Jim Hannan (@HoBHannan), Principal Architect
In part 1 of this series we provided a general overview of Cloud Computing. In part 2 of this series we looked at Oracle’s DBaaS model using Exadata and 12c Cloud Control. In this segment, we will being looking at the VMware offering vRealize for implementing DBaaS.
Since the release of vSphere 4, VMware has been developing tooling to do both IaaS and DBaaS. The first product they introduced was VMware vFabric Data Director in August of 2011. This product offered a service catalog of t-shirt sized Oracle Database appliances; small, medium and large. The word appliance was used due to the fact that the database virtual machine was difficult to modify and the only supported configuration was done through the web UI. With the release of vCloud Automation Center two years ago, VMware took the industry a giant step forward with IaaS. vCloud Automation Center has since been rebranded by VMware as vRealize Automation and it is now included in the vRealize Suite.
- Based on virtualized infrastructure
- Supports a hybrid mix of multiple cloud platforms (vCloud Air, Amazon Web Services, Open Stack, etc.)
- x86 hardware agnostic
- Relies heavily on vRealize Suite of products, as well as custom workflows for automation
- Tooling gap is after the deployment of the virtual machine or DBaaS
- VMware’s DBaaS and IaaS vRealize strategies can be adopted for most applications (not just Oracle)
VMware vRealize Cloud Services
The core of VMware’s IaaS and DBaaS offering is part of the vRealize suite of products. While vRealize is sold in both the Advance and Enterprise editions, we will focus on the Enterprise edition in this blog. vRealize Enterprise Suite includes the following products:
- VMware vRealize Automation
- VMware vRealize Operations
- VMware vRealize Log Insight
- VMware vRealize Orchestration
vRealize Suite has two licensing options per processor or OSI (OS Instance). This OSI model as suggested by VMware is friendlier to public cloud solutions.
Formerly named vCenter Operations Management Suite, the product has been rebranded and placed under the vRealize umbrella and renamed to vRealize Operations. vRealize Operations is the centralized, one-pane of glass interface for a complete enterprise including virtual and physical hardware. At the heart of tool, it allows for management hosts, virtual machines and monitoring capabilities. VMware vRealize Suite can also manage other hyper-visor platforms such as Microsoft Hyper-V and Redhat KVM. It also works with external cloud service providers such as VMware vCloud Air and Amazon Web Services or OpenStack-based private and public clouds. vRealize Operations 6.0 can manage up to 3 vCenter Servers, 360 hosts and 18,000 virtual machines. Additionally, you can purchase third party management packs, some notable ones are listed below:
- Blue Medora for Oracle OEM
- IBM Tivoli
At House of Brick, we predicted a tool like this would become available to the industry at some point. It was clear while working with many of our customers that the hybrid environment is now the industry norm, since most IT shops have a combination of physical and virtual hardware. Additionally, it is common for IT organizations to run two different hyper-visors, most commonly Hyper-V and vSphere. vRealize Operations helps to bridge the management of those hybrid environments.
vRealize Log Insight
vRealize Log Insight is the log management tool for vRealize Suite. In the theme of centralizing the hybrid environment for both physical and virtual, this tool allows for log management and analysis in one tool. Out of the box the monitoring is very vSphere centric, but additional third party Content Packs can be added to the tool. Those tools can be found here: https://solutionexchange.vmware.com/store/loginsight. Log Insight offers an intuitive interface for creating custom reports and allows for drill downs on specific objects like a virtual machine.
Formerly named vCloud Automation Center, vRealize Automation is the core component for implementing DBaaS and automated deployments within vRealize. The solution is based on building a service catalog. The service catalog contains prebuilt virtual machine templates for agile deployment or DBaaS. Fundamentally this approach has some nice advantages, it is quick and offers good patching processes and tools that allow you to get the virtual machine updated with little effort. The gap, however, exists within the Oracle stack, especially with Oracle software versions and database configuration. Most Oracle DBAs understand how this can be unique from one build to the next. Because of this, most IT organizations that use DBaaS choose to run scripts after the deployment of the virtual machine to setup the database. The biggest challenge, for software vendors like Oracle and VMware, is that the point of entry for customer customization varies across the industry. For example, a software company hosting a banking application that enables small banks to offer online banking would be very standardized on builds and configurations. Is this case, the templates would be close to 100% complete and ready. However, an organization supporting lots of internal applications would have many versions, and Oracle parameters, that differ across builds. Taking a deeper look at the challenges templates present, we discovered the following issues:
- Templates are out of date within days of creation
- A large catalog must be maintained for every Oracle binary version and unique database setting or parameter
- Deployment of Oracle OEM agents needs to be done after the host name is defined
In our experience, scripting agent installs and database installation fills the gap with the VMware tooling. Pure Storage has a great example of this in their white paper “Deploying Database-as-a-Service with Pure Storage and VMware.” In this white paper, they describe a technique very common in the industry, scripting the OEM agent after the new Oracle virtual machine has been deployed from the vRealize Server Catalog. The script runs through a sub-component of vRealize Automation called vRealize Orchestrator, a product that has been around for more than 5 years. Orchestrator is a workflow engine that can automate certain tasks. For clarity, most customers using a VMware solution license only the Oracle Diagnostic Pack and Tuning Pack and not the Lifecycle Manager and Cloud Management Pack as they are unnecessary with vRealize Automation.
vRealize Orchestrator, as VMware states, “simplifies the automation of complex IT tasks…,¹” which we find to be a very good summary of the product. Orchestrator is able to automate tasks at several levels, including the infrastructure, virtual machine and OS layers.
In this blog we looked at the VMware offering vRealize as a tool for implementing DBaaS. While vRealize templates don’t meet every organization’s needs, scripting agent installs and database installation fills the gap with the VMware tooling. Overall, vRealize Suite offers a variety of benefits that make it a good choice for a variety of environments, including hybrid ones running different hyper-visors.
¹ Reference: http://www.vmware.com/products/vrealize-orchestrator