07 August, 2011

Oracle 11g RAC Essentials

PACKT Publishing had invited me to review the new 11g RAC book "Oracle 11g R1/R2 Real Application Clusters Essentials". This book, published in May 2011, is an update on the earlier book "Oracle 11g R1/R2 Real Application Clusters Handbook" published in June 2010.

The RAC Clusters Essentials book has been co-authored by Ben Prusinski and Syed Jaffer Hussain.

The reader needs to have familiarity with Oracle Database Administration (and, possibly, installation). However, knowledge of 10gRAC and ASM is not a pre-requisite. That is refreshing. If you already know 10g RAC or 11gR1 or 11gR1 RAC, you would appreciate the "New Features" listings for 11gR1 and 11gR2 that are included in each chapter. However, if you are beginning with, say, 9i knowledge, do not fear. This books brings you up to the right knowledge level.

I like the fact that the book begins with a review of the concept of High Availability. It doesn't jump into Oracle RAC but sets the stage by having the reader understand and appreciate downtime, the concept of 5 nines, business continuity and recoverability and the available options. Many DBAs and IT Management may not understand why Oracle seems to have different products (DataGuard, Streams, GoldenGate and RAC). Each of these is conceptually different and meets a different requirement. These are introduced here and covered again in Chapter 12. (The Scalability aspect of RAC comes in Chapter 6 on Workload Management). {However, I would disagree with the wording in a description of how Oracle handles transaction errors because it uses the phrase 'database recovery' to describe a rollback followed by a roll-forward. That section needs a review and rewrite to explain the differences between rollback of failed statements and transactions and database (system) recovery.}

Chapter 2 is an overview of RAC architecture. I applaud the inclusion of descriptions of OS and hardware details (although Storage Management applies to non-RAC implementations as well). Given the level of detail on storage protocols a differentiation between SAN and NAS would have been in order.
It also then goes on to provide brief, introductory, explanations to RAC processes.

Chapter 3 is a walk-through on the Installation of the Grid and the RAC database. It very well differentiates between 11gR1 and 11gR2 Grid installations. The authors have included explanations of what happens when the root scripts are executed and also how to execute post installation checks.
Curiously, the creation of the "grid" Linux account is a missing step. The authors have used "oracle" to install the Grid Infrastructure. The documentation allows for "oracle" to own the Grid Infrastructure (particularly in a Typical Installation) but my preference would have been to clearly use "grid" as a separate account for the G.I. Note that multicasting on the private interconnect are mandatory from This may need getting the Network team to modify router configuration.

Chapter 4 is an overview of ASM. As I have pointed out earlier, if you have not administered an ASM install in 10g, this chapter helpfully begins with the "basics" -- even though it quickly goes into 11gR1/11gR2 commands. It also goes on to cover ACFS.

Chapter 5 is on managing and troubleshooting Clusterware. Beginning with descriptions of Clusterware processes, it goes on to cover the diagnostic commands. I am impressed by the content in this chapter.

Chapter 6 is focussed on the RAC database. DBAs not familiar with 11g would find the section on ADR useful as well. In my opinion, Services, TAF, FCF and FAN could have been a separate chapter so as to provide more details on these hard-to-understand features.

Chapter 7 is on Backup and Recovery. It also goes on to describe Instance Recovery in RAC. This I appreciate for it's inclusion.

Chapter 8 is on Performance Tuning. As with Backup and Recovery, it is also an introduction to 11g features for 10g non-RAC DBAs. I am happy to find that the manner in which 11g features are introduced is consistent throughout the book.

Chapter 9 on Clusterware Upgrades is for existing 10g/11g RAC DBAs.

Chapter 10, called "Real-world Scenarios" discusses adding and removing nodes and instances, relocating database instances and converting single-instance databases to RAC. DBAs need to practice these scenarios so this chapter well placed and provides adequate detail.

Chapter 11 is specific to EBusiness Suite implementations.

Chapter 12 called "High Availability" provides descriptions of Streams, GoldenGate and DataGuard.

All in all, I rate the book a 7.5 on 10. I am impressed by the content. The book is useful for all DBAs : From those running non-RAC 9i to those already running 11gRAC databases.
I would not hesitate recommending this book to anyone who wants "a good back on Oracle Clusterware and/or RAC". Even as we notice as in recent Oracle University Courses, Clusterware and RAC are separate topics. The book handles them appropriately.
I would have liked to see more coverage of RAC One Node and Oracle Restart as well -- possibly as a Chapter 13.

DISCLOSURE : Although PACKT Publishing sent me a soft-copy of the book for the review, I am not being paid to write or publish the review.

1 comment:

The Human Fly said...

Hi Hemant, thank you for your honest review to our book. I do agree with your idea of including and missing part on Oracle One node and Oracle Restart topics. Although this idea came into our minds, we couldn't manage to included it due to time and other factors.