Change the Game: Oracle Backup Made Easy

Joe Boylan, Guest Blogger and Advisory Systems Engineeer, EMC Backup Recovery Systems

Joseph Boylan, Advisory Systems Engineer, EMC Backup Recovery Systems, and member of EMC Global Database Specialist team, knows databases. Working with some of EMC’s largest customers in the Northeast and Canada, and across North America, Joe helps organizations identify and solve database backup issues. He walks customers through his version of the Repeat Test

At the Backup and Archive Booth at EMC World last night, Joe talked with attendees about application-driven backups and new Data Domain 5.3 Oracle-aware deduplication. In the following guest post, Joe shares his insight about protecting large-scale Oracle databases. Information that is sure to change your game.

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There’s no question users are very excited that they can improve performance of protecting large Oracle databases by increasing Oracle file per set/multiplexing tuning options without impacting deduplication rates. I see it when I engage with customers across the country, and I experienced it first-hand last night at the @EMCBackup booth.

And here’s why.

The customers I work with are in the process of transforming their IT organizations into internal service providers, and being able to provide performance-optimized application-driven backups is critical to this process. Without making advancements toward application-driven techniques, IT organizations will be challenged to continue to meet the significant growth challenges and the shortening of backup windows.

After joining EMC, the first major project I worked on was a mission-critical Oracle data warehouse; the system took more than two days to back up and was failing to meet SLAs, which dictated daily full backups for optimum recovery capabilities. This posed two challenges:  First, how to reduce current backup times to acceptable service levels and, second, how to keep them there.

Many organizations that I have met with are in similar situations. Their mission-critical applications are growing at 50% to 100% a year—and this is putting more and more demand on infrastructure and is driving administrators to look for smarter ways of achieving data protection.

By deploying Oracle Incrementally updated backups with Data Domain, we were able to reduce backup times by 75%. Traditionally, administrators avoided this technique due to RMAN’s merge process overwriting the previous full backup; however, with EMC’s integration and pointer-based copy mechanisms, we were able to perform rapid backups while keeping as many backup data sets as we needed for data retention. And leveraging EMC’s deduplication technology, we were able to keep backup storage cost under control while benefiting from full backup images daily.

Oracle Incrementally updated backups are tremendously efficient and with the use of Oracle Block Change Tracking, RMAN keeps a record of all the changes to the datase. As an example, one of the clients I worked with had a 70TB database (and growing at 100% yearly) with daily changes of 500GB to 1.5TB. This solution allowed the DBA team to back up 500GB to 1.5TB daily while having a full 70TB image daily; it also dramatically reduced backup times. Big benefits!

This is a superior solution for large databases. The architecture coupled with Data Domain’s best-of-breed performance empowers DBAs with the ability to dynamically allocate needed channels and multiplexing for optimizing both backup and recovery while not being bound by the physical media and tape drive boundaries of legacy approaches. Since this method leverages image copy and the data is in native format/exact copies of the database files and logs, DBA’s can easily grab the files they need for recovery or mount the backups residing on the Data Domains via Oracle and drill more granular a d restore rows or tablespaces.  

With increases of business dependency on application availability and extraordinary data growth, the requirements for improved data protection techniques are a must as the legacy methods are dated and struggling to provide adequate protection. If you’re at EMC World this week, stop by our Booth. We’d love to walk you through the benefits:

  • Dramatically improved backup and restore times
  • Native application format for flexible recovery options
  • Reduced backup costs
  • Simplified data management
  • Improved DR management and visibility

For more information visit

Heidi Biggar

Heidi Biggar

Marketing and IT Consultant, Data Protection and Availability Division at EMC Corporation
I’m often asked how a political science major at Tufts wound up in the IT world, covering backup, storage, virtualization and cloud of all things. Truth is, it’s really a love for learning, a need to understand the “bigger picture” and a desire to share that view with others that’s steered my path over the past 20 years, from campaign manager to editor, analyst and marketer. After hours, you’ll find me hanging with family, running 10ks through Peachtree City’s 90 miles of cart paths, watching football or reading. I’m a New England transplant enjoying life in the South. In my previous life, I also blogged for ComputerWorld, Enterprise Strategy Group and Hitachi Data Systems, but The Backup Window is my baby. It's been great watching it evolve.

