(Or: "How to build your own Oracle Cloud in 25 minutes"... ! )
After downloading the recently released Oracle Express Edition for 64-bit Windows, I decided to test it out on a Windows Server 2008 R2 running in the Azure cloud (recently renamed from "Windows Azure" to "Microsoft Azure", I guess because you can run Linux on it, as well).
Here are the high-level steps needed to get this up and running:
- Sign up for Azure and login to the management portal.
- Create a new Virtual Machine, select Windows Server 2008 R2. The provisioning of the VM takes around 5 minutes. (I chose to use an A1 instance type, which costs around USD 50 per month, and has 1 core and 1,75GB of memory. Note that XE is limited to use only 1GB of memory, leaving some extra memory for the OS itself and for IIS).
- When you create the VM, you specify a DNS name for it, for example "myxetest". This becomes the subdomain of Microsoft's "cloudapp.net" domain, for example "myxetest.cloudapp.net". If you want, you can use your own domain name by adding a CNAME record to your domain and pointing it towards the cloudapp.net subdomain.
- Use Remote Desktop to login to the new server.
- Download Oracle XE for 64-bit Windows. The file is around 300MB, so this takes less than a minute to download.
- Unzip the XE file and run setup.exe. Specify a password for the SYS and SYSTEM users, and let the installer do its work. The whole setup process took about 10-15 minutes on my server.
- Check that the database is running using sqlplus on the command line on the server.
- Oracle XE 11g comes with Apex 4.0 preinstalled, and running via the Embedded PL/SQL Gateway (DBMS_EPG) on port 8080 (localhost only). You can verify that it's up and running by going to http://127.0.0.1:8080/apex/apex on the server. If you want EPG to work for remote hosts, you have to execute the dbms_xdb.setlistenerlocalaccess procedure and pass FALSE to enable non-local access. (You can also change the port used by EPG via the dbms_xdb.sethttpport procedure.)
- You need to modify the Windows Firewall settings on the server to allow outbound traffic on port 8080. Finally, you also need to open up port 8080 for the VM in the Azure management portal (you'll find this setting under "Endpoints" for the VM.)
Here's a screenshot after the database has been installed:
The Apex homepage on localhost:
The Apex builder in action, accessed via the default cloudapp.net domain:
A note on production deployments
The Embedded PL/SQL Gateway (DBMS_EPG) is intended for development environments, and is not recommended for production. Since you are running on a Windows server, you probably want to leverage the excellent built-in Internet Information Server (IIS), with the Thoth Gateway which is an open source ASP.NET implementation of the OWA interface which is what the EPG, mod_plsql and the Apex Listener (now called Oracle REST Data Services, or ORDS) use to communicate with the database. You'll need to enable/install IIS first, as this is not enabled by default on a Windows 2008 server. Then download the Thoth Gateway and follow the installation instructions in the downloaded zip file.