There are many times when you want to move to Azure but don’t have the liberty of re-platforming the database due to the dependency of applications. Don’t despair, there are still ways to move your workload. Azure has support for Oracle! We previously showed a way to almost run an Oracle Database as a Service on Azure, but if you have a line of business (LOB) application or an application that requires support for high availability, it is also possible:  Presenting Azure support for Oracle disaster recovery including Oracle Data Guard.

Oracle Support on Azure

Oracle supports running Oracle DB 12.1 Standard and Enterprise editions in Azure on virtual machine (VM) images based on Oracle Linux.   Oracle has guaranteed license mobility from on-premises to Azure. “These images are considered “Bring Your Own License” and as such you will only be charged for compute, storage, and networking costs incurred by running a VM. It is assumed you are properly licensed to use Oracle software and that you have a current support agreement in place with Oracle.

Licensing Details

Microsoft Azure is an ‘Authorized Cloud Environment.’   Under this program, “count two vCPUs as equivalent to one Oracle Processor license if hyper-threading is enabled, and one vCPU as equivalent to one Oracle Processor license if hyper-threading is not enabled.” Please note that unlimited license agreements (ULAs) may also be used.

High Availability

Any conversation about this topic requires us to look at the recovery time objective (RTO) and recovery point objective (RPO) of an application. In our application, this is how long the database can be down as well as the maximum amount of data loss that can be tolerated. Oracle defines well-known reference architectures based on RTO & RPO objectives.

Assuming we require comprehensive high availability (HA) and disaster recovery (DR), real-time failover and zero/near-zero data loss, an implementation using Oracle Data Guard will be pursued.

Oracle Data Guard

Data Guard is one offering from Oracle that ensures high availability, data protection, and disaster recovery for enterprise data. It uses a standby database (exact replica) to survive outages of any kind and data corruptions. This technology is available in Oracle Enterprise Edition.   Oracle also provides, as a separately licensed product, Oracle Active Data Guard; this technology allows for real-time data protection and disaster recovery and expands capabilities.

A few key features from Oracle regarding Oracle Data Guard are:

  • Fast redo transport for best recovery point objective (RPO), fast apply performance for best recovery time objective (RTO)
  • Fast failover to a standby database to maintain availability should the primary database fail for any reason
  • Automatic or automated (depending upon configuration) re-synchronization of a failed primary database, quickly converting it to a synchronized standby database after a failover occurs.
  • Reduction of planned downtime by utilizing a standby database to perform maintenance in a rolling fashion

Oracle Real Application Clusters (RAC) was also considered, but it is not supported on any cloud environment other than Oracle’s.

Oracle Data Guard on Azure

Microsoft recommends — for the best performance of Oracle DB production workloads on Azure — to be sure to properly size the VM image and use Managed Disks that are backed by Premium Storage.

Azure provides the M-Series virtual machines that are ideal for extremely large databases or other applications that benefit from high vCPU counts and large amounts of memory.

Azure also provides a Managed Disk offering called Ultra SSD that can scale performance up to 160,000 IOPS. IOPS are “an input/output performance measurement used to characterize computer storage devices.” Database performance is often constrained by the performance of the underlying storage; therefore, utilizing the Ultra SSD offering, you can be sure to minimize this concern.

Another key concept to enable this high availability scenario is to leverage Azure availability sets for the virtual machines. Availability sets are a fundamental technology that makes our scenario possible.

  • Each virtual machine in your availability set is assigned an update domain and a fault domain by the underlying Azure platform.
  • Update domains allow for a virtual machine to recover before maintenance on another virtual machine is initiated on a different update domain.
  • Fault domains define the group of virtual machines that share a common power source and network switch.
  • Managed disks provide better reliability for availability sets by ensuring that the disks of VMs in an availability set are sufficiently isolated from each other to avoid single points of failure.

Availability zones, an alternative to availability sets, expand the level of control you have to maintain the availability of the database VMs. With Availability Zones, Azure offers a 99.99% VM uptime Service Level Agreement (SLA).

Lastly, Azure Site Recovery (ASR) provides an additional level of disaster recovery via its ability to orchestrate replication, perform disaster recovery testing, and run failovers and failback; ASR is fully compatible with Oracle Data Guard on Azure.

A logical architecture using a virtual network (VNET) and subnets (isolation & projection), Oracle DB VMs, premium storage, and Oracle Data Guard is presented below.

Diagram of VM architecture

AIS recently participated in a joint proof of concept (POC) where this architecture was deployed with M128 VMs and premium storage and achieved the following goals:

  • ~35TB Database (Oracle Table Limit)
  • ~30-45 second failover under user load of 5000- 15,000 concurrent users with Zero Data Loss
  • Active Data Guard Running in Max Availability (SYNC, Successful Failover)
  • Can handle both planned and unplanned failovers
  • Achieve 120,000 IOPS
  • Can be further secured using Network Security Groups (NSG) and Application Security Groups (ASG)

Visit our website to find out more about our work with Microsoft Azure, or contact AIS today to get started with Oracle DB on Azure!

Copyright: <a href='https://www.123rf.com/profile_mettus'>mettus / 123RF Stock Photo</a>How to Easily Make and Keep Your Data Safe

Is your organization prepared if disaster strikes?

