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High availability recommendation for Oracle 10g databases

Hi. We are in the process of converting to Oracle 10g. We are also in the process of consolidating all databases running on Windows 2003 and Novell into one Solaris Server. Therefore, we need to have some high-availability solution in place. We have investigated several approaches, including RAC, HA Cluster (Solaris) and Data Guard solutions. For budget reasons, we have to eliminate RAC.

Let's assume I have four databases (D1, D2, D3 and D4) and two Solaris servers (S1 and S2). The configuration that I have in mind is: D1 and D2 will be located on S1, and their corresponding physical standby servers for D1 and D2 will be on S2. D3 and D4 production databases wil be on S2, and their corresponding physical standby databases will be on S1. This allows me to achieve load balancing.

What I am not sure of is, can HA offer a similar solution? I am afraid not. HA will keep one node active all the time and the other will be idle. We are very new to Solaris and we have a consultant helping us out. He recommends the HA solution.

Can you shed any thoughts on this? Are there any elegant solutions out there other than what I have discussed here?

The bottom line is load balancing and high availability for consolidating our database servers at a reasonable cost.

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The two basic solutions that today's Oracle DBAs use for high availability are Oracle RAC and Data Guard. While Sun and other vendors do have HA clustering software, those are not always certified by Oracle for use. The biggest problem concerns transactional control when one node fails. One has to be sure that database transactions are handled correctly in the event of a failure. If you are unsure that your consultant's solution is certified, check Metalink to find out. Personally, I'd stick with RAC or Data Guard. You will probably find Data Guard to be the cheapest solution. Sun will charge you for their HA cluster software, in which case you might be approaching the RAC price range. Data Guard is free with Oracle Enterprise Edition.

This was first published in January 2007

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