Of all the applications and hardware Oracle has, the software giant is still perhaps best known for its namesake database. One of the best places to run the Oracle Database is on Linux and particularly Oracle Linux. Yet until this week, the Oracle Database was not certified to run on the latest version of Oracle Linux or the Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6 release that it is based on.
Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6 was first released in November of 2010. The road to certification was a long one for Oracle, and it involved a non-trivial amount of effort.
"Certification means that Oracle has gone through significant amounts of testing and is confident that customers can run our products in mission-critical production environments with a level of comfort right from the start," said Wim Coekaerts, senior vice president Linux and Virtualization Engineering at Oracle. "Aside from running tests, in some cases we also may need to do Oracle product modifications, such as changes in how upstart is used in Oracle Linux version 6."
The certification process was done entirely by Oracle, Coekaerts added. Red Hat Enterprise Linux went through a similar process with SAP, which was certified for RHEL 6 in September of 2011.
The Oracle certification process includes what Coekaerts referred to as a comprehensive test suite. It's not just a simple install test, but a set of tests that includes workload testing and stress testing.
"For example, we make sure that when servers lose power we have no data corruption. If we pull the network our High Availability code kicks in," Coekaerts said.
With Oracle Database, Oracle is first providing full certification for Oracle Linux running with the Oracle Unbreakable Linux Kernel release. The Unbreakable Kernel is an Oracle-built kernel that replaces the stock RHEL kernel. Release 2.0 came out several weeks ago, providing an updated Linux 3.0-based kernel and support for the next generation Btrfs filesystem.
"Oracle Linux and the Unbreakable Linux Kernel are our base Linux development platform, so all the test and development work that happens on a daily basis is on Oracle Linux with this kernel," Coekaerts explained.
Now that Oracle has database certification for Oracle Linux 6 and RHEL 6, users of those platforms can officially begin to use the database as a certified application. The path forward to Oracle Linux 6 for existing Oracle Database users can take a couple of different routes.
One of those routes is by using the Unbreakable Linux kernel.
"The nice thing with Oracle Linux 5 and the Unbreakable Linux Kernel, on both Oracle Linux 5 and Oracle Linux 6, is that customers can make use of the latest kernel features and latest hardware by just installing and using this kernel," Coekaerts said. "Migrating from Oracle Linux 5 to Oracle Linux 6 in general means a re-install, which is a heavier process."
While the Unbreakable Kernel provides new support, additional capabilities provided in the Oracle Linux 6 release might be attractive to Oracle database users.
"A number of customers will start deploying new environments on Oracle Linux 6. However we make it easy for them to do this on their own timescales rather than forcing a move to release 6, thanks to the way we release our kernel," Coekaerts said.