, let’s follow up the discussion about money 😉
The ODA costs 60,000$ (Oracle engineered systems price list. so, let’s see how much does an equivalent solution would cost on the market.


For the duel, I have retained HP as the main competitor. The brand is recognised for the quality of its products and is widely represented in the datacenters.


– On the Oracle side, you’ll find hereafter the full specs of the Oracle Database Appliance X3-2.




– On the HP side, I have choosen 2 HP ProLiant DL380p Gen8 (DL360p Gen8 doesn’t match with the CPU) with one HP D2700 w/25 900GB 6G SAS 10K SFF Dual port HDD 22.5TB Bundle (which do no include any SSD disks but which remains very close of the ODA storage shelf).


It may look like this:


A full description of these components is available here:
– HP ProLiant DL380p Gen8 Server!tab=features


– HP D2700 w/25 900GB 6G SAS 10K SFF Dual port HDD 22.5TB Bundle (QK771A)!tab=features


So… let’s compare our two configurations:


Here are the details of the HP’s receipt:


The result is really surprising ! Larry has managed to deliver a strong and robust appliance embedding a powerful dedicated management tool (oakcli), operational in a very short time and fully supporting hard partitioning for the same price than a raw hardware solution at HP which do not provide any of these functionalities !!!


Let’s be clear, this study is clearly not exhaustive. Many points have not been covered and in particular the virtualization and the performance part (many benchmarks are available on internet showing the good performances of the box) but it’s a good overview.
The Oracle Database Appliance is a very flexible solution, making life easier for DBAs and permitting a very fine licensing customization so for me, no doubts, it is really worth it !
To close this chapter, you will find – hereafter – a link towards an excellent presentation made by Tammy Bednar about the ODA I/O and performance architecture:

One comment on “Oracle Database Appliance, is it worth it ?”

  1. Mike Reply

    Many thanks for this great article !


Leave a comment

Please wait......