A Healthier Way to Archive Databases

Archiving high-end databases while minimizing downtime becomes more complex and uses expensive storage each time it's done. OuterBay Technologies Inc. may have the solution.

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The task of archiving high-end databases while minimizing downtime becomes more complex and uses expensive storage each time its done. However, niche firm OuterBay Technologies Inc. may have the solution.

The San Jose, Calif., company late last year launched LiveArchive for Oracle Database, and plans new versions this summer and in 2003, CEO Rich Butterfield said.

Bursts of transaction data, like cholesterol in a persons veins, accumulate over time and can eventually slow Oracle application performance to a crawl, he said. LiveArchive automates the cleanup of that problem for the largest customers; the softwares average price is $200,000, he said.

The version this summer will support new users of Oracle Corp.s 11i suite in upgrading from 10.7, which Oracle will stop supporting in June 2003, Butterfield said. The key to upgrading is retaining transaction history through a real product, not a one-off custom application, he said. LiveArchive performance improvements and versions for other databases are also on the horizon, as is support for non-Oracle applications.

"Data cholesterol happens when you have an enterprise database that grows too quickly," Butterfield said.

Oracles latest database feature—application clustering for Oracle 9i—helps somewhat.

"Certainly that changes the ballgame a little bit, [but] it doesnt completely solve the problem," he said. Data marts and data warehouse also help, but they require extensive training and dont go as deep as LiveArchive, he said.

Rather than address the problem with more and faster hardware, Sun Microsystems Inc. brought in OuterBay about three years ago, said Sean Meighan, manager of performance architecture for enterprise applications at Sun. Meighan is in charge of keeping alive an Oracle 7.3.4 enterprise resource planning database that ultimately controls about 90 percent of Suns revenue, while keeping 400 GB of data online for seven years.

"Fifty people looking at archive data per week … wasnt going to be manageable," he said. LiveArchive "makes all that data transparent to the user. The only person who really gets involved is the DBA."

Most people, he said, "think of this as tidy-bowl maintenance," but despite the complexity of the solutions, "weve never had an outage, never had to offer a training class."

"We use half of a person to manage the purge. Its ended up saving us storage," Meighan said.