RDS: Real Cloud Computing with Oracle Databases

When designing your cloud architecture sooner or later the question about the database will arise. Today Amazon Web Services announced the availability of Oracle database instances provisioned with the AWS Relational Database Service (RDS). However, there are many other options available, and in order to make an informed decision as to which will best suit your architecture, you should know the pros and cons of at least four:

  • You can start installing your database on an AMI with the operating system of your choice, or even select an AMI provided by Oracle and set up the included Standard or Enterprise Edition.
  • SimpleDB is an option if you prefer the scalability and availability of a non-relational database.
  • The relational database service from AWS offers a convenient and easy way to create and manage an Oracle MySQL database as a cloud service.
  • Starting today you can use RDS to create an Oracle database. So for the first time in the short history of cloud computing a licensed Oracle database can be used in the cloud with a pay per use model! You pay the database instance per hour used (or bring your own license)- and only this is real cloud computing.

I summarized my view in a detailed 12 page whitepaper (the weather here is too nice and I can’t bother myself putting all the screen shots into this blog posting).

The PDF describes all the details of RDS and compares them to the other options available. Also learn how to use WebLogic with RDS:

Cloud Databases and Oracle Whitepaper.

UPDATE: As of Aug/2012 there is support for APEX, Oracle XML DB and VPC now!

If you like to know more after reading the whitepaper have a look at my Oracle Cloud Computing book at Amazon and join the book’s Facebook site!


  1. Hi,

    I would love to see a more convenient support solution for VMWare based ESX systems, too.
    If that happens, they understood the message.


  2. Markus,

    Yes, I perfectly agree. Still I wonder if we will see this in the near future. For me it seemed that supporting Oracle VM templates was a rather special deal (and easier to implement since AWS and Oracle VM are both Xen based).

    best wishes,


  3. Bryce Lynch says

    I was initially excited by this release but found that Oracle APEX is not installed and it is usually installed by default when you install an Oracle database. Also you do not have access to the sysdba privilege (or the sys account), and are therefore unable to install it manually.

    I have to say I cannot understand why Amazon/Oracle would remove APEX when Oracle’s AMI includes APEX as part of the automated build.

    Only thing I can think is that either Oracle want to lower the value of the RDS service or Amazon don’t understand what Oracle users want. Certainly there was a certain buzz going round the Oracle APEX community that RDS + Oracle + APEX was going to happen.

    • Hi Bryce,

      I agree – and thanks for your feedback!
      Sometimes it’s hard to understand what is Oracle’s motivation behind not offering already existing features.
      Especially cloud computing seems to be a highly political issue. IMHO they would do better with a more open discussion.

      – Did you check using the Oracle supplied AMIs or Oracle VM templates? Are they suitable for you and do they contain APEX?
      – You seem to know what you are doing, so last resort is doing the db install yourself, then you are in full control of everything (including sys account).

      best wishes,


  4. Bryce Lynch says


    I used the Oracle supplied AMI’s and I’m talking about Oracle SE 1 with 1 processor license, figures are rough but the final figures i.e. licenses were taken today from the Oracle Store excl tax.

    Once you create the virtual machine it asks you some questions and you have a fully built database. They are suitable and they do contain APEX, however they are licensed separately i.e. not by the hour but you would need your own processor license (perpetual) over £3.5K in UK Sterline plus another £800 for support.

    If you go for a 1 year procesor license you still need the £800 support plus around £800 for the license (for a year) meaning running one instance would cost over £2K.

    The AMI also shows a lack of understanding in that once it is built you cannot use the machine until the filesystem does a file system check because the filesystem was last checked something like 2 years ago when the AMI was built!!

    There is a parameter you can set to avoid this but Oracle didn’t bother doing that meaning that you have to take your own snapshot once theirs is built so that further machines don’t sit waiting around for 10-15 minutes checking their filesystems.

    Again – lack of finishing/understanding/thought.

    To summarise – because Oracle did not include APEX on RDS I would be forced to pay at least a 1 year processor license for every APEX AMI I booted up ‘vs’ £3 or less than 2 USD per day per machine if it was included in RDS.

