Virtualizing Performance-Critical Database Applications in VMware vSphere

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August 11, 2009

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Database workloads are widely acknowledged to be extremely resource-intensive. The large number of storage commands issued and the network activity to serve remote clients place significant challenges on the platform. The high consumption of CPU and memory resources leaves little room for inefficient virtualization software. While database applications have been successfully deployed in virtual machines since the earliest versions of VMware ESX, vSphere 4.0 incorporates many performance-related enhancements. In this paper we quantify performance gains achieved as a result of these changes for an Oracle database benchmark with a much larger resource footprint than one would expect to see in most production environments. We also show that the performance of the benchmark executed in a virtual machine approaches that of the benchmark run natively. With a near-linear scale-up, and a substantial performance boost over ESX 3.5, vSphere 4.0 is the best platform for virtualizing Oracle databases.