In 2017 we received a phone call. Would we be interested in seeing an Oracle database migrated automagically in a couple of minutes to a different database and have the existing application still work ? Well, yes quite frankly, we would. The database is called Tibero, it is new to Australia, but not new to the world. It is from the Korean company TmaxSoft and its main target is Oracle as the Tibero database is near 100% compatible with the Oracle database and includes a tool that extracts and creates the Tibero database from the source database. The migration tool can also target Sybase, DB2, PostgreSQL and SQL Server with a SQL translation framework, but due to its deliberate compatibility with Oracle, the main target is converting clients who run the Oracle database.

We preview Tibero and discuss why this could be worth pursuing further.

Senior IT Management would likely have the following questions swirling around in their heads when they hear of a new product from a company that is not an American juggernaut:

> What is the outcome it is going to deliver that makes me want to try it?

> What skills do I need to implement and maintain it?

> What is the licensing model and are there any hidden gotchas?

> How am I supported?

> What is the roadmap and will it exist in 10 years’ time?

Reasonable questions, and this is what we will address today.

What is the outcome it is going to deliver that makes me want to try it?

Tibero is a relational database, so it will have similar outcomes that an Oracle SE2/EE or SQL Server database would have for your organisation.

Specifically, those outcomes will include the capability of running mission critical production systems with high performance characteristics. Similar to what you would expect of Sybase, SQL Server and Oracle databases.

Performance is always a good indicator of quality and suitability to many people. Tibero has a hyper-threaded architecture that can be deployed at large scale – including being clustered, or specifically Tibero Application Clusters (TAC) – sounds familiar?

This is in addition to parallel processing and Tibero Active Storage (TAS) that is used for managing, mirroring, striping/partitioning and rebalancing the database storage to optimise the performance and stability of the database. It has a HDFS connector to integrate big data that is processed in Hadoop, and can link with many other databases through DB linking.

They have many reference clients, some examples that can be quoted are:

  • 150,000 concurrent accesses on a 10TB database that performs 200M+ transactions daily. This uses 192 cores & 750GB memory; and

  • 180 concurrent accesses on average on a 30TB database that performs 150M+ transactions daily. This uses 40 cores with 192GB memory.

  • 3,000+ concurrent accesses on a 700GB database that performs 1,100+ transactions per second. This uses 32 cores with 150GB memory.

Tibero has been included in the Gartner Magic Quadrant for Databases since 2015, and this is what Gartner had to say about Tibero:

Tibero, an SQL RDBMS featuring various clustering options, integrated encryption and compatibility with other vendors’ DBMS products. It is available on-premises, in the cloud and via an appliance. TmaxSoft received the highest score for value for money; it also received high scores for security, pricing suitability and high-speed ingestion capabilities.

Magic Quadrant for Enterprise Database Management Systems, Oct. 2015

If you are an Oracle Standard Edition client then you will be interested to learn that Tibero has both a Standard & Enterprise Edition. The good news for Oracle SE2 customers is that Tibero allows up to 4 sockets regardless of cores and threads which is far greater than the SE2 restriction of 2 sockets with a maximum of 16 threads. The bad news is that TAC is not available as part of Tibero SE, and is instead a separately licensed option. Even with TAC added, the prospect of up to 4 sockets for SE could still be a very attractive alternative to Oracle, DB2, Sybase or SQL Server.

Tibero Standby Cluster (TSC) is the equivalent of Oracle’s Active DataGuard and is part of both the Standard & Enterprise editions – plus is fully compatible with DBVisit for clients who already have that investment in place.

TmaxSoft sprouts that the main benefit it delivers is a lower TCO for equivalent or better capabilities of its more established rivals. Using rounded guesstimates, the vendor quotes a 40-60% saving for DB2 and Oracle Enterprise databases over 5 years. How do they achieve that? Each case will be specific depending upon quoted license discounts, but typically the savings against an Oracle Enterprise database would be delivered through:

  • Initial license cost typically being 20-60% less than the equivalent Oracle cost;

  • Lower core factor conversions;

  • Lower annual maintenance fee; and

  • Included options at no additional cost that are chargeable with Oracle.

Tibero is new to the market and whilst there is a price list, the reality is that each pricing scenario will be treated on its own merits and will reflect the vendor’s desire to gain traction in the Australian, New Zealand & Oceania marketplace. Therefore it is very difficult to put a number on the amount to be paid, but you can expect aggressive discounting for a period of time.

The Tibero Enterprise Edition includes the following features within the license at no additional charge that is a paid option in Oracle Enterprise Edition:

  • Diagnostics & Tuning

  • Partitioning

  • Spatial

  • Compression

  • Advanced Security

  • Database Gateways

  • Active-Active Replication (Active DataGuard)

This can have a significant impact on your license cost. What can Oracle do that Tibero does not? This is difficult to be exact, but from using the current version Tibero 6, it is likely to be perceived as having similar features to 11gR2, even some features of 12.1. It is likely that the Tibero 7 release due within the next 12 months will introduce a lot of the capabilities that can be found in Oracle’s 12.2. We are aware of Multi-Tenancy, Graph & some JSON Document capability not being in Tibero 6, whether the next release has this capability is unknown. If this is of particular interest to you, please discuss with us and we will open a dialog with the TmaxSoft R&D team.

