Oracle Database Appliance

I’ll admit to starting off thinking that the Oracle Database Appliance (ODA) was a pair of standard Intel servers with an Oracle label slapped on the front. After all, it is a tiny fraction of the price of Exadata, has none of the performance benefits, and none of the clever Exadata software.

However, having had time to work with it, I’m pleasantly surprised to say it has much more to offer than I originally thought!

The hardware itself is impressive. It comes as a 4U unit which you can integrate into your existing racks. It has two Intel database servers with 12 cores of processing power, 96GB of RAM and most importantly the shared storage and cluster connectivity already configured and ready to go. All of this would otherwise take an organisation time to spec, install and configure but with the ODA everything has been done for you. You can even disable unused CPU cores to reduce software costs. They’ve also provided solid state disks dedicated for online redo log use.

Deployment is a breeze. ODA comes with a superb offline configurator which does a really good job at assisting you to gather the settings specific to your own environment. It is a Java GUI and it provides you with a text file at the end of the process which you copy to your “fresh out of the box” ODA to allow it to configure itself. It works really well (much more straight forward than the Exadata equivalent to date).

Offline Configurator
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Each database server also comes with an ILOM which allows you to connect to the server even when it is powered off (in standby). From here, you can view a Java based remote console, remotely power the server on and off, mount an ISO as a CDROM and view hardware states. There is a web-based GUI as well as SSH access to the ILOM.

Once you’re up and running, routine day to day administration has really been simplified. The software includes something called OAK (Oracle Appliance Kit) which you can use for creating and dropping databases. They provide a number of database creation templates which you’re encouraged to use – they include a lot of the ODA “best practice” settings and keep you within a standard configuration.

Patching is another area which has really impressed me. Oracle has a MOS article – 888888.1. You monitor this page for new releases, and when you want to patch you download a ZIP file and follow some very simple instructions. Patching is automated and it’ll update your OS, firmware, GI and RDBMS homes. It also automatically runs any necessary catupgrade.sql scripts on the databases running out of the homes being patched. All of this can be performed in a rolling fashion across the two database servers, and you can also chose which components are patched if you want to patch hardware more frequently than GI and RDBMS.

ODA Patching
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You get oodles of storage – ODA comes with 6TB of usable storage when using ASM normal redundancy and external backups. You can mount some of this up as a DBFS file system to make migration onto the ODA a breeze. When you’re done, the space is simply released back into ASM.

I think for organisations who want RAC, but either can’t afford or don’t need the performance of Exadata the ODA makes a lot of sense.

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