During this summer Oracle has announced the availability of the latest version of the Oracle Private Cloud Appliance (PCA). The new model is the PCA X8.
PCA is an integrated infrastructure system designed to allow rapid deployment of converged computing, network and storage technologies and to host mixed applications or workloads from one or more clients. It is a scalable system optimized for the consolidation of virtualized workloads, which includes all the pieces of hardware and software required to quickly and automatically deploy private cloud environments.
This new version includes a significant number of improvements, both hardware and software.
From the hardware point of view, both management and compute nodes are renewed, to use the most modern Intel processors. In the case of the two management nodes, each one uses 2 Intel® Xeon® 5218 processors at 2.3 GHz, with 16 cores each. Compute nodes include 2 Intel® Xeon® 8260 processors at 2.4 GHz, with 24 cores each.
The update of the management nodes is due to the obsolescence of the X5-2 nodes used in previous versions, which were launched in 2015 and had been discontinued for quite some time.
The new compute nodes provide a 45% performance improvement over the previous generation and include the latest Intel architecture improvements, achieving much higher cost efficiency.
PCA includes a fully integrated Oracle ZFS ZS7-2 storage device to centrally store both the management environment and applications running on the computer. The standard configuration includes 100 TB of storage capacity usable by the customer in the rack. This storage can be scaled to 2.2 PB using a combination of high capacity DE3-24C expansion trays, or fully flash DE3-24P trays.
The new version includes a change in the design philosophy, since until now the internal storage was intended as a system disk, which allowed to store system configuration data, while the recommendation was to use external storage for the applications. The new version includes high availability and scalability features that allow using the internal storage of the PCA for applications and virtual machines.
The latest improvement in the hardware area is the use of 100 Gb Ethernet networks, both for communication among the nodes of the system and for the connection to customer’s CPD. Up to now, 10 Gb Ethernet and 8 GB FC connections were used for external communication, virtualizing over Infiniband in internal communications. Now all communications over Ethernet are unified, with the possibility of 10/25/40/100 GbE depending on the existing infrastructure of the client.
This change in communications means that nodes from previous versions of PCA cannot be used in version X8, since connection cards are not compatible.
In the software part, the firmware version of the device has been upgraded to version 2.4.1, which allows the control of all new pieces of hardware.
This version of the Oracle Private Cloud Appliance includes the Oracle VM 3.4.6 with the latest security and kernel fixes. In addition, it adds the ability to move a running VM to a different Oracle VM repository.
Although it was rumored that this version was going to include KVM as virtualization environment to get an environment fully compatible with Oracle cloud, this has not been finally implemented, although this will most likely happen in the medium term.
In summary, the new version of PCA includes many improvements and provides better performance, but also marks a breaking point with previous versions.