1 Near-Instant Oracle Cloning with Syncsort AdvancedClient Technologies White Paper bex wpor
2 Near-Instant Oracle Cloning with Syncsort AdvancedClient Technologies Introduction Are you a database administrator working extensively with Oracle on UNIX or Windows? Over time, have your databases greatly expanded and increased in complexity? Are you sometimes faced with supporting database testing or analysis perhaps in support of a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) application, Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) venture, technology audit or similar project? Are you often required to create a full physical clone of an Oracle database, completely independent of the production data? If so, you have probably been plagued by some or all of the following troublesome cloning headaches: Excessive Time Requirement. Physical database clones of large databases can each take hours, if not days, to complete. Restoring a database from tape or making a database copy is a time-consuming task. Excessive Space Consumption. Each physical database clone consumes as much space as the source database. When the source database contains terabytes of data and multiple physical database clones are required, the amount of space needed quickly adds up. Lack of History. A physical database copy reflects only the current time. Other past points in time are not easily available, though they are often requested. Storage Complexities. Cloning from backups generally necessitates weekly base backups, and restoration requires complicated tape handling. Write Limitations. Some cloning tools produce read-only database clones. While analysis is accommodated, transaction processing and some forms of quality and acceptance testing are not. This paper prescribes a streamlined process to avoid these headaches. The cloning paradigm proposed herein: requires minimal time and minimal space resources, eliminates the need for backup windows and the complexities of tape handling, allows for clones from many historic points in time, and results in a modifiable Oracle clone. Syncsort Technology Provides the Virtual Clone Solution The antidote for your headaches is offered by Syncsort Incorporated. It involves the single-step creation of virtual database clones and overcomes the many disadvantages of traditional physical database cloning. Creating a virtual database clone, for the purposes of this paper, is the process of mapping an independent client machine to a full Oracle database image which exists on a disk-based storage device. A user Page 1
3 accessing a virtual database clone interacts with the server that hosts the disk storage containing the database image. Yet, to that user, the clone appears as a fully restored Oracle database in every respect. This virtual clone solution relies on Syncsort s disk-to-disk business continuity paradigm that exploits blocklevel incremental backup technology. A key component of this paradigm is Syncsort s AdvancedClient agent for Oracle. AdvancedClient utilizes frequent, highly efficient image-based snapshots to back up files, applications, and databases from UNIX or Windows servers to highly reliable disk storage. Since AdvancedClient technology assures that the server hosting the disk storage is database-aware, the database image on the storage disk is in a consistent, ready-to-use state. Syncsort AdvancedClient makes virtual cloning possible by providing immediate access to the latest or any past database image on the storage device. It enables permissioned administrators to map independent clients to Oracle database images on the disk. This makes it possible to quickly generate multiple read/write virtual clones of an Oracle database from any stored point-in-time image, while utilizing little more storage than the database image on the storage disk. Virtual database cloning alleviates the five headaches in the following ways: Problem Excessive Time Requirement. Physical database clones of large databases can each take hours, if not days, to complete. Excessive Space Consumption. Each physical database clone consumes as much space as the source database. Lack of History. A physical database copy reflects only the current time. Other past points in time are not easily available, though they are often requested. Storage Complexities. Cloning from backups generally necessitates weekly base backups; and restoration requires complicated tape handling. Write Limitations. Some cloning tools result in read-only databases. The Syncsort Solution In just minutes, a permissioned administrator can create a virtual clone by mapping to a full database image on a disk storage device. While traditional Oracle clones use physical storage on the user s client machine, the Syncsort paradigm uses pointers. Virtual clones are created when a permissioned administrator maps to database images already present on the disk storage device. The only additional storage required is the small amount of space needed to track user changes to the virtual clone, plus an unpopulated Oracle installation on the independent, or target, machine. You can choose from a menu of many different past points in time, and you can easily select additional points in time. Depending upon your plan, you can have hourly increments from which to choose. Non-intrusive block-level incremental backups to disk are small and fast, and they are immediately integrated with the previous backups of the same server. The result is that no base backups after the very first one are needed, a backup window is no longer required, and tape handling is a thing of the past. In addition to making the backed up full server image available as a virtual clone, AdvancedClient technology allows you to write to the clone in a live capacity. Changes to the full server image are stored in a live data area on the disk storage host. Page 2
