Making the right choice with Oracle SPARC

Five reasons you should choose Oracle SPARC over IBM Power

Oracle customers, over 430,000 of them globally according to 2018 figures, are traditionally loyal to the Oracle brand, but when it comes to choosing infrastructure and particularly new server technology, why should customers choose Oracle SPARC over its rival IBM Power? What makes Oracle SPARC the better solution?

Firstly, and importantly the focus and commitment to server technology improvements that IBM has shown in recent years has been waning. Whilst IBM has concentrated its efforts elsewhere Oracle has been continuously developing its server technology to ensure it can offer customers the best servers.

For all those loyal Oracle database and application users, Oracle SPARC servers are the obvious choice. Oracle SPARC is optimised for Oracle databases and applications and will deliver the best performance and security at a low cost. Reporting and analytics are faster, advanced encryption and virtualisation features, secure data and improve application performance. In short, Oracle databases, middleware and applications have been optimised to take full advantage of all the features of SPARC architecture and vice versa.

With cybersecurity being of the utmost importance, Oracle has built in advanced encryption for data at rest, in transit and in storage, with no degradation of performance. Oracle’s Silicon Secured Memory provides 24/7 intrusion protection.

Because Oracle SPARC servers perform more business transactions at a faster rate, customers need less of them, which keeps costs and software license complexities down.

Migration to SPARC servers is easy and we will help with migration using Oracle Migration Factory methodology and tools. Our engineers will plan, architect and implement customers’ migration to SPARC according to the specific environment and expectations, but will use standardised automation tools and scripts to migrate sources to the target destination, monitoring and reporting throughout and in real time.

Last year Gartner predicted that “In 2019, hybrid IT will be the standard. Technical professionals focused on cloud must continue to advance cloud-first strategies, embrace multicloud and maintain on-premises environments, with a focus on integration and brokering”.

By taking a cloud-first approach to technology infrastructure development, Oracle has built its cloud solutions using the same SPARC technology that it uses in its servers allowing customers a clear path to the cloud. Unlike IBM Power customers moving to IBM Cloud services, customers using SPARC on premises can easily move to cloud services without migration costs, and without the need to change applications. The same advanced encryption features and same fast performance are present in Oracle cloud solutions, meaning customers can simply extend their SPARC/Solaris environments into the cloud using familiar SPARC/Solaris tools and without buying additional hardware.

For businesses using Oracle databases, applications or middleware and requiring enhanced security and performance at a good price point, SPARC should be a clear contender.

Useful Links

Gartner Research: Planning Guide

Oracle Migration Factory

Oracle Corporate Fact Sheet

Best Practice for your Next-Generation Virtualisation Platform

You’ve decided that you need a virtualised, next-generation data centre, so whether you’re starting afresh or you’re updating what you already have in place, what are the key preparatory steps you need to take?

First you need to prepare your physical servers. These will become the hosts for your hypervisor in a virtualised environment, so ensure that firmware and BIOS are updated, enable any hardware assisted virtualisation features that are available and make sure that you have installed all the recommended drivers for the hypervisor.

The next step is to install the hypervisor. Follow the vendor’s guidance documentation and record key information such as host names, IP addresses etc. Launch your admin platform, adjust any security permissions, such as firewalls, and ensure your storage arrays are discoverable and accessible. This is important because I/O throughput can be adversely affected by the storage configuration. If the storage solution isn’t configured correctly for the workload and the throughput and IOPS aren’t matched, performance at the front end will be affected.

The next step is to ensure your network is configured appropriately for a next-generation virtualisation platform. If a virtualised server can’t communicate properly over the network, the benefits will be lost. Install the appropriate network interface cards, network adaptors and network cards are installed and test end to end connectivity once hypervisors are connected to the network.

Cybersecurity is just as important in a virtualised, next-generation environment as it is in a physical data centre, so the apps and OS need to be secured and protected by isolating the management information from the virtual machine traffic. A Single sign on solution can ensure that only those with the correct permissions can access management information.

A virtualised environment is flexible enough to improve the performance of applications that are latency sensitive, but some tweaks may be necessary to power management settings and network adaptors to ensure they aren’t slowing things down.

Following the migration of your servers to your new virtualised environment, there are many advanced management tools you can utilise for high availability, load balancing and networking. Enable monitoring and capacity planning tools which can enable machine learning and smart-management of the environment. Granular reporting on uptime, performance, capacity and efficiency can really help prove the value of your investment in the next-generation infrastructure.

Set out the settings that your virtual machines will all need and document that as a template so that they are all optimised from the outset. To make sure your VMs are all running at peak performance schedule backups and virus scans at off-peak hours so they don’t impact performance.

When the virtualised data centre is up and running, you can look at the high-availability, replication, or fault tolerance tools that are fundamental to the performance of the business.

In short, by leveraging a next-gen virtualisation platform properly you should be able to deliver a higher quality service, with less risk, at a lower cost. What’s not to like about that?

