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you can look into http://www.oracle.com/technetwork/database/enterprise-edition/db-virtualization-support-133757.pdf it says "OS Partitions - Near native speed"
Zones is OS Virtualization, it should slow down a little bit. But of course all active processes will share CPU disk controllers, NICs and other resources. How much is it slower? I would compare it to placing all Oracle instances that will work in Zones into one non-Zone OS adding some minor degradation (2-3%) for virtualization Zone management itself. Other words if you are sure that all instances will work OK in one solid OS that it should be pretty much same in Zoned.
I hope this links help you in your choice ->
Virtual vs. physical machines
Oracle Performance Equal on Virtual Servers as on Physical According to New Research from Confio Software
Physical Vs. Virtual: Oracle, Others Redefine Appliances
Thanks so far. I know there will be some performance hit (even if small). The databases are not typically hi I/O users nor cpu.
My main concern is simply should I be splitting a database environment between physical and virtual.
To spin it another way, and this may have been a better way to explain it in the first place, I woud never run my production database on an Sun/Solaris server with my development on an HP/Windows server for example, even if both are running the same version of Oracle. patching is different, OS interaction is different, etc. Should I avoid virtualized development and a physical production envirnment - where both are on Sun hardware running Solaris OS and same Oracle versions?
It's less about the pros and cons of virtualization itself.
Thanks for the responses thus far though. Some good reading.
I woud never run my production database on an Sun/Solaris server with my development on an HP/Windows server for example, even if both are running the same version of Oracle. patching is different, OS interaction is different, etc.Beauty of Oracle from developer perspective is it works same on different platforms. You can develop in Windows and deploy in Solaris. Or vice versa.
When it works differently, like returns different result or throws error in Solaris where it was no error in Windows it usually a bug and should be fixed by applying patches anyway.
Though testing environment should be as close to production as possible, but it is not always possible.
Moreover, development companies that sell software usually test it on multiple different platforms.
Should I avoid virtualized development and a physical production envirnment - where both are on Sun hardware running Solaris OS and same Oracle versions?I would not avoid. If virtualization gives you benefits in manageability and availability, and may be savings on licensing, why should you afraid to use it?