This question comes up every time I have a discussion about virtualization. There is even a discussion running on the “Everything Oracle at EMC” community. The simple answer is, of course it is. The more difficult discussion is: what makes someone think that it is not supported or is not fully supported?
I think that the main cause for confusion is Oracle official support statement, note 249212.1 on My Oracle Support. This note is the official support statement for VMware virtualized environments and, as of November 10th 2011, explicitly states “Oracle has not certified any of its products on VMware virtualized environments.”
Let’s put aside that fact that this is an overly broad statement for a database support statement. Oracle does not certify the Oracle database on any hardware vender, except their own hardware, and vSphere is hardware virtualization. The Oracle database certifications are on operating systems and not hardware vendors. A quick look at database certifications on My Oracle Support confirms this to be true.
The next issue from this note is the line: “If that solution does not work in the VMware virtualized environment, the customer will be referred to VMware for support.” This is true for any hardware environment. For example, EMC had an issue with Oracle 10.2.0.3 running on a Sun Sparc E25K. At the time, this was Sun’s largest Solaris offering and the database was a two node RAC database with 128 CPU cores on each node. Oracle identified the bug and gave us the” known to work” patch. This patch did not solve our issue, so Oracle support insisted that we reproduce on a non-E25K environment. So we went through great pains to try to reproduce this on another environment. The occurrences of Oracle Support asking the customer to reproduce in another environment are very rare with for any hardware vendor, including VMware.
Of all the Oracle customers I have spoken to, and I have spoken with countless, only one has ever had Oracle Support even suggest this to them. It was first level of support and when the customer pushed back, support gave in and worked with them to solve the problem. EMC is one of Oracle’s biggest customers and this has never been even suggested once.
If we look at the actual database certifications for Oracle databases, we will easily find the many Oracle database versions are fully supported and certified with Oracle Linux. This makes perfect sense, since the database does do certifications with operating systems. If we look for support of Oracle Linux on VMware virtualization we will find support note 417770.1, Oracle Linux Support Policies for Virtualization and Emulation. This official support statement, also as of November 10th 2011, clearly states that “Operating system support for RHEL3 (and higher), Oracle Linux 4 (and higher) under the Oracle Linux Support Program on VMware vSphere (ESX Server).”
Now if that still does not give you a good feeling, we can look at VMware’s support position on virtualized Oracle products at: http://www.vmware.com/support/policies/oracle-support.html. This document clearly states that, if, Oracle support referrers your service request to VMware, they will take complete ownership of the issue until resolution. I have asked people I know at VMware how often this has happened and the response, tens of times. Now we know there are literally hundreds of thousands or virtualized Oracle databases out there, so there must be thousands of support cases generated on these databases. I know, at EMC, we generate hundreds of service requests per year and we have only a few hundred Oracle databases. So with only tens of referrals, the support statement would appear intentionally misleading. I also know that of all of the support requests that have been made with Oracle database on VMware, only one issue has ever been identified as a VMware issue, and that was back in the early days of virtualization.