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Inside Oracle 11g ILM

Oracle Database Tips by Donald Burleson


The concept of Information Lifecycle Management has been around for many decades.  In a nutshell, ILM is the intelligent archiving of historical Oracle data on cheaper tertiary media, like inexpensive disk, optimal jukeboxes and magnetic tape.













ILM - It's all about the cost of storage



In a perfect world with negligible-cost fast storage, ILM would be unnecessary, as offloading and storing historical data would not be driven by economics.  However, even though disk and SSD is now cheaper than ever before, archiving historical data remains problematic, especially within the realm of Oracle auditing for regulatory compliance.


Government regulations such as SOX, GLB and HIPAA require auditing of updates (DML) and disclosure (SQL selects).  According to the law, organizations must provide complete audit trails for all DDL (i.e., schema changes), DML (e.g., updates, insert, deletes), and select audits of confidential patient information.















The basic idea of ILM is to develop a hierarchy of storage, based on storage cost and data activity:

  • Leave highly active "current" data on high-speed solid-state disk (e.g. SSD which can be 300x faster than platter disks)

  • Archive low-activity historical data to cheaper platter disk and tertiary media (tape).


Oracle ILM Assistant in Oracle9i

Oracle introduced an ILM assistant in Oracle 9i, an Apex (HTML-DB) application to assist in the offloading and archiving of large volumes of historical database information.  Oracle notes:

  • Manages your ILM environment via a GUI interface

  • Define lifecycle definitions

  • Manage security & compliance

  • Advises when data needs to be moved, generates scripts

  • Requires Oracle Application Express

  • Supports Oracle Database 9i and up

  • Tool downloaded from OTN (available now!)


The Oracle 11g ILM assistant

In Oracle 11g, ILM has been enhanced to incorporate Oracle partitioning (and the all-important "exchange partition" syntax), to allow easy data movement at the partition level.  As highly-active data "ages out" and becomes low-activity, ILM allows the DBA to easily "move" it away from the high-cost storage onto cheaper media.  Oracle says that the basic ILM steps include:

  1. Define the Data Classes

  2. Create Storage Tiers for the Data Classes

  3. Create Data Access and Migration Policies

  4. Define and Enforce Compliance Policies

To allow for easy data movement within ILM, Oracle leverages their Automatic Storage Management (ASM) and partitioning features, all within a 11g ILM assistant, a GUI designed to remove the tedium from managing many "layers" of storage.  Oracle 11g introduces there features within ILM:

  • New Oracle advanced data compression for tables, LOB's and partitions

  • New "Interval", "Ref" and "virtual column" partitioning methods

  • New 11g partitioning methods (list-list, list-range, list-hash and range-range)

In sum, ILM is more of a collection and integration of existing tools (ASM, partitioning) than a separate product, and the Apex front-end (the ILM assistant) provides  an easy interface to the management of multi-tiered data.



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