If you are licensing 4 cores or less, then you will be subject to a 0.5 core factor – the equivalent of Oracle in most cases. Beyond 4 cores and the core factor drops to 0.375. For example, if you had a server that is 16 physical cores, this would require an Oracle license of 8 processors due to the core factor of 0.5. Whereas Tibero would only require a license of 6 processors due to the core factor of 0.375. Note that this example refers to Intel Xeon & AMD Opteron CPUs, there are varying core factors depending upon the underlying chip technology being used as is the case with Oracle.

Potentially the most important outcome that can be achieved in comparison to Oracle specifically, is Tibero honouring all cloud & virtualisation technologies. Tibero can be deployed on Google Cloud without running into difficulties with any compliance policies, and you can safely run VMware, Hyper-V or other ‘soft-partitioning’ technologies to restrain the cores assigned for licensing purposes. This is an incredibly important point considering the high compatibility that Tibero has with Oracle. It is realistic to migrate from your on-premise bare metal server to a Google Compute instance or likewise to any virtual instance and reap all the benefits that these technologies allow.

The annual maintenance fee from Oracle is 22% of their before-discount price. The Tibero annual maintenance fee is 18% of the figure that is paid by the customer – therefore this 18% is calculated including the discount given. The net result is that it is highly likely you will get a vastly reduced license cost compared to Oracle and therefore an even lower annual maintenance cost.

In summary, we can generalise the outcomes that you are likely to achieve as:

  1. Decreased license cost for the equivalent capability;

  2. Decreased annual maintenance cost;

  3. Ability to deploy to any cloud provider without the risk of audit non-compliance; and

  4. Ability to deploy to any virtualisation technology and obtain the benefits of using that virtualisation for data protection and other operational outcomes.

An indirect benefit that is difficult to quantify is that the improved value of Tibero may result in you deploying additional options (such as partitioning that would deliver significant performance gains in particular scenarios) as well as increasing your disaster recovery and business continuity capabilities.

Does this mean you should ditch all your Oracle databases and move over to Tibero? Potentially not; you have already made a solid investment in Oracle and to replace that with new licenses would require a detailed ROI to determine if that is worth doing. Instead, we believe the following circumstances represent the ideal use case for migrating to Tibero:

  • You wish to deploy a new database for an application or data warehouse and do not want to incur additional license costs from Oracle;

  • You wish to increase the processing capabilities of your Oracle SE/1/2 instances and not upgrade to Oracle Enterprise Edition;

  • You wish to deploy a Standby instance to increase your data protection architecture and do not wish to incur the additional license cost from Oracle;

  • You wish to enhance the features of your existing application and/or database through compression, security, partitioning, performance monitoring or linking with other databases without incurring the additional license cost from Oracle;

  • You wish to deploy to the Google Cloud or any other cloud that is not listed as an authorised cloud provider by Oracle’s licensing policies;

  • You wish to use a soft-partitioning virtualisation technology and wish to remain compliant with your database vendor; and

  • You wish to migrate to hyperconverged infrastructure and wish to remain compliant with your database vendor.

Pebble IT can help you understand the main benefits for your business to help you build the business case and achieve positive outcomes for your business.

What skills do I need to implement and maintain it?

Personnel and contractors will be able to use their existing Oracle DBA skills with Tibero. There are differences, but we believe that delta training of less than a day would be required for an experienced Oracle DBA. If TAC and TSC is not being deployed, then an existing Oracle DBA should be able to perform POCs. There is online documentation available from TmaxSoft to assist developers and DBAs.

What is the licensing model and are there any hidden gotchas?

Tibero is licensed by ‘Processors’ and ‘Named Users’ in a similar vein to Oracle’s licensing metrics for the database. The difference in applying core factors is explained above, the main difference that we are aware of is that Tibero Active Clusters is a paid option for Standard Edition. The NUP minimums per core are the same as Oracle at 10 for Standard Edition and 25 for Enterprise Edition.

With Tibero being new to the Australian, New Zealand and Oceania market, you can expect significant concessions that may be possible depending upon the nature of the proposed deal. We at Pebble IT have also been working with TmaxSoft in forming instalment-based payment of the license only component. The size of the deal may qualify for a 3 year instalment plan of 40%, 30% and 30% at a protected price. Annual maintenance is separate.

TmaxSoft also has subscription pricing for Tibero used on public cloud instances but not much emphasis has been put into that model in the Australian market thus far. There is no single cloud provider alignment, they have instances running on all the major providers.

In regards to the licensing model itself, it has been reviewed by the “Campaign for Clear Licensing” (a United Kingdom organisation) and this document states that TmaxSoft have agreed to the Campaign for Clear Licensing Audit Code of Conduct V1.0 – namely this requires the licensing agreements to be clear and easy to understand. Further details can be found at the end of this post.

How am I supported?