4 Other solutions require full database migration to a new Oracle client a massive undertaking you would naturally avoid whenever possible. In contrast, Syncsort s AdvancedClient agent for Oracle enables you to take advantage of numerous storage, resource, and recovery benefits. The Syncsort Cloning Process for Oracle Databases While some planning and preparation is undoubtedly required, the investment is well worth it because when the request for a clone comes in, a fast single-step procedure is all it takes. The planning and preparation steps involve the following: (a) PLANNING: Schedule frequent periodic Backup Express backups of your Oracle server. These can also be used as your routine backups. (b) PREPARATION: Set up the independent client machine with Backup Express and a simple unpopulated Oracle installation. If you have accomplished the steps above, then in a moment s notice you ll be ready for the creation of a near-instant database clone. The Single-Step Oracle Cloning Procedure The single-step cloning procedure is as follows: On the target machine, open the Syncsort Backup Express management interface and launch the Restore window. (Your backed up Oracle databases appear as yellow disks on the Backup Express Restore source pane.) Set the job option Oracle Restore Mode to Clone Database, then simply select from the Backup Express source tree the database instance you want to clone. Fill in the security information and run the restore job. The job is monitored and cataloged by Backup Express and takes mere seconds to complete. When the Cloning operation is run, the following occurs: Restore source volumes for Oracle are mapped to the client. These include data files, archive log destinations, flash recovery area (for Oracle 10g or later), and all other Oracle files. Archive logs are restored to a temporary location and the text parameter file is restored. An Oracle instance is created, started, and mounted. The database is cloned up to the last system change number (SCN) in the last archive log. In seconds, the mapped Oracle database image becomes visible to the user in the local file browser as a local drive and can be treated like any other volume. After you exit Backup Express, your user simply invokes the Oracle database on the independent client. Although the database instance is referred to as a clone, it behaves just like a restored Oracle database in all respects. All this is accomplished through the power of Syncsort s AdvancedClient technology, which enables the rapid mounting of database images to meet end-user application needs. The automatic and immediate association of incremental backups on an iscsi-connected storage device allows near-instant access to data stored on disk storage without transferring the data. Once this procedure is activated, destination storage volumes including Oracle databases appear to the user as local, fully accessible read/write drives. Page 3
5 Planning and Preparation As alluded to above, the Syncsort Oracle cloning solution requires rudimentary planning and preparation. This section discusses these steps more thoroughly. The planning process simply involves seeding then scheduling periodic backups of your Oracle server as follows: 1. Seed the destination disk. Seeding the destination disk consists of backing up an initial base (full) image of the Oracle database from the UNIX or Windows Oracle source server to disk storage. This base backup needs to be done only once. It can easily be scheduled through the Backup Express management interface, and after it is completed, only small block-level incrementals need to be performed. The destination disk server is required to be one of several supported host machines. To optimally match your organization s needs and infrastructure, two variations are available, Express Recovery Server (XRS) and Advanced Protection Manager (APM). XRS is deployed with Windows environments, UNIX environments, or mixed environments. It uses Windows 2003 x64 servers as its destination host, allowing any direct, SAN, or iscsi-attached disk array to be used for storage. APM, currently deployed with Windows only, utilizes Network Appliance Data ONTAP systems as the destination host. 2. Schedule regular backups. Schedule Backup Express to perform frequent incremental backups to disk. This is done by using the Backup Express management interface. Unlike traditional backups, the Syncsort block-level incremental (BLI) solution transfers only the changed blocks of changed files. As a result, the transfers are extremely fast, require minimal storage, and have virtually no impact on system resources. They can be scheduled as often as an hour apart, or at any other desired frequency. Each incremental is immediately associated with the base backup and the previous incrementals to form a full virtual database image. The merits of block-level incremental backups are described in greater detail later in this paper. The incremental backups automatically combined with the previous incrementals and the single base backup become the foundations for your future Oracle clones. The preparation phase simply involves setting up a target machine (or node) for your clone. The target node must meet the following requirements: The target node must not be the source machine (the node from which the backup was originally taken). The target node must have Oracle software and Backup Express software installed. The version of the Oracle software must be the same as that of the source database (the database whose backup will be recovered). The target node must be running the same Operating System as the source machine and be part of the Backup Express Enterprise. Page 4
6 The target node must not have logical mount points corresponding to those of the source database. For example, if the source database had files hosted in mount points /ora or E:, the target node should not have these, as they will be mapped during the cloning process. The target node should have a configuration similar to that of the source node in terms of memory, etc., as all Oracle parameters will have the same values as they did at backup time. It is recommended that the target node be a very simple installation of the Operating System, Oracle, and Backup Express. The Merits of Block-Level Incrementals to Disk There are two types of incremental backups: file-level and block-level. Syncsort utilizes the far more efficient block-level technique. In a file-level incremental, the pieces of data on disk comprise a single entity (file) referenced by the host file system. The software agent communicates to the file system, which gets all the data from the disk and presents the file as a single entity. By contrast, a block is the smallest piece of data on disk that can be addressed. Block-level is the lowest level of granularity associated with file changes. During a block-level incremental, the backup software agent communicates to a special driver, which gives the agent information about changes to a file s individual component blocks. Block-level incrementals can be as much as 90 percent smaller and faster than file-level incrementals from conventional systems. As a result, they will yield significant storage savings over time when compared to traditional methods. Very little disk space is required just the divergence between the source and the destination. When you have terabytes of data, the savings add up quickly (see Figure 1). STORAGE GROWTH MODEL 950 FILE-LEVEL: WEEKLY BASE, DAILY INCREMENTALS BLOCK-LEVEL: INCREMENTALS FOREVER 900 MODEL ASSUMPTIONS: 12 TB STARTING 2% DAILY CHANGE 907 TB % MONTHLY DATA GROWTH S T O R A G E S A V I N G S TB 0 DAY 1 DAY 7 DAY 30 DAY 365 Figure 1. Storage savings over time with block-level incrementals Page 5