The Right Architecture Is Priceless, Part I

Lego Architecture sets are among the greatest inventions of the last decade. My seven-year-old son Connor loves to show off his Lego creations, but my wife doesn’t really appreciate the aesthetic value of a Lego Death Star. Thankfully, Lego solved the problem by creating beautiful reproductions of buildings by Frank Lloyd Wright, Le Corbusier and Mies van der Rohe….

As Connor and I constructed the 2000+ piece Robie House, he asked, “If nobody famous lived here, why is this place famous?” I answered, “The architecture. The right architecture is priceless.”

Game-changing Protection Storage Architecture

Building Intentional – Not Accidental – Architectures
Evolving data protection technology and expanding requirements have completely transformed the backup industry. Unfortunately, with such rapid change, many organizations have fallen into the chaos of an accidental architecture. The backup team isn’t solving critical protection performance challenges from the application, virtualization and storage teams, so those teams deploy silos of point products as they deem appropriate. The accidental architecture results.It’s accidental because nobody would intentionally plan for half-dozen unconnected protection tools, no central oversight and no cost controls (Okay, based on their acquisition history, maybe Dell would.).

Customers need to define a protection storage architecture to combat the accidental architecture. This architecture should be composed of loosely coupled modules to minimize vendor lock-in while providing the value of integrated data protection. That way, the backup team can solve immediate challenges while delivering a platform that can evolve with business and technical requirements.

What are the key challenges that the protection architecture needs to address?

  1. Over the next three years, the protection team will be expected to deliver multiple services: disaster recovery, backup and archive.
  2. The protection team must tie together a disparate set of technology components and owners. Virtually every part of IT plays a role in data protection. The application team is the focus because they’re delivering the technology value to the business.  IT infrastructure –virtualization, storage, servers and network – must keep the business applications running. With such a diverse set of people and technology required to deliver a protection solution, it’s no surprise that a data protection administrator survives about as long as a main character in Game of Thrones.

What Is a Protection Storage Architecture?
The protection team must bring together the right people, processes and architecture to transform the technical and organizational complexity into a successful solution. In the past, we’ve talked about the evolution of the protection team and its approach. Now, it’s time to talk to talk technology.Our most successful customers have adopted a protection storage architecture, which consists of three core, loosely coupled modules:

  • Protection Storage: This is the anchor of the architecture. First, protection storage has a unique design center in the storage world: cost-optimized storage with high data durability that can deliver disaster recovery, backup and archive. Second, to avoid creating silos of protection storage, the platform must support multiple protocols (e.g., VTL, NAS, OST and deduplication-aware protocols like Data Domain Boost) and integrate with multiple data sources (applications, hypervisors, storage and backup applications). The right protection storage sets the team down a path of a flexible, reliable, scalable infrastructure for protection. The wrong choice? You’ve seen what happens in the Friday the 13th movies when you take a wrong turn…
  • Data Source Integration: Internal customers want two things from their protection team. First, performance – backup and recovery needs to be fast. Second, they want visibility into the protection of their data. The protection storage architecture leverages both the optimized data flows and user interfaces of the data sources: hypervisor, application and storage. The data sources deliver optimized protection performance because they can track the data as it changes (e.g., VMware Changed Block Tracking, array snapshots)versus trying to figure out what changed after the fact (e.g., traditional backup agent searching through all the data for the changes). The user interface (e.g., vSphere, Oracle RMAN, Unisphere) displays protection status in that team’s preferred, native interface. Data source integration eliminates the two causes of the accidental architecture – performance and visibility. Of course, this integration is available only if you have chosen protection storage that can support these flows.
  • Data Management Services: The protection team delivers value with data management services. Thus far, the architecture eliminates the causes of the accidental architecture, but the protection team needs to add value to convince their customers to adopt their services. What services can they offer? Senior management wants to ensure the protection meets SLAs and compliance regulations… as cost effectively as possible. They need analytics and reports for compliance, policy and infrastructure utilization. Customers want to be able to retrieve any version of any information, easily and quickly. The protection team needs to have a catalog of the company’s information – from local snapshots to backup copies to offsite/cloud copies to their deep archives. By taking on the responsibilities that everybody in the organization deems necessary, but that nobody wants to do, the protection team gains the credibility to consolidate data protection.

