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We recently wrote about the extra cost of Oracle Database 12c Multitenant, formerly called Pluggable Database, and whether it was worth it. SearchOracle Editor Mark Fontecchio caught up with Alex Gorbachev, chief technology officer of database consultancy The Pythian Group, to address this topic some more.

Alex GorbachevAlex Gorbachev

Were you expecting Multitenant to cost above and beyond Enterprise Edition?

Alex Gorbachev: If you look at the recent history of the new Oracle database versions, you will notice that most of the significant new features were introduced as part of the additional licensable options, whether new or existing like Real Application Clusters (RAC), Real Application Testing, Diagnostic Pack and Active Data Guard. Having additional options is a great way to generate new licensing revenues from existing clients.

Knowing that the Pluggable Databases feature is a significant architectural change, it was reasonable to assume that it would be licensed as a new option. Thus, the Multitenant option is not a surprise for me.

It's reasonable to expect customers to be prepared to pay some extra dollars for a software option if customers can achieve lower total cost of ownership as a result. Oracle is still mainly a software company, even after the Sun acquisition, so charging customers more for software that gives customers the ability to reduce their hardware footprint is a sound strategy.

Multitenant is about a 37% premium over Enterprise Edition. Is it worth it?

Gorbachev: Taking in account public list prices, Multitenant option is indeed about 37% of the base Oracle Enterprise Edition cost. However, one should remember that typical enterprise Oracle customers has a number of enterprise options licensed such as RAC; Partitioning; Active Data Guard; and Advanced Compression, Diagnostic and Performance Tuning Packs. If you do the math, adding Multitenant option to that gamut is only about 15% extra, based, again, on the list prices.

In your talks with other database pros since 12c came out, what are they saying regarding the ROI of Multitenant?

Gorbachev: In the consolidation scenarios, the Multitenant option allows running more databases on a smaller server footprint and with less administrative efforts. However, the consolidation environment needs to achieve a certain scale -- it's unlikely to be a cost-efficient solution for consolidation of fewer than a dozen databases. Consequently, customers considering the Multitenant option need to have more than just one or two "guinea pig" applications that agree for early 12c adoption, which is how it often starts. As a result, I expect Oracle to be much more flexible when it comes to discounting Multitenant option for early adopters.

When calculating ROI and comparing with other database consolidation options (based on server virtualization or multidatabase consolidation), it's quite easy to forecast savings from reduced hardware footprint. The exact savings on manageability cost are not as straightforward to calculate -- savings on database operations and management will be lower, but we need more time running production 12c Multitenant environments to quantify that reliably.

Finally, one time when we spoke, you compared Multitenant to RAC in terms of the impact to the database. Which do you think is a more important or more valuable feature, or is it too early to tell yet?

Gorbachev: RAC and Multitenant features have different goals and use cases. However, the Multitenant option on a single server limits the scale of consolidation. Working together, the Multitenant and RAC options complement each other in consolidation scenarios.

Since use cases are different, comparing RAC and Multitenant is like comparing apples and oranges. My initial assessment is that the Multitenant option doesn't introduce as much complexity in the infrastructure as RAC does (which is still sometimes underestimated by the customers). The Multitenant option also makes many tasks significantly easier without introducing any major new responsibilities and requiring unique skills, unlike RAC. Thus, I believe that adoption barriers to Multitenant are much lower than to RAC back in the Oracle 9i days.

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