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2008 Update: 

Please see Bert Scalzo's great book "Oracle on VMware: Expert tips for database virtualization". 

You can buy direct from the publisher for 30%-off.

10g Release 2, OLAP and VMWare
February 2, 2006
Mark Rittman

I've been having a play around with 10g Release 2 over the last couple of days, mainly looking at the OLAP functionality as I'm currently working on a paper on this subject for the forthcoming UKOUG conference. A couple of points came up which it's worth noting down, and hopefully in a short while I'll be able to do a proper update on what's new for BI&W with Release 2.

The first thing to be aware of is that, if you're looking to use Analytic Workspace Manager and you've downloaded the Client CD so that you can install it, do an "Administrative" install rather than a "Custom" one, as the custom one doesn't automatically install the XML components that AWM needs if you just select AWM + Worksheet from the list of installable components - see this thread on the OTN OLAP Forum. If you do do a custom install, make sure you select the XML Developer Kit, along with AWM + Worksheet, otherwise the model view in AWM won't work and you won't be able to create standard form analytic workspaces. Apparently the issue will be sorted in the full Windows release of 10.2 (the current version is just a developer preview) but the Linux version, having come out first, has the issue in the full production release. Installing AWM using the Administrative option in the client CD installer avoids the issue apparently.

There's a few big new features in 10.2 for OLAP, one of which will be welcome for anyone who's been stuck with and not had the chance to patch up to and install AWM10.1. Oracle 10gR2 comes with a version of AWM10g that works straight-off and doesn't require loads of patches (useful if you've not got MOSC access) and has had a few tweaks - notice the "Calculation Plans" and "Languages" nodes in the model view, and there's more options now around sparsity handling - and from an OLAP engine point of view, incremental loads are faster, compressed composites cover more aggregation types, and the OLAP API interface layer should (fingers crossed) be a bit faster.

I used this opportunity to start running 10gR2 on Linux, rather than Windows (this is what our customers are doing now, so it seems sensible to get skilled up) and I've been using VMWare to provide a hosted Linux environment on my Windows XP laptop. I'm actually a bit of a convert now - I never managed to get the networking side working before, but I followed some of the instructions on Howard Rogers' site about running Oracle on VMWare and I managed to get it all working (tip - use "host only" networking, make sure you follow Howard's advice and give your VM a host name and fixed IP address) and I've now got a fully functioning Oracle 10.2 on White Box Linux 4 environment. The clincher for me though was the ability to clone the VM, and to take snapshots, so that I can try out a particularly tricky or dangerous bit of configuration, then roll back to the earlier setting if it all goes wrong. And, it's early days yet, but I swear that Oracle runs faster on Linux than on Windows, even in a virtual machine environment, although this could be more down to improvements in Oracle in Release 2 rather than just the move to Linux. So, everyone else was right and I was wrong - VMWare is pretty cool actually if you're looking to use Oracle; you can set up a Linux environment without losing all the driver support you get with Windows, and it's a good way of creating an environment for yourself where you can experiment without worrying about breaking things and having to reinstall everything.


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