EMC IT's Darryl Smith recently issued an outstanding blog post on our ECN community, the subject of which was: Is Oracle RAC Becoming More of a Corner Case? I thought I would add a few thoughts to Darry's blog post.
I have been saying for a while that most Oracle databases do not need the level of uptime and fault tolerance that RAC provides, so Darryl and I are certainly thinking along the same lines.
I think that the value proposition for vSphere and NFS are very similar. Given that I have spent the bulk of my career pushing NFS and NAS for Oracle database storage, the synergy is obvious at least to me.
Both technologies are about having a "good enough" infrastructure for an Oracle database which, while certainly important to the business, is not the back-end for an online catalog, or an online securities trading app.
For databases like that, I would recommend neither vSphere nor NFS. But the vast, vast majority of databases running Oracle do not fall into this category.
In the case of NFS, for years I made the statement that I believe that 90% of all Oracle databases running in datacenters all of the world could be run over an NFS mount with absolutely no change in performance, reliability, or user experience. (There would, on average, be a big reduction in cost and improvement in manageability, though.)
vSphere is exactly the same. For anything other than the most barn-burning performance, with absolutely the highest standards of fault tolerance, vSphere works just fine. It provides a very high level of reliability, a few minutes a year of downtime, at a vast reduction in cost and complexity compared to RAC.
Because the value propositions are so similar, I believe that the combination of NFS and vSphere is going to become increasingly popular. We'll certainly see how it turns out.