Oracle Home Management – part 3: Strengths and limitations of Rapid Home Provisioning

In the previous post I mentioned that having a central repository storing the Golden Images would be the best solution for the Oracle Home provisioning.

In this context, Oracle provides Rapid Home Provisioning: a product included in Oracle Grid Infrastructure that automates home provisioning and patching of Oracle Database and Grid Infrastructure Homes, databases and also generic software.

rhp-conceptOracle Rapid Home Provisioning simplifies tremendously the software provisioning: you can use it to create golden images starting from existing installations and then deploy them locally, across different nodes, on local or remote clusters, standalone servers, etc.

Having a central store with enforced naming conventions ensures software standardization across the whole Oracle farm, and makes patching easier with less risks. Also, it allows to patch existing databases, moving them to Oracle Homes with a higher patch level, and taking care of service draining and rolling upgrades when RAC or RAC One Node deployments exist. Multiple databases can be patched in a single batch using one single rhpctl command.

I will not explain the technical details of Rapid Home Provisioning implementation operation. I already did a webinar a couple of years ago for the RAC SIG:

Burt Clouse, the RHP product manager, did a presentation as well about Rapid Home Provisioning 12c Release 2, that highlights some new features that the product was missing in the first release:

More details about the new features can be found here:

https://blogs.oracle.com/db_maintenance/whats-new-in-122-for-rapid-home-provisioning-and-maintenance

Close to be the perfect product, but…

If rapid home provisioning is so powerful, what makes it less appealing for most users?

In my opinion (read: very own personal opinion 🙂 ), there are two main factors:

First: The technology stack RHP is relying on is quite complex

Although Rapid Home Provisioning 12c Release 2 allows Oracle Home deployments on standalone servers (it was not the case with 12c Release 1), the Rapid Home Provisioning sever itself relies on Oracle Grid Infrastructure 12cR2. That means that there must be skills in the company to manage the full stack: Clusterware, ASM, ACFS, NFS, GNS, SCAN, etc. as well as the RHP Server itself.

Second: remote provisioning requires Lifecycle Management Pack (extra-cost) option licensed on all the RHP targets

If Oracle Homes are deployed on the same cluster that hosts the RHP Server, the product can be used at no extra cost. But if you have many clusters, or using standalone servers for your Oracle databases, then RHP can become pricey very quickly: the price per processor for Lifecycle Management Pack is 12’000$, plus support (pricelist April 2018). So, buying this management pack just to introduce Rapid Home Provisioning in your company might be an excessive investment.

Of course, depending on your needs, you can evaluate it and leverage its full potential and make a bigger return of investment.

Or, you might explore if it is viable to configure each cluster as Rapid Home Provisioning Server: in this case it would be free, but it will have the additional complexity layer on all your clusters.

For small companies, simple architectures and especially where Standard Edition is deployed (no Management Pack for Standard Edition!), a self-made, simpler solution might be a better choice.

In the next post, before going into the details of a hypothetical self-made implementation, I will introduce my thoughts about the New Oracle Database Release Model.

 

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Ludovico

Oracle ACE Director and Computing Engineer at CERN
Ludovico is an Oracle ACE Director, frequent speaker and community contributor, working as Computing Engineer at CERN, the European Council for Nuclear Research, in Switzerland.

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