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Unpredictable Loads

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%.

With the increase of internet-based business operations and around the clock commercial activities, IT and data resources are always online. The Internet has made all the difference in the way the database is used and accessed. One can never know when the sudden increase in access levels will occur. The traditional 9 to 5 type of database access is a thing of the past.

Case Study #1 is one of the most frequently visited and largest sites on the Internet. This site offers the popular Sims Online. Sims Online is a virtual world built from the imaginations of thousands of players. The Internet allows the users to play simultaneously.

Sims Online is an artificial online world where many people treat the Sims as if they were real. The player can be him or herself, or whoever they want to be. In this world, the players have their own piece of land to do with it as they please. The player can create a house, coffee bar, dance club, museum, or whatever else inspires their imagination. Neighborhoods around the player can be explored and other real Sims can be met along the way. The player can develop a network of real Sims friends to enhance power, wealth, reputation and social standing.

Sims Online is a massive online world that can be accessed at any time. Interaction with the world is through one Sim that is developed over time. Everything that is bought, built or created will still be there when the player returns. This massive online environment requires a powerful database infrastructure to store profiles, game play statistics, player attributes and interactions. To manage this level of complexity, Electronic Arts uses Oracle 9i RAC database technology. uses the RAC solution to improve and manage stability, scalability and availability. The popularity, and hence the economic feasibility of the project, depends on the subscribers playing each other. How they play, behave, move and react is hard to anticipate because there is no order and no uniformity. To support such complexity, the database has to scale. When more Sims enter an already crowded room, it causes a ripple effect and causes more data to be stored and processed. The status of the entire simulated world and all of its occupants are stored in Oracle Real Application Clusters.

Oracle RAC is able to meet the challenges of an unpredictable load. An important feature of the RAC database is that it is always online and available. Even if one or two nodes and their instances fail, the RAC database is available and accessible through the surviving nodes. When the load increases at sustained levels, additional nodes or instances can easily be added. Effectively, it is able to enhance and scale without totally re-engineering the backend database. When Sims Online was launched, it had 1.5 TB of data. EA expects to increase it to eight TB as the popularity grows.

This case study is based on the article, ?Foundation for New World? by David Baum and Ed Baum in Oracle Magazine ? March/April 2003.

Case Study #2

In another example, the Rapid Rewards Program by Southwest Airlines is supported by an Oracle RAC database. The Rewards program enrolls members into the instance and keeps track of rewards based on the interactions.

There are multiple channels for the customer to view and update their position. For example, information is continuously updated and accessed at the gates with a card swipe, by phone contact, by name and phone searches, via the reservation system, and through airport kiosks.

This kind of high exposure, with critical sources of information, has to be maintained 24/7.  At the same time, it has to provide scalability as the program becomes more popular. With requirements such as client side transparency and sub-second response times to view and update data, Oracle RAC is a good choice. The RAC system, by providing multiple instances, is able to set up separate access regions for different input points; therefore, contention for resources is minimized.

High Availability

With multiple instances, the RAC system gives a near zero failure environment. Even when one or more nodes fail in the cluster, for whatever reason, as long there is one instance running, the database resources are provided.

With the help of the transparent application failover (TAF) configuration, operations are transferred automatically to the surviving instance.


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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