Author(s): Vinny Choinski
Creating an effective and complete data protection solution can be a daunting undertaking for many organizations. The number one priority should be obvious: the successful and timely recovery of business-critical application and platform data. However, achieving efficient data protection storage management to meet various internal and external mandates is also important. Because of the many moving parts, seamless integration of multiple disciplines is critical in creating a data protection environment. In fact, according to the ESG research report, Data Protection Personas and Methods, more than half of the organizations surveyed report that they now utilize workload owners such as database administrators for daily data protection activities for their respective resources.
The Solution: NetBackup Copilot for Oracle
NetBackup Copilot for Oracle is an efficient, feature-rich solution for database protection. It integrates components of the NetBackup application, Oracle Recovery Manager, and the NetBackup appliance to manage database backups. As shown in Figure 1, Copilot uses a slice of the NetBackup appliance integrated storage pool to present a snapshot capable NFS share to an Oracle database server as a backup target.
Then the NetBackup application is granted access to communicate with the Oracle database through the Veritas plug-in for Oracle Recovery Manager. A NetBackup database agent policy for Oracle is configured on the NetBackup appliance to run native RMAN commands that back up the database to the NFS target. Once the backup completes, both the RMAN catalog and the NetBackup database are updated with detailed backup information. In order to maintain efficiency and accelerate the backup process, the solution leverages incremental merge capabilities from Oracle. To extend protection beyond the NFS database files, NetBackup can be configured to take off-host snapshots that can be managed with NetBackup Storage Lifecycle Policy (SLP) methodology.
ESG Lab Testing
ESG Lab Spotlight testing included a review of the solution architecture, a walkthrough of the configuration steps, launching and running a backup job, and auditing existing backup job results. As shown in the Data Protection Storage Efficiency figure, ESG Lab captured and analyzed backup job storage attributes. The data was collected using the jobs monitor utility in NetBackup and displays storage characteristics for a set of Oracle data protection jobs. The chart represents the difference in the amount of data transferred between the Oracle server and NetBackup as well as the amount of data stored on the appliance for each of the two backup jobs for a 10TB Oracle database. Because the solution uses incremental merge technology, there was a 94% reduction in the amount of data transferred across the network and stored on the appliance for the second backup job.
It should be noted that even though only changed blocks are transferred after the first full, each backup represents a complete recovery point. Then, once each backup job completes, the RMAN catalog and the NetBackup database are updated with detailed information to simplify recoverability. Next, as shown in the 10TB Oracle DB Backup Duration figure, ESG Lab analyzed duration data from the NetBackup jobs monitor utility for the same two backup jobs. Here, the Copilot solution was able to significantly shorten the time required to complete the second backup job. As shown in the figure, the backup duration or backup window was reduced by 51.1% for the second job. After the first full backup, all subsequent jobs act like typical block level incremental jobs and only need to transfer changed blocks.
The merge functionality then combines the previous backup data with the latest changes to create complete recovery points. It should be noted that with any incremental forever-based backup schema, time, capacity, and network bandwidth savings will vary depending on the change rate of the customer’s data set.
Why This Matters
ESG research indicates that over the last four years, improving backup and recovery has ranked in the top five most-cited IT priorities among surveyed companies. Overall solution efficiency can play a major role in the health of a data protection environment. Slow backup speeds and inefficient data processing can impact backup windows, and unmanaged storage growth can increase cost. These factors can quickly derail any improvement initiatives.
ESG Lab validated that with its Copilot solution, Veritas is working hard to improve Oracle data protection. With a workload-centric focus, Veritas has smartly integrated the right features from its existing portfolio to improve data protection for Oracle databases by driving increased backup performance and delivering intelligent data protection storage for reliable recoveries.
Finally, ESG Lab explored the Copilot for Oracle data protection workflow. As shown in Figure 2, the process starts with the ability of the NetBackup appliance to present an NFS backup target to the Oracle database server. Next, a database backup policy is configured within the NetBackup application. The policy communicates with Oracle Recovery Manager and issues native RMAN commands to initiate Oracle database backups. The solution leverages Oracle incremental merge technology to create an incremental forever backup schema. The process starts with an initial level-0 backup and progresses with level-1 from that point forward. All changes since the initial level-0 are merged into the latest backup image. Next, NetBackup leverages InfoScale functionality available as part of the integrated appliance to create snapshots of the NFS backup images. Each backup and snapshot is added to both the RMAN catalog and the NetBackup database. The snapshot data can then be managed with SLPs to automatically move backup data to the most efficient storage media including, disk, dedupe-disk, tape, cloud, or even offsite replicated devices. This schema benefits both DBAs and backup administrators by allowing each group to use the tools that are most familiar. The DBAs can use their own utilities coupled with a simple file share, with more recovery points, that they don’t have to manage. The backup administrators use NetBackup, which now has all the copies for short- and long-term retention and recovery.
The Bigger Truth
It’s clear Veritas is not starting from scratch with NetBackup Copilot for Oracle. In fact, the company is combining key features from its vast backup portfolio to create an efficient, intuitive solution for Oracle data protection. The solution includes advanced data protection storage management capabilities delivered through the tightly integrated NetBackup appliance; comprehensive backup/recovery administrative capabilities via the NetBackup application; and most importantly, strong database protection expertise acquired through years of database agent development.
However, it’s not just about the technology. The lines between the data protection specialist, IT operations, and the workload owner are beginning to blur. For many organizations, it is common to have workload owners such as database administrators perform daily data protection activities for their respective resources and Veritas understands this. NetBackup Copilot extends the comprehensive data protection management functionality of the NetBackup appliance to the Oracle workload and removes any fear that the data is unprotected by providing visibility to both the workload owner and the backup administrators.
With NetBackup Copilot for Oracle, ESG Lab believes that Veritas is reaping the rewards from years of solid data protection product development. By focusing on customer challenges around Oracle database protection, Veritas was able to deliver a comprehensive solution by simply fine tuning and integrating its existing technologies. ESG Lab also believes that if it can stay on top of vendor changes specific to workload protection, integrate those changes into its core products, and extend support to other challenging workloads and platforms, Veritas will continue to be a leader in the data protection space.
ESG Lab Reports
The goal of ESG Lab reports is to educate IT professionals about data center technology products for companies of all types and sizes. ESG Lab reports are not meant to replace the evaluation process that should be conducted before making purchasing decisions, but rather to provide insight into these emerging technologies. Our objective is to go over some of the more valuable feature/functions of products, show how they can be used to solve real customer problems and identify any areas needing improvement. ESG Lab’s expert third-party perspective is based on our own hands-on testing as well as on interviews with customers who use these products in production environments. This ESG Lab report was sponsored by Veritas.