Oracle in the cloud …

Oracle CorporationImage via Wikipedia 

… not yet, but Bill Hodak from Oracle has just opened a thread over on the Amazon AWS developer forums, looking for feedback on the use of Oracle in AWS projects. First there was Red Hat, then this week’s announcement from Sun and now Oracle; has Amazon managed to turn itself into the cloud provisioner not just for the hungry masses of start-ups and independent developers but for the technology elites?

As for using Oracle on EC2, yes please. Most of my datasmithing career has been spent behind the wheel of an Oracle database, the front-ends might have been Excel or some BI package, the end results might have been SAP master data take-ons or an Essbase cube, but the blood and guts were always Oracle. And this was before Oracle Apex – think what wonders could have been achieved if I had access to such a product in the past.

When EC2 first appeared I enthusiastically installed Oracle 10g Express, using a Hamachi VPN to tunnel the Apex front-end back to my PC (don’t ever expose an Oracle 10g server to the public internet, its architects assumed it would be used solely within the corporate firewall). I even used the power of Oracle’s redo logs to partially protect against the ephemeral nature of EC2’s disk storage.

It looked to me back then that EC2 could be an ideal hosting environment for Oracle Application Express (aka Apex, aka HTML DB), but for a few wee problems:

  • It’s not absolutely clear whether the Oracle 10G Express database licence covers its use in a virtual environment (sometimes the restriction of one database per server is stated as one per machine), a few attempts to look for a definitive yeah or neigh on the product’s support forums elicited no response. I’m guessing its fair-usage, but confirmation would be nice.
  • Oracle doesn’t appear to know what to do with Apex, you get the impression they’re afraid it’ll cannibalise its lucrative J2EE business.
  • 10g Express is severely hobbled as a database, not just the 4GB per server (or is that machine), it’s lacking any sort of updating service, serious security flaws remain unpatched and username/passwords are sent in plain text; making it suitable (and then only barely) for use within a firewall or VPN.
  • Once you outgrow Express, you’re into big money and even worse you might have to talk to a sales rep!

So what would I like to see Oracle offering on EC2? A paid AMI, preloaded with a variation of Express, minus the 4GB limit, with a “hardened” public internet facade, along with regular patches automatically applied. Optional add-ons…

  • Various levels of support, fixed monthly charge perhaps.
  • Ability to upgrade to the full Enterprise Editions, but again paid for via a combination of AMI hourly charges and optional month-to-month support charges.
  • Ability to purchase once-off consultancy, both from Oracle and third-party suppliers.

I’m not holding my breath though…

Oh, if you’re confused over the various “Express” terms used in the above, don’t blame me, blame Oracle, I thing the poor branding profile (constant name changes, copy cat names) is an indication of Oracle’s lack of commitment to both products.

UPDATE Sept. 22nd 2208

Looks like the Oracle Cloud has arrived..


5 responses to “Oracle in the cloud …

  1. gobansaor,

    lol! I like that last comment about the names. I started a little thread oh that not too long ago… Got some funny responses.

    I look forward to seeing where all this leads down the road.


  2. Oracle 10G Express has it limitations, I haven’t had a chance to see if the 4G data limit applies to external tables as well…

    I think your idea for SimpleDB indexes with SQLite backends better though.

    If you believe Oracle scales better, is more robust, has more features… the fractional hour cost of even a CPU/Core Oracle EE license with extra options is not that bad when it is spent over a year’s worth of hours. It is not 10c per hour (more like $1.48 per core per hr for 24x7x365). So to make money on a service which uses it comes down to how you slice up your one massive or 2-3 smaller instances per machine, similar in the end to WebHosting economics.

    The main stuff I have tested requires a network that EC2 is not delivering yet. If I could launch a cluster of machines in a specific location which gave me low latency, high speed interconnects I could run MySQL cluster, JGroups, Oracle RAC 2-4 node clusters with replication to other remote sites for redundancy, DR and/or reporting.

    Have Fun

  3. Paul,

    External tables and BFILEs are not included in the 4GB limit. In fact like the SimpleDB index to SQLite idea, I’ve also been thinking about using Oracle XE as a meta data and dimensional data store pointing to SQLite fact tables/cubes.


  4. Pingback: Oracle embraces the cloud. « Gobán Saor