“You get what you pay for” and there is no truer principle in the world of Oracle technology. Oracle database is the finest available relational database on the market and it has been for many years, but its ‘sweet-spot’ has always been at the enterprise level.
However, far from leaving its competition to scrap it out for the mid-range and low-end database market, Oracle maintained its presence there for a long while, with Oracle Standard Edition (DBSE) & Standard Edition One (DBSE1) which were, on the whole based on Oracle Enterprise Edition (DBEE) but with various licensing restrictions.
However, in one of the most significant changes in Oracle strategy, these standard editions were retired from Oracle Database v188.8.131.52 onwards and replaced with Oracle Database Standard Edition 2 (DBSE2) in a move that was covered in our blog here: https://explorer.co.uk/oracle-se-2-huge-impact-for-oracle-standard-edition-customers/. One additional development since this article, is the removal of Oracle Real Application Clusters (RAC) as an included feature from Oracle Database 19c onwards (which is covered later in this blog).
Some more of the resulting licensing implications are also covered in this blog: https://explorer.co.uk/license-compliance/.
To many observers, the move to Oracle DBSE2 has indicated Oracle are focusing away from the ‘standard edition’ market and even that they are confident of converting many of its Oracle DBSE/1/2 customers to its enterprise technology, whilst anyone else can simply migrate to Oracle Cloud.
So what are the main changes and associated risks for you, if you are relying on any of the Oracle Database Standard Editions?
Hanging by 16 Threads
Apart from the licensing changes, technically, Oracle DBSE2 is the same as its predecessors, with one major exception. An Oracle DBSE2 database is limited to sixteen active threads.
This restriction on hyper-threading is not a licensing limitation (and therefore not policed on the standard Oracle ‘trust’ model) it is a technical limitation. So, looking on the bright-side, you cannot fall foul of this from a compliance perspective as the database simply won’t utilise more than sixteen threads, regardless of the resources available to it.
This limit is not ‘per server’ but ‘per database’ so if this has a performance impact on your system, there is really no way to get around this, when it comes to upgrading to Oracle Database v184.108.40.206 onwards.
If you find yourself in this scenario, you can stop reading here and jump straight to ‘Speak to Us’ below.
Socket to Me
Oracle DBSE1 & DBSE always had socket restrictions the former carrying a two-socket limit and the latter, a four-socket limit, regardless of how many sockets were actually populated and Oracle DBSE2 follows suit with the most restrictive of these, so you can only use a two-way server now. In fact if you are clustering your servers with Oracle RAC, then this means tow one-way servers. As mentioned in the introduction, this is covered in more detail here: Be Careful with Oracle SE2 – Especially with Oracle RAC!
If you are using Oracle RAC, please see ‘RAC-Off!’ below.
Monitoring the Situation
Anyone familiar with Oracle licensing is also acutely aware that it is not permissible to use Oracle Database Diagnostics & Tuning Packs with Oracle DBSE/1/2.
However, the Oracle Statspack utility is still available for us and my colleagues, Hamid Ansari describes this in the following blog: Oracle Database 19c Standard Edition 2 (Performance Monitoring)
Third party solutions are also available, for instance Solarwinds DPA (formerly known as Confio Ignite) is an agentless (and therefore non-burdensome) performance monitoring and analysis solution that can be used with Oracle Database Standard Editions and (unlike other third-party monitoring tools) represents no direct risk of accidently initiating Oracle Diagnostics & Tuning. Solarwinds DPA looks beyond the database itself and analyses other bottlenecks and interferences that could have a detrimental effect on database performance.
Explorer have years of experience in deploying Solarwinds DPA for our customers, so if this is of interest please go to ‘Speak to Us’.
To further compound issues for Oracle DBSE2 users, Oracle RAC is disappearing from Oracle Database 19c onwards. It’s not just disappearing as an included-feature but, as with the rest of the Oracle Enterprise Manager (OEM) Packs and Database Options, Oracle RAC will remain unobtainable even as a chargeable option for Oracle Database Standard Editions. So, if you are on Oracle DBSE2 and you wish to cluster your database, your options have just become very limited.
