Oracle recently announced that its ending support for Oracle RAC or Real Application Cluster in Oracle Database Standard Edition. What does it mean for Oracle customers? What choices and options do they have? Cassius Rhue, VP of Customer Experience at SIOS Technology sits down with Swapnil Bhartiya to talk about the options Oracle customers have to protect their data and ensure high availability.

Swapnil Bhartiya: Hi, this Swapnil Bhartiya and welcome to another episode of TFiR Let’s talk. Oracle is bringing an end to Oracle RAC or Real Application Cluster in Oracle Database Standard Edition. What does it mean for existing users? What options do they have for High Availability Protection? Let’s talk about it with our next guest Cassius Rhue, VP of customer experience at SIOS technology. Cassius, first of all, welcome to the show.

Cassius Rhue: Thank you. Glad to be here.

Swapnil Bhartiya: Please quickly explain what exactly was Oracle RAC doing?

Cassius Rhue: Yeah, so Oracle RAC provides customers with High Availability via an Active/Active or Inactive standby functionality. Allowing databases to be parallel active on servers gives you higher throughput allows for High Availability, should one server crash. And then you actually have the ability to have that secondary server take over the workload. So it really gives you a measure of High Availability and then throughput for database access.

Swapnil Bhartiya: So it was playing a very critical role when it comes to High Availability. Now they’re ending support for it in Oracle Database Standard Edition. What does it mean for users and what options do they have after this?

Cassius Rhue: What it means for users who were using Standard Edition with RAC is that they’re going to have to transition away from that form of High Availability Protection in their Standard Edition version. Oracle has kind of laid out for their customers that there are several options for them to choose as they migrate away from the RAC capabilities that they were used to in Standard Edition.

They can move to Oracle’s Enterprise Edition, which has a higher licensing cost. And that will have impacts of course, on budgets and with a lot of the uncertainty in the economy right now, for many customers, that’s going to be something that they hadn’t planned on doing or may impact them negatively and not be an option. Oracle has also provided customers with the option of moving to their RAC Single Instance, and rather than having the Active/Active High Availability capability, the Single Instance really gives you a traditional monitoring and simple recovery mechanism for a single node.

Beyond that, Oracle lays out options for migrating to Oracle Cloud as a method for High Availability or increasing Availability. But those aren’t the only options available to customers. Alternatively, they can look at other HA solutions that provide support for Oracle’s Database Suite, such as the SIOS Protection Suite for Linux, which provides essentially the same comprehensive High Availability and Disaster Recovery Protection while supporting the lower cost of the Standard Edition Licensing. So that would save you from having to upgrade to Enterprise Edition or take on the higher burden cost of migrating to the cloud.

Swapnil Bhartiya: When we talk about Oracle Cloud, they’re building it, they’re adding a lot of features to it, but they’re not in the same kind of, you’ll say tier, when you look at AWS or GCP or as your… I have watched Larry’s keynote and he really goes after AWS there. So when you look at customers, Oracle is trying to persuade them to move to Oracle Cloud. But that also mean they have to do a lot of work to migrate. So if they do choose to move to Oracle Cloud, is there any kind of assurance that they will still get the High Availability Protection. If they don’t want, then what are the options? Is Oracle Cloud their only option?

Cassius Rhue: Yeah. So that’s a great question. And really you hit it right on the head. There is a lot of overhead costs with moving to any cloud. And so a lot of IT industries or IT Shops are considering is this what we want to take on right now? Do we want to move to Oracle Cloud from Standard Edition and the de-support of RAC? And they’re also asking that question, which they should. Is Oracle Cloud actually the best cloud option or the only cloud option for us. As you mentioned, some of the heavyweights there that Larry likes to take down, AWS. There’s Azure, there’s Google cloud. There are a number of cloud providers out there and it’s important for those who are ending or are coming up on that end of RAC support to realize that Oracle Cloud isn’t your only option. That while it does provide you with some Availability mechanisms, you can use High Availability software, like the SIOS Protection Suite in any of the other clouds as well, to give you that same protection and guarantee.

So you can use it in Google Cloud or Azure or AWS, and it gives you all of the options available. So you can actually instead of having to go to Oracle Cloud, choose the cloud that’s right for you. Analyze what are the costs. What are the benefits? What are the features. As you mentioned, AWS seems to be the one that many people are hunting after. Give it some consideration whether it has the features that are there for you. And you can achieve the High Availability for your Oracle Database in AWS or Azure using the Protection Suite, which gives you simplified management, VR UI, Automated Monitoring, Recovery Assurances against IO errors, IO fencing problems. It has replication without limits. So if you’re considering going to the cloud and your concern is what happens when a region goes down. You can have replication that takes you outside of region with the SIOS product. And it gives you that flexibility to use not only Oracle’s Database components, but we also have what we call Application Aware Recovery Kits or ARKs that lend themselves to protecting the rest of your infrastructure in your enterprise environment.