7 Block-level incrementals eliminate business interruption. Your databases can remain open and fully accessible to users. Since database downtime is not necessary, numerous incrementals can be run each day without affecting production operations. Additionally, block-level incrementals can easily be automated to run forever. Once they have been scheduled, you do not need to do anything with them until someone requests a clone or you need to recover the database. Since Syncsort AdvancedClient backs up data at nearly raw disk speed, frequent incrementals have virtually no impact on bandwidth utilization. Direct access of changed blocks at the physical level bypasses the file system, dramatically reducing elapsed time and resource usage on the source node (see Figure 2). Because data volumes are so small, block-level incrementals can be effectively transferred over either a LAN or a corporate WAN even if the WAN connection is slow so the destination server can be located either locally or remotely Time (sec) CPU (%) File-level Incremental Block-level Incremental Figure 2: Block-level incrementals reduce elapsed time and CPU load On the destination disk, each block-level incremental is automatically and immediately associated with the base backup and previous incrementals to produce a full image of the source server. With traditional backup methods, you would have to prepare destination storage, locate tapes, restore the base backup from tape, and combine it with many incremental backups a process that can easily take more than a day to complete. But the Syncsort solution creates point-in-time database images, which eliminate the need to aggregate incrementals and reduce the number of transaction logs that need to be applied, so the cleanup and restore processes are minimal. Each database image is displayed in the Backup Express management interface for easy user selection (see Figure 3). The image is internally accessed via its Logical Unit Number (LUN). Page 6
8 Oracle Database Point-in-time images Figure 3. Each Oracle image is displayed in the Backup Express management interface for Oracle Clone access Working with Your Oracle Clone Each database image on the storage device consists of a read-only instance and a live data area. You can interact with the image as if it were the source database, but changes are stored only on the live data area. The read-only instance does not change. In Figure 4, Users A, B, and C access live data areas associated with their respective virtual database images. When users access these images instead of the source database, they do not need to wait for physical clones to be created, database performance is not impacted, and the chance of database crashes, corruption, or other errors is significantly reduced. Page 7
9 ORACLE SOURCE SERVER DISK DESTINATION SERVER USER A USER B USER C BLOCK-LEVEL INCREMENTAL BASE BACKUP READ-ONLY SNAPSHOT LIVE DATA AREA Figure 4: Users accessing full images of the Oracle database Thus, the next time someone requests an Oracle database clone for an external project or application, you can simply run a Syncsort Oracle Clone Restore of the latest or any past point-in-time image of production data on the disk destination. The cloned set includes data files, tablespaces, home/base directories, and archive logs for computing the set of covering volumes for each database on the open source systems. The read/write cloned database can be used for multiple purposes, such as: Research Development Testing or staging Statistical analysis Data warehousing Page 8
10 Quality assurance Auditing and compliance Some Oracle-specific applications include: Oracle E-Business Suite Oracle Data Warehousing Oracle Business Intelligence Suite Oracle Database Configurations for SAP R/3 Oracle Database Configurations for 3rd-party CRM Applications A Complete Business Continuity Solution If you choose Syncsort to streamline database cloning, you can easily use it to replace your existing Windows, UNIX, Linux, and NetWare backup solutions as well. Although this paper focuses on the specific use of creating virtual clones of an Oracle database, Syncsort provides much more. Syncsort AdvancedClient is a component of the Backup Express near-cdp solution, which offers: Enterprise-wide coverage. The Syncsort solution economically supports not only critical applications, but resources at all levels: file, folder, disk, server, and site. Data protection file transfers serve as routine file backups, disaster recovery backups, and everything in between. The single data protection package also optimizes knowledge resources since IT personnel need to become familiar with only one product. Fast and simple disaster recovery. Syncsort provides disk-to-disk bare metal recovery based on native backups, enabling entire servers, including settings, applications, and patches, to be fully-restored in minutes after a server failure, instead of in hours. Long-term data retention. Syncsort Backup Express provides additional long-term data retention with minimal setup and configuration overhead. In the event of a recovery interruption, automated failover from tape is initiated. Central and remote site recovery. Fast, small data transfers and disk-to-disk bare metal recovery assure that both central and remote sites are fully and reliably protected. Simple replication, supplied by your disk manufacturer or third party, to an alternate destination server at a distant site, is easily accommodated across even a slow WAN. Data and applications at remote offices are replicated to central headquarters, and those at central headquarters are replicated to a secure disaster recovery site. Additional benefits. Syncsort's disk-to-disk solutions with Backup Express feature administrative simplicity, a centralized data protection approach, multiple platform support by means of a single interface, and support for failover clusters, applications, and dynamic resource allocation. Page 9
11 Syncsort Oracle Cloning: The Efficient Alternative As a database administrator, accommodating requests for Oracle database clones can be problematic. Physical clones of the Oracle database can be large and time-consuming to create. But with Syncsort AdvancedClient for Oracle, the process of creating and accessing database clones is much faster and easier to implement. An investment in the Syncsort solution offers simple access to virtual database clones and eliminates the need to propagate physical clones. For further details about Syncsort s data protection solutions, visit home.htm. Page 10
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