Only by bringing together all three modules of the protection storage architecture can the central protection team deliver the services, performance, and visibility that the business and its customers need.

From Blueprint to Reality?
The protection storage architecture is a blueprint to guide the transformation of data protection from the chaos of the accidental architecture to a clean, centralized protection service. Like all blueprints, however, there are two things to remember.

First, like my son’s 2000+ piece Lego set, you’re not going to build the solution in one day; it takes time and patience. Set a journey with key milestones and enjoy the evolution. Second, like a Lego set, you need more detailed descriptions of what to build.

Over the coming series and at EMC World next week, I’ll dive more deeply into each of the architectural components. Your organization will appreciate your streamlined, elegant protection architecture… because, as Mies van der Rohe said of his designs, “Less is more.”


Stephen Manley

Stephen Manley

CTO, Data Protection and Availability Division
Over the past 15 years at both EMC and NetApp, I have traveled the world, helping solve backup and recovery challenges - one customer at a time (clearly, I need to optimize my travel arrangements!). My professional mission is to transform data protection so that it accelerates customers’ businesses. I have a passion for helping engineers pursue technical career path(without becoming managers), telling stories about life on the road and NDMP (yes, that’s NDMP).

Isn’t It Time You Changed the Game?

Okay, I’m curious. How many of you took The Repeat Test? And, if you did, what patterns of behavior did you see? What kind of mundane backup tasks riddled your daily logs?

My guess is that if we could share our logs virtually, we’d  see similar behaviors listed. Backup admins spending too much time on mundane tasks and trouble-shooting; application and VMware admins spending too much time on backup; CIOs spending too much time on tactics versus strategy; etc.

The question is, what do we do about it? How do we change behavior? Change the game?

So, if you’re a numbers kind of person, then you probably know that behavioral experts say it takes a person 21 days to break a habit and another 30 days to form a (good) habit.

EMC World 2013 is next week. Stop by Booth 747 and learn how to create a winning game plan for backup and archive.

Now, I’ve never seen any scientific proof to support this theory nor have I personally tested the theory to see if it really does take the full 51 days to complete the cycle.  But what I do know is that repetition (good or bad) generally does turn into habit. The challenge is identifying the new good practices to replace the old bad ones – and then sticking to these practices long enough for good stuff to result.

For backup, this could mean planning around these three steps:

  1. Consolidating the storage you use for protection, both backup and archive workloads. You need storage that’s fast, scalable and built to always ensure access. By consolidating protection storage, you’ll lower costs, improve reliability and regain control.
  2. Optimizing the integration with applications, storage and hypervisors. You need this to ensure the most efficient data movement and to allow the data owners the choice of using the tools they prefer.  This means, database, virtual, storage and archive admins can use their own tools, while the backup and archive teams can control the protection storage.
  3.  Overlaying your infrastructure with data management services. This will ensure visibility of your environment as it grows – and provide value added services to keep your customers coming back for more.

And if you have questions, aren’t sure if this plan is right for your organization or need help implementing  any of the steps, let us know.

Visit us at EMC World 2013 next week (we’ll be at Booth 747), comment below or visit our new Backup and Archive Community, which will feature a live stream from our booth theater, including coverage of the Backup Game Day show.

Heidi Biggar

Heidi Biggar

Marketing and IT Consultant, Data Protection and Availability Division at EMC Corporation
I’m often asked how a political science major at Tufts wound up in the IT world, covering backup, storage, virtualization and cloud of all things. Truth is, it’s really a love for learning, a need to understand the “bigger picture” and a desire to share that view with others that’s steered my path over the past 20 years, from campaign manager to editor, analyst and marketer. After hours, you’ll find me hanging with family, running 10ks through Peachtree City’s 90 miles of cart paths, watching football or reading. I’m a New England transplant enjoying life in the South. In my previous life, I also blogged for ComputerWorld, Enterprise Strategy Group and Hitachi Data Systems, but The Backup Window is my baby. It's been great watching it evolve.

