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Oracle Public Cloud Bursting: Benefits and Considerations

Some months ago, I migrated a customer’s environment to the Oracle Public Cloud. It was a very straight forward migration, nothing complex, a single instance database that hosts many applications with over 300 users accessing the applications at any point in time. The Oracle Cloud service subscription chosen by the customer was a Non-metered hosted environment Oracle Platform as a Service which includes Oracle Database Cloud Service, Oracle Database Backup Cloud Service and a host of other cloud tools like the DBaaS monitor which gives you a view of what is going on in your environment such as CPU and memory utilization as well as Real Time SQL monitoring.

In addition, you can also use the cloud console to perform a variety of self-service functions. Backups were configured to both cloud storage and local storage using Oracle Backup Cloud Service. As mentioned earlier, this is a non-metered service and to set the context for this post, a brief description of the type of service subscription offerings available from Oracle Cloud is appropriate.

Basically, Oracle offers two Cloud service subscriptions namely Metered and Non-Metered Service Offerings. A metered cloud service is where you are charged based on the actual usage of the service resources on an hourly or monthly basis while a non-metered service is essentially a monthly or annual subscription for a fixed service configuration which you typically cannot change.

The customer wanted some flexibility of being able to provision additional resources when required as at during their seasonal peak periods which can be a period of one to two months twice in a year. It is expected that during this period more users will be using the system heavily and being able to add more capacity for this period will give the customer the needed flexibility. The non-metered service is more cost effective to this customer and addresses most of their resource requirements but is not flexible as the configuration cannot be changed.

When Oracle announced in June 2016 the bursting feature for non-metered service, it was just what my customer had been waiting for and straight away we put the feature to test. The feature is also straight forward; log in to the cloud console, select a new compute shape and click on the “Yes, Scale Up/Down Service” to apply the changes.

It worked quite well, in fact in a matter of a few minutes the system was back up and running with the additional capacity with no need to resize the database components such as the SGA, PGA and other settings; all these were already sized appropriately based on the new compute shape size, though if you have specific sizing requirements, they can be resized as required. All looks good and this bursting feature seems great and cost effective as it gives the flexibility to only spend on extra capacity when required.

However, a few minutes after scaling up I received the notification below via email:

“Your services are suspended due to exceeding resource quota. New instances can’t be created and existing instances will not be able to consume more of the resources that have exceeded the quota”.

Suspended? Really? What for? As I wasn’t quite sure what was going on I opened a service request with Oracle Support detailing what was done and they came back saying:

“There is a breach in your quota services. Please do free up resources to resume the suspension”.

I then referred them back to their own documentation below for the June 2016 update (https://docs.oracle.com/en/cloud/paas/database-dbaas-cloud/csdbn/index.html#CSDBN-GUID-4696D271-7B1A-43B5-9EF8-8C8179CAC1C9 ) which I have also extracted the key information as below:

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Changes to Oracle Database Cloud Service non-metered subscriptions

If you have a non-metered subscription to Oracle Database Cloud Service, you can now use additional capacity above your non-metered subscription rate (also referred to as “bursting”). You will be charged per hour and billed monthly in arrears for this increased capacity, using the “Pay as You Go” model. Pricing for this increased capacity will be based on the current Per Hour list price as shown on the Pricing tab at https://cloud.oracle.com/database .

It is clear that there is therefore a need to closely monitor even the usage of non-metered Cloud solutions (whether on Oracle’s Cloud or any other), to ensure that bursting, while useful from a business point of view, is budgeted and accounted for from a financial point of view as well.

Here at Cintra, we have developed a comprehensive set of monitoring and alerting scripts for all Public Cloud environments, to ensure that you can keep a finger on the pulse of your usage, and react accordingly if it needs to change. Contact us now to find out more.

Written by Hakeem Ambali, Oracle DBA, Cintra UK – May 2017

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