Going beyond server virtualisation

Next-generation virtualisation goes way beyond server virtualisation and provides the platform for virtualised storage, virtualised networking and cloud orchestration tools that are essential elements of a software-defined data centre. Cloud-native architectures, containerised data and hyperconvergence are some of the technology approaches that a next generation, software-defined data centre can enable and the benefits of these are huge. Businesses are more agile, flexible and dynamic. Administrators can centrally control their infrastructure, regardless of where it is situated and applications move to centre stage, repositioning technology as a business enabler, not a separate department.

One huge trend in the data centre is hyperconvergence, which relies on software-defined storage, whereby the hypervisor dynamically allocates the right amount of storage to the applications that are running in the data centre. Additional compute, storage and management resources are delivered by adding additional server hardware, which is then viewed as shared storage and allocated to the apps as they need it, via the hypervisor. Without this level of next-generation virtualisation, achieving a hyperconverged infrastructure is not possible.

Virtualised networks work in a similar fashion, using the hypervisor to pool the network resources and attach them to individual virtual machines based on the defined policies for each application. The underlying network acts as a simple packet forwarding mechanism, whilst the management, provisioning and security features are all dealt with by the hypervisor. Because virtualised networks completely decouple the network functionality from the network hardware, they differ from software-defined networks, which use clever software to manage networking hardware rather than separating it entirely. The benefits of this hardware decoupling are realised when moving virtual machines between logical domains, as there is no network reconfiguration required and the administration overhead savings can be immense.

Likewise cloud orchestration is a buzz word right now and a next generation virtualisation platform really does provide the right foundation for a cloud-native environment, where different cloud services can be combined and managed simply. Making tangible reductions in administration overheads once again becomes a reality if you have a platform that can help you to manage all of your cloud services. The use of cloud services is growing massively, especially those in the public cloud market, as concerns around security and privacy are allayed and confidence in the public cloud providers grows. Indeed, Gartner predicts that globally, public cloud usage will grow by 17.3% in 2019 to total $206.2bn and many of the businesses using public cloud will also have a mix of SaaS applications, private cloud services and on-premises, physical infrastructure. What is already and will be even more important for customers is a platform where everything can be managed, without dipping in and out of interfaces and requiring different accreditations and skills.

In short, a next generation virtualised environment is much more than virtual machines. As hardware becomes almost irrelevant, the hypervisor is the powerful tool of choice, and the applications dictate what resources are needed, where and when. The application really does become king.U

Gartner Forecasts Public Cloud Revenue to Grow 17.3 Percent in 2019

How next generation virtualisation is driving digital transformation

You would have heard the term next-generation bandied about a lot, but what does it mean when we talk about next-generation virtualisation?

Server virtualisation is well established and has been around for many years now, having been one of the most transformational technologies the world has ever seen. Server virtualisation followed the classic technology adoption trajectory of being utilised by the innovators first, then the early adopters, the early and late majority and finally by the laggards, with Gartner proclaiming it “mature” as far back as 2016 after seeing saturation levels of between 75% – 90% of all servers being virtualised for many firms.

As with all technology, virtualisation must evolve further to keep up with the demands of the modern business in today’s digital economy. In order to compete in this digital, software-driven and fast-paced world, businesses need to accelerate the development and delivery of the applications and services they provide. To cope with the speed of development and new approaches to development, cloud-native or agile DevOps approaches for example, data centres need to be fully virtualised, software defined, and highly automated, with consistent application delivery across multiple cloud environments. Next-generation applications need a next-generation infrastructure to run on, so in other words, virtualisation must grow up and become next-generation virtualisation.

Next-generation virtualisation brings many benefits, firstly that it can support a cloud-native approach, which relies on containerised workloads. Containers are bundles which contain an application and all the compute and resources it needs in a single package. Containerised workloads are simple to move from one cloud environment to another. Another revolutionary technology to take data centres into the future.

Maintaining a next-generation virtualised data centre is easier than a traditional data centre, and tasks like installing, updating, provisioning, deploying and moving workloads around are faster and easier to manage. Automation features heavily in a next-generation virtualisation platform, with many management tasks being automated to help administrators accomplish tasks and maintain performance with minimal intervention.

This frees up IT time for more strategic tasks and subsequently makes the IT team more productive. This automated, policy driven approach also means that enhanced security features can be baked in at scale, at both the infrastructure level and the data level.

Next-generation virtualisation brings greater insight and analytics features to help administrators to understand how their infrastructure is performing and help to avoid disruption to services. Capacity planning features built into next-generation virtualisation provide administrators with a clear view of performance trends, extended forecasts and projections and the ability to model scenarios to demonstrate outcomes. This level of visibility helps organisations to reduce risks and prevent problems.When you consider the modern businesses’ requirements for a secure, agile, flexible, scalable, powerful, resilient architecture to power their next-generation applications across a multitude of environments, next-generation virtualisation is the obvious choice.

Find out how VMware are leading the field of Next-Generation Virtualisation in the Dummies Guide.

Useful Links

Virtualisation Market Now Mature, Gartner Finds

Server virtualisation trends: Is there still room to grow?

Technology Adoption Life Cycle