REVIEWER: Tom Sager, database administrator team leader for E.ON.
BACKGROUND: E.ON U.S., headquartered in Louisville, Kentucky, is a diversified energy services company. E.ON U.S. owns and operates Louisville Gas and Electric Company, a regulated utility that serves 318,000 natural gas and 390,000 electric customers in Louisville and 16 surrounding counties, and Kentucky Utilities Company, a regulated electric utility in Lexington, Kentucky, that serves 518,000 customers in 77 Kentucky counties and five counties in Virginia.
PLATFORMS: SUSE Linux 10 64-bit and Oracle 10gR2 64-bit.
PROBLEM SOLVED: Initial implementation was for a large Oracle database supporting E.ONs Commodity Training System. Given the nature of the application - sensitive data, compliance issues and performance needs - we needed a solution that would allow us to maintain local disk backups, encrypt them and do so quickly. Oracle provides some encryption functionality with 10gR2, but the full feature set requires the purchase of the Advanced Security Option. Also, the storage needs were becoming burdensome for maintaining both a local disk Recovery Manager (RMAN) copy and full export. Oracles native RMAN was much too slow with the compression option turned on. We felt the best approach was to pursue acquiring a product that could both compress and encrypt at the same time. LEO from Quest Software is just such a product; it effectively addresses both of these issues.
PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: Using LEO is almost transparent. Once the RMAN destination device is configured, RMAN runs as usual, and the compression is transparent. Similarly, for encryption, the password is set via a command-line configure command and then forgotten. For import and exports, the only change is prefacing the utility command with leo. Compressed backups run quickly, much faster than native RMAN compression. Adding encryption to the process slows them down somewhat, but the result is usually an elapsed time comparable to a native uncompressed/unencrypted RMAN backup. Thus, we gain all the advantages of compression and encryption without giving up any elapsed time.
STRENGTHS: LEO has a very simple and nonintrusive installation. It can literally execute a single shell script. Windows is not required; LEO can be installed from a terminal session. Root access is not required (in fact not desired). A database administrator can install, configure and manage without the help of a system administrator. LEO is easily configured and is nearly transparent in operation. After a minimal change for each, both RMAN backups and exports run with LEO in the same manner as before. Existing backup and recovery procedures can remain in place, with no need to rewrite anything in order implement LEO. LEOs primary strengths are the excellent compression and industry-standard encryption it provides for database backups. These result in huge savings of backup storage media and transmission time while at the same time ensuring the security of the data.
WEAKNESSES: Although compression is always predictably good, on some databases RMAN elapsed times are only about the same as non-LEO, non-compressed RMAN backups. In some cases, speed is actually a priority over compression. Thus, even if it meant giving up some compression, exchanging it for elapsed time reductions would be of some value.
SELECTION CRITERIA: LEO was selected for these reasons: positive experience with LiteSpeed for SQL Server, poor performance of native Oracle RMAN compression, marginal support for encryption with native Oracle (without advanced security), and desire to implement a single technology for a multiplatform backup and recovery strategy.
DELIVERABLES: LEO delivers secure, compact database backups. This in turn provides huge benefits in storage savings (disk and tape), backup speeds and recovery speeds. Additionally, it addresses increasingly stringent security and compliance standards by ensuring the backups security. With LEO, encrypted backups are never stored (on disk or tape) or transmitted in an unencrypted format.
VENDOR SUPPORT: Quest support is always good. They have a sophisticated support Web site, give prompt responses and although not needed for this product, know from experience with other products that it is easy to get a support engineer on the phone when needed.
DOCUMENTATION: LEO documentation is excellent: brief, concise and yet gives the details of what is going on behind the screens, information that any good DBA would want to know before deployment in a production environment.
LiteSpeed Engine for Oracle (LEO)
5 Polaris Way
Aliso Viejo, CA 92656
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