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Seven ways to configure failover management software

We have an Oracle database on a pair of HP-UX servers running MC/ServiceGuard to create a high-availability (HA) system. We are short on HA skills and also short on an Oracle license, which would make it relatively easy.

We don't have the budget for the extra Oracle stuff. So, we are looking to maximize the power of MC/ServiceGuard without using the Oracle OPS. To meet the requirements, we need someone to give us guidelines/expert advice/help on how to configure Oracle in HA environment.


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There is some question on whether OPS is always the best answer for availability since in some cases it can introduce some performance degradation. That being said, the best way to configure a two-node cluster, whether on MC/Serviceguard, VERITAS cluster server, or any other failover management software, is as follows:

  • Two systems, configured as similarly as possible
  • With mirrored disks connected directly to each host for the operating system
  • With a set of mirrored dual-hosted disks (connected to both hosts). It is best if each set of mirrors is in a separate enclosure
  • With two dedicated private networks for heartbeats
  • With a third network (at least one) connected to the LAN where the client systems will be located
  • The Oracle data and executable should be on the shared disks
  • Make sure you use HP's JFS (Journaled File System) to improve performance on failover and start up, and Volume Manager for mirroring

I'm not certain what Oracle's licensing policy is on clustered hosts, but I don't believe they require you to purchase complete licenses for both hosts.

Unfortunately, achieving high availability on your critical systems can be a fairly expensive proposition. You need to balance the cost of implementation (which may include hiring skilled personnel or training for your current ones) with the benefits that increased availability will create for your business. There's no such thing as a free lunch, but if you can persuade your management to consider these costs to be an investment rather than just the throwing of good money after bad, you may be able to get the funds you require.

Good luck.

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This was first published in December 2002

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