Monthly Archives: September 2016

Oracle Public Cloud: Me-Too on Steroids

That Oracle would trumpet at OOW 2016 a VM-based offering, the dense IO shape, is shocking, and disappointing, when Linux Container (LXC) technology offers order-of-magnitude better elasticity, density and performance relative to hypervisor-based VM technology.

Last year, I asked a certain founder of a company known the world over for its sturdy and magnificent Linux Desktop software at SCALE 14x conference if he felt container technology made the Xen-hypervisor-fork foundation technology of AWS obsolete, and his answer was no, and as I recall he cited full-isolation as the main reason for his answer. Still, that same company has staked a great deal on LXC technology, and has led, and continues to lead this field.

Those of us who champion container technology know that LXC smokes hypervisors on all metrics and features except complete isolation any day and twice on Sunday. I routinely build 6-node Oracle 12c multitenant ASM Flex clusters in LXC containers that perform at bare metal speed, turning in bare-metal SLOB benchmarks, which on a VM on the same hardware would choke, and probably be crashed by intensive SLOB tests .

So one such as I asks why did Oracle opt to go to market with what I would call a “me-too public cloud VM offering” rather than boldly use its reputed engineering prowess to solve the isolation problem and be a pure-play  “container-cloud” giant, a space under-represented by the “public cloud big-4” of AWS, Azure, Google, and IBM. Note, to be fair, Google has Kubernetes, Amazon has their EC2 Container Service, and Nardella over at Microsoft is strengthening it’s ties to Canonical Ltd. and has the Azure Container Service. But all these offerings tend to be oriented around Docker and underlying VM layers (i.e. Amazon Containers run ontop of EC2 VM layer). 

At OOW 16 yesterday, I popped over to the Oracle virtualization and container kiosks and found what I would describe as a lame offering that the Oracle reps described as effectively the “only” Oracle container offering which they  called “Bare Metal As A Service”. That’s BMaaS I guess, right? Smirk. They told me that that is the extent of Oracle’s container cloud offering…you can get BMaaS from Oracle Cloud and build whatever you want on it, including for example, LXC containers. You’d think Oracle could have built some GUI provisioning and management tools for LXC containers technology. However, to be fair, Oracle now fully supports Oracle 12c database in LXC containers provided you run a suitably recent version of Oracle Linux Unbreakable Enterprise Kernel (UEK).  Oracle for those who might not know, has its own fork of the RedHat-family of kernels called Oracle Linux. They offer this support for Oracle database 12c in LXC containers for both Oracle Linux 6 and Oracle Linux 7. And to be sure, since it’s a true bare-metal platform for LXC, it deserves mention here.

Oracle, like BlackBerry, missed the boat by about 10 years on Public Cloud just as BlackBerry denied reality about Apple iPhone. Oracle still had, and has, a chance to lead containerized clouds, but apparently lacks the will to spend on R&D to “make it so #1” and solve the challenging full-isolation issue holding container adoption back.

Therefore, I predict that like BlackBerry, the Oracle Public Cloud has a murky future at best. Currently the Oracle Public Cloud does not even make it into the 2016 Gartner Magic Quadrant. BlackBerry went multi-platform in recent years trying to catch up to Apple, but the new approach at BlackBerry also cannibalizes BlackBerry’s “Service Access Fees” which it loses every time someone junks their old BlackBerry handset. SAF for those who don’t know is per-phone, per-month fees BlackBerry used to collect from BlackBerry users. SAF is quickly eroding at BlackBerry and it remains to be seen if software and services products at BlackBerry can close the breach on vanishing SAF revenue. 

Similarly, Oracle is getting intense pressure on all sides about its exorbitant support fees for Oracle database, and to compete in the cloud yet preserve support fees Oracle has to somehow match AWS incremental cloud cost while not cannabalizing it’s own SAF-like support fees. 

This leads to a big clue about why Oracle eschewed superior LXC containers technology for its public cloud. Containers run at 10x the density of VM’s and hence Oracle likely did the math on what a container cloud would do to Oracle support revenue (which remember is processor/core based) and said to itself “let’s not go there”.


SLSO Opening Weekend 2016

The St. Louis Symphony Orchestra opened it’s 137th season this weekend with a bold gambit of a Charles Lindbergh themed evening celebrating the “Spirit of St. Louis”.  The program included Weill, Boulez and Debussy.  The St. Louis Symphony is a unique experience and more so this year.  Much more intimate than any other symphony orchestra, attendance has an unpretentiousness that I find no where else except the St. Louis Symphony.  The bold direction established by Maestro Robertson this opening weekend with these bold unorothodox opening performances unsheathes a double-edged sword which at the same time sets the St. Louis Symphony experience one unlike any other in its surprising and relaxing atmosphere of a simple gathering of great musicians who decided to get together of an evening and deliver fabulous performance of whatever they choose to play, while on the other edge of the sword a risk of dimishining the out-of-the-box stature that a symphony orchestra can claim simply through pretentiousness and set pieces, not to mention losing the core mature symphony-goers who gravitate to the traditional repetoire.

