Oracle VM vs VMware Technical Discussion



The primary audience of this white paper is aimed at Oracle DBAs and technical infrastructure teams that need to support enterprise virtual platforms.   The topic of discussions may be above and beyond a DBA’s normal conversational lingo but the DBA will learn the key buzzwords that relate to both vendors.  Oracle DBAs will learn how virtual infrastructures need to be configured and tuned to properly handle Oracle workloads. 

DBAs and architects will learn technical internals for VMware and OVM infrastructures. The DBAs will be able to effectively communicate with their infrastructure leads and understand what they are getting and what they want out of virtualization. Our goal is to disseminate key best practices for virtualization. DBAs should be able go back to their virtualization administrators (vAdmins) and confirm whether these best practices are being practiced. Also, important performance metrics for virtualization will be revealed. Your measure of success in virtualizing Oracle Databases on VMware or Oracle VM should depend on pre-established performance metrics.



Hypervisors today are getting faster with less and less overhead. When you look at benchmarks being published today on running Tier One databases and applications the overhead can get down to 6% or less. This low level of overhead means you can run 80-90% of all database servers in a Virtual Machine. Critical systems that require ten of thousands of IOPs, high IO throughput, and excessive CPU requirements may need more than the 6% of overhead. If your application suffers from performance issues today, your best bet is to stay on the physical servers until your performance issues are isolated and resolved. The rest of the typical business critical applications and database servers can run successfully in a virtual environment.



Imagine a world where your system administrators can provision a fully functional Linux server that is patched with all the up-to-date kernel parameters, updated device drivers, and updated configurations in one hour. The time that you make the request to the time that you get access to a server that has a fully configured Red Hat 5/6 or Oracle Linux 5/6 environment is within one hour. On top of all this, the build is perfect every time. This should be a reality for most companies today. Imagine providing a fully patched Oracle database on with PSU 5 (January 2013 PSU) applied to your customers in 1 hour. There is no reason why this cannot be accomplished today with the infrastructure that is provided by VMware and Oracle. Imagine provisioning RAC clusters in a matter of hours. Imagine being able to provide a fully patched 2 node/3 node /4 node Grid Infrastructure with ASM and a fully patched database within one day. This presentation does not go into the secret sauce of being able to do this but will lead you in the right direction. Oracle and VMware provide the means to be able to provision even the most complicated RAC infrastructure in one day. We no longer spend weeks and even months to setup our RAC environments.



The concept of creating a golden image applies at all levels of the stack. In the end, we need to create a golden image virtual machine template. Before we can create a golden image VM template, we need to create a golden image OS. This does not come over night but can easily be established. There has to be lot of collaboration between the system administrators as to standards and policies. Furthermore, someone has to be the “owner” of the templates to make sure all the standard build is applied to the golden image template. As we mature within the organization, we can build automation to simplify the build process and parts of the builds that require manual intervention. The level of automation will dictate how long it takes to provision the Linux VM. Obviously, the more you automate, the less time it will take. As DBAs, we will want to focus on creating golden images of the database eco-system. We need to create a golden image Grid Infrastructure stack. We also need to create a golden image database software stack. Finally, we need to create a golden image database to deploy to all the environments. We can automate all of the above components to simplify and reduce the amount of time to provision Oracle databases.


Setting up a VirtualBox, VMware Fusion or VMware Workstation VM is pretty simple. However there is a big difference in the skill set required to set up a bare metal hypervisor for running a POC and/or benchmarks. It’s then another skill level to design, configure and implement an enterprise virtual platform for running Tier One platforms. They key to building an enterprise virtual platform is to follow best practices and reference architectures. The levels of best practices that have to be followed include:

• Validate virtualization and software configurations with vendor hardware compatibility lists.

• Follow recommended reference architectures.

• Follow virtualization vendor’s best practices, deployment guides and workload characterizations.

• Review storage vendor recommendations.

• Validate internal best practices for configuring and managing VMs.

As we build out the enterprise virtual platform, standards will need to be created and tightly controlled. Process and procedures for virtual machine deployments will also play a big factor in how successful your virtualization journey becomes.



• Virtual Servers offer significant advantages over Physical Servers.

• Enabling Oracle or Hadoop as a service in a public or private cloud.

• Cloud providers are making it easy to deploy platforms for POCs, dev and test environments.

• Running a Consistent, Highly Reliable Hardware Environment.

• Standardizing on a Single Common Hardware Platform (software stack).

• Virtualization is a natural step towards the cloud.

• Cloud and virtualization vendors are offering elastic solutions.



These virtualization features offer a lot of additional functionality to Oracle database servers, applications and Hadoop environments.

Virtualization Features


We cannot go over all the virtualization features in this paper. We do plan on reviewing all of the terms and features in our presentation. Also at the presentation we will provide the subtle differences between the two vendors.



vMotion / Live Migration, by far, is one of the biggest benefits of a virtualization infrastructure. With this feature enabled, we can migrate an active VM to another host machine without any downtime or disruptions while maintaining application services to users. Granted the application may experience a slight degradation in performance, there will be no data loss during the few minutes needed to move a VM to another host machine. It will be completely transparent to the applications that the live migration (vMotion) occurred. Imagine if you lost the network card on one of the host machines and need to take the server down for maintenance. In the absence of Oracle VM or VMware, you would experience a complete outage in a non-virtualized world. If you happen to be on a RAC environment, you would run your databases in a reduced capacity. In the virtual world however, we would simply move your database server VM to another host machine, perform our maintenance, reboot your host machine and let the database server VM migrate back. While this is happening, you would never know that it happened.



