ODA News from Oracle OpenWorld 2014

ODA News from Oracle OpenWorld 2014Oracle has been putting a lot of engineering effort into the new ODA 12c release so this is quite a long article. The latest ODA news from last week can be summarized as:

  • ODA 12.1.2 database: 12c including pluggable database support, ACFS integration
  • ODA 12.1.2 VP: ACFS snapshots, option to add disks to VMs
  • WLS ODA 12.1.3: support for WebLogic 12.1.3, WebLogic Standard Edition, faster provisioning using ACFS snapshots, additional single VM topology, new Coherence option
  • Oracle Enterprise Manager 12c: sneak peak at up-coming plug-in for ODA

There were no announcements about an ODA X5-2 although, given that Intel has recently released Hawell-EP processors (E5-2600 v3 family) – and based on the v2 update last year – it seems likely that there will be a new version of the ODA hardware at some point.

Now to discuss each of these topics in a little more detail:

ODA 12.1.2 Database

This software was actually released a couple of weeks ago but I guess that most ODA customers probably haven’t tried it yet. One sticking point seems to be that ODA 12c includes a mandatory upgrade of the Grid Infrastructure (GI), i.e. Clusterware & ASM, to 12c and some people are nervous of this. This point came up in a Q&A session and Oracle is clearly sticking to the line that there won’t be any further 11g (ODA 2.10+) patch-sets, the arguments being:

  • ODA 12.1.2 already includes the first patch-set to the 12c database
  • GI is a relatively thin layer – the main impact on applications is when the optimizer is upgraded in the database itself and Oracle will continue to support 11gR2 databases on ODA 12c
  • The “ODA way” is regular patching to keep ahead of bugs
  • ODA is an engineered system so the configuration you are running, and upgrade path, has been well tested by Oracle
  • There are several new benefits from ODA 12c that will assist your IT operations

As always I would strongly recommend you carefully read MOS 888888.1 for the latest known issues, and then test the upgrade yourself on a non-production ODA.

Below are the new features, as described in detail by Sri Subramaniam and Kevin Deihl in Deep Dive into Oracle Database Appliance with Oracle Database 12c Architecture [CON8181], with some of my own comments. Firstly, Grid Infrastructure and Database:

  • Numbering: the new ODA release (strictly OAK or the Appliance Manager) is called 12c, specifically 12.1.2, to make it more like the Database and Fusion Middleware numbering. Note that the latest database version it currently supports is but that is because database numbering has always been a bit weird in my opinion. The new WLS ODA release will actually be called 12.1.3, mainly to correspond to WebLogic 12.1.3 (though it also has a WebLogic 10.3.6 variant, e.g. to support SOA Suite 11g).
  • Database 12c support: this is probably the key feature for most ODA users – ODA now has full support for 12c including multi-tenant and in-memory database options. You can choose to create new databases as container or non-container (i.e. traditional).
  • Current 12c patch-set including critical one-off/interim patches. Note that the prior ODA 2.10 release only included the April 2014 CPU (not July) so is getting a little long in the tooth, especially given that the October CPU is due out next week.
  • ACFS (ASM cluster file system) snapshots: whilst you could manually run ACFS commands previously, snapshots have now been integrated into oakcli.
  • ACFS for databases: now you can run databases on top of ACFS too (it is actually the default storage for newly created ones) allowing for snapshots of databases and replication. This is available for databases running at  and later. I’m look forward to investigating these features and will write up in a future blog post.
  • STIG (a security checking tool) has been enhanced and re-written in Python.

ODA 12.1.2 Virtualized Platform

Secondly, from the same presentation plus online documentation, the enhancements to the ODA VP are:

  • An ACFS snapshot option has been included in oakcli VM management commands. Given that most VMs on ODA VP are normally stored on a shared repository, creating an ACFS snapshot could be very useful for check-points and even cloning.
  • Hypervisor is now Oracle VM Server 3.2.8 (was 3.2.3 previously) – see What’s New on OVM wiki.
  • ODA Base is now Oracle Linux 5.10 UEK2 (was 5.8).
  • New oakcli commands to create and manage new disks for VMs – the disks can be either exclusive to a VM or shared and can be added dynamically.

WLS ODA 12.1.3

Frances Zhao-Perez, the Product Manager responsible for the WebLogic implementation (and related components) on ODA and I described WLS ODA 12.1.3 in our joint presentation Oracle WebLogic on Oracle Database Appliance: Combining High Availability and Simplicity [CON8004]. I wrote about that yesterday, but the enhancements are:

  • Support for the new WebLogic Server 12.1.3 version (and dropping support for 12.1.1 and possibly 12.1.2).
  • Coherence can now also be provisioned, creating up to 6 additional VMs (as part of a specific WebLogic domain and with Coherence lifecycle managed via console/Admin Server etc).
  • VMs may now be created from an ACFS snaphot of the template leading to far quicker provisioning time (for a 6 VM topology I’d expect around 30 minutes instead of 60, and the saving will be greater for larger clusters).
  • Additional domain topologies available for a single Admin Server with no Managed Servers (for a development environment for example), or Admin Server co-located with a Managed Server (if you like that idea please read my Admin Server Separation – Pros and Cons article and comments).
  • Some minor changes to the user interface of the ‘configurator’.

Enterprise Manager 12c ODA plug-in

Finally, the ODA team revealed early screenshots of the EM 12c plug-in for ODA which includes features such as:

  • A tag based model for grouping ODAs
  • Support for both bare metal and VP, and for all hardware versions
  • Targets for ODA system, physical host, hypervisor, ILOM, OAK (so ODA base in VP), ASM and databases
  • The ODA system target will include general metrics such as memory, CPU and storage usage and status

In addition to this there has been a short conversation on the LinkedIn ODA User Group suggesting that the first plug-in will be read-only for viewing the configuration but later ones will include management of VMs and other services.