    So to have ten Oracle APEX machines up and running at the same time for one single day IF they included APEX in the RDS would cost £30 a day. Using the AMI I would need to buy ten 1 year processor licenses including support would be £15,500 excluding tax and without support £7,780 exc tax!!

    Explains why I’m very upset by this omission.

  5. Bryce,

    Thanks for informing us that Apex is not available. I had high hopes but I cannot find anything in the Amazon documentation about it.

    It is probably not an optimal architecture but would it be possible to use RDS for your data and run a micro instance of Oracle XE with Apex and point it at RDS for your data? It would be sort of like Apex as an app server.


  6. @Bryce: I agree with what you say and I do understand your frustration. Also the numbers you provided show why “pay per use” – which is so often omitted in CC definitions (especially by Oracle) – is such an important criteria for cloud computing.

    @Greg: Your suggestion is very interesting. Thanks for sharing!


  7. Bryce Lynch says


    Technically anything is possible but – Oracle XE is licensed for your internal data processing only and as far as I can deduce from the licensing blurb, that could well exclude Software as a Service (SaaS) and many other uses. A lot of people assume it’s free (as in Beer) but it’s not.

    Someone else came up with a paper about doing what you suggest but I think a) it would be awful i.e. you’d be using database links from an unsupported product (XE) to a supported product (Oracle SE 1) and also I doubt anyone would want to untangle that in either the APEX forums or Oracle support if you ran into trouble.

    Also you’re thinking along the route of a Java EE solution, which the Oracle purists will come at you with burning pitchforks.

    To be honest you’d be better off using Oracle-XE in a standard AMI for small scale, personal or business use.


    I often wonder who stiched up who in this deal. To your PHP guys or Java guys who just want a database then this is a good deal, but to take out a producion-ready license-free (as included with) part of the database without telling anyone is really bad.

    It’s similar to Amazon releasing Route 53 though API’s only. I don’t want to setup DNS through API’s. If I wanted a non-control panel option I’d set it up myself on a Unix box!!

    @Frank @Greg

    I only found out by firing up a RDS instance and then trying to install APEX on it when I noticed it wasn’t there. A lot of people on the internet have just gone with Amazon’s blurb which either means the omission isn’t as serious to everyone else as it is to me or because they haven’t tried it not many people know about the fact it’s missing.

    I’ve been badgering Rackspace (the UK arm) about getting Oracle onto Rackspace as I don’t like Amazon’s support. If they ever do impliment it Oracle might cripple their implementation as well.

    So either I save up £3K for a perpetual license and £800 a year support or I go down the yearly route and pay half that amount every year.

  8. I think that Oracle is betting big on AWS and the absence of Apex is related to something technical. I contacted Amazon but I don’t expect an informed response.

  9. Bryce Lynch says

    Good Luck.

    I can’t see how it’s technical. When you install an Oracle database from scratch it includes Apex 3.2. APEX is just a set of tables, procedures and packages in the database. If they wanted to stop you installing or mucking around with it they could have created a copy of APEX in the database and defaulted the username/password to something default and supplied those to you instead.

    The same connection string you need to connect to Oracle via sqlplus or oci is the same that you use to call apex via the apex listener or mod_plsql.

    Hey ho.

  10. good luck …

    Thanks for informing that Apex is not available………..

  11. FYI – The closest thing to a formal answer I have found


  12. Bryce Lynch says

    Thanks Greg

    As suspected – it doesn’t look like the guys responsible for the Oracle RDS understand the need for elevated privs, or even how to develop with Oracle other than using it as a bit bucket.

  13. FYI – Amazon responded to my inquiry with an invitation to a conference call to discuss what features they may support in the future but I have to sign a non-disclosure agreement first.

  14. Hi Greg,

    good to know… Unfortunately you will be unable to talk about it then 🙂 Not a bad strategy and not unknown for the bigger companies (happened to me a couple of times when I was writing my cloud book). Anyway, I hope they can show you a perspective which is somehow helpful.

    Feel free to update this thread with any input which you are allowed to talk about…



  15. Still no Apex but they have responded by providing more rights to things like dbms_crypto.



  16. Thanks for the update Frank. I received the email from AWS this morning.

    It would be interesting to compare RDS for Oracle with the Oracle Public Cloud now that these new features have been released.


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