Trying Oracle on Linux in the Enterprise

How does Linux compare on a large scale to a well-proven commercial UNIX product?
Administration Tools

HPUX has an admin tool called Ignite that can be used to clone a server, both its configuration and its data. Ignite works like Ghost, but I think it's even better. As for Linux, a number of both commercial and free open-source admin tools are available. So far I've used Partition Image to save an image of an entire Linux partition across our network. You then can boot the same or an identical Linux box using Partition Image and restore that partition from the network, thus building or rebuilding a server for cloning or disaster recover purposes. Does this seem complicated? It's easier than it sounds.

This is good, but because HP hasn't ported Ignite to Linux, I still am looking for something that will make an image of my sever while it's still up and running. Ignite lets me boot a server into a special kernel controlled by Ignite and then install it completely over the network. Our HP servers support PXE boot, which can be used in conjunction with Red Hat's KickStart program to do something like this. It's outside the scope of my evaluation schedule, however, to do this, so I can't give insider tips here. Other things I'm looking into after this article is published include LVM, disk mirroring and snapshotting.

So here's a summary of the various strengths HPUX and Red Hat Linux offer in our situation:

Our Cost Savings

Total cost of ownership is difficult to calculate. Is Linux hard to learn? It depends on how well system administrators learn. If they've proven themselves by transferring expertise from one OS--or even from one flavour of UNIX to another--then it's no problem at all. With a little bit of help, either a training course or some mentoring, I believe any system administrator who wants to learn Linux will succeed.

Is Linux free? There's no such thing as a free lunch. You might be able find out everything you need to know from free Internet newsgroups, such as this one, but is that the way your organization really wants to do business? I assume that in an enterprise environment, the management is willing to pay for some kind of security and accountability regarding support and maintenance. We happily pay for hardware support so we can get help with our new fibre cards when we need it. We also pay for licenses and support for our backup and network monitoring software. This may change, but the company either will pay someone else for their time to develop and maintain the product we use or they will have to pay one of us techies in the company to do this work. Still, even with this compromise, we are saving tens of thousands of pounds each year, both on purchasing and support maintenance.

Linux wins on:

  1. Cost

  2. Cost of the OS

  3. Cost savings from the Intel servers vs. PA-RISC ones

  4. Dynamic kernel changes (no reboot)

HPUX wins on:

  1. Maturity and power of admin tools

  2. Maturity of RAID and fibre card drivers

  3. Repartitioning boot disk (no reboot)

  4. Server cloning software

  5. Easy crash-dumps and remote console access

In conclusion, my opinion is that HPUX is more mature and easier to use, but Linux provides access to enough cost savings to make the switch worthwhile. In a few years, I expect Linux to be even more attractive.

Kevin Cade has been working on computers since his Army days right after high school. He likes learning new things and telling people about them. Texas born, he has settled in Cambridge, England, where he enjoys raising his three wild boys as well as cultivating his eleven year-young marriage.

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Server cloning software

linuxles's picture

I have been using Mondo Rescue successfully for years to do live
cloning and backups of Linux Filesystems running on various types
of x86 based hardware (from homebuilt workstations to IBM Netfinity
and Dell PowerEdge Servers)...

See: http://www.mondorescue.org/about/about.html

Mondo Rescue for Dell Poweredge 2850

koschi's picture

hi linuxles,

we have a debian 3.1 linux running on a dell poweredge 2850 with a hp ultrium 448 tape drive. we are thinking of using mondo rescue for disaster recovery. do you have any experience with that?

ciao,
koschi

Oracle on Linux

Max Leon's picture

We have been using oracle on linux for 4 years now, we develop gaming software and the volume that the system needs to handle during peak hours is hardly belivable.

When we decided to migrate from the commercial platform to linux as the host OS we experienced no less than 40% extra performance.

I have to say that fact that we handle almost 8000 bps of data transmition on the DB with a 32bit platform is quite amazing.

Oracle on Linux

Dan Gillgren's picture

I recently undertook a similar project, and I am amused by the similarity of my approach to yours.

We migrated from an oracle 8.1.5 on Sun Sparc Hardware (Solaris 2.6), through to 10g (10.1.0.3) on a pair of HP DL380's (primary and standby config) running RH4AS.

