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VMware weaves Oracle databases into vFabric Data Director

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When VMware tuned the open-source PostgreSQL 9 database for its ESXi 5.0 hypervisor in the vFabric Spring Java framework, it knew it had to do more to make a convincing production database.

With vFabric Data Director 2.0, the company is therefore adding Oracle databases to the mix and hopes to add support for other obvious databases used in the enterprise.

Specifically, vFabric Data Director 2.0 now supports Oracle's 10g R2 and 11g R2 databases as a service on the framework; with the launch of the new vFabric Suite 5.1 packaging in May, the existing Postgres support was upped to the open source PostgreSQL 9.1 database.

"Databases have been the final frontier for virtualization," Fausto Ibarra, senior director of product management for data and analytics at VMware, told El Reg. This is one of the reasons why VMware launched vFabric Postgres last August, which is virtualised inside of an ESXi virtual machine container, dropped onto the Spring framework so Java apps can see it, and then exposed and managed as a database service by vFabric Data Director.

The vFabric Suite has a self-service portal where developers can spin up a database service on some cloudy infrastructure and it also does all of the patching and updating to the database code so developers don't have to mess with that.

The ESXi hypervisor supports linked cloning of VMs so developers can create a gold image of a database instance in a repository and then parcel out linked database instances to development and production environments, and vFabric and ESXi will keep these databases updated and in synch through differential updates.

vFabric Suite 5.1 Standard Edition includes tc Server Spring Edition, Elastic Memory for Java, GemFire Application Cache Node, the vFabric Web server (a goosed variant of the Apache web server), the Spring framework, and optional support for the raw Apache HTTP and Tomcat servers. It costs $1,500 per VM under management.

vFabric Suite Advanced Edition adds the vFabric Application Director, vFabric Postgres, the SQLfire Professional Edition in-memory database, and vFabric RabbitMQ as well as the open source variant of the RabbitMQ messaging system; it costs $2,500 per VM. vFabric Postgres is free for developers and costs $1,700 per VM if you buy it standalone, so you can see that the Advanced Edition suite is the way to go.

Money talks

vFabric Data Director is not bundled into the suites – at least not yet – and cost $600 per VM under management in the 1.0 release. With the 2.0 release, VMware is charging $750 per VM under management and is capping each VM at two virtual CPUs.

Yup, it looks like we got ourselves a virtual CPU tax here, like the virtual memory tax VMware instituted with ESXi 5.0 last year and then had to back down on a bit.

If you want virtualise Oracle 10g and 11g databases and put them under the control of vFabric Data Director, you just buy Oracle licences as you normally would. Ibarra said that in virtual environments, Oracle encourages customers to license its database on a per-core basis for all the cores on a specific database server and then virtualise it at will, which is exactly how VMware licenses the ESXi hypervisor.

The important thing, Ibarra said, is that customers have hundreds or thousands of Oracle licences scattered around their data centres, running on servers at a portion of their CPU capacity, and that by virtualising and consolidating these database images they can not only drive up server utilisation, but also collapse their Oracle database licences and stop shovelling piles of cash onto Larry Ellison. In many cases, Ibarra said, database licence costs can be cut by 50 to 75 per cent, and at Oracle's prices, this is big money.

To support Oracle databases on vFabric, you need to be on the ESXi 5.0 hypervisor and you need to be at the Enterprise Plus level or higher for that hypervisor licence. It is not clear what optimisations Oracle and VMware have done to run 10g and 11g on ESXi, but as far as Oracle is concerned, ESXi is just another kind of "hardware" platform that Oracle supports, said Ibarra.

vFabric Data Director 2.0 has a bunch of other features besides support for Oracle databases. VMware has added tools to help migrate physical databases to virtual machines. The company has also created APIs to link vFabric Data Director and the databases under its control to vCloud Director, VMware's cloud controller, the open source Cloud Foundry framework, and vFabric Application Director, which is part of the vFabric Suite and which does automated application deployment.

By the way, Cloud Foundry is not the same thing as vFabric and combines the RabbitMQ messaging service with MySQL, Redis, and MongoDB data services and frameworks for Java and Ruby applications.

VMware is also working on connectors for the Greenplum Chorus management tool for data warehouses and Hadoop data munchers and Data Domain storage from parent company EMC, and has inked a deal to get Sybase databases on top of vFabric, according to Ibarra.

IBM's DB2 and Microsoft's SQL Server databases are already running atop ESXi, obviously, and so is Oracle's open source MySQL database, but Ibarra is not about tip VMware's hand on future product announcements. "We're going to be adding more databases in the future," was all Ibarra would say, adding: "Soon." ®

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