Your Oracle database needs its own disaster recovery (DR) plan to ensure that its recovery time objective (RTO) and recovery point objective (RPO) are met in the event of an outage. Some level of Oracle database disaster recovery testing is the only way to shake out problems with your plan/runbook.

Common issues that stall recovery in today’s interdependent environments include communication disconnects and missing data. It’s not easy orchestrating recovery across your database, storage, network, etc.

There are several Oracle database disaster recovery approaches to suit different recovery needs, along with a range of third-party options and custom configurations. Your DR plan can include a remote site, a failover system, and/or offsite storage for database backups and archived logs, among other components.

But whatever DR technology and plan you have in place, if you don’t test them ahead of time they might very well fail when you need them most.

DR testing types

The good news about Oracle database disaster recovery testing is the basics apply regardless of your test plan specifics. There are three DR testing types:

  1. Plan review. Here, the team that helped developed the DR plan closely reviews it to identify missing steps or process disconnects.
  2. Tabletop exercise. Similar to a play rehearsal, in a tabletop exercise, the people involved in executing the DR plan go through it carefully step-by-step to make sure they know what to do and the steps make sense and lead to the desired results.
  3. Simulation. A simulation attempts to mimic a real-world disaster scenario as closely as possible. It can validate whether your Oracle database disaster recovery team can restart the necessary hardware and software in sync with the RTO timeline and whether your backup, redundancy, and/or failover systems work as expected.

Which approach to do? Usually, that depends on the criticality of your database and the time since your last test. The more your database environment has changed since your last simulation, the more comprehensive your Oracle database disaster recovery testing needs to be.

Simulation scenarios

If you’re doing a simulation, it’s helpful to base it on a specific disaster scenario. Some of the most common real-world disaster scenarios your database could face include an external or insider cyber-attack, hardware failure, data corruption, human error, extreme weather, flooding, and fire.

DR plan testing frequency

How often should you test your Oracle database disaster recovery plan? It’s a function of the RTO for your database. If your RTO is 2 days, for example, you could get away with testing maybe twice per year. If you need high availability and near-instant recovery, you should plan on testing your Oracle database DR plans much more frequently.

Another variable in testing frequency is major changes in your Oracle database environment. You need to make sure that important changes are reflected in your DR plan, and you don’t want to find out during a real disaster that they’re not.

Next steps

The importance of Oracle database disaster recovery is hard to calculate. But it is easy to underestimate the financial and reputational impacts of disasters, which can add up to millions of dollars per hour in some industries. The general expectation has become that businesses are available 24×7, and tolerance for downtime is low.

At Buda Consulting, we know how much our clients rely on their databases. Our Reliability Review is a proven approach to evaluating your current risk scenario and deciding what level of protection you need. Contact us to find out more.