How to back up and restore an Oracle database — Veeam’s best practices

IT organizations and departments are under enormous pressure to make their applications available for business operation continuity. In case of an error, they need to get critical apps up and running again as soon as possible. The challenges here are very clear:

  • Enabling 24/7 services and business operations
  • No tolerance for downtime from end users and customers
  • Constantly increasing amount of data

Companies can meet these Availability requirements with a high level of virtualization, investments in modern storage systems and with applications hosting in private, public and hybrid cloud environments. To guarantee accessible and efficient services and operations, and benefit from the combination of these technologies, the entire IT infrastructure should be standardized and properly managed.

Enterprise-grade companies commonly use an Oracle platform for their Tier 1 applications. In spite of the Oracle licensing policy, this platform is more and more frequently operated on VMware and Hyper-V environments.

Veeam and Oracle integration

Veeam can be used as an add-in to virtualized Oracle platforms. In case of an error or failure, it can help to bring Oracle databases back online as soon as possible.

Veeam Backup & Replication can be used either as a sole Oracle backup solution, or as an extension to your existing backup process with RMAN or other existing backup software. Veeam Backup & Replication delivers multiple high-speed recovery features for Oracle platform, including Instant VM Recovery and snapshot-based restores with Veeam Explorer for Storage Snapshots.

In terms of system requirements, to enable Oracle Availability with Veeam, you need Veeam Backup & Replication v9 and Oracle Version 11/12 running on a Windows- or Linux-based VM.

You can find a comprehensive example of Veeam and Oracle integration as well as best practices for Oracle backup and restore in this new white paper: Veeam Availability Suite and SAP on Oracle Deployment Guide.

Availability of SAP environments with Veeam

Oracle backup best practices

Veeam creates image-based backups on a block level and protects entire VMs as a copy regardless of its content. Backup efficiency and speed is increased by using Change Block Tracking (CBT) technologies for both VMware and Hyper-V. CBT allows Veeam to pull out the changed blocks of data in every backup job run. Although only the changed data is processed, a backup job results in a consistent, full backup of the database itself because the restore point includes a restorable image of the full VM, which includes the database itself.

To back up your Oracle server, create a new backup job in Veeam Backup & Replication:

Oracle backup and restore with Veeam

Add the required VMs:

Oracle backup and restore with Veeam

Specify your backup repository:

Oracle backup and restore with Veeam

During the backup process, Veeam Backup & Replication connects to VMs via the network or the VMware VIX channel (Windows-based VMs only) and examines VM content. If applications such as Oracle are detected, Veeam starts application-aware image processing, a special mechanism to maintain applications and database consistency in backups:

Oracle backup and restore with Veeam

In the case of Oracle, Veeam Backup & Replication automatically examines environment variables where the databases are located and shifts them into backup mode. The main command that Veeam executes apart from the others is “ALTER DATABASE BEGIN BACKUP.” The backup job is retained for a couple of seconds to take a VM snapshot and releases the backup mode on the DB afterwards (after some seconds). The snapshot is then used to create the actual backup.

Additionally, as an extension of the methods described above, storage snapshots can be used to reduce the load on VMware, optimize VMware snapshot processing, bring you faster restores and you can more frequently create backups. Optionally, you can create in a short frequency crash-consistent storage snapshots. Crash-consistent processing ensures that the VM data is secured at the same time points from all hard disks to be compatible with Oracle during restore.

Along with the image-level backup, you can perform Oracle Archive Log Backups as frequently as needed to have the least possible data loss in case of failure, and to enable point-in-time recovery or restore to a specific transaction.

Oracle backup and restore with Veeam

There’re various other Oracle commands and RMAN scripts used by Veeam according to the Oracle best practice backup and restore guidelines to check the database is consistent after the restore. The full list of commands is documented in the Appendix of the white paper, Veeam Availability Suite and SAP on Oracle Deployment Guide.

Within a backup strategy, it is common to initiate an image-level backup once a day, and to generate a backup from a crash-consistent snapshot every 10 min depending on the load of your storage system. Additionally, it’s suggested to carry out an Oracle Archive Log Backup with RMAN or Veeam Backup & Replication every 5 – 60 min.

Oracle backup and restore with Veeam

Once you complete the Oracle backup job configuration, click Finish to start the backup process:

Oracle backup and restore with Veeam

Oracle restore best practices

Veeam Backup & Replication gives you a choice of options to restore Oracle databases. You can restore from an image-level backup or from storage snapshots. Instant VM Recovery is there used to start the entire server in just two 2 minutes (+ boot time) or to granularly recover files.

Oracle backup and restore with Veeam

Additionally, with the Veeam Explorer for Oracle Restore Wizard, the databases can be recovered to a specific point-in-time or to a specific transaction from image-level backups in combination with Archive Logs backups. Here you can decide flexibly depending on the situation.

Oracle backup and restore with Veeam

Oracle backup and restore with Veeam

Above all, Instant VM Recovery and Veeam Explorer from Storage Snapshots options can help you make the application available faster in case of a system disaster.

Oracle backup and restore with Veeam

A classical full VM restore is also possible with a function called Quick Rollback. It is very fast as well, but it only recovers the changed blocks till the last backup.

Oracle backup and restore with Veeam

A more manual option is to use Instant VM Recovery technology to just mount the VM disk with the database out of the backup to the original VM. A database admin can then use the database directly and you can transfer the data back with Storage vMotion. The best practice is to place a copy of the control file on the same disk.

Veeam’s SureBackup technology and On-Demand Sandbox excel here apart from Quick Rollback. With SureBackup, Oracle server can be run on full recoverability including application start exam in a Sandbox environment. In this virtual lab, you can also run your own test scripts against the application.

A test environment created with On-Demand Sandbox can be used for testing upgrades in order to examine beforehand whether a change would affect the application or Oracle server.

These best practices on how to back up and restore an Oracle database with Veeam were written for the actual Veeam Backup & Replication v9 or Veeam Availability Suite v9. The “Enterprise Edition” is the feature set referenced within this article. Veeam offers support for Oracle Version 11 and 12 on Windows and Linux.

See also

Veeam Community Forums: How to backup Oracle

Oracle Backup & Recovery Demo

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