Wednesday, 17 February 2016

Improve Oracle Database Performance and Efficiency In A ‘Flash’

By: Christian Putz, Director Emerging Markets, Europe, Middle East & Africa, Pure Storage  

Oracle databases are the backbone of a wide range of business-critical applications, from online transaction processing to business intelligence systems for corporate finance and dozens more. In today’s environment, organizations are under extreme pressure to process more transactions faster than ever and to drive efficient and consistent performance from their Oracle databases.

All-flash storage arrays have become a breakthrough technology for Oracle databases, enabling levels of performance that are unattainable with spinning disk drives. In addition, with certain all-flash solutions, organizations can drive down costs—including Oracle licensing fees— while reducing storage complexity and improving application availability.

The impact of deploying all-flash storage with Oracle databases leads to improved productivity for database administrators (DBAs), faster time to value for new applications and better customer service, among other benefits. 

The Benefits of Flash Storage for Oracle Databases 
Oracle databases need the performance that can only be delivered by all-flash arrays. The amount of data is growing rapidly and so is the size of data sets. At the same time, business leaders are striving for improved agility and real-time , meaning the database must be able to process more transactions in condensed time frames.

Spinning disk drives are a bottleneck to delivering the performance required for Oracle databases. In the past decade, the speed of CPUs and memory has accelerated dramatically, while spinning disk performance has remained about the same. This has not only been a drag on database performance, but it has also been a drain on resources resulting in overly complex management challenges for DBAs as well as Oracle licensing costs, that have often spun out of control. The right flash storage solution can immediately shift the paradigm for Oracle performance, management efficiency and costs. Key benefits of flash include:

  • Unprecedented—and consistent—performance to support existing applications and enable new ones
  • Much greater efficiency to support simpler and less time-consuming database management
  • Lower overall costs, enabling the business to maximize the investment in all-flash solutions

What DBAs Need From Flash Storage 
DBAs are under the gun to improve the performance of critical business applications. They also need to simplify the processes involved in managing and scaling their databases. All-flash arrays are becoming the “go to” solution to address these needs, particularly for databases running online transaction processing, real-time , data warehousing or mixed workloads.

All-flash arrays typically deliver a 3X improvement in the performance of transactional and business intelligence solutions. In addition, that performance is consistent at all times, which is equally important to DBAs.  The faster and consistent performance can be a game changer.

In addition to performance, simplicity and efficiency are key drivers for DBAs. You don’t have to do many of the time-consuming tasks typically associated with spinning disk drives, including tuning, short stroking, managing RAID groups and storage tiering. Also, performance is not a function of the number of LUNs; i.e., you don’t need multiple LUNs in order to gain IOPS. This means you only need to create LUNs for specific database components, such as redo and temp space. 

In addition, you can migrate from spinning disks to an all-flash solution with no downtime and without having to change the database configuration. 

DBAs are also concerned about the potential for rising costs, particularly as data volumes grow. Flash can be a factor in reducing Oracle licensing fees because your compute functions will be more efficient and you can use fewer cores. Flash will also take up less power and space in the data center. 

What Line-of-Business (LOB) Managers Need From Flash Storage
Like DBAs, LOB managers are also concerned with performance: If applications are running faster, employees will be more productive, customers will be better served and, hopefully, profits will rise. But it’s not just performance that is critical for LOB managers, it’s also issues around reliability, uptime and improving time to market for new applications that can drive revenue. 

Uptime and availability of applications are critical. Every moment of downtime can be extremely costly—in lost revenue, missed opportunities and customer goodwill. Therefore, it is important to deploy flash solutions that offer five nines reliability along with a resilient architecture that doesn’t tolerate even planned downtime.   

Speed to market is another important differentiator. In today’s business environment, organizations need to be able to respond quickly to new opportunities and they can’t afford long development cycles. Flash storage gives LOB decision-makers the opportunity to eliminate bottlenecks and get applications into the hands of users much faster. 

What to look for in an All Flash Solution
For DBAs and LOB managers, the specific challenges may differ but there are common goals as well: to get the performance they require from their Oracle databases; to deploy a solution that is resilient and reliable; to keep costs under control; to make their lives simpler; and to use technology that helps grow and scale the business. Here are some of the important considerations in evaluating all flash solutions:

  • Extreme performance: Today’s all-flash solutions should be able to deliver consistent highest performance at sub-millisecond latency
  • Simple by design: Enabling you to use any file system, block size or number of LUNs, with no issues around tuning, caching or tiering and with simple snapshots for recovery and development
  • Highly efficient: Using industry leading compression and deduplication technologies to significantly reduce the storage footprint
  • Cost-effective: The all-flash solution should enable you to reduce costs by optimizing Oracle licensing through workload consolidation, while also lowering operating overhead and reducing requirements for server hardware, data center space, cooling and power
  • Immunity from storage disruptions: Features to look for include crash-consistent snapshots, RAID-3D dual parity and five nines availability

Taking the Next Step 
Moving Oracle databases to all-flash storage is a necessary and inevitable step. The performance gap between spinning disks is too great and the performance requirements of Oracle databases are too demanding for it to be any other way. As DBAs and LOB managers work with their IT storage and infrastructure teams to evaluate all-flash solutions, they need to be looking at products that address their requirements for performance, simplicity, cost efficiency, resiliency and high availability.