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Oracle on Linux Gets One Firm Great E-Commerce Seats

StubHub.com Gets a Great Deal Out of Oracle/Linux

  • September 29, 2004
  • By Jacqueline Emigh

As what is known as a "secondary ticketer," StubHub.com specializes in helping its customers to get good deals on sporting events, concerts, and live theater. But from the perspective of Shawn Kernes, VP of technology, StubHub itself is now getting great value out of running the company's Oracle database on Linux.

In the fall of 2003, San Francisco, CA-based StubHub started moving from Oracle 8i on Sun Solaris to an Oracle 9i on Red Hat Linux. The migration was completed in February.

"Honestly, I thought we'd take a performance hit. But, in fact, exactly the opposite happened," said Kernes, in an interview with LinuxPlanet.

Now four years old, StubHub is an auction-style Web site that brings together buyers and sellers of tickets for events. Due to rapid growth over the previous year, the Web site needed more database power.

StubHub transitioned from a single-node Oracle 8i database running on a Sun box to a pair of Oracle RACs (Real Application Clusters) operating Oracle 9i on IBM PC servers.

Why did StubHub swap out of Oracle on Solaris? "Sun's hardware is little bit expensive, if you know what I mean, and so are Sun's maintenance costs," Kearns maintained.

Kernes, though, did look into out a number of other database possibilities before deciding upon an Oracle on Red Hat. Other alternatives examined included MySQL, IBM DB2, and Microsoft's SQL Server.

"But we've had good experiences working with Oracle, and from my own observations, I've found the Oracle database to be extremely stable," he told LinuxPlanet.

"Also, we need good (database) development talent, and the whole Bay Area development community here is dominated by Oracle," Kernes acknowledged.

"When we revisited Microsoft, we couldn't really find any justification for transitioning to SQL Server. When we talked to IBM (about DB2), they wanted us to go with AIX. We, on the other hand, wanted to standardize on Linux," he added.

High availability was another big factor in choosing a Linux-enabled RAC, said Kernes. StubHub was able to take one node offline for application development and testing, while keeping the database up and running on the other node.

Meanwhile, however, most desktops at StubHub are still running Microsoft Windows, according to Kernes. The others are operating Red Hat Linux.

StubHub's new Linux-based Oracle 9i RAC is attached to an Apache Web server cluster, also running on Linux.

Why did the database changeeover take three or four months to do? Initial installation wasn't time consuming at all. "But we had to modify not just the database, but all our (database) applications, too," he noted.

On the whole, the learning curve from Solaris Unix to Linux wasn't particularly tough. "But we had to get a feel for how the Oracle updates (for Linux) are released. For the Solaris platform, they come out once per quarter."

RAC deployment was more difficult. "We had a little bit of trouble with RAC. We found some errata in the Oracle documentation," he admitted. "This was our first experience with a RAC, anyway, so there was some work involved."

But the results have been well worth the time, according to the StubHub. Kearns estimates a 25 to 50 percent increase in transaction response time.

Oracle points to a number of improvements between 8i and 9i, including enhancements to self-tuning and self-management capabilities, Oracle RACs, and operability on both Linux and Microsoft Windows OS.

9i, for example, was the first release of the Oracle database to contain a full implementation of a feature called CacheFusion, for development of large, clustered database applications without the need for data partitioning.

The Oracle Tuning Kit for 9i contains hundreds of built-in database tuning rules, for identifying database segments in need of repair and analyzing instance parameters that impact performance, for instance.

The only item on Kearns' wish list, at the moment, is a way of getting better visibility into Oracle's database system. "I'd like to get one-page status reports, and it's my understanding that Oracle 10g does have this feature," he said.

In a study available on Oracle's Web site, Oracle finds that, all together, improvements in the even newer Oracle 10g give database administrators a 50 percent reduction in the time required for performing basic management tasks. These tasks include installation and set-up; day-to-day database administration; back-up and recovery; and performance diagnostics and tuning.

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