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How One Company Uses Cloud Volumes Service to Run Its RAC Workloads

September 23, 2019

Topics: 6 minute read

Companies need the Oracle Real Application Clusters (RAC) database to ensure that their services are highly available at all times. But using Oracle RAC can be tricky when it comes to the cloud because RAC workloads don’t run natively in AWS. NetApp® Cloud Volumes Service for AWS enables companies to run RAC workloads in AWS, all the while boosting performance, data durability, availability, cost-efficiency, and reducing time to market.

How does it work in practice? Let’s take a look at one company that’s running RAC workloads in AWS successfully. For the purposes of this article, we’ll call them Acme X. Acme X is a cloud-based multinational SaaS company that is meeting all of its stringent uptime requirements in the cloud by integrating Oracle RAC with NetApp Cloud Volumes Service for AWS and VMware Cloud. In this blog, we’ll discuss this use case, explaining why RAC is central to Acme X, and explore the benefits of running Oracle databases with Cloud Volumes Service in AWS.

Acme X’s SaaS Challenges: Pushing Features Fast

As a subscription-based company, it’s essential for Acme X to ensure that its services are online and available at all times. That availability is the foundation of not only the SaaS business model, but also of Anything-as-a-Service, really. That means making sure data is durable and protected from loss, and downtime is avoided at all costs. One of Acme X’s highest priorities is to keep things consistently up and running. It keeps existing customers from leaving and helps attract new ones to the service.

Acme X’s business philosophy advances the best new features for its service. That requires a way to cut down on development time and push new products and builds out to the user base as quickly as possible. They also have to be reactive: if customers aren’t happy with a new feature, it has to go. To orchestrate all this, Acme X has to have complete and current data copies of all their user data in Oracle, and it has to be accessible in their development preview environment.

Why Acme Uses Oracle RAC in VMWare with Cloud Volumes Service

To meet the strict uptime requirements that SaaS deployment requires, Acme X has adopted Oracle RAC as the core of its infrastructure. Like many enterprises, Oracle workloads are mission critical for Acme X and play a central role in the company’s cloud strategy. To understand why, let’s take a closer look at what RAC is all about.

Oracle RAC is a cluster database designed for mission-critical applications. RAC is optimal for preventing downtime and providing a highly available environment. With RAC, database servers no longer function as a single point of failure. Instead, the database is shared across servers, so that if a particular server fails, the database continues to run on the remaining servers, and workloads continue to be processed no matter what. In addition, RAC shortens the amount of time databases are taken offline for maintenance, further reducing the costs of downtime.

In adopting RAC, Acme X can ensure that its services are continuously available online. By running RAC in dual-node clusters, Acme X protects itself from system failure and can more easily prepare for planned outages as well as software upgrades.

A second major advantage that Oracle RAC provides is linear horizontal scaling. RAC allows its users to deploy their single server onto a pool of clustered servers. This allows customers to scale efficiently, while leveraging the combined memory capacity and performance provided by clustered database servers. These scaling capabilities are invaluable to Acme X, especially since scaling could be achieved without having to change any underlying application code. In addition to RAC, Acme X is also running Oracle Data Guard as its disaster recovery solution to ensure no customer data is ever lost should any corruption, or node or database failure ever occur.

These attributes made RAC a requirement for Acme X. However, since AWS does not natively support RAC on Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) or on Amazon Relational Database Service (Amazon RDS), Acme X turned to Cloud Volumes Service and VMware Cloud to run their RAC workloads optimally in AWS.

VMware is an on-demand and scalable hybrid cloud service that extends on-premises vSphere environments to a VMware Software Defined Data Center (SDDC) that runs in the AWS environment. By using VMware, Acme X can maintain operational consistency throughout its private, public, and hybrid cloud, and extend AWS services to its Oracle RAC databases.

Together with its VMware Cloud solution, Acme X utilizes Cloud Volumes Service for AWS to run its RAC-centered operations with the utmost efficiency, availability, agility, and security.

The Value of Cloud Volumes Service

NetApp’s Cloud Volumes Service is a comprehensive cloud storage solution that allows companies to run Oracle databases optimally in AWS. By partnering with Cloud Volumes Service, Acme X can now run its RAC-centered infrastructure on AWS while enjoying some major benefits:

  • Data durability: Cloud Volumes Service provides nine 9s of data durability, protecting against multiple drive failures and storage media errors which could compromise data integrity.
  • High availability: Cloud Volumes Service ensures high availability and uptime with features such as redundant network paths, data protection and failover. Since NetApp Cloud Volumes Service exists in every Availability Zone, Acme X needn’t make a copy of its data for each zone and the service is protected against Availability Zone failures.  
  •  Rapid cloning: A major concern for Acme X revolved around how to introduce new features rapidly. In order to do so, the company needed to find a way to create performant clones of its production database that could be previewed and modified quickly without jeopardizing production data. However, Acme X discovered that creating and refreshing production data copies with Oracle RAC is a cumbersome and time-consuming process. With Cloud Volumes Service, Acme X can create point-in-time replicas of its production database within seconds, accelerating time to market and boosting its ability to innovate quickly.
  • Data protection with NetApp SnapshotTM technology: NetApp Snapshot technology enables users to create point-in-time snapshot copies of Oracle databases. The snapshots are fast, storage-efficient, non-disruptive, allowing companies to restore their data easily and eliminate downtime.        
  • Cost savings: Cloud Volumes Service allows customers to monitor cloud resources and to allocate them dynamically. By using Cloud Volumes Service, Acme X was able to significantly mitigate its cloud spend. Prior to using Cloud Volumes Service, the company’s compute and storage were coupled together, leading to either too much compute resources or too little storage. With Cloud Volumes Service, Acme X is able to provision resources as needed, avoiding premature scale-out of compute resources and spending money only where necessary.
  • Data security: Cloud Volumes Service uses advanced encryption methods, such as encryption-at-rest, and manages encryption keys for its customers, enhancing security and compliance without compromising performance or affecting the end-user’s experience.

Read the Full Technical Report

Cloud Volumes Service and VMware Cloud have made it possible for Acme X to run its Oracle RAC workloads in AWS, upholding its strict uptime and high-availability requirements. To find out the full technical details on this customer use case, read the complete report here.  

In using Cloud Volumes Service, Acme X’s services are more cost-efficient, secure, and always available. Moreover, Cloud Volumes Service’s rapid copy feature, allows Acme X to deploy and evaluate new features quickly, reducing time to market and positioning Acme X as a leader in its field.

Learn More About How Cloud Volumes Service.

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Solution Architect