BMC SQL-BackTrack for Oracle
REVIEWER: Joseph Chiu, manager of database administration for True Value Company.BACKGROUND: True Value Company is a member-owned cooperative supporting more than 6,000 independent retailers worldwide. The company is comprised of the following retail identities: True Value, Grand Rental Station, Taylor Rental Center, Home & Garden Showplace, Induserve Supply and Party Central.
PLATFORMS: IBM AIX 5.1, Oracle 126.96.36.199.
PROBLEM SOLVED: Our challenge was to provide around-the-clock access to members all over the country that are spread across various time zones in addition to supporting the off-hour loads to the data warehouse. We needed to maintain accessibility to as close to a 24x7 basis as possible, ideally with no downtime. However, backup operations were taking more than 26 hours to perform. We spent a lot of time writing scripts and making changes (to keep them up-to-date with changes in the environment). We had a fair amount of scripts that we needed to maintain and support to do hot and cold backups. We also had to manually maintain scripts and do a lot of testing. However, relying on hand-coded scripts could be prone to human error.
PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: We implemented SQL-BackTrack for Oracle (part of BMC Software's SmartDBA Recovery solution) to manage our Oracle backup and recovery processes. Installation went smoothly and the system was configured and running in a matter of a few hours. SQL-BackTrack for Oracle is specifically made for high-performance backup and recovery. We use the solution to simplify and automate database administration tasks associated with backup and recovery. The solution maximizes available system resources (intelligent storage devices or system cache) to provide Oracle backups with little to no impact on the performance of our database; it also helps us guarantee minimal database downtime and data loss. Using SQL-BackTrack, we are able to better leverage our resources with the time we've been able to save. DBAs need to be able to recover to a point in time very quickly to minimize unnecessary downtime for the user community, and the Guided Recovery feature makes this possible.
STRENGTHS: One of the main strengths of the product is its ability to give us repeatable results with minimal input from the DBAs. Once configured, it just runs unobtrusively in the background; but when we need it most, it's there for us. By eliminating the need for our DBAs to actively maintain and support home-grown backup and recovery scripts, they can focus their efforts on monitoring the overall health of the various databases they are responsible for supporting and tuning. This enables us to utilize our team's resources more efficiently.
WEAKNESSES: The main weakness of this product is that sometimes it does not document error codes. However, BMC's support team, working with their product development team, has been extremely helpful in the few instances that we have had problems. Also, our version of SQL-BackTrack does not automatically recover the TOOLS tablespace even though Oracle recommends using the TOOLS tablespace as a default tablespace for tables owned by SYSTEM. BMC will be adding this feature to its next release.
SELECTION CRITERIA: We were an existing BMC customer and we were comfortable with their products. Additionally, we had spoken to a number of DBAs from other shops and they gave us good feedback of their experience with SQL-BackTrack.
DELIVERABLES: We currently use non-verbose logs to help us monitor the status of backups we run on a regular basis. To produce diagnostic messages for problem resolution, SQL-BackTrack can be made to generate extensive verbose logs. Also, we run history and backup generation retention reports so we can spot check and review the backup history to confirm everything is still running as it should.
VENDOR SUPPORT: We have been very happy with the level of support provided by BMC Software's technical support staff. We've even been able to discuss problems we were having, specifically with our environment, directly with the development manager. She responded by having a developer work on a fix for us. Some of the fixes have even been incorporated into the next release of the software.
DOCUMENTATION: The majority of the documentation is straightforward; however, there is room for follow-up with customer support. The documentation is easy to follow, particularly for installation of the solution.
SQL-BackTrack for Oracle - Enterprise Snapshot Edition
2101 City West Boulevard
Houston, TX 77042
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