Hurricane Harvey is expected to cause $180 billion dollars of economic damage. Imagine if you were a business headquartered in an area affected by a natural disaster and had all your data stored on-site. You’ve probably been thinking about backing up all your businesses data to the cloud, but haven’t gotten around to it yet.

What would that do to your business? How easy would it be for you to get back to “business as usual?”

Would Your Organization Survive?

In the aftermath of the devastation caused by hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria, it’s vital for your organization to examine your disaster recovery strategy and plan for dealing with the unexpected—especially if your organization relies heavily on the data you have.

“As companies have increased dependence on IT systems to deliver their services more quickly, the ability to recover from the effects of disasters has become more important and more complex.” –Gartner

Moving your mission-critical data to the cloud is a great first step. Cloud technologies can be implemented for business continuity through automated disaster recovery or for fully-hosted production workloads providing native continuity, increased reliability, security, and redundancy. Read More…

Our CTO and well-known public cloud expert, Vishwas Lele was the first special guest on a brand-new webinar series hosted by Io-Tahoe and Andrew Brust (Io-Tahoe’s Market Strategy Advisor and contributor to ZDNet).

On the inaugural episode, Vishwas and Andrew discussed data breaches, what can be done about them, and how to mitigate the problems in a constructive way. The webinar was recorded (link provided below), so take a listen to hear the fascinating perspectives from two industry experts on data breaches. They explored what “common” and “not-so-common” data exploitation attacks (active breaches and passive breaches) look like, how best to prevent such attacks, and the exposure companies can face when these breaches do happen.

Some of the other topics discussed:

    • How data can be lost, stolen or hacked when organizations don’t have an effective DR strategy.
    • The hidden vulnerability of passive data with archival analytics.
    • A review of Microsoft’s heavy investments in security, and why public cloud infrastructure is ahead of the curve relative to the compliance standards of enterprises with private data centers.
    • And above all, how to get better business value out of your data through effective management and governance.

  Watch the webinar recording here.

Amazon Web Services (AWS) provides an extremely flexible set of services for hosting web applications in the cloud with a web-based console for selecting options to quickly provision a set of IT resources. This post will explore the various aspects of hosting a custom .NET web application in AWS, focusing on high-availability options and disaster recovery scenarios and how to do so under cost constraints.

When building a solution in AWS you have to understand the difference between affinity and availability, and the terminology that Amazon uses. We will define affinity as the physical location of resources within a data center and availability as the isolation of resources for disaster recovery scenarios.

The AIS solution I’ll reference throughout this post uses a Virtual Private Cloud (VPC) to enable our engineers to develop a multi-tiered application within a private sub-netted network split across two availability zones. The VPC as defined by Amazon allows for “… you to create a virtual network topology—including subnets and route tables—for your Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) resources.” The use of a VPC ensures you have high affinity for your EC2 resources. Availability zones refer to the geographically separated data centers Amazon uses for hosting EC2 resources.  Therefore, your disaster recovery architecture must account for placement of EC2 resources in different Availability Zones.

High Availability vs. Disaster Recovery in AWS

To muddy the terminology waters further, we have the concept of high availability, where the effects of hardware or software failure are essentially masked and downtime for end users reduced, such as in Microsoft’s SQL Server. Our solution had to address the issue of high availability and allow for a swift recovery in the event of a disaster or failure of EC2 resources in one availability zone. A high-level picture of what we needed to achieve is shown below.

Read More…

I recently attended SPC12 with many of my colleagues from AIS.  One of the sessions I really enjoyed was High Availability Solutions with SharePoint Server 2013 delivered by Bill BaerThis sessions was geared toward the ITPro (admin) audience and detailed the options when making SharePoint Highly Available.

During this session I found it interesting how much time was spent talking about mirroring.  Mirroring is now considered a deprecated technology but is still supported by SharePoint 2013.  Today I’d like to break down the session and talk about my thoughts on each point.

Read More…

This is the third in a multipart series on the exciting new features of SQL Server 2012. Currently AIS is assisting a performing arts center with an upgrade to SQL Server 2012. During the research for this project I’ve had a chance to deploy many of these new features. These posts highlight the best of what SQL Server 2012 has to offer.

We’ve already discussed AlwaysOn High Availability, and integrated SSRS. Today I want to talk about the new contained database feature of SQL Server 2012. Contained databases make the life of the DBA and developer much easier. They also streamline the deployment of high availability scenarios.

So what are some of the new offerings of this feature?

Read More…

This is the second of a multipart series on the exciting new features of SQL Server 2012. Currently AIS is assisting a performing arts center with an upgrade to SQL Server 2012. During the research for this project I have had a chance to deploy many of these new features. These posts will highlight the best of what SQL Server 2012 has to offer.

Now that we’ve already discussed AlwaysOn High Availability, today I want to talk about the changes made to Integrated SQL Reporting Services.  Integrated SSRS is used to generate reports in a SharePoint environment.  Historically it has been very tricky to configure and maintain.

So what are some of the improvements that now make it easier? Read More…

This is the first of a multipart series on the exciting new features of SQL Server 2012. Currently AIS is assisting a performing arts center with an upgrade to SQL Server 2012.  During the research for this project I have had a chance to deploy many of these new features.  These posts will highlight the best of what SQL Server 2012 has to offer.

First up, I want to talk about AlwaysOn High Availability (HA). In short, this feature combines the best of clustering and mirroring to make your applications highly available.

So why is this new feature so cool?

Read More…