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December 2017

Less is more

Provide-less-is-more

“Listen, we’re experiencing problems with the performance of our Oracle environment, can you please assess them for us and come up with a suggestion how to solve it?”

Following this question, we investigated which particular licenses the Dutch municipality of Slochteren had bought from Oracle and which of these licenses they couldn’t do without. We also looked for opportunities to enhance the stability and availability of the database environment. We soon found out that the Oracle databases used by the municipality run on physical servers. This needed to change!

Too much to handle

Most municipalities in the Netherlands use Oracle databases, which comes with the obligation to purchase quite expensive licenses. To make things worse, Slochteren, like many other municipalities, had chosen the most comprehensive Enterprise license. As it turns out, they didn’t even use the additional functionalities included in the license. At the same time, they do have to deal with its limitations. Obviously there had to be another way.

The ‘thing’ with Oracle licenses

In the past, a server became faster because the CPU became faster. With an Oracle Enterprise license, this implied keeping the same license while the new server provided for faster applications. Today, it is quite common for manufacturers to equip processors with more processor cores to make them faster. The trouble with Oracle Enterprise licenses is that users pay per processor core. Buying a new server automatically means more speed. However, as the new server contains a lot more processors, it also means you have to upgrade your license making things twice as expensive.

More with less

We were able to solve this problem for Slochteren by combining the less expensive Standard Edition license with virtual servers. Oracle is not particularly happy with virtualization and requires users to license all servers within a VM environment. We have solved this by replacing four servers by two physical servers equipped with VMware which in turn control several virtual servers. This allowed us to limit the capacity required for the Oracle database and at the same time limit the number of processors to be licensed.

The municipality benefits from the fact that their database environment has become more dispersed. When certain databases become overloaded, the burden is automatically spread over all servers. As a result, the organization as such will no longer be effected by server or database issues thus enhancing the stability and availability of the IT environment. Just the way they wanted.