Oracle MAA Part 1: When One Size Does Not Fit All

The good news is that Oracle Maximum Availability Architecture (MAA) best practices combined with Oracle Database 12c (see video) introduce first-in-the-industry database capabilities that truly make unplanned outages and planned maintenance transparent to users. The trouble with such good news is that Oracle’s enthusiasm in evangelizing its latest innovations may leave some to wonder if we’ve lost sight of the fact that not all database applications are created equal. Afterall, many databases don’t have the business requirements for high availability and data protection that require all of Oracle’s ‘stuff’. For many real world applications, a controlled amount of downtime and/or data loss is OK if it saves money and effort.

Well, not to worry. Oracle knows that enterprises need solutions that address the full continuum of requirements for data protection and availability. Oracle MAA accomplishes this by defining four HA service level tiers: BRONZE, SILVER, GOLD and PLATINUM. The figure below shows the progression in service levels provided by each tier.

Each tier uses a different MAA reference architecture to deploy the optimal set of Oracle HA capabilities that reliably achieve a given service level (SLA) at the lowest cost.  Each tier includes all of the capabilities of the previous tier and builds upon the architecture to handle an expanded fault domain.

  • Bronze is appropriate for databases where simple restart or restore from backup is ‘HA enough’. Bronze is based upon a single instance Oracle Database with MAA best practices that use the many capabilities for data protection and HA included with every Oracle Enterprise Edition license. Oracle-optimized backups using Oracle Recovery Manager (RMAN) provide data protection and are used to restore availability should an outage prevent the database from being able to restart.

  • Silver provides an additional level of HA for databases that require minimal or zero downtime in the event of database instance or server failure as well as many types of planned maintenance. Silver adds clustering technology - either Oracle RAC or RAC One Node. RMAN provides database-optimized backups to protect data and restore availability should an outage prevent the cluster from being able to restart.

  • Gold raises the game substantially for business critical applications that can’t accept vulnerability to single points-of-failure. Gold adds database-aware replication technologies, Active Data Guard and Oracle GoldenGate, which synchronize one or more replicas of the production database to provide real time data protection and availability. Database-aware replication greatly increases HA and data protection beyond what is possible with storage replication technologies. It also reduces cost while improving return on investment by actively utilizing all replicas at all times.

  • Platinum introduces all of the sexy new Oracle Database 12c capabilities that Oracle staff will gush over with great enthusiasm. These capabilities include Application Continuity for reliable replay of in-flight transactions that masks outages from users; Active Data Guard Far Sync for zero data loss protection at any distance; new Oracle GoldenGate enhancements for zero downtime upgrades and migrations; and Global Data Services for automated service management and workload balancing in replicated database environments. Each of these technologies requires additional effort to implement. But they deliver substantial value for your most critical applications where downtime and data loss are not an option.

The MAA reference architectures are inherently designed to address conflicting realities. On one hand, not every application has the same objectives for availability and data protection – the Not One Size Fits All title of this blog post. On the other hand, standard infrastructure is an operational requirement and a business necessity in order to reduce complexity and cost.

MAA reference architectures address both realities by providing a standard infrastructure optimized for Oracle Database that enables you to dial-in the level of HA appropriate for different service level requirements. This makes it simple to move a database from one HA tier to the next should business requirements change, or from one hardware platform to another – whether it’s your favorite non-Oracle vendor or an Oracle Engineered System.

Please stay tuned for additional blog posts in this series that dive into the details of each MAA reference architecture.

Meanwhile, more information on Oracle HA solutions and the Maximum Availability Architecture can be found at:


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Musings on Oracle's Maximum Availability Architecture (MAA), by members of Oracle Development team. Note that we may not have the bandwidth to answer generic questions on MAA.


« February 2015