Product Review: HyperBac for Oracle

Synopsis. Oracle 10g Release 2 (10gR2) offers
significant enhancements to database backup and recovery with Recovery Manager
(RMAN), including the ability to compress backup sets and encrypt backups for
increased security. A relatively new product called HyperBac provides an
excellent alternative to Oracle 10gR2 compressed backupset methodology without
the need to modify any RMAN backup, restoration, and recovery scripts. In
addition, HyperBac also provides the ability to compress and encrypt Oracle
DataPump dumpsets. This article provides an overview of HyperBac features that
nicely complement Oracle 10gR2’s enhancements to database backups and exports.

When I first reviewed the new features that Oracle Database
10g Release 1 (10gR1) offered in the Recovery Manager (RMAN) arena, I
recognized immediately that the capability to create incrementally
updateable image copy backups
was an immense improvement over prior
releases. It offers DBAs the means to perform a single incremental level 0
image copy backup of the database’s datafiles and then simply apply just the
changed blocks in later incremental level 1 backup sets of those same datafiles
to update the initial base backup. (For details on how to implement this
feature, please see my article
on this and other RMAN enhancements in Oracle 10g.)

Oracle 10gR1 also introduced a third way to create a
database backup, the compressed backup set, to the RMAN tool set.
Compressed backup sets still contain all the same block-level information as
their uncompressed counterparts, but take up a lot less space – normally
between 25% to 50% compression. For datafiles that contain predominantly
character-based information, the compression ratio could be as great as 90%.

Oracle 10gR2 also added the ability to create encrypted
backup sets
. RMAN now can apply advanced encryption algorithms to any
Oracle backup set via a password derived from one of three sources: Transparent
Data Encryption
(TDE) only, password only, or either
password or TDE
. Once encrypted, the backup sets cannot be decrypted
without application of the corresponding password. (Please see my article
on RMAN encrypted backups for a full explanation of these security features.)

These are impressive features, but I believe that a few
capabilities are unfortunately still missing in Oracle Database 10g:

  • Compressed backup sets take much longer to create than
    uncompressed backup sets
    .
    Based on my experiments and feedback from
    other DBAs, a compressed backup set can take up to five times longer to
    create than its uncompressed counterpart and its creation tends to consume large
    amounts of CPU resources. This is apparently due to an extremely aggressive
    implementation of the Lempel-Ziv compression algorithm during compressed backup
    set creation, and is unfortunately not tunable in Oracle Database 10g.
  • Encrypting backups with Transparent Data Encryption
    requires additional licensing costs.
    The simplest way to enable both
    database encryption capabilities as well as encrypting Oracle backups is to use
    the Oracle 10gR2’s Transparent Data Encryption (TDE) security features. However,
    TDE requires the purchase of Oracle Database Advanced Security, an extra
    licensing cost that may not be insignificant for small- and medium-sized Oracle
    Database shops.
  • Image copy backups cannot be encrypted. As
    previously described, Oracle Database 10g’s suggested backup strategy —
    Incrementally Updateable Image Copies – is the new standard backup method. Since
    text strings stored within a tablespace’s datafile can indeed be read “in the
    clear” with even simple operating system functions, it’s important that an
    image copy backup of any datafile can be secured as well. However, Oracle
    Database 10g prohibits the direct application of encryption methods to an image
    copy backup of a datafile. This is a true disappointment, since many shops
    simply copy their image copy backups from the Flash Recovery Area directly to
    tape media.

HyperBac Features Overview

Fortunately, I’ve found a potential solution to these
shortfalls with an application named HyperBac from Xceleon Technologies,
a technology partner with Oracle Corporation. The HyperBac web site offers plenty of
information about its availability for several different RDBMSs and platforms
besides Oracle.

The easiest way to understand how HyperBac works is to think
of it as a filter. HyperBac simply accepts input from RMAN or
DataPump, filters that input by applying either encryption or
compression, and then produces an output file that’s saved to disk. When
restoring a datafile, or importing data back into an Oracle database, HyperBac applies
the filter in reverse
, either decrypting or decompressing the backup files
in the backup set or export dumpset during the restoration or import operation.
HyperBac offers the following features:

