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 NICs and HBAs
Oracle Tips by Burleson Consulting

Oracle 11g Grid & Real Application Clusters by Rampant TechPress is written by four of the top Oracle database experts (Steve Karam, Bryan Jones, Mike Ault and Madhu Tumma).  The following is an excerpt from the book.

A HBA RAC design will have many physical network connections in order to provided true redundancy.  Note that all of the physical connections are not shown in diagram 4.2.  In an implementation, each component is physically connected usually via a network interface card (NIC) or host bus adapter (HBA) interface.

 

NIC or HBA interfaces should be the fastest possible, especially in the case of the cluster interconnect and disk connect.  For example, using Gigabit Ethernet for the interconnect seems very fast when compared to older network technologies. However, a single Gigabit Ethernet NIC should not be considered more than adequate in all cases.  The Oracle RAC design may require NIC teaming/bonding. Upgrading to 10 Gigabit Ethernet is another option to increase bandwidth.  10 Gigabit Ethernet speed is 1,250 MB/s versus Gigabit Ethernet’s 125 MB/s. 

 

Failed NIC interfaces result in the loss of that component unless a second NIC card is failed over to immediately. A failure of a non-redundant HBA results in loss of connection to the disk array.  Redundancy is the key.  Not having multiple NICs and HBAs on a mission critical Oracle RAC is a poor design.

Failure of the InterConnect Switch / Memory

The interconnect switch is a core part of the RAC Architecture.  The switch should be an enterprise grade managed switch.  10 Gigabit Ethernet switches are not cheap, but could increase performance significantly.

 

Various server vendors provide advanced memory fault protection features such as Error Correcting Code (ECC), online spares, and mirroring.

Provide Redundancy at Each Level

It is easy to see that redundancy at the hardware level is vital. At each level of the hardware layout an alternate access path must be available. Duplicating all equipment and configuring the automatic failover capabilities of the hardware reduce the chances of hardware failure to virtually nil.

 

By providing the required levels of redundancy, the system becomes highly available. Once there is an HA configuration, it is up to the manager to plan any software or application upgrades to further reduce application downtime. In Oracle Database 11g, rolling upgrades are supported, further increasing reliability.  It is highly recommended that all upgrades be tested on non-production systems first.  Oracle 11g provides a new testing tool called Database Replay.  More information about the Enterprise Edition Database Replay capabilities can be found at oracle.com.

 

At the SAN level, appropriate duplication software should be used to ensure the SAN arrays are kept synchronous. Oracle Database 11g allows for use of Oracle Automatic Storage Management or ASM.  ASM can provide striping to improve availability. 

DBA and User Error Protection

Oracle provides many data protection utilities and features that should be tested and understood so that an emergency does not involve a learning curve.  RMAN, of course, is Oracle’s backup utility.  Flashback is new as of Oracle 10g.  Here is a list of the various components of the Flashback package:

  • Flashback Query

  • Flashback Version Query

  • Flashback Transaction Query

  • DBMS_FLASHBACK package

  • Flashback Transaction

  • Flashback Data Archive (Oracle Total Recall)

  • Flashback Table

  • Flashback Drop (Recycle Bin)

  • Flashback Database

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