In this post I will go through rest of services we discussed in the seminar.  You can read part 1 from here.

5. Compute Services
6. Storage – Block volume & Object storage
7. Load Balancer
8. Database Services
9. A Lab

5. Compute Services

So this is the service where you will create your own compute machines and is comparable to Amazon EC2. Oracle has two main options here. Either Bare Metal (BM) or Virtual Machine (VM). List of machines and their pricing is here.

If you want a machine which is not shared with anyone without virtualization overhead you have the possibility to get a physical machine dedicated for you. But if you are fine going with virtualization then you can just create a virtual machine.

Most of the machines do not come up with local storage but instead of block storage which you need to create and allocate. However for Dense IO operations you have few machine types where you can select NVMe SSD devices. With those you yourself will take care of backups, RAID configuration etc.

After selecting the machine type you need to decide which image you use to create the machine. This is similar to Amazon AMI’s. Images can be Oracle-provided, custom or BYOI (bring your own).

Right now the options with OCI oracle-provided images are Oracle Linux 6 & 7, CentOS 6 & 7, Ubuntu 16.04 LTS and Windows Server 2012 R2 BM & VM. You can create custom images from these images after configuring them further with your own configs. There is limitation of 50GB in size of image though.

When you launch the instance you need to create key pair. Compared what AWS has in Oracle you had to supply your own keys and you could not create it on the fly. Small thing but in AWS it’s quite handy to get the key immediately when you need to play around with instances. When you launch the instance you need to define which compartment it belongs to so only people who require access to this compute server have access to it.

When you are creating the instance you also define the Virtual Cloud Network and Availability Domain it belongs to and after that you define specific subnet which you wan’t the instance to run on. If the instance is on public subnet you can get a public IP so you can connect to the instance using SSH.

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My OEL 7 instance which has private and public IP address defined in a public subnet

One major thing which was not available yet in OCI was auto scaling. So you can’t configure group of servers to scale out and in based on need. Once again this was on the roadmap.

You can find more information on the compute service from here.

6. Storage – Block volume & Object storage

When it comes to storage there are two different types of storage similar to AWS. In AWS you have EBS for block storage and S3 for object storage. In OCI you have block volumes and object storage. Let’s start with block volumes.

Block Volume Service

These are the volumes you normally mount to your compute instance. You can dynamically attach these to different instances, clone and take snapshots. After attaching it to instance you can mount and use them like regular volumes.

These come in sizes from 50GB to 2TB and data is encrypted at rest in both volumes and backups. These are also replicated automatically to prevent data loss. They didn’t go through how its replicated but would guess to a different AD at least.

One nice thing was that when you attach the create block volume to your compute instance the OCI will display iSCSI commands to attach the volume to your server. Would be nice if this could be automated somehow though?

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iSCSI commands to attach storage to your instance

And if you take a backup of your block volume they are stored on the Object Storage Service encrypted.

More info on block volumes from here.

Object Storage Service

Similar to Amazon S3 this is where you store your unstructured data. OCI seminar mentioned following use cases for Object Storage: Big Data, Archive & Storage, Content Repository.

Guess where you data is stored? In buckets of course like in AWS! However compared to AWS S3 where there is read-after-write consistency for new objects and eventual consistency for deletes and updates in OCI Object Storage you get strong consistency where you get the most recent copy on the disk.  In AWS S3 where you have global bucket names across customers in OCI the bucket name is distinct within namespace of tenancy.

Maximum size of object is 10TB and objects over 50GB need to use multi-part upload and you have option to storage your data either in Standard tier and Archive tier (four hours for first byte to be retrieved). At the moment you can not apply lifecycle policies like in AWS S3 but they said once again it is on the roadmap.

Object storage FAQ can be found from here.

7. Load Balancer

OCI Load Balancer service supports load balancing inside VCN and is a regional service. It supports SSL offloading and you create either public or private load balancer.

Also when you create the load balancer you define the necessary bandwith you want to be associated with. The options were 100 Mbps, 400 Mbps and 8Gbps.

When you configure the load balancer you need the listener, a backend set (logical entity of backend servers), backend servers (the ones which provide content) and health checks. The health checks support http and tcp traffic.

Also you had to configure the load balancing policy, the options were round-robin, IP-hash and least connection.

If I would compare this to AWS ELB there are obviously few functionalities missing and the setup was bit more complicated than in AWS. Still it was quite easy to setup everything if you had some prior knowledge on load balancing.

Load balancer FAQ.

8. Database Services

We actually ran out of time so we didn’t go this service through in detail. However this service is of course the bread and butter of Oracle’s services.

Oracle offers three type of database systems in OCI:

-Bare metal DB
-Exadata DB
-VM Based DB (New feature!)

What is great in their DB services is that you can dynamically scale amount of cores on your DB up or down based on requirement. Oracle manages the underlying infrastructure but customer takes care of database & OS. I haven’t used this service earlier so I can’t say much about it but some new features which recently were published to this service are:

-Support for dataguard
-Integrated backup & restore
-BYOL (Bring your own license model)

Also on the Exadata DB side there are several interesting features. Integration with IAM, database backups to object store and VCN use cases.

More details on the OCI database service here.

9. A Lab

The hands-on part consisted of creating a VCN, Subnet with a Internet Gateway and a compute instance where you mounted block volume. After that you modified the security list with a port 80 rule to allow HTTP traffic and verified the instance is accessible.

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In the security lists setup you can click the rule to be stateless if you want

Very basic setup but the aim was to give people base knowledge on the services.

I had some time to do a load balancer configuration also without instructions and created one database on VM. Good example with load balancer was that if you know Amazon services then using OCI is simple.

Afterthoughts

Overall the services are much like Amazon Web Services which I’ve stated already few times. You see lot of areas where they are working on to get it to same level as AWS so I would assume if you have a large Oracle footprint and considering the cloud licensing model Oracle offers then Oracle is something you should consider on!

If there is one thing I had to complain is the actual user interface. Sure everything is there and it’s simple to navigate but I felt the content on the pages was so damn BIG. Making the actual content bit smaller would make it easier to see all your content you have provisioned.

The actual seminar had a good instructor who clearly was skilled with OCI and they let us ask questions all the time which was refreshing. 🙂

I wish Oracle would move more towards similar open-minded seminar/cloud usage so people could easily adapt on using Oracle’s cloud. The 1-month/300 USD test account is good start but compare that to Amazon’s where you can play around for a whole year it gives people more solid framework on their services.

Let’s hope they do similar tier also!

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