Announcing its own Xen-based hypervisor, Oracle has been pretty clear about its support policy for 3rd party virtualization platforms: Oracle VM is the only x86-based server virtualization environment on which Oracle products are supported.
Since that day, trying to avoid panic from thousands of customers, VMware sales force spent endless efforts trying to reassure that previous support agreements with Oracle would be still in place.
But which kind of unformal support agreement Oracle may grant to VMware customers?
The enlightening answer comes from Oracle itself which replies an inquiry from ComputerWorld this way:
Oracle has not certified any Oracle software on VMware virtualized environments.
Oracle support will assist customers running Oracle software on VMware in the following manner: Oracle will only provide support for issues that either are known to occur on the native OS without virtualization, or can be demonstrated not to be as a result of running VMware. If a problem is a known Oracle issue, Oracle support will recommend the appropriate solution on the native OS without virtualization. If that solution does not work in the VMware virtualized environment, the customer will be referred to VMware for support.
Which basically means no support for virtualization at all.
That part of VMware sales force stating that this is a support agreement are implictly asking customers to be ready to reinstall their entire Oracle environment on a physical server, which raises several questions:
- Where the customer is going to install the environment?
- On a new server? If so how much time it would take to order, purchase, deliver, reinstall and configure? Weeks, months?
- And once on the new server, how the customer can grant the new hardware will not influence in some way the reproduction of the issue?
- On an existing server? If so how much time it would take to recognize the right hardware, free it from current platform, reinstall and configure?
- And one on the recycled server, how the customer can grant the old hardware will not influence in some way the reproduction of the issue?
- How much time the entire operation will take just to reach the point where the support request can be opened?
- And how much money the entire troubleshooting will take in terms of man/hours?
All these questions should be answered considering that on most cases Oracle products are used in production environment, for mission critical roles. So such form of support agreement would cost the company probably much more than just installing Oracle on a physical server, ignoring virtualization completely.
Such consideration appear evident to those professionals dealing with business continuity plan and related disaster recovery scenarios, but may be less clear for anybody else.
Update: virtualization.info is now in possess of the official transcript for the Oracle Analyst Meeting of Nov. 14 (the day Oracle VM was made avaiable online, and several days before the above company answer provided to ComputerWorld).
In this transcript Larry Ellison, Oracle CEO, answers John DiFucci, analyst at Bear Stearns, about support policy for VMware customers:
John DiFucci: Okay. And, the second question one. Your one stack message, although it does resonate well, I think. But, some of the exclusivity
that it implies or, not only implies, but with the Oracle VM message that you only support Oracle products on Oracle VM and not on VMware.
Larry Ellison: Oh, no, no, we aren’t — we clearly support — we only support –. Lots of people are running Oracle products on VMware.
JDF: Exactly. So…
LE: That’s cool. And, it’s great. Our strategy is to be as… is to be open, and to support as many different product as we have… and platforms as we can.
JFD: So, if a customer has a problem running on VMware and — with the Oracle database, then call for support, the support will be
given in that kind of configuration?
LE: Yes, essentially, yes.
Now, while the essentially word introduces some vagueness in the confirmation, it still represents a statement of support.
Now considering that Oracle CEO provided this answer two days after the publishing of Oracle VM FAQs, which state exactly the opposite, and days before ComputerWorld answer, this basically means two possible things: first one is that Oracle strategy about 3rd party virtualization support is a complete mess and the company is unable to take a decision and stick with it, the other is that Oracle CEO provided an incomplete answer on purpose.
In both cases VMware customers should start asking very clearly and loudly an official support statement to Oracle before being trapped in endless support issues.
virtualization.info will provide updated reports if any reader will decide to share any answer or document Oracle will provide.