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RAC Grid Suitability for Packaged Applications

Oracle RAC Cluster Tips by Burleson Consulting

This is an excerpt from the bestselling book Oracle Grid & Real Application Clusters.  To get immediate access to the code depot of working RAC scripts, buy it directly from the publisher and save more than 30%.

Many applications such as ERP, CRM, Supply Chain, and SAS are bought ready made off-the-shelf from the vendors and then customized to the unique needs of the specific enterprise. Invariably, these packaged applications rely on a relational database system to store the control data and transactional data. Control data includes the application suite, metadata, etc. These packaged applications generally provide a certified version of the database to use.  Generally, revision or release of package applications and the database systems do not coincide.

To illustrate the point, whenever Oracle releases a new version with advanced features and enhancements, the package application vendor takes their own time to implement the new Oracle version. Applications tend to lag the database in releasing a matching product that leverages the new features of the database technology.

For example, after the 10g RAC database was released, many of the packaged application vendors are attempting to leverage the multi-instance RAC Grid database system. With built-in advantages like scalability, high availability, and enhanced parallelism, RAC is a suitable complement to the ERP, CRM applications. There is an opportunity for most of the packaged applications to utilize the RAC features.

Applications like SAP, Oracle e-Business Suite, Siebel, and Peoplesoft are making serious attempts to use the Oracle RAC database as a backend layer. Some have formally certified and others are in the evaluation stage.

In the next section, the focus is on the opportunity or suitability for some selected ERP applications.

SAP and Real Application Clusters

SAP R/3 and mySAP ERP offer companies a comprehensive solution for managing financials, human resources, analytics, operations, and corporate services. It is a huge collection of software modules.  The database is a vital component in the whole architecture of the SAP ERP system.

The database stores almost everything needed for the functionality of the SAP system. Data pieces such as program source code, screen text, menu details, customer information, parameter definitions, statistical information, and transactional data are stored in the database. Data is classified in three broad types: master data; control data; and transaction data.

The architecture of a SAP system involves multiple SAN instances. The SAN instance is an administrative entity that consists of several processes such as message, gateway, update, enquire, and dialog processes. A SAP instance can be a central instance with message, gateway, update, and enqueue processes, or it can be a dialog instance with dialog and background processes. All instances connect to the database. The SAP instance is basically implemented as an application server. A typical SAP installation will have many application servers accessing the Oracle database.

Oracle RAC provides a good opportunity for separating the database processing activity into different Oracle instances.  As shown in Figure 11.1, in a three-tier SAP R/3 environment, a specific set of application servers can be configured to access one instance, and another set of application servers can be configured to access and update the second instance. The RAC system provides excellent scalability. As the SAP installation grows in terms of application servers, the Oracle RAC can grow in the number of nodes/instances to meet demands.

Figure 11.1: SAP R/3 system using the Oracle RAC database

At the same time, the Oracle RAC provides high availability by absorbing the failed instance's application server connections. Failure of any of the cluster nodes is of no consequence to the SAP application servers, as they can move over and connect to the surviving database instances.

There are hundreds of objects and sometimes these objects are created when the system is in use. It would be practically impossible to deal with the raw partitions. It is recommended that a RAC database supporting SAP applications be based on a cluster file system or ASM. This gives much flexibility in managing the data files and tablespaces.


This is an excerpt from the bestselling book Oracle Grid & Real Application Clusters, Rampant TechPress, by Mike Ault and Madhu Tumma.

You can buy it direct from the publisher for 30%-off and get instant access to the code depot of Oracle tuning scripts.


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