Trimming Down the Database

Applimation helps Southwest Gas archive its Oracle database, slashing query times and lifting a huge burden from production servers.


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Posted October 11, 2004

Drew Robb

Drew Robb

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Attend any storage conference and speaker after speaker mentions the storage explosion. Some studies place the figure at 50 percent, while others grow at a rate of 125 percent a year. Yet according to Meta Group (Stamford, CT), up to 80 percent of this data remains inactive in production systems where it cripples performance.

"To compound this problem, many enterprises are in the midst of compliance initiatives that require the retention of more data for longer periods of time, as well as consolidation projects that result in significant data growth," said Charlie Garry, senior program director at Meta Group.

In terms of compliance alone, Sarbanes-Oxley, SEC 17a, HIPAA and a host of other rules have transformed information management into a minefield of potential liability.

Clearly, the legal ramifications of being without a way to archive information from databases can be grim. But there are production reasons, too: slow transactions, system outages; backup failures; and queries timing out as they have to search through millions of records.

In terms of compliance alone, Sarbanes-Oxley, SEC 17a, HIPAA and a host of other rules have transformed information management into a minefield of potential liability.
At Southwest Gas Corp. in Las Vegas, for example, the Sun Solaris-based Oracle 8i database was growing at a rate of 1 GB a month. Within a couple of years, the database had mushroomed from 30 GB to over 100 GB. Inventory tables had expanded to the point where they contained five million rows, and an HR table comprised 60 million rows.

"The more data you have in production, the slower the database grows," said Luca Cotrone, systems analyst at Southwest Gas. "Users complain of queries taking a long time and you can run out of disk space."

The company has a total of 7 databases instances running: one for production, and others for training, QA, testing, development, special projects and a sandbox for patches, etc. All data from the production database is copied to the others. One Sun server houses the production and training database, while another Sun server hosts the other five instances. That server was particularly affected by the database bloat due to running out of disk space, and having less memory and slower CPU's than in the production system.

To solve these issues, Southwest Gas implemented Applimation Archiver by Applimation Inc. (New York, NY). The Oracle 8i database has stabilized at around the 100 GB mark. Archiving of one General Ledger table, for example, saved 18 GB. Searches are down from several minutes to a few seconds.

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