Less is more
“Hi! We’re having trouble with the performance of our Oracle environment, can you please investigate this and come up with a suggestion how to solve it?”
Following this question, we investigated which licenses the Municipality of Slochteren took from Oracle, and what licenses are actually required for the organization. We also looked for opportunities to increase the stability and availability of their database environment. We soon discovered that the Oracle databases of the municipality had been installed on physical servers. This had to change!
Too much to handle
Most municipalities in the Netherlands use Oracle databases. They are obliged to purchase Oracle licenses, which are quite expensive. Many municipalities have also chosen the most comprehensive Enterprise license, including the Municipality of Slochteren. However, it had turned out that the municipality does not use all the additional features offered by this Enterprise license, while suffering from some limitations at the same time. This – of course – was not an ideal situation.
The crux of the matter with Oracle licenses
In the past, a server became faster because the CPU became faster. Regarding the Oracle Enterprise license, this meant that you could maintain the same license in combination with a new server that enables faster applications.
Nowadays, one often sees that processors get faster because manufacturers provide more processor cores in their servers. The problem with the Oracle Enterprise license is that you have to pay for each processor core. When you purchase a new server, you will get a server that is much faster because it contains more processor cores. And that will require for expanding your Oracle license, which can result in a situation in which you have to pay double the price in comparison to the old situation.
More with less
The solution? At the Municipality of Slochteren, the best solution turned out to be a combination of an alternative (cheaper) license and virtual servers. The Oracle Standard Edition license is sufficient for their needs. And so is the other part of the solution, virtualization.
Oracle might not always be happy with virtualization as they ask users to license all servers within a VM-environment. We have solved this by replacing four servers with two physical servers with VMware that runs multiple virtual servers. The advantage here is that in doing so we could set up a separate component for the Oracle database and only license the processors of that cluster.
The big advantage for the municipality is that their current database environment now also is better separated. On a virtual server, fewer databases run together. When certain databases are too busy, the burden on servers is spread. The ultimate effect is that if there are any problems with a server or database, this has almost no impact on the rest of the organization. This has improved the stability and availability of the IT environment, just as the municipality would like.