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Oracle 10g and Grid Computing
Oracle database 10g was the first release of Oracle to be able to use computing grids and was an evolution of the
parallel server technology which was itself based on even earlier technology.
As far back as the 1980s companies such as Digital Equipment Corp (now part of HP) developed clustering
technology which allowed two or more computers to appear as if they were just one to the end-user, thereby enabling
load-balancing and hot standby.
Companies such as Sun Microsystems extended the concept of clusters to be able to include different types (makes) of
computers running different operating systems in a "pool" of computing resources that can be made available as and
when required to meet peak demands and then released back into the pool when no longer needed (so that other
applications may use the resources).
What is "Grid Computing" and what can it do for
The idea of grid computing is to use many inexpensive devices to
provide the total resources required, thereby providing intrinsic
redundancy (if one device fails, replace it) and scalability (add more
devices as the load increases).
This is similar to the concept used with RAID. Grid Computing,
however, takes this one stage further by enabling you to dynamically
add or remove devices to adjust the amount of available resources to
match the workload or to replace devices that have failed. Furthermore
this does not apply solely to storage devices, but also to computing devices - i.e. servers.
The motivation for the development of grid computing is to reduce the need to have dedicated resources sized for
peak capacity. Research has shown that the average CPU usage is only 15-20% and storage usage is only 50%.
Having dedicated resources for each major application also means that there can be a large number of systems to
maintain. The solution to this is to create a grid - a pool of low-cost servers + storage that can be allocated to
applications to meet peak loads.
A few of the other problems that grid computing is trying to solve are:
reducing the complexity of I.T. infrastructure and the associated costs (hardware, software and staff) without
compromising the support required by the business.
improving the reliability, availability and scalability of I.T. systems
enhancing the ability of the business to respond to external and environmental changes without increasing costs
How has Oracle database 10g solved these problems?
Oracle 10g fits into this scenario by including Real Application Clusters which is a technology (originally introduced
with Oracle9i) that transforms a group of servers into a single entity.
This is the processing grid which is managed by Oracle 10g Enterprise Manager and provides:
reliability - if one node fails, the database won't fail
availability - nodes can be added or replaced without having to shutdown the database
scalability - more nodes can be added to the cluster as the workload increases
The storage grid is the other essential part of the infrastructure and this is managed by the Automatic Storage
Management (ASM) tool which is actually a separate, special Oracle 10g instance (in the same way as RMAN the
ASM enables the management of disparate disks which might be Network Attached Storage (NAS) or a Storage Area
Network (SAN) or just a bunch of disks (JBOD). The advantages of ASM are that you don't have to create file
systems on the disks, you can just use them raw, and ASM will create and manage the necessary files for you (in fact
ASM created files won't be visible from the operating system at all).
ASM also provides load balancing by striping the files across all the disks that make up the disk group (which is the
fundamental unit as far as the dba is concerned) and data integrity if another disk group is associated with the first as a
Our Oracle resources section has recommendations for further reading to enhance your knowledge of Oracle and
contains links to information on OTN and other places. For more information on grid computing see
For more Oracle help, see our many free articles and tutorials. Start from http://www.smart-soft.co.uk/Oracle/oracle-
tips-and-tricks.htm and just follow the links.
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