Captain Smith’s Log

EJ_SmithEveryone knows the story of the Titanic.  She hit an iceberg on her maiden voyage which ruptured 5 of her 16 watertight compartments.  Like a RAID array, her hull was designed with redundancy in mind, and could afford the failure of up to 4 of the compartments.  Unfortunately the collision damaged the 5 forward compartments, thus dooming the ship.

Once the the collision occurred, a total loss was guaranteed.   Titanic would sink.  Now the main problem is rescue of the passengers.  Rescuing all of them would be the equivalent of complete media recovery.

So after the collision, the crew had 3 major problems:

  1. No ship nearby to rescue the passengers to.
  2. Not enough lifeboats for all of the passengers.
  3. A very limited amount of time the ship would remain afloat.

However, immediately after the collision, the crew also had some things that most sinking ships don’t:

  1. Perfectly calm seas and weather conditions.
  2. Functioning engines, navigation, etc.
  3. Eleven perfectly good watertight compartments – less than 1/3 of the ship was actually flooding.

So what now?  If they could somehow stabilize the situation and keep the ship from sinking until a rescue ship showed up, they would be golden.  But how do they?  The list on the bow is already noticeable and getting worse.  If only there was an island or sand spit nearby they could beach it on, they would be good to go.  But they are in the middle of the Atlantic with the ocean over a mile deep.  But there is actually an island nearby.  The one they just collided with:

Titanic_iceberg It is made of ice, but otherwise icebergs are similar to islands.  Most of the ice is below the surface.  According to Wikipedia, this is the iceberg that Titanic is suspected of hitting.  That cove looks like a pretty nice place for the bow of the Titanic while they are waiting to be rescued.  Once the crew knew that 5 compartments were flooding, perhaps they could have turned around, headed back to the iceberg, and run the bow aground real easy at about 1 knot – don’t want to damage the bow any more in case it doesn’t work.  Once the bow had made contact with the ice, they could have used the engines to keep it there, effectively using the engines to keep it afloat, and stabilizing the situation until another ship could rescue the passengers.

What doe this have to do with an Oracle DBA?  Think of the watertight compartments as an RAID array, the passengers as your critical production database, and the lifeboats as a partial export.  The sinking rate is how long your SAN can continue to provide at least read access to your datafiles, and the iceberg you beached on is hacking your SAN admin is going through to keep everything running long enough to get the data somewhere safe.

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