Oracle Grid Infrastructure installed in an Oracle Flex Cluster configuration is a scalable, dynamic, robust network of nodes. Oracle Flex Clusters provide a platform for a variety of applications, including Oracle Real Application Clusters (Oracle RAC) databases with large numbers of nodes. Oracle Flex Clusters also provide a platform for other service deployments that require coordination and automation for high availability.
All nodes in an Oracle Flex Cluster belong to a single Oracle Grid Infrastructure cluster. This architecture centralizes policy decisions for deployment of resources based on application needs, to account for various service levels, loads, failure responses, and recovery.
Oracle Flex Clusters contain two types of nodes arranged in a hub and spoke architecture: Hub Nodes and Leaf Nodes. The number of Hub Nodes in an Oracle Flex Cluster can be as many as 64. The number of Leaf Nodes can be many more. Hub Nodes and Leaf Nodes can host different types of applications.
Hub Nodes are similar to Oracle Grid Infrastructure nodes in an Oracle Clusterware standard Cluster configuration: they are tightly connected, and have direct access to shared storage. In an Oracle Flex Cluster configuration, shared storage can be provisioned to Leaf Nodes independent of the Oracle Grid Infrastructure.
Leaf Nodes are different from standard Oracle Grid Infrastructure nodes, in that they do not require direct access to shared storage, but instead request data through Hub Nodes. Hub Nodes can run in an Oracle Flex Cluster configuration without having any Leaf Nodes as cluster member nodes, but Leaf Nodes must be members of a cluster that includes at least one Hub Node.
If you upgrade an Oracle Flex Cluster, then Oracle recommends that you upgrade the Hub Nodes first, and that you also have any upgraded Hub Nodes up and running as part of the upgrade process.