  • Backup Compression. As noted previously, Oracle 10g does
    already offer the ability to create compressed backup sets, but the rather
    aggressive Lempel-Ziv compression methodology tends to result in noticeably
    longer elapsed time to create these types of RMAN backup sets. The good news here
    is that HyperBac can create compressed backup sets that, while not as
    aggressively compressed as in Oracle 10g, are considerably smaller than
    standard backup sets. Moreover, it’s also possible to apply backup compression
    to an image copy backup while RMAN is writing out the final output file.
  • Backup Encryption. Oracle 10g also already offers the
    ability to apply encryption to RMAN backup sets, but RMAN image copy backups
    cannot be encrypted. Once again, HyperBac comes to the rescue because I can
    simply apply the HyperBac encryption filter to any RMAN output dataset whether it’s
    a backup set, compressed backup set, or even an image copy backup. HyperBac
    allows the DBA to select from either 128-bit, 192-bit, or 256-bit AES
    encryption algorithms. Best of all, HyperBac doesn’t require any additional
    setup to enable backup decryption; essentially, HyperBac just applies its
    encryption algorithm in reverse to decrypt the incoming encrypted backup set as
    RMAN reads from it during a RESTORE
    operation.
  • Export File Compression. HyperBac offers the ability to
    apply its powerful compression algorithms directly to either a DataPump Export
    dump set or a standard export file as it’s being written to its destination
    directory. As you might guess, HyperBac simply applies the same decompression
    algorithm to uncompress an export file as it’s being imported into an Oracle
    10g database.
  • Export File Encryption. Since it essentially functions as
    a filter, HyperBac also permits the encryption of a DataPump Export dump set
    file or export file as it’s being written to its destination directory. And as
    you might guess, HyperBac simply applies the encryption as a filter in reverse
    when importing data from an encrypted DataPump Export dump set or export file.
    The same encryption algorithms available for RMAN encryption are also available
    for encryption of dump sets and export files.

Evaluation Environment Setup

For the record, I’m using a dual-core AMD Athlon 64-bit CPU
(Winchester 4200) to run VMWare Server 1.0.3 to access a virtualized database
server environment. I configured my VMWare virtual machine to fully utilize
both of the dual-core CPUs but just 1024 MB of memory. For my VMWare virtual
machine’s OS, I used the Oracle Enterprise Linux (OEL) version that is
equivalent to Red Hat Enterprise Linux 4.0 Update 4 (i.e. Linux kernel version 2.6.9-42.0.0.0.1.ELsmp).

Once my VMWare virtual machine was configured, I installed
the software for Oracle Database 10gR2 (10.2.0.1.0) and then constructed the
standard 10gR2 “seed” database, including the standard sample schemas. I then
used RMAN to create a series of baseline backup sets and image copy backups for
later comparisons against those I’d be creating with HyperBac. Listing 1 illustrates the creation
of an RMAN image copy full backup of the database; Listing 2 and Listing 3 show the creation of
full backups of the database using both the normal compressed backup set
methods, respectively.

Installing HyperBac for Oracle

HyperBac is extremely easy to install. I simply downloaded
the corresponding HyperBac demonstration software that matched my VMWare
virtual machine’s environment, obtained the appropriate key for the 30-day
demonstration, and then installed the software on my database server. Note that
the installation of HyperBac for Oracle does require root-level access to the host:


$>./hyperbac-oracle-linux -i

Hyperbac for PRODUCTION PLATFORMS

END-USER LICENSE AGREEMENT

THIS IS A CONTRACT, PLEASE READ IT CAREFULLY, BY INSTALLING THIS
SOFTWARE YOU ACCEPT ALL THE TERMS AND CONDITIONS OF THIS AGREEMENT, YOU
WILL NOT BE ABLE TO USE THIS SOFTWARE UNLESS YOU ACCEPT THIS AGREEMENT.
BY USING THE SOFTWARE, YOU ARE AGREEING TO BE BOUND BY THE TERMS OF
THIS LICENSE. IF YOU DO NOT AGREE TO ANY TERM OR CONDITION, YOU MAY NOT
INSTALL OR RUN THIS SOFTWARE.


… (remainder of licensing not shown for sake of brevity)

2005 Xceleon Technologies. All Rights Reserved.

If you agree to the license agreement press ‘Y’ or ‘N’ to end the
installation: Yes

IMPORTANT: Product licensing message:

HyperBac has 30 evaluation days remaining. At the end of the evaluation
period the product will stop functioning.
To obtain a license file contact www.hyperbac.com with the system key:
<systemkey obscured>, or directly with the link:
http://www.hyperbac.com/obtainlicense.asp?systemkey=<systemkey obscured >

Press (N)ext to continue…
N

Installing hyperbac service files…OK
Before configuring the service to start at boot time, it is recommended
that you start the service now to ensure that is is configured
correctly.
Start service now (Y/N): Yes
Starting hyperbac: [ OK ]
Auto start service (Y/N): Yes

