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Oracle databases continue to power enterprise applications across the globe. For Oracle customers, the cloud era brought some great new opportunities but also new challenges, especially when considering their options for a Google Cloud database deployment.
Oracle databases are used for HR, payroll, e-commerce, banking, and almost every other department and industry. Also, modern SaaS products still heavily rely on Oracle to help manage enterprise resource planning systems (ERP), customer relationship management (CRM) software, and other everyday technologies that even small businesses rely on.
In this article we take a look at Oracle deployment on Google Cloud, including the limitations when it comes to licensing and some of the possible alternative solutions that users can take advantage of Google Cloud for databases.
Oracle on Google Cloud Compute Engine
One of the main reasons for Oracle’s popularity comes from the fact that it provides end-users a lot of control over configuration and set up. And in the past few years, Oracle has changed from being a very tightly managed onsite database to finding its way to the cloud.
First and foremost, it needs to be stated that Google Cloud does not offer a managed service for Oracle the way that AWS does with Amazon RDS and Oracle offers natively with OCI. Google Cloud gives developers the ability to decide between using partner-managed Oracle instances that can be picked from the Google Cloud Marketplace or setting up a custom Oracle instance on a Google Cloud Compute Engine VMs.
If you still have an Oracle database on a local server and need to migrate it to GCP, Google recommends three options: rehost, replatform, or rewrite. The first option is essentially migrating the entire database and processes over to GCP. The other two are actually encouraging you to switch off of Oracle and instead use Google’s proprietary database technologies such as Cloud Spanner or CloudSQL.
There is another option for deploying Oracle on Google Cloud, and that is by choosing one of the partner solutions Google Cloud has available on the Google Cloud Marketplace.
The Challenge to Using Oracle on Google Cloud Compute Engine
In theory, one way you can deploy an instance of Oracle is by using Google’s Compute Engine. Using this method provides the benefit of a developer configuring their Oracle instance the way they want.
Since a developer will need to set up this Oracle instance from the ground up, this is a deployment model that will require a degree of technical skill. The advantage to this approach is that it offers more options for customization and optimization. Whether it’s how the database is configured, where the data is stored, or what type of compute the Oracle instance has access to, this method gives the user more control over how the database will function. That gives a developer way to optimize their Oracle instance for quick performance and management of terabytes of data easily.
Managing an Oracle instance on Compute Engine may be problematic though. This is because legally you can’t use a Compute Engine virtual instance in production due to an Oracle-Google licensing limitation related to the Compute Engine hypervisor. Unlike both Oracle on AWS or Oracle on Azure, Oracle does not support GCP, meaning you can’t directly use an Oracle license on a Google Cloud Compute Engine virtual instance.
However, there are alternative options to deploying Oracle on Google Cloud.
Alternative Solutions: GCP Marketplace Oracle Partners or Google Bare Metal Solution
Without a licensing agreement you’ll find it challenging to run an Oracle database built on Cloud Compute Engine. However, there are some alternative approaches: finding an Oracle database provided by a Google partner on the Cloud Marketplace or deploying Oracle on Google Cloud’s new Bare Metal Solution.
The GCP Marketplace allows developers to deploy hundreds of common technologies and software stacks. In this case, Google has partnered with several technology providers to offer Oracle to their customers.
One solution for Oracle in Google Cloud is to deploy it from the Marketplace, purchasing the services of a Google partner, also known as a managed service provider (MSP). However, with this option, you are actually placing your Oracle database in a co-location facility that is adjacent to GCP. This isn’t exactly deploying Oracle on Google Cloud itself, but it allows you to get higher performance storage in a colocation facility that is geographically close to the Google cloud data centers.
There is some minor latency with this architectural design, but you get all the benefits of utilizing a fully managed version of Oracle. You are able to manage and monitor your Oracle instance from the GCP console while using a third-party Google MSP to host your co-located Oracle instance.
Bare Metal Solution
Legacy applications often run on Oracle and other databases that might be difficult to migrate to the cloud. One of the many products GCP offers is Bare Metal Solution. This provides you an entire physical server in a Google Cloud region, giving you the entire flexibility and raw power of a dedicated physical machine. The underlying storage infrastructure uses NetApp NVMe storage technology to provide enterprise-grade performance and leverage its data protection capabilities.
Using Bare Metal Solution allows your applications to have low-latency and be highly resilient as well as easily connect to all native Google Cloud services. This newly added feature became available late 2018 and allowed developers to easily connect their Oracle workloads to other applications they had running on GCP. This makes migrating to GCP easier as well as reduces risk of failure by simplifying your team's infrastructure.
Another benefit to both the partner MSPs and Bare Metal Solution is that you can keep your existing Oracle license. Canceling current Oracle licenses is usually expensive. There are fees connected with ending contracts early, often 30, 40, +50% of the original contract value. With these solutions, your team can take advantage of your current license and not worry about breaking your contract or having to renegotiate your Oracle license in order to launch your new Oracle instance on GCP.
Limitations When Using a Managed Service Provider from Google Marketplace
For all the benefits the managed service providers and Bare Metal Solution offer, there are some limitations developers face as well.
One of the well-known limitations when it comes to deploying your Oracle instance on Google marketplace, or really any managed service, is having a limited choice on what versions you can select. This can become a major issue if you are migrating from a different version of Oracle that might not have the same syntax of SQL or features in general.
Then your team might be forced to not only migrate to the cloud, but also your code base. This can act as a major deterrent when moving to the cloud.
Lack of Control
The biggest challenge when deploying Oracle on Google as a managed service is that your developers lose control of the ability to customize and configure their Oracle instance the way they need. The managed service providers on Google marketplace provide a turn-key solution that makes it easy to deploy your Oracle instance, but that comes at the cost of not being able to have control of your third-party providers infrastructure. Your team will need to utilize whatever hardware and logging is provided by the managed services. This can limit your team's abilities to optimize your own data infrastructure.
Oracle database will continue to power much of our daily lives for the foreseeable future. Even though GCP does not provide a managed service, or a method to host an unmanaged Oracle database, it still gives users options to deploy Oracle via a range of managed services with third-party providers and through its own Bare Metal Solution.
To get more for an enterprise-level database deployment, you can gain a major advantage using NetApp Cloud Volumes ONTAP. Cloud Volumes ONTAP works as a management layer on top of your database running in a cloud or hybrid environment, supporting up to a capacity of 368TB and providing you with additional benefits, you won’t get with the above methods, including high availability, data protection, storage efficiencies, Kubernetes integration, and more.