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Posted November 26, 2014

How to Maintain Enterprise-Level Service with Oracle Standard Edition

By Gerardo Dada, Vice President, Database Group, SolarWinds

For business executives looking to save on information technology costs, it may seem like a win-win scenario in Oracle database environments to transition from Oracle Enterprise to Standard Edition. CIOs who are eager to take advantage of cost savings of more than 70 percent may agree, as it gives them the opportunity to allocate budget toward other needed technology investments.

However, executives making this decision may not always be aware of or truly understand how transitioning from Enterprise to Standard Edition will affect the delivery of critical IT services, ultimately creating the potential to impact end user efficiency and revenue. Increasing the chances of a rocky transition is that database administrators (DBAs) who are unprepared to handle this transition may experience migration issues and performance degradation.

Outside of limiting CPU sockets per instance to four, the differences between Oracle Standard and Enterprise Editions mostly center on the availability and scalability of system features, such as performance and diagnostics monitoring, SQL tuning, change implementation, partitioning, compression, OLAP, data mining, parallel querying and advanced security. For example, provided below is a breakdown of management functions not available in Oracle Standard Edition:

  • Oracle Diagnostics Pack Performance: diagnostics and monitoring, used from OEM/Grid Control
  • Oracle Tuning Pack: SQL tuning, used from OEM/Grid Control
  • Oracle Change Management Pack: Change implementation and monitoring
  • Oracle Resource Manager: Resource balancing

So while end users may not notice the direct impact of the loss of these functions, IT will certainly need to supplement them in order to continue the level of availability and scalability necessary to maintain business continuity.

Unfortunately, DBAs are not always consulted on the initial decision to migrate to Standard Edition. Instead, they’re left to figure out how to make the transition as seamless as possible with minimal impact.

However, the transition can in fact be relatively painless if DBAs take the following considerations into account.  

Tips for Managing Transition to Oracle Standard Edition

Get in on the Discussion Early

In an ideal world, CIOs will maintain an open line of communication with the DBA team so that all potential effects of migrating to Standard Edition can be articulated and communicated with senior leadership before the final decision is made. However, DBAs may also need to watch for warning signs—stagnant or reduced budgets included—and pre-empt a conversation with the CIO.  

Gain the Support of and Insight from the  Rest of the IT Department and the CIO

Oracle teams tend to be large, resulting in DBAs working in silos; this is one instance where getting the buy-in and support of the rest of the IT department and CIO will be critical to ensuring the decision to transition to Standard Edition is not taken lightly, and all areas of IT are prepared for what the transition will mean for them.

Fully Understand Differences between the Two Editions

By gaining an in-depth understanding of the differences between Oracle Enterprise and Standard Editions, DBAs can more effectively understand exactly how their database environment will be affected.

Determine What Features Are and Aren’t Needed Specific to the Organization

Once a more complete picture of the differences between Standard and Enterprise Editions is drawn, DBAs should do an honest audit of what features they do and do not use; perhaps some of the lost functions and features of Enterprise Edition are not being used in the first place. This process should be done database by database because some might more easily transition to Standard Edition while others will be a greater challenge due to their security, performance, business intelligence or other requirements. This will help provide a more realistic analysis of how the transition will ultimately affect availability and scalability.

Look for Supplementary Tools to Make up for Lost Performance and Availability

After determining which features will truly affect IT if they’re lost in the transition to Standard Edition, DBAs should look to third-party tools to supplement performance and availability. They’re often lower-cost, easier to implement and are intuitive to use—which will have minimal effect on budget and enable a faster, more painless transition.

Up-level the Conversation to Underscore Widespread Impact vs. Just IT Management

In order to gain buy-in for third-party tools, DBAs should communicate the direct impact on the organization and end users by determining the cost of not monitoring in real numbers. For example, consider what loss of change implementation and monitoring might mean for your environment. What is the end result if a problem goes undetected? How long could that particular problem go unreported? What is the amount of time and labor cost to fix that problem? And ultimately, how does this affect revenue? By delivering hard numbers around what it might mean to lose change implementation and monitoring, executives who may not fully understand the technology will have a much more concrete grasp as to why these tools are necessary.

Ultimately, the transition from Oracle Enterprise to Standard Edition does not need to be as painful as it seems, provided DBAs adequately prepare and supplement lost features with additional tools to accommodate the necessary level of availability and scalability specific to the organization’s Oracle environment. DBAs can sometimes end up being the scapegoat for many IT issues. However, we know that IT performance is a major priority in the delivery of IT services to help businesses stay competitive, and DBAs can rightfully position themselves as champions of this cause by keeping in mind the tips provided above.   

About the Author

Gerardo Dada is Vice President of Product Marketing and Strategy for SolarWinds’ database and applications business globally. Dada is a technologist who has been at the center of the Web, mobile, social and cloud revolutions at companies such as Rackspace, Microsoft, Motorola, Vignette and Bazaarvoice. He has been involved with many database technologies, from dBase to BTrieve to SQL Server and NoSQL to DBaaS in the cloud.  He is currently Vice President, Database Group at  SolarWinds.

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