February 15, 2023
I was a Microsoft MVP back in the early 2000s. I still clearly remember an MVP session in Redmond with Microsoft CEO, Steve Balmer, where he didn't just bash Oracle, but outright dismissed them as a competitor. Balmer said that SQL Server had evolved to the point that Oracle had become irrelevant.
Twenty years later, the world's two largest software companies announced a formal Cloud partnership at Microsoft Inspire 2022. The Azure portal becomes the control plane to deploy Oracle databases on Oracle Cloud Infrastructure (OCI). Latency issues are at least somewhat mitigated via "adjacent clouds" and there is no added cost for data egress or data ingest between the two clouds.
While Larry Ellison touts the advantages of this multi-cloud solution, Oracle Database Services for Azure does not, as most people probably consider the term to imply, switching between clouds. Tessell, on the other hand, enables running Oracle workloads in either AWS or Azure, but with far more performance and more capabilities than running natively. And Tessell provides the only managed service for Oracle in Azure.
Oracle DBaaS has many advantages for customers, including seamless database scaling - something that is complex and time-consuming in a self-managed environment. DBaaS offerings also provide significant advantages in terms of monitoring and patching. They reduce the need for DBAs and SREs to configure and monitor databases or create snapshots, security patches, and updates. This, in turn, reduces the probability of human error.
Another big limitation with the existing managed database services is the inability to create Oracle backups. These services provide storage snapshots, which are essentially a picture of a disk. Unlike an Oracle backup that is universally known regardless of where it was created, a storage snapshot can only be understood by those who created it. DBAs can access their data but can't take backups – all they see is metadata of the snapshots. They can't control the VM or where the data resides, meaning that they can't comply with compliance requirements to demonstrate VM/database High Availability failover.
Finally, the managed DB services do not offer anything in the way of differentiated data management. If DBAs want to sanitize data before providing it to stakeholders, they need to integrate with third-party services. There are also limited dashboards for monitoring both cost and performance. Also, there is no way to curate the cloud to resolve the lack of hierarchical ownership for database and compute instances.
Tessell differentiates from all other DBaaS offerings in four primary ways: Performance, Cost, Governance @ Your Terms, and Differentiated Data Management.
According to Oracle's website, performance is the number one reason to choose Oracle Cloud Infrastructure (OCI) over Azure. While OCI certainly provides far better performance than either Azure or AWS, regions without “cloud adjacency” may still face performance latency. And even in the best cases, it still is not as efficient as putting the data right next to the compute.
The infrastructure that most leading cloud providers use were designed for general-purpose workloads but have been repurposed for databases that demand consistent high-performance. To meet the demands of high-performance at scale, the clouds have introduced an expensive meter called provisioned IOPS. AWS, for example, with very few exceptions, caps database performance at 80,000 IOPS. This barely meets the performance requirements of large Oracle databases, as Oracle pointed out in a February 2022 video poking fun at a bank looking to migrate its Oracle databases to AWS's managed database service, RDS.
On both AWS and Azure, performance and cost are interdependent– at least up to the limited IOPS caps. If you want more performance, you pay a higher cost. Tessell has no IOPS metering. You pay the same cost whether using 10,000 IOPS or 800,000 IOPS.
Tessell gives you the flexibility of managing your own data. You have the option to bring your own existing cloud infrastructure (networks, security policies, and the cloud account itself) on to Tessell. You are not locked into a specific data cloud; but can move between clouds. You are not even locked into Tessell; you can easily create and download backups whenever desired.
Tessell has reimagined how to manage databases. The result includes both Cloud Curation and Data Management Automation:
Cloud Curation: Tessell allows very granular cloud curation including but not limited to the following tasks:
Use checkboxes to limit shape size, geographic, time-based, or user access.
Limit the size of instance shapes that developers can provision with a click of a button.
Customize SLAs as per your compliance needs.
Minimize license requirements by restricting subscriptions to only Production or QA at the same time.
Specify data locality to only enable European employees to create or access databases in EMEA for GDPR compliance and other purposes.
Data Management Automation: Just like any consumer-grade application, Tesell understands, optimizes, reports, and forecasts your database costs based on a utility-like consumption model. Tessell also introduces the consumer-grade concept of utilizing data apps to effect a level of management not offered in any other database realm. It enables rich reporting, in-depth performance, and financial analytics. It allows automatic sanitizing of data and sharing with different user groups. such as Dev, QA, UAT, etc.
“I want the DBAs in my team to become DEs (Data Engineers) ”
- Tessell customer
Tessell eliminates the mundane and manual tasks that add no value to the organization. By freeing up most of their day, DBAs now can use their expertise to focus on applications and systems that enhance user productivity and that decreases time-to-market. Not only are days far more rewarding, but they become pivotal to organizational success.
In many cases, Tessell also enables customers to more efficiently manage their Oracle licenses. This includes the ability to more accurately predict secondary environment license requirements as well as only requiring one node for HA rather than two. In many cases, customers can switch from Oracle Enterprise to Oracle Standard - saving 65% in the process. And while Tessell doesn't enable the instant HA of Oracle RAC, it is close enough to often avoid the high cost and complexity of the RAC solution.
The motivation for the Oracle/Azure partnership on Oracle's side is clear. As Larry Ellison says in his video about the joint offering, "Every Oracle customer is also a Microsoft customer." The Microsoft motivation is not as obvious, but undoubtedly the company wants to provide Azure customers with a better Oracle DB operational experience without needing to manually switch between clouds.
Multi-cloud is (or should be) about customer choice. The Oracle DB Services for Microsoft Azure isn't really doing that - it's just reducing the latency of the OCI component. With the high IOPS enabled by Tessell in Azure (which can go up to 2 million IOPS), Microsoft customers experience at least equivalent, and in many cases better, performance than when running their databases separately in Oracle Cloud. They also enjoy far more capabilities and less complexity than when connecting to OCI from Azure.