Angelica Corp. Takes Advantage of Heterogeneous Standby Services to Update Database and Database Servers with Just One Hour of Downtime

Angelica Corp.
Industry: Laundry and Linen Supply
Oracle Environment: Oracle Database
Benefits Achieved:
  • Additional processing power and more memory
  • Better database performance
  • Improved reliability
  • Implement and take advantage of the latest release of critical business software application
  • Need to upgrade to Oracle Database 11g to take advantage of  the latest release of critical business software
  • Database server infrastructure and performance levels are not as fast as they could be because of continued business growth
  • The impact of hardware and software upgrades on the business needs to be as minimal as possible
Solution: Oracle Database 11g Oracle DataGuard Overview Angelica Corp., based in Alpharetta, GA, was founded more than 100 years ago and is now the nation’s leading supplier of health care linen and medical laundry services. The privately held company has 27 laundry plants across the U.S. and provides laundry and linen services to more than 4,200 clinics, hospitals, and long-term care facilities. It currently has 5,900 employees and generated $427 million in revenue (2011). Business Challenges:
Angelica uses Oracle Database to run its medical laundry services, and depends on SmartDog Services consultants to help support and maintain Angelica’s database infrastructure.
In 2011, after experiencing performance and reliability issues with their database servers,company leaders realized they needed to upgrade hardware and software. After purchasing the necessary servers, they asked SmartDog experts for help to make the database upgrade process as quick as possible to minimize downtime and limit the impact on the daily business. SmartDog consultants proposed attaching the new servers via a new storage area network (SAN) and configuring a new Real Application Cluster (RAC), a complexbut ultimately successfulsolution.
In just a matter of months, SmartDog consultants set up an Active DataGuard scenario between two three-node RAC clusters. This arrangement enabled them to configure the new hardware, storage, cluster and database while the existing system continued to support the business. A copy of the production database was moved to the new hardware so that the existing database could be used to synchronize the two environments until cutting over to the new system.
Specific steps in the process included:
  • Cloning a copy of the production database to the new cluster
  • Configuring the DataGuard from the production database to the standby on the new servers
  • Switching the primary database from the production database to the standby, making the new servers the designated production system
  • Changing application settings to use the new servers
  • Shutting down the application, converting from the old platform to the new platformand restarting the application
Angelica enjoyed excellent performance and reliability with the new arrangement for several years. However, in early 2014, IT leaders realized that they needed to upgrade to a new release of critical business software, but this new release required Angelica to upgrade from Oracle Database 10g to Oracle Database 11g. At the same time, continued business growth over the last three years had increased the demand on servers. If the company needed to go through a software upgrade, it would be an ideal time to upgrade servers, too. 
After acquiring new servers, once again Angelica IT personnel reached out to SmartDog to help with the database upgrade process.
Because SmartDog’s database upgrade solution back in 2011 worked so well, it made sense to take a similar approach to upgrade from Oracle Database 10g to Oracle 11g. Specifically, SmartDog experts decided to use heterogeneous standby services while moving Angelica’s existing three-node RAC to another three-node RAC with a new SAN.
One critical difference with the latest project was that SmartDog experts realized that they could take advantage of logical standby functionality with DataGuard, so that Angelica could continue to run its Oracle Database 10g-based system as the production database while creating a new three-node RAC with a new SAN running Oracle Database 11g. The ability to run two different versions of Oracle Database during the upgrade process was not a possibility back in 2011, but SmartDog consultants took the time to investigate and knew that the logical standby functionality was supported in Oracle Database 11g. It would help minimize disruption to the business and streamline the entire upgrade process.
Planning the new RAC and SAN, attaching the new servers to the SAN and creating the cluster for the new servers took several months. But, once again, the actual downtime required to migrate the production database from Oracle 10g to Oracle 11g was, amazingly, less than one hour.  
Angelica leaders were especially appreciative that daily business was minimally impacted by the entire upgrade process. Further, since going live in mid-2014, Angelica users have been very happy with improved performance and reliability that they’ve received with the upgraded database servers and Oracle Database 11g.

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