TmaxSoft relies on partners locally to sell and support Tibero at the client’s site or remotely through a managed services agreement. It has its own personnel that support partners primarily in pre-sales and training. Clients can choose to use a Partner to obtain support or direct from TmaxSoft through their support portal. This same portal is also available to the partners who may act on support requests on your behalf. The client can employ both models, and is a similar model to other database vendors.

There is a close relationship between the support teams and the R&D teams who are spread throughout Asia with English being the primary language. The support portal also caters for enhancement requests and TmaxSoft has processes to expose R&D to support issues and enhancement requests that help drive the direction of the product.

What is the roadmap and will it exist in 10 years time?

To understand the future, we first need to examine Tibero’s history. It was initially released in Korea in 2003, by 2008 they had released the Tibero Active Clusters (TAC) capability. The current release, Tibero 6, was released in 2015. It appears to have a major version upgrade every 3 years with Tibero 7 due in 2018/19 and Tibero 8 due in 2020/21.

We have not been exposed to the detail of what is coming up – but from what we have been told there has been an emphasis on 100% compatibility with Oracle and optimisation for cloud environments. This is likely to result in efforts around JSON documents, key-value data and graph data representations. There are also some integration tools that we have not discussed here that TmaxSoft are also putting significant effort into, no doubt that will be a topic for a later post.

As of 2015 there were 1,200+ production clients for Tibero, that number is likely to have doubled by the time of writing with over 10% of clients being available as references to TmaxSoft. There appears to be strong growth throughout Asia, and TmaxSoft successfully embarked on expanding in Europe in 2015 and the USA in 2016.

A senior representative at TmaxSoft stated that they are not interested in buy-outs or takeovers by other organisations, and wish to retain their privately owned status that they have been since being founded in 1997. They have at least 12 other products that they offer, in Australia they have had some success with their mainframe modernisation platform. They have major worldwide customers of McDonalds, Samsung, Hyundai, Honda, GE Capital, Posco and LG Chemicals. There appears to be a solid commitment to both the product itself, and the markets that it is being offered in.

Migrating From Oracle

What we really like about Tibero is the ease of migration. It literally is a case of providing the Oracle connection credentials and the tool does the rest. It can operate in a validation/compatibility mode where it can examine and look for potential problems, and then the actual migration itself which can separate DDL from PL/SQL and data to different migration runs.

How compatible is Tibero compared to Oracle ? It has very strong compatibility with datatypes which is a big difference to migrating from Oracle to SQL Server. Tibero has equivalent datatypes to Oracle and the differences in PL/SQL are minor. The tool isolates all differences and allows you to change the code in Oracle and recompile a compatible approach and migrate again, otherwise modify in Tibero and compile at the destination. What is known not to migrate are:

  • Java Procedures;

  • Programs external to the database that call the database;

  • External files;

  • SQL Loader scripts;

  • Database links and gateways;

  • Database configurations; and

  • Database logs and files.

There is also no equivalent Application Express (APEX) functionality (this is proprietary to Oracle), there is no PL/SQL Web Application functionality.

Tibero has a C Call Interface that is compatible with Oracle. Applications can connect through ODBC, JDBC, OCI and .NET in a similar fashion to connecting to an Oracle database. Applications would require some configuration changes to the connection before it interacts with the Tibero application.

Tibero modifies the SQL when migrating from DB2, SQL Server and Oracle. It has a built in SQL translator framework that can convert SQL from other systems as required.

It is realistic to migrate a production database and stand up a Tibero equivalent in parallel and test the application. This is the basis of the Proof of Concept process that Pebble IT can conduct for clients in conjunction with TmaxSoft. This is a joint undertaking with the vendor. A typical Proof of Concept process would encompass the following steps:

  1. POC engagement agreement;

  2. Preparation of POC environment;

  3. Migrate data and objects to the new Tibero database;

  4. Point a copy of the application to the new Tibero database;

  5. Perform UAT on the system to validate compatibility; and

  6. Present outcomes to Stakeholders.

This approach minimises risk to the client whilst presenting an opportunity for internal resources to familiarise and learn about Tibero so that when subsequent projects commence, knowledge transfer has already commenced.

Typically a POC would take anywhere from 3 weeks to 3 months depending upon the requirements of the POC.

An Oracle Alternative?

We think so. Also an alternative for Sybase, DB2, PostgreSQL and SQL Server. We have done several migrations from Oracle to SQL Server and found that there is often serious compromises to be made during the migration that can take a significantly complex project to perform and complete. We do not see the same pitfalls with Tibero. The agility that this product can bring to migrating from Oracle can result in project taking weeks to perform not months and deliver very tangible outcomes.

Pebble IT is Australia’s first implementation and support partner for Tibero, and we are very excited about the capability it can offer to client’s who are keen for more alternatives than were previously available.

We can work with you on a Proof of Concept approach to gain insight on how easy it could be to migrate to Tibero and deliver tangible savings and other benefits in a short timeframe. If you have a desire for these outcomes please contact us today to start the discussion.

Read more about our Data Management Services…

External Links (open in a new tab/window):

About TmaxSoft

About the Tibero database

About the Campaign for Clear Licensing and their review of the Tibero License