Swapnil Bhartiya: What exactly is Application Aware? Can you explain that? And also Oracle ARK. Is there something like Oracle ARK? Especially in this context of the discussion, can you elaborate a bit more on that term?

Cassius Rhue: Sure, sure, sure. Yeah. So SIOS has been in the business of doing High Availability and Disaster Recovery for 20 plus years. And over that time, we have had a number of real live customer experiences that have allowed us or afforded us an opportunity to learn what customers really need for availability, for monitoring, for recovery. And we built that type of real world knowledge and application awareness into what we call these Application Recovery Kit modules. These modules plug into our life keeper core, which does the clustering functions, and really allows any application with a recovery kit to plug in and be instantly up and running for your High Availability Protection. In the case of the Oracle Application Recovery Kit, you can consider it a recovery kit or a module that knows how to stop, how to start, how to monitor, how to recover from basic failure scenarios of an Oracle database.

And in the event of a catastrophic outage or in the event of a server crashing or a server failing, it has the application aware knowledge to fail that Oracle database over to the other server. The fact that our Application Aware Recovery Kits are wizard based and they have an interface that makes it easy for customers to configure it in their environment and get up and running also adds to the ability for people to create a comprehensive High Availability solution rather quickly. And if I would add, those recovery kits spanned the breadth and depth of your enterprise environment. So not just for Oracle, but for other applications, such as SAP, you have these recovery kit modules that have combined industry standards, the application specific knowledge, and then years of working directly with customers to hone and refine and create something that really is hardened and solid and able to give them what they’re looking for, whether that’s with a Standard Edition on premise or a Standard Edition going one of the clouds or some hybrid infrastructure environment that they may have.

Swapnil Bhartiya: And if I’m not wrong, Oracle also has something called Oracle Data Guard, which kind of offers High availability, data protection and disaster recovery, something that SIOS also offer. So how good is Oracle’s own data guard? Number one. Number two is that, of course, if you’re a SIOS customer and Oracle customer, can you just switch from that and drop into replacement? How do you take advantage of both?

Cassius Rhue: I’m always one that’s going to trumpet the benefits and the value of the SIOS solution. You could call it because I’m a SIOS employee, but more so because I’m really passionate about the solution itself. And I’ve been with it for so many years and realized that it has tremendous value. What I would say for Oracle Data Guard customers, and what we’ve seen for those that are considering Data Guard. We have experienced working with a lot of customers who find that it’s a little more cumbersome for them because it’s a really command line intensive setup and monitoring and restart and recovery operation. For our Data Guard customers, you really have to have that awareness of that command line interface and that ability to double check your work. Sometimes triple check your work. Making sure that you’re not making simple typos and errors. And for your team, making sure that your entire team has that comprehensive background. That said, we can both compliment and replace data guard solutions.

So in a complementary role, what we would do is invite our customers that want to use Data Guard. Maybe they’ve been using it for years or maybe they’ve just heard and bought into the idea of trying Data Guard for the back-end. We complement it by bringing our application recovery kits to their environment for the rest of the tier. So Data Guard, of course, will cover your database backend, but what about the other applications that are part of your enterprise stack? What about the SAP? What about your web front end that needs to be monitored and recovered? What about other components that are maybe very specific to your recovery environment that you need protection for? And that’s where we would complement the Oracle Data Guard. We would bring in our live Keeper Protection Suite, our SIOS Protection Suite with life keeper and the application aware recovery kits. Build out your environment to complement Data Guard as the back-end, that’s doing the database work. But we can also replace it. As we mentioned earlier with our SIOS Protection Suite, Oracle Application Recovery Kit, mixed with the other components of the SIOS environment.

We create an end-to-end protection suite stack for the applications, the database backend. We have protection recovery kits for storage. So data replication, creating an NFS network stack, or even monitoring and recovery of network attached file systems.

Swapnil Bhartiya: Excellent for explaining that. Now we all agree that these transitions are not easy. So what resources are there for customers so that they can easily… The transition is very smooth and seamless for them.

Cassius Rhue: Yeah. So I’m on the Oracle website. Oracle gives some guidance and documentation on customers that are wanting to or needing to migrate from Standard Edition and wanting to keep High Availability in the forefront. They provide some suggestions of how they can convert to either the Single Instance or how they can move to the Enterprise Edition, which is at a higher license cost. But SIOS also provides consulting and professional services via our professional services team. And that team can provide you with details on analyzing your environment, understanding which solution is best for you, and then going about helping you do the heavy lifting to either go to one of the public clouds that we talked about earlier, or simply take your Standard Edition License and protect it in the protection suite for Linux in SIOS, and making sure that you have the high availability for your enterprise applications.

Swapnil Bhartiya: Cassius, thank you so much for taking your time out today and explaining the options customers have there. And I look forward to talk to you again. Thank you.

Cassius Rhue: Thanks. I appreciate it.


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