I was recently discussing this desire with a colleague. I told him that I felt there was a need for a really good backup and recovery book. Actually, I expounded a bit and said that there is a need for a good database continuity book. It just feels that backup and recovery is an overused phrase for a dramatically underutilized and uncultivated set of skills. After all, how frequently are we involved in backup and recovery exercises? I would guess that backup and recovery activities comprise less than 5% of the time spent by a DBA during the course of any given year. That would be less than 100 hours in a full work year. I suspect it could be much less for some.
Isn't spending little or no time on backup and recovery a good thing? That does imply our systems are resilient and few faults surface that require us to exercise our recovery plan. And, in the age of RMAN we simply don't have to worry about the nuances of recovery, right? RMAN knows exactly what is needed for restoration, and all the DBA needs to do is execute a few commands to restore and recover the database. What technology has afforded us with regard to ease of backup configurations and redundant infrastructure, it has equally reduced our ability to confidently take control when up against a critical database recovery scenario. In short, we become complacent and our knowledge of backup and recovery diminishes over time. How confident are we that our backup strategy meets the recovery point (RPO) and recovery time (RTO) objective of our business?
I digress. Let’s get back to the conversation with my colleague and this notion of database continuity. I defined for him database continuity as follows: Database continuity is a superset of knowledge, processes and tools that fulfill the data protection requirements of an organization. By consequence, backup and recovery become processes in the continuity methodology. Database continuity is a broadened perspective of Oracle database recovery and is intended to include: disaster recovery, standby databases, archive log management, user-managed backups, RMAN, RPO and RTO, etc. Each of these aspects of database continuity requires the DBA to have a firm understanding of Oracle database recovery. If we truly understand recovery these different continuity dimensions converge rapidly. You can plug in your knowledge of recovery to assist with any dimension. So, while the notion of database continuity has greater breadth at face value, it can be reduced to recovery mechanics, constructs and objectives.
That being said, I have many ideas about a book on Oracle database continuity. However, I want to hear from you. What do you find lacking in the backup and recovery books on the market? Maybe one text speaks to an aspect for which you wish the author had given more detail. Or, maybe there is an overindulgence of certain topics that you wish had been left out. What material would help you retain and reuse your recovery knowledge? I am not out to write a book on RMAN or Data Guard; thousands of pages have already been devoted to the treatment of these technologies. I view guides on such topics as utilities to affect my recovery objectives and mobilize my recovery knowledge.