Interesting Q&A w @Guychurchward

Interesting Q&A w @Guychurchward on market trends and #EMCWorld. Won’t miss his keynote debut Tues #EMCBackup

Lady Backup
Lady Backup’s career in IT dates back before the time of the Spice Girls. Initially I started in high tech journalism in the US and eventually transitioned to become an industry analyst. My analyst years also coincided with my education – during this period of my life I was working on my MBA. After 7 years of going to school at night, I graduated with distinction with an Information Age MBA degree from Bentley University (at the time it was still Bentley College) located just outside of Boston. With degree in hand, what’s a restless girl to do next? This is where networking with fellow classmates led to a job at EMC. Starting our Hopkinton headquarters, I moved outside of the US with EMC International when I felt it was time for my next change. Today, Lady Backup is an American on the loose in the world. Living outside the United States has been a fascinating experience. For the moment I call England home. But I’m feeling my next wave of restlessness coming. Here are two hints: I love sunshine and I’m improving my Spanish.

Then and Now: 10 Years of Innovation

This week we’re celebrating the 10th Anniversary of EMC Data Domain deduplication storage systems.  Data Domain systems have been at the forefront of deduplication innovation since the beginning.  Over the past decade, deduplication has revolutionized the storage industry by significantly reducing the capacity required to protect valuable information by only storing unique segments of data.  Data Domain systems have been blazing a trail of industry firsts starting with the first deduplicated NAS in 2003 and spanning to this year with the first inline deduplication system optimized for both backup and archive data.

In honor of this milestone, let’s take a trip down memory lane and look at a few other popular technologies that have also revolutionized their respective industries in the past 10 years.

The Smartphone

In 2003, RIM introduced the first modern smart phone with the 6210 model.  The BlackBerry 6210 introduced mobile email and web browsing integrated with the phone. Just 10 years ago those simple features were revolutionary.  Luckily for us, smartphone technology has come a long way since then. Now, email and web browsing are a given with any smartphone you purchase.  And can you imagine your phone not also doubling as a GPS and giving you instant access to all of your social media and latest news not to mention the plethora of other apps?  How could you send a text message without emoji??

TV/Movie Viewing

So, I admit, I’m still in a little denial that my carefully crafted DVD collection should probably be packed away next to my Dad’s old eight-tracks (yes, he still has them… and still listens to them).  I have shelves and shelves filled with DVDs that don’t do much more than collect dust lately. Now I watch everything via streaming video and video on demand because any movie or TV show I want is now only a few short clicks away.  Plus you get the home decor bonus of freed up shelf space when you toss out that old DVD player.

Social Media

Hey, remember Friendster? Does anyone still use Myspace?  These were the original players in the social media revolution. Remember when Facebook was called “The Facebook” when it launched in 2004?  While Facebook has managed to keep up with the times, the others clearly haven’t fared quite as well.  What started as basic online networks for people to share their strategically chosen favorite bands alongside their most flattering selfies, have evolved into entirely new ways of communicating and even doing business. Although Facebook is still a leader in this space, many other players have popped up and gained a lot of momentum over the past decade such as YouTube, Instagram and Twitter. Social media is now a fast-paced real time way to share news and opinions through photos, videos or in 140 characters or less.



We’ve come a long way in the past 10 years and the pace at which technology evolves is only increasing.  I am excited to see what the next 10 years will bring.

Happy Birthday, Data Domain!


Alyson Langon
A couple years ago, fresh out of Business School at Boston College, I started at EMC and dove head first into all things backup and archive, focusing on Data Domain systems. I love the challenge of communicating complicated technologies in innovative and engaging ways and there is certainly no shortage of inspiration at EMC’s Data Protection and Availability Division. Outside of the tech world, I am an artist, animal lover and sufferer of wanderlust. You can also find me on Twitter achieving the perfect balance of data protection and cat gifs.