One theoretical alternative is to create a VM cluster. Firstly, this is not true clustering (for reason we go into in in ‘Beat the System’ below). However, this is not advisable from a licensing perspective, as using any hypervisor can quickly land you in trouble with Oracle License Management Services on your next audit. Oracle VM (OVM) is, unsurprisingly, the standout option for x86 architecture that Oracle recognise as hard partitioning, but only when its CPU pinning technology is implemented properly, which would then prevent all attempts to create a VM cluster anyway.
For more information regarding this please see: License Compliance is Not Easy (Third Party Considerations).
Again, my colleague, Hamid Ansari explores this is much more detail in his recent Oracle Database 19c Standard Edition 2 (High Availability) blog, including other options such as Oracle Clusterware and Oracle Linux 7 Clustering.
If you are using Oracle RAC and you must stay on it, then once you reach Oracle Database 19c, one option is to move to Oracle Database Autonomous Cloud OLTP (Online Transaction Processing) Standard Edition. This service is supported by Oracle Exadata Infrastructure and includes Oracle RAC. For advice on Oracle Cloud, please go to ‘Speak to Us’ at the bottom of this.
A Patchwork Approach
If you use Oracle DBSE2 and have a large number of corresponding database servers to manage, then you have a problem, because Oracle OEM Patching is not supported.
Since it is not permissible to use Oracle Fleet Maintenance, a feature of the Database Lifecycle Management option and therefore only available with Oracle Database Enterprise Edition, then the only viable option is to look at third-party technology.
Explorer have recently performed a feasibility study into the use of third party technology to perform database software installation and patching, within the licensing constraints of Oracle Database Standard Edition 2 environments.
We identified three principal technologies that performed this function well. These were RedHat Ansible, puppet Puppet and Chef Infra.
Each tool had its own pros and cons and if you would like to obtain a copy of this study and discuss Explorer’s assessment of the merits of each option in more detail, then please scroll down to ‘Speak to Us’.
Another well-known drawback for Oracle Database’s standard editions, is that they do not support Oracle Data Guard (a feature of Oracle DBEE) or Oracle Active Data Guard (a chargeable option for DBEE) for disaster recovery.
The standout solution for this problem is Dbvisit Standby, a physical standby solution which, for many years, Explorer have deployed as its database standby solution-of-choice for Oracle DBSE/1/2 customers, in order to deliver robust disaster recovery solutions.
A recent development for Dbvisit Standby is the Dbvisit Standby Snapshot option.
Dbvisit Snapshot creates an exact image of the live database at any given moment in time (and it can do this in seconds) before storing this snapshot on the standby database server.
These snapshots can be accessed, queried and once they are no longer needed, deleted, as if they were standard database instances and without any performance hit on your production database.
For advice on this, please go to ‘Speak to Us’.
Do you need to encrypt your data at rest in an Oracle Database?
If so, then there is only one option for Transparent Data Encryption (TDE) and that is the Oracle-DBEE-only option, Oracle Advanced Security.
There is no way to achieve this with Oracle DBSE, DBSE1 or DBSE2, unless you attempt to encrypt programmatically, which could be very onerous and unreliable.
However, there are other technology options that contribute to the security of your data in other areas, for an Oracle DBSE/1/2 environment.
One key technology in Oracle Audit Vault & Database Firewall (AVDF) which is ‘edition neutral’ and provides protection against the threat of SQL injection attacks on your database, as well as providing a log of database traffic, which can be examined after a security event. Oracle AVDF also supports Oracle MySQL, Microsoft SQL-Server, IBM Db2 & SAP Sybase, amongst other technologies.
The creation, distribution and masking of data for use in development, is a key area of concern for data security, which cannot be solved in the standard editions of Oracle Database with Oracle’s Data Masking Pack, as this is also an ‘enterprise-only’ option.
Explorer have recently engaged with Delphix, to address this. Delphix enables you to virtualize, secure and manage data, empowering your DevOps teams to create, manipulate and dispose of test environments quickly and easily and the software automatically recognises sensitive data sets, in order to replace this data with masked, usable test data.
