Oracle on Amazon? Think again

Oracle on Amazon? Think again

Summary: Colleagues at one of the world's largest SIs have been testing the Amazon Oracle Relational Database Service - aka RDS (and not to be confused with SAP Rapid Deployment Solutions also aka RDS.) The early verdict is not promising.

TOPICS: Amazon, Oracle

Colleagues at one of the world's largest SIs have been testing the Amazon Oracle Relational Database Service - aka RDS (and not to be confused with SAP Rapid Deployment Solutions also aka RDS.) The early verdict is not promising.

This is what they are finding:

  1. AWS/Oracle RDS includes a Bring Your Own License (BYOL) model, which is fine as Oracle offers Personal, Standard and Enterprise licensing. AWS does not have a traditional CPU model because of its virtualisation approach. Instead, it uses Compute Units (like SAPS.) This could represent a licensing pitfall. It is not insurmountable and must have been clarified as part of the Oracle and AWS deal. However, there is no detail in the FAQs explaining what, if any differences might exist between licenses already held and those operating on the BYOL RDS model. Given Oracle's close attention to account management, anyone considering AWS/Oracle RDS MUST check with account managers about the status of licensing virtualised instances on AWS.
  2. Oracle and AWS have hobbled the security permissions on the platform. They say this is for security and stability reasons. If you believe that then one has to question why you'd be considering this deployment method in the first place. For example, the character set of the database for an SAP install needs to be UTF8. If it is ATF something, you do not necessarily have the permissions to change the character set for the database instance. This will be limiting to people on special codepages who want to migrate onto this platform.
  3. Administrator documentation is very poor. It looks like Oracle has concentrated on allowing people to get data into the database using it's own export/import data pump and nothing else - very poor form. There is little documentation on how to perform administration tasks like changing parameters. It seems that is largely because the security objects have been heavily locked down. It looks like AWS have tried to write some of the sysadmin documentation but have not had a lot of help from Oracle. A first pass suggests Amazon has done an 'OK' job on the API side (which you would expect) but it is very poor on the CLI/SQLPlus commands. The documentation seems to rely on "We've shown you a principle, now go and find the rest yourself." For example, there are stored procedures which can perform admin tasks that require access to the locked security objects. But there are only example commands for four of the 45 rdsadmin stored procedures. There is no AWS documentation on the configurable parameters.
  4. Given the above, why would you waste any license on this platform and especially an Enterprise license? Until there is better documentation on platform versus edition features, SIs caution on using this service under the BYOL arrangements.

What can we make of this?

Other colleagues have been waiting to hear 'in the field' assessments of RDS in order to better advise clients. This first cut does not look promising. It is no surprise that AWS went with Oracle first. No other Enterprise database vendor wanted AWS RDS. IBM and Microsoft have their own cloud and PaaS offerings; they do not have to play nicely with AWS. That leaves Oracle looking as though it is playing nicely in the low cost AWS world when in reality licensing doubts loom large.

Oracle wants to supplant MySQL as the database of choice in the flexible AWS world, by putting all it's RDBMS real estate on RDS. Oracle can now prioritise feature releases across the RDS with a view to better license revenues.

Let's be clear. We're not seeing a specific cloud edition for RDS, which suggests three things:

  1. Oracle deployed editions with which experienced DBAs will be familiar but without explaining the feature differences. The less wary may find themselves in licensing hell.
  2. The RDS platform does not suit the Oracle RDBMS so AWS/Oracle were forced to pare back on features.
  3. This was a hastily cobbled solution that attempts to give AWS genuine enterprise credibility but fails to deliver on a first pass.

Regardless, customers are advised to think very carefully before deploying anything other than backup storage instances.

Topics: Amazon, Oracle

Dennis Howlett

About Dennis Howlett

Dennis Howlett is a 40 year veteran in enterprise IT, working with companies large and small across many industries. He endeavors to inform buyers in a no-nonsense manner and spares no vendor that comes under his microscope.

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  • RE: Oracle on Amazon? Think again

    And I don't think Oracle will budge an inch when it comes to helping Amazon. They are a company built like Parthenon. Stiff tall columns, and a lot of air between them.
  • RE: Oracle on Amazon? Think again

    Hi Dennis,
    FWIW, I was doing the equivalent of BYOL with the standard Oracle 10.2 releases that were coming with SAP releases last year. I know its not EXACTLY the same as Oracle RDS, but I thought it was worth mentioning in case any SAP / AWS people thought it was.

  • RE: Oracle on Amazon? Think again

    Denis, stop being so bitter. I have many colleagues and know that SI's like Accenture, Wipro and Infosys are using AWS with Oracle very heavily and are promting it to their customers. Oracle provide a number of AWS images that are 100% compatible with the AWS infrastructure and works very well. SI's are pitching as a good option for development and test environments and I know of a number of people using it for production EBS instances.

    The BYOL option, I think is more of an administrative option - I have no direct experience of BYOL, but have used the standard edition by the hour version - at 5 cents an hour, it's a great way to utlise Oracle in the cloud.

    Please dig deep and do some research
    • RE: Oracle on Amazon? Think again

      @Andy_Kenney - I know SIs who are doing the're missing the point. This is about RDS/BYOL not some other deployment method and I am reporting what representatives of those same SIs are telling me. No bitterness - just facts.
  • RE: Oracle on Amazon? Think again

    Denis, most of the SI's are using RDS and BYOL options
    It seems that Amazon recently changed the sign up for BYOL, to at least check you were a licenced customer
    It seems that a lot of people were running Oracle Database instances for free

    I am not aware of a single case where Oracle would be chasing customers down directly for this, though I'm sure that Amazon would be asked to at least put some basic checks in place to stop the free loaders
    • RE: Oracle on Amazon? Think again

      @Andy_Kenney - I have no proofs of what you are saying but will take at face value. I am recording what I have been told by those that have deployed test instances and are working their way through the various

      Given Oracle's past attitude towards virtualisation as it pertains to licensing it is only reasonable to caution customers to think this through carefully before committing to this method.

      The technical side also needs some thinking through from what I am told.