KVM Replacing OVM for Oracle Virtualization

Oracle is phasing out Oracle Virtual Machine (OVM) in favor of Oracle Linux Kernel-based Virtual Machine (KVM)

End of Premier Support for OVM
Many Oracle customers adopted Oracle Virtual Machine (OVM) as their virtualization platform taking advantage of hard partitioning capabilities of OVM. It may sound alarming to them that Oracle will not offer Premier Support for OVM 3 beyond March 2021 and Extended Support beyond March 2024.

There are no new releases of OVM planned either. Sustaining Support for OVM 3 will be offered indefinitely for customers who for any reason will still stay on the last OVM release.

What is the substitute for OVM that Oracle is offering? As it turns out there is a “silver lining” to this situation.

Kernel-based Virtual Machine (KVM)
In June 2019 Oracle introduced Oracle Linux Virtualization Manager, which when used as a management platform for existing Oracle Linux Kernel-based Virtual Machine (KVM) constitutes a very attractive virtualization solution meant to replace OVM.

Kernel-based virtual machine (KVM), also known as KVM virtualization, is certified with 12cR1, 18c and 19c Oracle Single Instance and Oracle RAC for all supported Oracle Linux 7 distributions, Oracle Database 12c Release 2 (12.2) will be certified with Oracle Database Appliance and Exadata only.

There are a few advantages and compelling features of Oracle Linux and the improved KVM solution that we like:

  • KVM has the same core/CPU pinning capabilities as OVM and is recognized by Oracle as a supported hard partitioning method when done correctly, following Oracle’s guidelines.
  • The Unbreakable Enterprise Kernel, which was designed for Oracle Database, offers an estimated 45% performance increase when used with Oracle Database.
  • You can take advantage of Ksplice capabilities to apply security patches and updates without any downtime and the need to reboot the system. Ksplice can patch almost any part of the kernel, offers user space patching and more comprehensive safety checks.
  • Easier migration to Oracle Cloud, which runs on Oracle Linux.

Impact on Oracle customers:

If you are currently using OVM and/or Oracle Linux:

  • If you are currently running OVM on Oracle Linux, the good news is that you may actually save on OVM support and still take advantage of hard partitioning.
  • If you are already using Oracle Linux, but not OVM, you may have an opportunity to utilize more advanced features.
  • If you are an Oracle hardware customer who purchased ODA, Exadata or a SPARC based machine, you are receiving OVM and Linux support free of charge, included with your hardware support; you will continue receiving Linux support from Oracle with your hardware support.
  • (Note: hard partitioning with OVM or KVM has to be set up in a particular way to maximize value in terms of Oracle licensing of products like Database EE. Please contact Miro for additional information and check your particular core pinning configuration.)

If you are currently using Red Hat Linux:

  • Although Oracle Linux and Red Hat Linux are two different downloads, Oracle offers a RHEL-compatible kernel and Linux support for RHEL.
  • If you are planning to take advantage of KVM hard partitioning capabilities, RHEL core pinning will not be recognized by Oracle as a valid method of hard partitioning.
  • Please note that both Red Hat’s Kpatch and Oracle’s Linux Ksplice have similar capabilities to apply security patches/updates with no downtime and no reboot required, however Ksplice offers slightly higher efficiency in this regard.
  • There are a few differences in the way Kpatch and Ksplice deal with some functions. Ksplice can patch almost any part of the kernel, while Kpatch can only patch functions. Ksplice offers user space patching, which allows users to patch critical components such as glibc and openssl. Ksplice also offers more comprehensive safety checks to ensure that users cannot call removed functions.
  • Oracle Linux support can be less expensive than Red Hat support, so along with additional features you will get a reduction in cost.

If you are currently using VMware as your virtualization platform:

  • Oracle Linux KVM (with Oracle Linux Virtualization Manager) is considered by Oracle an alternative solution to VMware’s vSphere.
  • KVM is definitely priced at an attractively low level and already included with Oracle Linux; on the other hand, VMware offers additional robust features, so both solutions should be reviewed by each customer on an individual basis to determine which one fits best.
  • Customers can use Oracle-recognized hard partitioning with KVM while Oracle does not recognize any hard partitioning done using VMware’s internal capabilities.
  • (Note: there is still a possibility to segment Oracle environments on VMware in a way that would be recognized by Oracle, however, it is done outside of the VMware software purview.  Please contact Miro for additional information.)

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