For more information on Explorer’s partnership with Delphix and our associated technical services, please ‘Speak to Us’.
Oracle Golden Gate is Oracle’s flagship replication technology and it not exclusively for use with Oracle DBEE, it supports a number of database technologies such as IBM Db2, Microsoft SQL-Server, Informix and also Oracle DBSE2.
So it is an excellent option, but it is expensive technology and its licensing is core-sensitive, like Oracle DBEE. One of Explorer’s many Oracle Specializations is in Oracle Golden Gate and we have vast experience in both deploying the technology and also negotiating commercials, with some emphasis on those customers that are on a standard edition of Oracle Database. Please see ‘Speak to Us’ to explore this further with us.
Other replication technologies are available and Explorer keep up-to-date with this as well. (One of these options was Dbvisit Replicate, which has been recently discontinued, unfortunately).
Beat the System!
Engineered systems are usually considered well outside the realm of the standard editions of Oracle Database. Oracle definitively does not support Oracle Database Standard Edition 2 on Oracle Exadata, for instance.
However, there are plenty of advanced Oracle-on-Oracle systems options to consider, providing the ideal Oracle-on-Oracle architecture for Oracle DBSE/1/2.
Oracle Database Appliance S (small) and M (medium) are two outstanding examples. Oracle ODA is a family of database servers, with storage and networking that is designed specifically for Oracle Database workloads. A third model, the Oracle Database Appliance HA (High Availability) will only support Oracle Enterprise Edition. Our Sales & Marketing Director, Jon Lingard composed an overview of your options here: ODA: What You Need to Know
Another compelling option is Oracle Private Cloud Appliance (PCA). With Oracle PCA it is possible to use Oracle VM (OVM) to realise the VM clustering scenario that we approached in ‘RAC-Off’ earlier in this blog. VM clustering is not true clustering, in the fashion that Oracle RAC delivers it. You cannot have multiple nodes supporting the same database workload in concert, nor can clustered nodes automatically take up the slack for a failed node, without technology like Oracle RAC.
What you can do with Oracle OVM, is support planned events, where you can migrate the workload from one node to another, with minimal effort. However, as we have mentioned earlier, this runs the risk of falling foul of Oracle licensing terms and conditions, unless you use Oracle Private Cloud Appliance.
Oracle PCA is designed to help organisations to radically reduce the costs of Oracle licensing, infrastructure and maintenance. It is a topic that my colleague Martin Guthrie, is particularly well versed in and which he explores in his recent blog: A Quick Introduction to Oracle Private Cloud Appliance
OK. I give up…
Modern successful businesses are increasingly dynamic and ever-growing and the pressure to manage data to support this is constantly escalating. To compound this, Oracle seem to be stripping Oracle Database Standard Edition 2 of all premium features.
If you want to be enterprise-class, you need to pay enterprise prices. So, if it looks like you need to move to Oracle Database Enterprise Edition, then there are a number of things to consider:
- the technical migration
- core-sensitive licensing for Oracle DBEE
- the named user minimums for Oracle DBEE
- what rights you have to off-set the value of your current Oracle DBSE/1/2 licensing
- the ‘art’ of negotiations with Oracle
Speak to Us
Many of the new (and old) limitations can be remedied by considering a move to Oracle Cloud and Explorer are keen to use our cloud expertise to help you to select the best blend of cloud options. If you are determined to remain on-premise, then we can take you through your options in more detail.
Explorer are an Oracle Platinum Partner and have decades of experience in advising on the best strategies for cost-effective Oracle deployments and this is backed up with a host of Oracle Specializations and partnerships with key enablers for Oracle technology.
Please don’t hesitate to call us on Tel: 0113 289 9470 and ask to speak to one of our advisors.
Neil has fulfilled a number of customer-facing roles in the technology industry, from Account Management to Solution Management. He has many years of experience in advising on bespoke solutions, having even been responsible for implementing and configuring timesheet, CRM and project management software in his time. At Explorer, Neil is very focussed on presenting the commercial benefits of the solutions that our development team can provide, with particular emphasis on the Oracle Application Express (APEX) platform.