With virtualization, we automatically adopt what is known to be HA in the virtualization world. If the host machine crashes for any reason, the VM can failover automatically to a surviving host machine in the cluster. With HA, some companies may be able to forgo on RAC licenses if they are strictly leveraging RAC for high availability. If customers can withstand a 10-15 minute outage for the VM to re-start on a surviving host machine, you maybe able to eliminate your RAC licenses.



Leveraging the vMotion / Live Migration infrastructure, we can evenly load balance the work load of every host machine in the virtualization cluster. If one host machine becomes over-loaded, we can move the VM or VMs to a less loaded host machine. This automatically happens without the users experiencing any perceived outages. We can establish affinity and anti-affinity rules to even move VMs together with other VMs. Again, we should not be afraid to fully leverage this technology.



In the VMware world, your vAdmins will take care of the needed software. On the Oracle side however, the DBAs will more than likely need to provide the information to the vAdmin or perform the tasks themselves. If you are new to the Oracle VM stack, you will discover that downloading the software will be your first hurdle. The following software products can be downloaded from Oracle EDelivery.

Download OVM


Oracle VM Templates provide customers the ability to rapidly and easily deploy a fully patched/configured Oracle virtual machine or multiple virtual machines for RAC deployments. The Oracle VM Templates contains the complete Oracle software stack plus the operating system and related software infrastructure. Lot of the Guest VMs are available from Oracle’s E-Delivery website but the latest patched versions are available from and you will need a valid CSI and contract to download them. These templates can save customers days or weeks or even months depending on whether you leverage the complete Oracle stack. We can download RAC templates, Oracle 12c Cloud Control Enterprise Manager templates, Siebel templates or even Oracle E-Business Suite templates. For the latest, review the MOS note Pre-Built Grid Infrastructure and Oracle RAC Templates For Oracle VM [ID 1185244.1]. Downloading the latest Oracle VM templates can reduce your VM builds exponentially.



Lot of the best practices for VMware applies to Oracle VM. Obviously, there are specific best practices when it comes to features that are specific to either of the products. For example, we need to create separate interfaces on the VM host (ESXi host or Oracle VM Server) to segment off management related network traffic (i.e. management related traffic to maintain a network heartbeat or the traffic to perform live migrations (vMotion in VMware)). At a minimum, each physical host needs to have 4 physical network interface cards. 6 Network interface cards will be highly recommended. We will create a bonded network interfaces for the following network workloads:

1. 2 NICs bonded for the public network for all oracle database related traffic

2. 2 NICs bonded for oracle private network between the RAC clusters

3. 2 NICs bonded for communication between the ESXi or Oracle VM Server host machines

All the best practices that are applicable at the VM Guest level apply to both VMware and Oracle VM. For example, we want to enable jumbo frames on the Guest VM. We also want to setup hugepages and disable NUMA at the Guest VM level. In general, we also do not want to over-commit memory or CPUs for production environments. For databases that fit well for consolidation, we can consider over-committing memory or CPUs.

For additional information for best practices for VMware, please read the following articles. Oracle Databases on VMware – RAC Workload Characterization Study Oracle Databases on VMware – RAC Deployment Guide High Availability Guide


vCloud Suite and vCloud Networking and Security vCloud Editions


vCloud Networking and Security


vCenter Operations


VMware Tech Resource Center (Videos, Whitepapers, Docs)


Miscellaneous A high level whitepaper on virtualizing Business Critical Apps on VMware


Deployment Guide, Reference Architecture, Customer case studies and white papers


Oracle Databases on VMware – Understanding Support and License :


VMware Network I/O Control: Architecture, Performance and Best Practices


Esxtop and vscsi Stats


Memory Management vSphere 5


Resource Mgmt vSphere 5


Achieving a Million IOPS in a single VM with vSphere5 V


MXNET3 was designed with improving performance in mind.

See, VMware KB 1001805:


Performance Evaluation of VMXNET3 Virtual Network Device can be found at:


Network I/O Latency in vSphere5


Preferred BIOS settings (always double check with hardware vendor,


Oracle Database on vSphere Deployment Tips –


SCSI Queue Depth – Controlling LUN queue depth throttling in VMware ESX/ESXi


Monitor disk latency at three distinct layers of the device or HBA, the kernel or ESX hypervisor and the guest or virtual machine.


PVSCSI Storage Performance


Snapshot limitations and best practices to minimize problems Jumbo frames VMXNET3


1Gb shortcomings:


The vSphere 4 CPU scheduler


Some excellent storage links from Chris Sakac (EMC) and Vaughn Stewart (NetApp) VNX and vSphere Techbook


VMAX and vSphere Techbook


Isilon and vSphere Best Practices Guide

Storage I/O Fairness



Charles Kim is an Oracle ACE Director, an Oracle Certified DBA, and a Certified RAC Expert. Charles specializes in Exadata, RAC, and Virtualization (VMware and Oracle VM) and authored three books: 1. Oracle Database 11g New Features for DBA and Developers 2. Linux Recipes for Oracle DBAs 3. Oracle Data Guard 11g Handbook Charles holds certifications in Oracle, VMware, Red Hat Linux, and Microsoft and has over 21 years of Oracle experience on mission and business critical databases. Charles presents regularly at local, regional, national and international Oracle conferences including IOUG Collaborate, VMware World, and Oracle OpenWorld on topics of RAC, ASM, Linux Best Practices, Data Guard Best Practices, VMware virtualization, Oracle VMware virtualization, and 7×24 High Availability Considerations. Charles is the technical editor of the Automatic Storage Management book by Oracle Press and blogs regularly at and