Sun has thoroughly tested the interoperability of the products (hardware and software) that comprise SunTone Clustered Database Platforms. This pretesting relieves a customer's IT department from the hassle of having to hunt down the certification matrices on the web sites of Sun, ORACLE™, and VERITAS.
Even if, for some reason, a customer needs to call Sun's or ORACLE's support line, the support specialist immediately has a reliable reference of the customer's hardware and software configuration, because the customer is running a SunTone Clustered Database Platform.
Through a simple, interactive question-and-answer session, an SA can configure the cluster nodes on-demand to support either ORACLE RAC1 with shared storage managed by VxVM software or High Availability (HA) ORACLE2 accessing a Global File System maintained by either VxVM software or Solaris Volume Manager software.
The installation process is highly automated and much more simplified than what an SA would typically perform when installing new hardware components, integrating existing hardware, and installing new software.
Custom (site specific) configuration details such as cluster name, cluster node names, Internet Protocol (IP) addresses, time zone, and so on are defined by the SA at the installation site during the installation process.
The installation process is referred to as the cluster installation, and one of the accompanying documents titled the CDP Installation Guide provides detailed information. Note that the cluster installation process is streamlined and is far less effort than that required if the customer had to install all the software from CDs.
Pre-Installed Management Server
A typical installation including Solaris OE, VxVM software, and ORACLE would include answering potentially hundreds of questions and loading potentially dozens of software CDs. By including the management server, we move the software installation to the network and are able to pre-answer many of the standard configuration questions.
The most up-to-date patches are applied to each software product, as of the time of product code freeze. Any SA who has waded through pages of patch reports to construct the correct order in which to apply them would call this a significant benefit, in and of itself.
Careful attention is paid to ensure that all high-priority security patches for each product are applied.
Applied Cluster and Database Packages
Your choice of JumpStart software configuration (RAC or HA ORACLE) determines a suite of additional cluster and ORACLE packages that must be applied and patched in a specific order.
After you install and configure the software, a database appropriate for your choice of JumpStart software configuration cluster (active/active in the case of RAC; active/passive in the case of HA ORACLE) starts. Now it's ready to accept user connections and create application tables.
When done manually, this process requires a fair amount of training and hands-on experience to master; otherwise, the cluster node can reach an unstable state. Here are some estimates of the training required:
An experienced UNIX™ SA would need about five days of class time to learn Sun Cluster 3.0 software.
A database administrator (DBA) already well versed in Oracle9i would require another five days of training to learn the RAC option.
After returning from class, even the brightest students would need approximately two weeks each of lab time to feel comfortable undertaking the installation and configuration of a production database cluster.
Using the traditional approach, 240 person-hours are spent preparing for a cluster installation that now can be completed within a matter of hours, using the JumpStart software functionality in CDP 280/3.
An alternative to training in-house employees would be to hire short-term consultants to perform the installation, which can cost as much as or more than the 240 hours spent training employees.
Even if a manager decides to send employees to the 80 hours combined of UNIX operating system and RAC training, it is better for the employees to return to work, being immediately productive on a cluster they know has been installed correctly. In this scenario, the employees acquire additional experience from an installation that is running, rather than suffering through the tedium of verifying every patch, coping with initial node panics, and troubleshooting a myriad of other problems.
After the cluster is successfully up and running, there is no special SunTone Clustered Database Platform training required to configure and maintain the cluster.
Applying Future Patches
After a cluster installation is implemented, an SA can easily:
apply new Solaris OE patches the same as with any other cluster
perform ORACLE upgrades as indicated in the Release Notes supplied by ORACLE
apply high-profile security patches for any included software product, announced after shipment of CDP 280/3
Rebuilding the Cluster
After a cluster installation is implemented, an SA can rebuild the cluster easily and automatically. An SA can use the time saved to gain more experience with the cluster, without the worry of lengthy rebuilds if a mistake is made.