Congratulations on successfully installing HyperBac, for information on
configuring and using the HyperBac product, please refer to the
‘Getting Started Guide for HyperBac’. This document is located at:
file:///etc/hyperbac/doc/GettingStarted.html

I used the default configuration for HyperBac for Oracle as
defined by HyperBac’s configuration file, aptly named hyperbac.conf, that’s stored in the /etc/hyperbac
directory. Here’s an example of its contents:


IncludeList=*;[20,0]|*.hbc;[20,0]+*;[20,0]|*.hbe;[20,26128]
IndexPath=indexes
KeyPath=keys
IndexPath=indexes
LicencePath=license/hyperbac.lic
LogPath=logs
DebugFlags=1

The most important parameter in this configuration file is
the one named IncludeList.
It defines the file extensions that HyperBac will perform its operations
against, as well as the operation scope – either simply compression,
or both compression and encryption – which it will perform to any files
that match the listed filename expressions listed. In this default
configuration, for example, HyperBac for Oracle will apply its compression
capability against any file that has a file extension of hbc, and it
will apply its combined compression and encryption capability against any file
that has an extension of hbe. (See Appendix C of the Getting
Started with HyperBac for Linux Systems
guide for excellent documentation
of the parameters that can be specified in hyperbac.conf.)

Compressing RMAN Backup Sets with HyperBac

HyperBac can compress the files that comprise an Oracle
Database 10g RMAN backup set while the backup set is being created, and it
makes no difference if it’s a “normal” backup set or a compressed backup set. I’ve
preserved the results of both RMAN operations in Listing 4 and Listing 5, respectively, and Table
1
below shows the relative savings obtained by using HyperBac to compress
both types of backup files:

Table 1. HyperBac Results: RMAN Backup Set Compression

Backup Type

Resulting RMAN Backup Set Size

With HyperBac Compression

Savings

Normal Backup Set

597.50

124.60

79.1%

Compressed Backup Set

110.20

103.70

5.9%

All file sizes are in MB unless
otherwise noted.

Compressing RMAN Image Copy Backups with HyperBac

Even more impressive, HyperBac can compress the files that
are created during an RMAN image copy backup operation while the image copy
files are being created
. I used the code shown in Listing 6 to create an image copy
backup of the seed database while routing the resulting backup files through
the HyperBac filtering mechanism. Table 2 illustrates the relative space
savings – an average of better than 85% – when compared to a standard RMAN image
copy of the same datafiles:

Table 2. HyperBac Results: RMAN Image Copy Backup Compression

Datafile Name

Actual Size

RMAN Image Copy

HyperBac Image Copy

Relative Savings

SYSTEM01.DBF

480.00

480.00

89.70

81.3%

UNDOTBS01.DBF

40.00

40.00

6.20

84.5%

SYSAUX01.DBF

240.00

240.00

14.60

93.9%

USERS01.DBF

5.00

5.00

0.16

96.8%

EXAMPLE01.DBF

100.00

100.00

16.10

83.9%

Total:

865.00

865.00

126.76

85.3%

All file sizes are in MB unless
otherwise noted.

Encrypting RMAN Backup Sets with HyperBac

HyperBac can also simultaneously compress and encrypt
RMAN backup sets with virtually no modification of the existing RMAN script
that creates the backup files. The only change required is the addition of a FORMAT
directive within the backup script so that the file extension for each backup
file created matches one of those named in the HyperBac configuration file.

To illustrate, I used the RMAN backup script shown in Listing 7 to create a full
database backup of my target Oracle database, producing a “normal” RMAN backup
set. Note that the only modification was the addition of a FORMAT
directive that names each image copy backup file so that its extension is .hbe.
The resulting statistics for the creation of this backup set is shown in Table
3
below. While the encrypted backup took no less time to create using
HyperBac in this scenario, it did actually result in a smaller backup set
“footprint” as well:

Table 3. HyperBac Results: RMAN Backup Set Encryption

 

Actual Size

RMAN

Backup Set Copy

HyperBac Image Copy

Relative Savings

Total File Sizes:

865.00

597.50

133.69

77.6%

All file sizes are in MB unless
otherwise noted.

