Amazon EC2 now powered by Oracle VM Server too – UPDATED

As most virtualization professionals in the industry know, as soon as Oracle entered the virtualization market in November 2007 with the launch of its own hypervisor, Oracle VM Server, it immediately enforced a strict new policy, refusing to support customers any time they would use a 3rd party virtualization platform.

This of course triggered the reaction of VMware, which always heavily promoted its own ESX as the platform of choice to virtualize Oracle Database. Despite the pressure from its former partner and the mutual customers, Oracle didn’t change much its policy, according support (but not certification) only for 3rd party virtualization platforms that don’t work on x86 architectures.

So it’s with much irony that this week, during its OperWorld conference, the company announced support for a very special 3rd party hypervisor: the Red Hat implementation of Xen that Amazon is using to power its Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) cloud computing platform EC2.

Oracle is so adamant in this support policy that achieved the unachievable: place its hypervisor side by side with the Red Hat implementation of Xen inside Amazon EC2.
Starting now, in fact, a part of the Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) cloud computing platform will be powered by Oracle VM Server and will provision and run OVM virtual machines for those customers that want to run off-premises Oracle applications.

Specifically, Oracle Database 11g, Fusion Middleware, Enterprise Manager and Enterprise Linux (OEL) are now supported and available as EC2 Amazon Machine Images (AMIs).
Customers can use their existing licenses to run these products on EC2 without any additional fee. If they have an active Oracle Support or Amazon Premium Support will be able to contact either companies for support. Amazon Web Services and Oracle have multi-vendor support process to for cases which require assistance from both organizations.

Oracle also plans to extend this support to PeopleSoft, Siebel and JD Edwards software. All of them will be available as virtual machine templates already configured to use EC2 features like the Elastic Load Balancing (ELB), Auto-Scalinig, Security Groups, CloudWatch and Reserved-Instance pricing.

The key omission here is Oracle RAC, but the ultimate goal is to support on EC2 all software that Oracle already supports on its own Oracle VM Server.

Oracle even published a step-by-step video guide about how to deploy and run Oracle Database on an EC2 instance.

Oracle reached out to clarifying that the partnership with Amazon is not about Oracle supporting Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) Xen inside EC2, but is actually about Amazon introducing a second underlying hypervisor to power EC2.
Oracle also clarified that Oracle VM instances running inside Amazon EC2 are licensed using Oracle’s hard partitioning policy, where each virtualized cpu is bound to a specific physical core, so that customers can run Oracle VM instances in-house or on Amazon EC2 under the same licensing practice.

The first part of this article has been corrected accordingly.

The actual story is way more important than our misunderstood version for at least a couple of reasons.
First of all, Amazon is considered a leader in IaaS cloud computing. The hosting industry look at EC2 as an example of reliability and scale as it runs huge infrastructures (like the Zynga one, which adds 1,000 new servers per week). If Amazon selected OVM as its second hypervisor it instantly transferred part of its credibility to Oracle. And this is extremely helpful as OVM didn’t gain significant market share in almost three years it’s around.
Secondarily, it’s a well-known fact that Red Hat abandoned Xen in favor of KVM for Red Hat Enterprise Linux. Red Hat will continue to support RHEL Xen for a long time, but at a point in time Amazon will have to switch to something else. They can go for a proprietary implementation and Linux distribution or just embrace another vendor. But there are only two other Xen implementations around: the Citrix one and the Oracle one (nobody knows what will happen to Novell, but their Xen is going to be killed if VMware is they buyer). The fact that OVM is now in house it’s certainly quite interesting in this regard.