Posts Tagged Oracle

Is Amazon RDS with Oracle any good?

We know that Oracle databases power enterprises. An RDBMS market share of 41% means that a lot of data is gettting stored in and processed by Oracle databases. I have also seen my fair share of Oracle biased data centres to know that these databases run on really big tin. Multiprocessor RAM loaded beasts with sophisticated storage and fancy networking to backup data across data centres on the fly is the nature of real world Oracle installations. And these installations support massive ERP systems upon which enterprises stand and are at the core of finance and trading.

So what then of Amazon Oracle RDS? Does this mean that all of the great things that the enterprise gets out of Oracle can be provisioned on demand via a simple web console? Can we get the kind of performance that enterprises are familiar with out of an RDS ‘High-Memory Quadruple Extra Large DB Instance’? A 64GB, 8 core, ‘High I/O Capacity’ machine should be able to do a lot of work.

I’m not so sure.

I have some hands on Oracle experience, but only from a developer perspective. I never did break into the Oracle DBA cabal society and they never taught me their secret handshake. But one thing I do know is that those hardcore Oracle DBAs know some serious shit. They drill down to a really low level, look at mountains of monitoring data, talk to each other with secret acronyms and are able to configure, build, tune and beat into submission their Oracle databases to get the most out of them.

I would love to know what they think about Oracle RDS. Does it give them the power to use Oracle properly? Does the database engine abstract things like IO tuning away enough for it not to matter? Or is the underlying Oracle RDS configuration a ‘good enough’ configuration that works in a lot of cases but is suboptimal when the going gets tough.

The Oracle feature set on RDS is incomplete, but I’m not qualified to say if that is such a big deal or not. Although the lack of RAC is a clue that it’s not for really big databases.

  • Oracle database features not currently supported include:
    • Real Application Clusters (RAC)
    • Data Guard / Active Data Guard
    • Oracle Enterprise Manager
    • Automated Storage Management
    • Data Pump
    • Streams

It also seems that there are some security restrictions too – which is expected on multi-tenant infrastructure. But are the restrictions too much for real Oracle DBAs?

Again with AWS we are stuck with a lack of detailed documentation so it will be difficult to understand what the limitations are. If I had to ask a serious Oracle DBA to help me with a database where he or she was given no information about the underlying network and storage architecture, I’m sure I wouldn’t get that much help. So without detailed documentation it is left up to a first mover to put the effort in to see how well it stands up, and I’m glad it won’t be me.

With MySQL I can understand. MySQL was always the ginger child of the database world and has never been taken seriously in high load database environments. So it is easy to use RDS MySQL, it can’t be that bad.

We’ll have to wait and see what happens with Oracle. I’d be very interested to see what the hardcore DBAs think of Oracle on RDS. Not the evil plans and bring your own licensing issues, but the real world performance and ability to process and store data.

Until then, I think most architects will hold off recommending RDS Oracle as a core part of any solution. For now it will simply be safer to keep your big Oracle databases on premise. At the very least it will keep your DBA happy and lets be honest, you never want to piss off your Oracle DBAs.

Simon Munro

@simonmunro

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