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Oracle® Database Administrator's Guide
11g Release 2 (11.2)
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Managing Multiple Database Instances on a Single Server

Oracle Database provides a method for managing CPU allocations on a multi-CPU server running multiple database instances. This method is called instance caging. Instance caging and Oracle Database Resource Manager (the Resource Manager) work together to support desired levels of service across multiple instances.

This section contains:

About Instance Caging

You might decide to run multiple Oracle database instances on a single multi-CPU server. A typical reason to do so would be server consolidation—using available hardware resources more efficiently. When running multiple instances on a single server, the instances compete for CPU. One resource-intensive database instance could significantly degrade the performance of the other instances. For example, on a 16-CPU system with four database instances, the operating system might be running one database instance on the majority of the CPUs during a period of heavy load for that instance. This could degrade performance in the other three instances. CPU allocation decisions such as this are made solely by the operating system; the user generally has no control over them.

A simple way to limit CPU consumption for each database instance is to use instance caging. Instance caging is a method that uses an initialization parameter to limit the number of CPUs that an instance can use simultaneously. In the previous example, if you use instance caging to limit the number of CPUs to four for each of the four instances, there is less likelihood that one instance can interfere with the others. When constrained to four CPUs, an instance might become CPU-bound. This is when the Resource Manager begins to do its work to allocate CPU among the various database sessions according to the resource plan that you set for the instance. Thus, instance caging and the Resource Manager together provide a simple, effective way to manage multiple instances on a single server.

There are two typical approaches to instance caging for a server:

  • Over-provisioning—You would use this approach for non-critical databases such as development and test systems, or low-load non-critical production systems. In this approach, the sum of the CPU limits for each instance exceeds the actual number of CPUs on the system. For example, on a 4-CPU system with four database instances, you might limit each instance to three CPUs. When a server is over-provisioned in this way, the instances can impact each other's performance. However, instance caging limits the impact and helps provide somewhat predictable performance. However, if one of the instances has a period of high load, the CPUs are available to handle it. This is a reasonable approach for non-critical systems, because one or more of the instances may frequently be idle or at a very low load.

  • Partitioning—This approach is for critical production systems, where you want to prevent instances from interfering with each other. You allocate CPUs such that the sum of all allocations is equal to the number of CPUs on the server. For example, on a 16-server system, you might allocate 8 CPUs to the first instance, 4 CPUs to the second, and 2 each to the remaining two instances. By dedicating CPU resources to each database instance, the load on one instance cannot affect another's, and each instance performs predictably.

Using Instance Caging with Maximum Utilization Limit

If you enable instance caging and set a maximum utilization limit in your resource plan, then the absolute limit is computed as a percentage of the allocated CPU resources.

For example, if you enable instance caging and set the CPU_COUNT to 4, and a consumer group has a maximum utilization limit of 50%, then the consumer group can use a maximum of 50% of 4 CPUs, which is 2 CPUs.

Enabling Instance Caging

To enable instance caging, do the following for each instance on the server:

  1. Enable the Resource Manager by assigning a resource plan, and ensure that the resource plan has CPU directives, using the MGMT_P1 through MGMT_P8 parameters.

    See "Enabling Oracle Database Resource Manager and Switching Plans" for instructions.

  2. Set the cpu_count initialization parameter.

    This is a dynamic parameter, and can be set with the following statement: