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Oracle® High Availability Architecture and Best Practices
10g Release 1 (10.1)

Part Number B10726-01
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Oracle Database High Availability Features

This chapter describes Oracle Database high availability features. It includes the following topics:

Oracle Real Application Clusters

Oracle Real Application Clusters (RAC) enables multiple instances that are linked by an interconnect to share access to an Oracle database. This enables RAC to provide high availability, scalability, and redundancy during failures. RAC provides scalability without requiring application code changes.

RAC accommodates all system types, from read-only data warehouse (DSS) systems to update-intensive online transaction processing (OLTP) systems as well as systems that combine both DSS and OLTP. Typical RAC environments are configured with symmetric multi-processors.

RAC provides the following benefits:

Oracle Data Guard

Oracle Data Guard provides a comprehensive set of services that create, maintain, manage, and monitor one or more standby databases to enable production Oracle databases to survive failures, disasters, errors, and data corruptions. Data Guard maintains these standby databases as transactionally consistent copies of the production database. Then, if the production database becomes unavailable because of a planned or an unplanned outage, Data Guard can switch any standby database to the production role, thus minimizing the downtime associated with the outage. Data Guard can be used with traditional backup, restoration, and cluster technology to provide a high level of data protection and data availability.

A Data Guard configuration consists of one production database and one or more physical or logical standby databases. The databases in a Data Guard configuration are connected by Oracle Net and may be dispersed geographically. There are no restrictions on where the databases are located if they can communicate with each other. For example, you can have a standby database in the same building as your primary database to help manage planned downtime and two or more standby databases in other locations for use in disaster recovery.

Data Guard provides the following benefits:

Oracle Streams

Oracle Streams enables the propagation and management of data, transactions, and events in a data stream, either within a database or from one database to another. Streams provides a set of elements that allow users to control what information is put into a data stream, how the stream is routed from node to node, what happens to events in the stream as they flow into each node, and how the stream terminates.

Streams can be used to replicate a database or a subset of a database. This enables users and applications to simultaneously update data at multiple locations. If a failure occurs at one of the locations, then users and applications at the surviving sites can continue to access and update data.

Streams can be used to build distributed applications that replicate changes at the application level using message queuing. If an application fails, then the surviving applications can continue to operate and provide access to data through locally maintained copies.

Streams provides granularity and control over what is replicated and how it is replicated. It supports bidirectional replication, data transformations, subsetting, custom apply functions, and heterogeneous platforms. It also gives users complete control over the routing of change records from the primary database to a replica database.

See Also:

Oracle Streams Concepts and Administration

Online Reorganization

Database administrators can perform a variety of online operations to table definitions, including online reorganization of heap-organized tables. This makes it possible to reorganize a table while users have full access to it.

This online architecture provides the following benefits:

Transportable Tablespaces

The transportable tablespace feature enables users to quickly move a tablespace across Oracle databases. It is the most efficient way to move bulk data between databases.

Moving data using transportable tablespaces can be much faster than performing either an export/import or unload/load of the same data. This is because transporting a tablespace requires only the copying of datafiles and integrating the tablespace structural information. You can also use transportable tablespaces to move index data, thereby avoiding the index rebuilds you would have to perform when importing or loading table data.

You can transport tablespaces across platforms. This functionality can be used to:

Most platforms are supported for cross-platform tablespace transport. You can query the V$TRANSPORTABLE_PLATFORM view to see the platforms that are supported and to determine their platform IDs and their endian format (byte ordering).

See Also:

Oracle Database Administrator's Guide

Automatic Storage Management

Automatic storage management (ASM) automates and simplifies the optimal layout of datafiles, control files, redo log files, and flash recovery area files for both single instance and RAC databases. ASM is designed to work with any type of storage, from unmanaged disks to a SAN-based, intelligent storage array.

ASM maximizes performance by automatically distributing database files across all available disks. Database storage is automatically rebalanced whenever the storage configuration changes while the database remains online. You never need to manually relocate data to reclaim space because this approach eliminates storage fragmentation.

ASM provides data protection by maintaining redundant copies, or mirrors, of data.The protection and striping policy can be defined for each file to allow varying degrees of protection striping within the same set of disks.

ASM disk groups, which are comprised of disks and the files that reside on them, simplify storage administration by allowing a collection of disks to be managed as a single unit. ASM failure groups allow the disks in a disk group to be subdivided into sets of disks that share a common resource whose failure needs to be tolerated. An example of a failure group is a string of SCSI disks connected to a common SCSI controller.

See Also:

Oracle Database Administrator's Guide

Flashback Technology

Human errors are difficult to avoid and can be particularly difficult to recover from without aplanning and the right technology. Such errors can result in logical data corruption or cause downtime of one or more components of the IT infrastructure. While it is relatively simple to rectify the failure of an individual component, detection and repair of logical data corruption, such as accidental deletion of valuable data, is a time-consuming operation that causes enormous loss of business productivity.

Flashback technology provides a set of features to view and rewind data back and forth in time. The flashback features offer the capability to query past versions of schema objects, query historical data, perform change analysis. and perform self-service repair to recover from logical corruptions while the database is online.

Flashback technology provides a SQL interface to quickly analyze and repair human errors. Flashback provides fine-grained analysis and repair for localized damage such as deleting the wrong customer order. Flashback technology also enables correction of more widespread damage, yet does it quickly to avoid long downtime. Flashback technology is unique to the Oracle Database and supports recovery at all levels including the row, transaction, table, tablespace, and database.

See Also:

Oracle Flashback Query

Oracle Flashback Query enables you to specify a target time and then run queries against the database, viewing results as they would have appeared at that time. To recover from an unwanted change like an erroneous update to a table, you can choose a target time before the error and run a query to retrieve the contents of the lost rows.

Oracle Flashback Version Query

Oracle Flashback Version Query retrieves metadata and historical data for a specific time interval. You can view all the rows of a table that ever existed during a specific time interval. Metadata about the different versions of rows includes start and end time, type of change operation, and identity of the transaction that created the row version.

Oracle Flashback Transaction Query

Oracle Flashback Transaction Query retrieves metadata and historical data for a specific transaction or for all transactions within a specific time interval. You can also obtain the SQL code to undo the changes to particular rows affected by a transaction. You typically use Flashback Transaction Query with Flashback Version Query, which provides the transaction IDs for the rows of interest.

Oracle Flashback Table

Oracle Flashback Table recovers a table to its state at a previous point in time. You can restore table data while the database is online, undoing changes to only the specified table.

Oracle Flashback Drop

Oracle Flashback Drop recovers a dropped table. This reverses the effects of a DROP TABLE statement.

Oracle Flashback Database

Oracle Flashback Database provides a more efficient alternative to database point-in-time recovery. When you use Flashback Database, your current datafiles revert to their contents at a past time. The result is much like the result of a point-in-time recovery using datafile backups and redo logs, but you do not have to restore datafiles from backup, and you do not have to re-apply as many individual changes in the redo logs as you would have to do in conventional media recovery.

Dynamic Reconfiguration

The Oracle database includes several features that enable changes to be made to the instance configuration dynamically. For example, the dynamic SGA infrastructure can be used to alter an instance's memory usage. It enables the size of the buffer cache, the shared pool, the large pool, and the process-private memory to be changed without shutting down the instance. Oracle also provides transparent management of working memory for SQL execution by self-tuning the initialization runtime parameters that control allocation of private memory.

Another type of dynamic reconfiguration occurs when Oracle polls the operating system to detect changes in the number of available CPUs and reallocates internal resources.

In addition, some initialization parameters can be changed without shutting down the instance. You can use the ALTER SESSION statement to change the value of a parameter during a session. You can use the ALTER SYSTEM statement to change the value of a parameter in all sessions of an instance for the duration of the instance.

See Also:

Oracle Fail Safe

Oracle Fail Safe is a software option that works with Microsoft Cluster Server (MSCS) to provide highly available business solutions on Microsoft clusters. A Microsoft cluster is a configuration of two or more Windows systems that appears to network users as a single, highly available system.

Oracle Fail Safe works with MSCS cluster software to provide high availability for applications and single-instance databases running on a cluster. When a node fails, the cluster software fails over to the surviving node based on parameters that you configure using Oracle Fail Safe.

With Oracle Fail Safe, you can reduce downtime for single-instance Oracle databases, Oracle HTTP servers, and almost any application that can be configured as a Windows service.

See Also:

Oracle Fail Safe documentation at

Recovery Manager

Database backup, restoration, and recovery are essential processes underlying any high availability system. Imagine the potential for lost revenue, customer dissatisfaction, and unrecoverable information caused by a disk failure or human error. A well-designed and well-implemented backup and recovery strategy is a cornerstone for every database deployment, making it possible to restore and recover all or part of a database without data loss.

Recovery Manager (RMAN) is Oracle's utility to manage the backup and, more importantly, the recovery of the database. It eliminates operational complexity while providing superior performance and availability of the database.

Recovery Manager determines the most efficient method of executing the requested backup, restoration, or recovery operation and then executes these operations with the Oracle database server. Recovery Manager and the server automatically identify modifications to the structure of the database and dynamically adjust the required operation to adapt to the changes.

RMAN provides the following benefits:

Flash Recovery Area

The flash recovery area is a unified storage location for all recovery-related files and activities in an Oracle database. By defining one initialization parameter, all RMAN backups, archive logs, control file autobackups, and datafile copies are automatically written to a specified file system or automatic storage management disk group.

Making a backup to disk is faster because using the flash recovery area eliminates the bottleneck of writing to tape. More importantly, if database media recovery is required, then datafile backups are readily available. Restoration and recovery time is reduced because you do not need to find a tape and a free tape device to restore the needed datafiles and archive logs.

The flash recovery area provides:

Hardware Assisted Resilient Data (HARD) Initiative

Oracle has introduced the Hardware Assisted Resilient Data (HARD) Initiative, which is a program designed to prevent data corruptions before they happen. Data corruptions are very rare, but when they happen, they can have a catastrophic effect on a database, and therefore a business.

Under the HARD Initiative, Oracle continues to work with selected system and storage vendors to build operating system and storage components that can detect corruptions early and prevent corrupted data from being written to disk. The kay approach is block checking where the storage subsystem validates the Oracle block contents. Implementation of this feature is transparent to the end user or DBA, regardless of the hardware vendor.

See Also:

Appendix A, "Hardware Assisted Resilient Data (HARD) Initiative"