Installing Oracle 11g RAC on VMware ESX 3i - Part1

November 12, 2007

Brief intro

In our last article, we looked at some benchmarking opportunities with the free tool Swingbench. We learned to install it and in the coming articles (in the administration series), we will focus on testing it. Hopefully the beta versions will include Oracle 11g tests, as we are very curious to test Oracle 11g as well.

But first things first. Oracle 11g is out and so is ESX 3i, well almost. VMware plans to release ESX 3i in December, alongside the ESX 3.5 version, which happens to be a regular upgrade to the currently used 3.0.2 version.

I intend to test Oracle 11g on ESX 3i in the coming days so I chose the title ESX 3i. We will however do the installations on the VMware workstation and keep the installation in ESX 3.x compatibility mode, and the sooner we get the ESX 3i, the better!

VMware ESX 3i: What are the new features?

So, what is ESX 3i and how does it different from VMware’s regular ESX 3.x version? Simple differences are as follows:

  • ESX 3, the traditional version used several gigabytes to install while the ESX 3i has a very small footprint, a mere 32mb!
  • This one will be the basic firmware type embedded installation on your hardware; it will however include basic functionalities, such as VMFS (Virtual Machine File System) and vSMP (Virtual Symmetrical Multiple Processors) but you will have to buy other management modules such as VMotion, SAN/iSCSI/NFS, etc.
  • There will be a Vmware Update Manager, which will patch your ESX servers seamlessly.
  • There will be distributed power management (DPM) that will help your data centers “Go Green” by optimizing the power consumption.
  • There will also be Storage Vmotion and many other features, which will come as VMware expands its portfolio to enhance the management capabilities of ESX environments.

Obviously, there will be many more benefits; quoting VMware:

Strengthen Security & Improve Reliability

ESX Server 3i is the only hypervisor that does not incorporate or rely on a general-purpose operating system (OS), eliminating many common reliability issues and security vulnerabilities. The slim 32MB footprint of ESX Server 3i is a fraction of the size of a general-purpose operating system, resulting in a smaller attack surface while minimizing the effort required for tasks such as security hardening, user access control, anti-virus and backup. In addition, integration into solid-state components inside a server enables diskless server configurations. This reduces hardware failure rates and decreases server power consumption.Go to VMware’s site to learn more about ESX 3i.

A quick peek at the VMware ESX 3i Beta

Setting up the VMware ESX 3i beta is not really that easy, given the USB sticks that we all got during the Vmworld 2007 in San Francisco. So, for test and demo purposes we will setup our ESX 3i on the VMware Wokstation 6.x.

Simple steps to convert the USB disk as a VMware workstation run-able ESX VM:

  • Use WinImage to convert the USB disk into a *.vmdk disk. There are also options to convert it from VM to Microsoft office’s vhd format. See the screenshots below:
  • C:\Users\tarry\Desktop\0.JPG

    C:\Users\tarry\Desktop\2.JPG

  • Create a new VM with the workstation; choose WorkStation 5 from the drop down list and check ESX Server compatibility.
  • C:\Users\tarry\Desktop\1.JPG

  • Add the following features to make the machine talk directly to your CPU. I typically add 3 NICs for VMotion, HA and other testing scenarios.
  • #############################################
    # ESX e1000 cards and Intel VT 32 Settings  #
    #############################################
    
    ethernet0.present = "TRUE"
    ethernet0.wakeOnPcktRcv = "FALSE"
    ethernet0.virtualDev = "e1000"
    ethernet0.connectionType = "bridged"
    ethernet0.addressType = "generated"
    ethernet1.present = "TRUE"
    ethernet1.wakeOnPcktRcv = "FALSE"
    ethernet1.virtualDev = "e1000"
    ethernet1.connectionType = "bridged"
    ethernet1.addressType = "generated"
    ethernet2.present = "TRUE"
    ethernet2.wakeOnPcktRcv = "FALSE"
    ethernet2.virtualDev = "e1000"
    ethernet2.connectionType = "bridged"
    ethernet2.addressType = "generated"
    monitor_control.restrict_backdoor = "TRUE"
    monitor_control.vt32 = "TRUE"
    
    #############################################
    
  • Now point your machine to boot your supplied IDE disk by adding these settings to your VMX file;
  • ide0:0.present = "TRUE"
    ide0:0.fileName = "My VMware 3i.vmdk"
    
  • Start the VM and do quickly “Shift+O”
  • Type “nousbboot shell”
  • And Voila, you have you VM running

A couple of screenshots to get the first look of VMware ESX 3i:

C:\Users\tarry\Desktop\Snap1.jpg

Simple options, as you can see yourself:

C:\Users\tarry\Desktop\Snap2.jpg

You can see the “Hardware Virtualization mode” that VMware is on. Just like any other hardware appliance, you can simply revert to factory defaults when you want:

C:\Users\tarry\Desktop\Snap3.jpg

Check log files: Type 1, 2, 3 or 4 to get individual log files

C:\Users\tarry\Desktop\Snap5.jpg

Type Q to go back to the console:

C:\Users\tarry\Desktop\Snap4.jpg

Oracle 11g: what has changed?

...and what specific RAC enhancements took place?

  • RAC parallel upgrades: This way you can rollout an update without any significant downtime. We are very curious though and will explore it in the course of time.
  • Oracle RAC load balance advisor: 11g onwards, it is only available for clients using .NET, ODBC or OCI (Oracle Call Interface).
  • Interval Partitioning: Making partitions has only become easier.
  • ADDM for 11g RAC: Oracle will have RAC with ADDM (Automatic Database DiagnosticMonitor) for cross-nodes.
  • Hot Patching: No downtime when patching your RAC cluster.
  • Improved Cache Fusion Protocols
  • RAC grid provisioning: Allows you to roll out a pre-installed template and just add a node to your grid seamlessly.
  • Data Guard: standby snapshot feature allows one to encapsulate a regression test. Collect that “standby” snapshot and use the regression test in your QA with your production data. Nice feature this!
  • Intelligent Fault Resolution: Automatic dumps for faults and ready for diagnostics.

Conclusion

We’ve taken a good look at two great trends in the IT industry. We are heading towards more consolidated and yet effective computing and virtualization is the answer.  It continues to address critical issues such as energy consumption and over-utilization of energy and power. On the other hand, Oracle RAC is a great technology where you have a clustered and load balanced database environment. We have gone through this again and again but HA (High Availability) and RAC will move towards commoditization too, as consumers and customers aspire to more 24x7 applications. HA and Virtualization are two trends that are pushing the IT industry into hyperdrive. Our next article onwards will begin our Installation series. We will start with Windows and then move on to Linux (both 32 and 64 bit).

» See All Articles by Columnist Tarry Singh








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