The St. Louis Symphony under David Robertson and Helene-Marie Bernard’s leadership has opted to take the symphony in a direction which I find unlike any other symphony experience available anywhere, and very refreshing, innovative, friendly and memorable.  It remains to be seen if the symphony can simultaneously be bold and experimental in its cozy Powell Hall space without diminishing textbook stature.  For myself, I think the direction chosen is the right direction.  The SLSO at Powell Hall has always had an approachable unorchestra orchestra feel to it which in earlier years threatened in fact to somehow diminish the orchestra.  Nevermind that this orchestra has won grammys in the very recent past for it’s stellar recordings and nevermind that at 137 years it’s the second oldest elder statesperson of American symphony orchestras.  No, there’s no denying that the SLSO has a dangerously approachable feel to it – and the appreciative St. Louis audiences who are so generous with the standing ovations don’t help matters much (this is a friendly joke – I love our St. Louis audiences and I think soloists who visit us must have St. Louis marked as  a “feel good” destination) and contribute to the risk of diminishing the just-add-a-big-hall-and-a-hard-to-please-audience that a say, NYPhil automatically employs.  NYPhil has “Barry Diller” hall and at least some people still know who he is, but does anyone know who Powell Hall is named after?  I don’t.

I think the new direction of the symphony celebrates what is great about the SLSO and builds on it’s strengths rather than trying to out-nyphil-the-nyphil.  Keep up the good work SLSO!

No blog post for this season of the SLSO would be complete in my opinion without noting the passing of Jack Taylor, founder of Enterprise Rent-A-Car who donated beyond generously to the tune of 10’s of millions of dollars to the SLSO.  Jack Taylor will be very much missed by the SLSO family but his legacy of generosity to the SLSO and to this city truly is consistent with “The Spirit of St. Louis” theme of this opening weekend.  Jack’s relatives and the greater Taylor Clan continue to support the SLSO generously, and I thank them for that most sincerely.

The Winding Road to OOW 2016

It’s definitely been an interesting chain of events that takes me ultimately this year to Oracle Open World 2016 next week. I had not planned to attend this year. I was busy working several consulting gigs when Sushil Kumar, Chief Marketing Officer at Robin Systems, reached out to me over LinkedIn. I learned finally where that consistent San Jose hit showing up in Google Analytics Geo on my Google Sites blog at had originated; it was from Robin Systems. My blogging on my techniques for putting Oracle in LXC had caught their attention.

Robin Systems is a startup which emerged from stealth in April of this year. Robin has developed an Application-Defined LXC Linux Container software platform with extensions for Docker and exciting QoS, snapshot, and time-travel features, all running on an OpenvSwitch SDN.

I’m at the St. Louis airport right now waiting for my flight to New York. I am honored and very pleased to have had my abstract Oracle Linux Container Update selected for presentation at the quarterly general meeting of the NYOUG today, September 14. I’m making a quick day trip in and out no hotel so it’s a 6:00 AM departure. The NYOUG Preso is boxcars to OOW this year which makes for a lot of work and travel.  I’m writing this blog on my BlackBerry Z30 OS10 device with true multitasking and microkernel architecture on-the-fly. 

So, in early August my wife and I flew out to Robin Systems to learn more about what it is that they are doing and what is being built at their Silicon Valley HQ in San Jose, and also to discuss a collaborative effort.  In other words I was interviewed by Robin Systems.  We also flew out together to squeeze in a long-overdue weekend at the wonderful Monterey Tides Resort right on the beach at Monterey Bay before Yelena started her school year as Professor of Russian Language at St. Louis University.

I’ve been working on Oracle Enterprise software in LXC Linux containers for about two years and have my own open source project for running Oracle Enterprise software on Ubuntu kernels (no hypervisor) in GA. Even before that, in 2012, I was blogging right here at WordPress about putting virtualized Oracle systems on OpenvSwitch networks. I was excited about the work and challenges at Robin Systems so I was very happy to be invited to join the team just ahead of Oracle Open World 2016.

As a result, I’ve been crisscrossing the USA from coast-to-coast frequently over the past month, and the acceptance of the abstract at NYOUG added a couple more legs to my sudden return to the jet set after being anchored for about a year with light travel.

So, it’s a swing to NYC today, then right back to STL home base tonight on the last non-stop, and then several full speed hectic days of system architecture hands-on building for OOW 2016, leading up to the exciting days of my third consecutive OOW.

This new position at Robin and the writing of this blog has precipitated the renewed use of my long-dormant WordPress account. Thanks WordPress for not deleting my account. “They also serve who only stand wait.”