Oracle DB users wrestle with storage demand

US survey shows lack of available storage has affected the performance of users’ Oracle databases

The number of terabyte-class Oracle databases rose rapidly over the past year, according to newly released survey results. But many Oracle database administrators are having trouble quenching their thirst for more storage.

In the survey, which was conducted for the Independent Oracle Users Group (IOUG) in September and released this month, 60 percent of the 366 respondents said a lack of available storage has affected the performance of their databases. Ten percent said performance has been significantly affected. A total of 46 percent said that the availability of their databases has been affected by storage capacity issues. And 43 percent said they have delayed application rollouts because of a lack of storage resources.

At Chicago Mercantile Exchange Holdings (CME), the number of Buy and Sell contracts being processed per day has grown nearly sixfold over the past six years, from 917,000 in 2000 to nearly 5.5 million last year.

As a result, the exchange is perpetually running out of free disk space for its Oracle databases, according to Joel Kulesa, a storage technology specialist at the CME. To help free up space, the exchange uses techniques such as hierarchical storage management, data classification and archiving, Kulesa said via e-mail.

Performance anxiety

The CME faces an even bigger problem, though: The performance of disk drives isn't increasing fast enough to meet its processing requirements, Kulesa said. "Balancing growing capacity needs with increasing performance demands has been the real challenge we're facing," he added.

The IOUG's survey, which was conducted by Chatham, N.J.-based Unisphere Research with funding from Symantec, found that 31 percent of the respondents now manage data­bases larger than 1TB. That was up from 13 percent in a similar survey released early last year.

Respondents reported that the top contributors to their growing storage needs were increased transaction data, information generated by new devices and systems, and regulatory requirements. The growth was also fueled by increasing amounts of unstructured data, such as graphics, video and e-mail files.

"Storage is growing much faster than the revenues and profits of companies," said Ari Kaplan, the Chicago-based IOUG's president and a senior consultant at Datalink, a storage architecture services firm.

According to the survey, some Oracle users are seeing such rapid data growth that when budgeting for storage needs, they often make their best guesses and then tack on 10 percent to 25 percent as a safety margin.

Kaplan said the situation is making some database administrators nervous enough that they're trying to become more involved in storage management decisions traditionally handled by other IT team members. That is causing conflicts, he noted.

"I've seen cases of frustration and concern and politicking over storage," Kaplan said. "The larger the company, the larger the challenge of who owns and runs what."

Kulesa, though, minimized the potential for any conflicts between the storage and data­base staffs at the CME. "We work very closely with our DBA team on all storage design and provisioning," he said, adding that high-performance, customer-facing databases account for a majority of the capacity on the exchange's storage-area network.

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