Real Application Clusters (RAC) offer two distinct advantages, scalability and availability. With RAC, you can scale your solution quite nicely by distributing your database load among several servers. With RAC, you also get a highly available solution. If one database server goes down, clients can be configured to automatically fail over to a server that is still up and running. Most people who employ RAC are looking for one or both of these advantages. The biggest disadvantages to RAC are cost and complexity. RAC can cost more since you have to license Oracle on more servers and pay for the RAC software. And RAC is more complex than a single database server.
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This was first published in May 2003