The DL380 gave us the power of dual Intel Xeon processors. I also migrated the data to our SAN (IPStor) during this process, and run iSCSI between the oracle server and the SAN. The physical storage on the san is an array of 10k RPM SATA disks.

We ran in to a number of issues along the way, mainly to do with the lack of support RH3 has for the latest HP servers. So the call was made to go to RH4, even though it had just been released.

The end result for us has been fantastic. The users have noticed significant improvements in the response of applications and reporting. The age of the SUN boxes was making them a real liability, and I am glad to see the end of them.

My advice is to take professional advice before making a leap in to the linux platform for critical services. Other people have done it... I have done it... and I am damn happy with the end result.

Same comparison. Opposite conclusion.

Nordine's picture

We also compared HP-UX to Linux for our database-server.
Instead of comparing PA-RISC-processors with Intel Xeon-processor, we chose the Itanium2 64-bit processor. This processor can be used with HP-UX and Linux.
With the same level of support (3 years, 24/7), HP-UX was slightly cheaper (total cost for 3 years was about 15K EUR).
Because of other advantages (internal HP-UX knowhow, superb online cloning with Ignite-UX, reuse of earlier software investments like MirrorUX and Glance), we have decided to use HP-UX for our database-server.

Moving all business from HP-UX to Linux

Mimmus's picture

Hi,
my company is a leader in providing Italian business information to the business world.
In latest two years, we are moving ALL business from HP-UX to Linux (Red Hat). Until now, only advantages....

Comparison does not adjust

Lgoulart's picture

Try compare SuSE SLES 9 with HPUX. Red Hat do not have maturity on system administration tools. SuSE is inpired on HPUX.

Re: Comparison does not adjust

linuxles's picture

I have to disagree with your comment. I personally do not find
SuSE's GUI tools to be more mature than RedHat's...

If you make any configuration changes with SuSE outside of Yast,
you can bet they won't be there after a reboot! Yast relies on a
database to store all of your changes, and as such you are forced
to make all of your changes through Yast. Comparatively with RedHat
I can make any and all changes via the GUI or CLI interchangeably.

Also note that opensource tools are typically distro agnostic and
usually don't rely on any one specific distro to work properly. If
you are more comfortable working with the GUI, then that's fine.
I prefer to have a choice...

i disagree

Anonymous's picture

we are using Suse e9 x86-64 for the oracle database that runs our relatively large public website (~6-8mi page views a day) and we also use if for our application servers and webservers. i make all my changes on the CLI and have never once used YAST (except maybe during the install).

when comparing Suse to RedHat (even though I'm not a big Novell fan...) Suse wins on cost and performance as well (for our apps anyways). plus they are quicker to the market with support for new hardware -- like x86-64.

just my $.02

Question about HPUX win #5

Anonymous's picture

Easy ... remote console access

What exactly does this mean? Are you referring to BIOS access?

re: Easy remote access

KevinC's picture

modern HPUX servers have GSP (Guardian Service Provider) which gives a ethernet connection to the harware at console level. Hardware errors, firmware, the lot. I've not found anything that's easier or better--in my opinion

HP Intel server there are lan

Anonymous's picture

HP Intel server there are lan console too ... with ssh and web interface

Serial Console?

RichardC's picture

Sounds like a hardware feature, though Linux does have serial console support which is an option. I think some BIOSes (on a particular older machine I had anyway) may have an option to output to the serial port too.

Oracle on Linux on zSeries

Chris Little's picture

We moved our child welfare Oracle database backend from HPUX 11i to Linux on the mainframe over a year ago. This is an absolutely mission critical database to the Oklahoma Department of Human Services and supports over 600 concurrent users. Reliability has been unparalled for the hardware, operating system, and database. We are currently experiencing better uptime in our Linux environment than the HPUX boxes we still have in house. Our DBA's are just as happy (as happy as DBA's can be) as ever.

Linux & Oracle on small hardware

José Maria Oliveira Simões's picture

I'm a Linux advocate since I had an opportunity to put my hands on a machine with an operating system that could do multitasking. At that time I only could use MS-DOS and the XENIX 286 wasn’t an option (the price tag was too high). Because of the Microsoft, the hardware was required to be upgraded (more RAM, more Disk, more processor speed) due to the kernel “growing