Oracle Database Appliance is a great piece of hardware: a vast majority of customers running on ODAs choose again ODAs when it’s time to renew their infrastructure. For sure, with Cloud strategies spreading around, on-premises solutions now have a serious challenger. But Cloud is not yet for all companies, and servers are still bought by customers for on-prem needs.
What’s special with ODA?
You may expect that ODA is something really special. You’re wrong. ODA’s hardware is not much different than what’s inside a classic server. And ODA is a sort of classic server because it’s nothing else than an x86_64 server from the Oracle Servers’ lineup. At the very beginning of the ODA history, ODAs were labelled “SunServer x86”, and you got a sticker in the box to put on the front panel with the correct “ODA X3-2” naming. So you may think that the price difference is for the sticker only, but actually it’s much more than that. What makes ODA so special is the dedicated software bundle. 95% of the software suite on the ODA is composed of the same pieces of software you would use on a normal Linux box, but it’s driven by a unique and dedicated CLI (odacli). Since X6-2, this CLI is also available as a GUI (or BUI) through your browser for a more user-friendly experience. With this CLI or this BUI, you will manage everything: the appliance provisioning, DB homes and databases creation/deletion, patching, managing the VMs, configuring the backups, aso. And you will do all these operations much faster than you would do on a classic infrastructure. The CLI from the first ODAs was very basic, the CLI from nowadays packs a lot of features and becomes more and more clever across the time. As this CLI is bundled with the patch, all customers and all ODAs will benefit from newest features after patching.
Reliability is something that has greatly improved these past years, on ODA and also globally. For sure, some components may fail when the server will get older, but it’s mostly disks, memory modules and PSUs: these components being redundant, your databases won’t stop in case of a failure. And as your ODA will probably be covered by the hardware support from the vendor, you will receive a replacement module as soon as a failure is predicted or detected. There is virtually no lifetime limit on an ODA as soon as the few components that may failed get replaced. Furthermore, reliability of SSDs seems better than reliability of HDDs. Despite having lower write cycles number, not having moving parts also means less wear as a result.
When you look at the latest 19.18 patch for ODA, you will see that ODA X5-2 is still among the supported models. It means that you can still patch or do a fresh setup with 19c on top of this 8-year old server. This is something we’ve already tested at dbi services, as we have this kind of old ODA in our lab.
If you have a look at what happened before X5-2, ODA X4-2 was supported until 2020 and has been released in 2013. 7 years of software update is the average I’ve noticed working with ODA since years.
Disaster Recovery capabilities
Disaster Recovery is achieved through Data Guard for Enterprise Edition, and Dbvisit Standby for Standard Edition 2 (most of the time). ODA projects planned without considering a DR setup became very rare. It means that your databases are not tied with a single server anymore. Most of the critical databases can (and should) move to another server within minutes, meaning that if a datacenter or a serious hardware failure occurs, you just need to failover each database and everything is back to normal. Therefore, having a rather old server is not so critical nowadays. And this is the same for all kind of hardware.
Increasing cost of hardware
Oracle software technologies are not cheap as you know, and it’s the same for hardware. Furthermore, price of ODAs increased during these past months, like many other things. Value of an ODA is still great, because you will need less days to deploy and to maintain this kind of platform. But you may need to justify your investment even more than before. If you plan to keep these appliances 1 or 2 more year(s), it will probably ease making this investment.
Last but not least. Apart from customers coming from older disk-based ODAs (until X5-2 – most of the ODAs are now SSD-only), performance improvement across ODA generation is quite moderate. Since X6-2, performance is not the main reason for moving to new hardware. According to my experience, most common reasons are: reaching the planned lifetime according to customers’ standards, end of planned hardware support and no will to renew it, and disk capacity almost reached. Keeping your ODAs 7 years instead of 5 years simply means 30% less hardware wastage and can also justify a bigger disk capacity when ordering (defining accurate disk capacity requirements is quite tough for 5 years and beyond).
Please consider ODA as a long-lifetime platform. It definitely helps your company affording this kind of investment. And it also helps choosing a more comfortable disk setup and limiting your CO2 emission with lower pace hardware renewal.