Encrypting RMAN Image Copy Backups with HyperBac

HyperBac can also simultaneously compress and encrypt
RMAN image copy backups while they are created during an image copy backup
operation. To illustrate, I used the RMAN backup script shown in Listing 8 to create an image copy
backup of all datafiles in my target Oracle database. Again, the only
modification to my original image copy backup script was a FORMAT
directive that names each image copy backup file so that its extension is .hbe.
The resulting statistics for backing up the database’s datafiles are shown in Table
4
below. Note the significant reduction in size of the backup files, both
individually and cumulatively:

Table 4. HyperBac Results: RMAN Image Copy Backup Encryption

Datafile Name

RMAN Image Copy

HyperBac Image Copy

Relative Savings

SYSTEM01.DBF

480.00

92.59

80.7%

UNDOTBS01.DBF

40.00

9.86

75.3%

SYSAUX01.DBF

240.00

17.13

92.9%

USERS01.DBF

5.00

0.19

96.2%

EXAMPLE01.DBF

100.00

16.17

83.8%

Total:

865.00

135.94

84.3%

All file sizes are in MB unless
otherwise noted.

To prove that RMAN can still restore and recover database
components from a backup set or image copy that was produced with the help of
HyperBac, I destroyed the datafile for my database’s EXAMPLE tablespace and
then restored and recovered the tablespace. Listing 9 shows the successful
results of this test.

Compressing and Encrypting DataPump Exports with HyperBac

The final HyperBac features I’ll review involve its
ability to create either compressed or compressed and encrypted
DataPump Export dumpsets. While it’s possible to create an encrypted DataPump
export in Oracle 10gR2, this capability again requires the licensing of Oracle
Advanced Security features, while HyperBac requires no additional Oracle
licensing to enable its capabilities.

As shown in Listing
10
, I created a DataPump Export dump set that comprised the entire
contents of the standard “seed” database, and I used the results from this
operation as a baseline for comparison to DataPump Export operations I
performed in concert with HyperBac.

I then created a compressed DataPump Export dump set and an
encrypted DataPump dump set as shown in Listing
11
and Listing 12,
respectively. Table 5 shows the end results: a 75% reduction in
the size of the resulting dump sets, and a 45% reduction in the amount of time
it took to create the files:

Table 5: DataPump Export Baseline Results

DataPump Operation

Dump Set Size (MB)

Elapsed Time (seconds)

Baseline DataPump Export Dump Set

70.04

255

DataPump Export Dump Set – Compressed with HyperBac

17.04

140

DataPump Export Dump Set – Encrypted with HyperBac

17.06

124

And to verify that these DataPump dump sets were viable, I
re-imported just one table from the SH schema (SH.PRODUCTS) into the HR schema (as HR.PRODUCTS)
by using the REMAP_SCHEMA
directive during the DataPump Import. As shown in Listing 13 I used the encrypted
DataPump Export created in Listing 9 as the target for the DataPump import
operation.

Conclusion

HyperBac for Oracle offers excellent solutions for
compression and encryption of Oracle RMAN backup sets, RMAN image copy backup
files, DataPump Export dump sets, and Export files. It is simple to install,
configure and customize for immediate use in concert with any Oracle 10g
database. HyperBac for Oracle can be downloaded for a 30-day trial from the
HyperBac web site at http://www.hyperbac.com/

References and Additional Reading

Even though I’ve hopefully provided enough technical
information in this article to encourage you to explore with these features, I
also strongly suggest that you first review the corresponding detailed Oracle
documentation before proceeding with any experiments. Actual implementation of
these features should commence only after a crystal-clear understanding exists.
The following Oracle 10gR2 documentation is extremely useful for understanding
the deeper technical details of this article, especially the backup, restore,
and recovery capabilities of Oracle 10gR2 Recovery Manager (RMAN) and the
export and import capabilities of Oracle DataPump:

B14191-02 Oracle Backup
and Recovery Advanced User’s Guide

B14192-03 Oracle Backup
and Recovery Basics

B14193-03 Oracle Backup
and Recovery Quick Start Guide

B14194-03 Oracle Backup
and Recovery Reference

B14215-01 Oracle Utilities

»


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Jim Czuprynski

Jim Czuprynski
Jim Czuprynski
Jim Czuprynski has accumulated over 30 years of experience during his information technology career. He has filled diverse roles at several Fortune 1000 companies in those three decades - mainframe programmer, applications developer, business analyst, and project manager - before becoming an Oracle database administrator in 2001. He currently holds OCP certification for Oracle 9i, 10g and 11g. Jim teaches the core Oracle University database administration courses on behalf of Oracle and its Education Partners throughout the United States and Canada, instructing several hundred Oracle DBAs since 2005. He was selected as Oracle Education Partner Instructor of the Year in 2009. Jim resides in Bartlett, Illinois, USA with his wife Ruth, whose career as a project manager and software quality assurance manager for a multinational insurance company makes for interesting marital discussions. He enjoys cross-country skiing, biking, bird watching, and writing about his life experiences in the field of information technology.

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