Cloning a PDB with ASM and Data Guard (no ADG) without network transfer

Ok, if you’re reading this post, you may want to read also the previous one that explains something more about the problem.

Briefly said, if you have a CDB running on ASM in a MAA architecture and you do not have Active Data Guard, when you clone a PDB you have to “copy” the datafiles somehow on the standby. The only solution offered by Oracle (in a MOS Note, not in the documentation) is to restore the PDB from the primary to the standby site, thus transferring it over the network. But if you have a huge PDB this is a bad solution because it impacts your network connectivity. (Note: ending up with a huge PDB IMHO can only be caused by bad consolidation. I do not recommend to consolidate huge databases on Multitenant).

So I’ve worked out another solution, that still has many defects and is almost not viable, but it’s technically interesting because it permits to discover a little more about Multitenant and Data Guard.

The three options

At the primary site, the process is always the same: Oracle copies the datafiles of the source, and it modifies the headers so that they can be used by the new PDB (so it changes CON_ID, DBID, FILE#, and so on).

On the standby site, by opposite, it changes depending on the option you choose:

Option 1: Active Data Guard

If you have ADG, the ADG itself will take care of copying the datafile on the standby site, from the source standby pdb to the destination standby pdb. Once the copy is done, the MRP0 will continue the recovery. The modification of the header block of the destination PDB is done by the MRP0 immediately after the copy (at least this is what I understand).


Option 2: No Active Data Guard, but STANDBYS=none

In this case, the copy on the standby site doesn’t happen, and the recovery process just add the entry of the new datafiles in the controlfile, with status OFFLINE and name UNKNOWNxxx.  However, the source file cannot be copied anymore, because the MRP0 process will expect to have a copy of the destination datafile, not the source datafile. Also, any tentative of restore of the datafile 28 (in this example) will give an error because it does not belong to the destination PDB. So the only chance is to restore the destination PDB from the primary.

Option 3: No Active Data Guard, no STANDBYS=none

This is the case that I want to explain actually. Without the flag STANDBYS=none, the MRP0 process will expect to change the header of the new datafile, but because the file does not exist yet, the recovery process dies.
We can then copy it manually from the source standby pdb, and restart the recovery process, that will change the header. This process needs to be repeated for each datafile. (that’s why it’s not a viable solution, right now).


Let’s try it together:

The Environment



The current user PDB (any resemblance to real people is purely coincidental 😉 #haveUSeenMaaz):

Cloning the PDB on the primary

First, make sure that the source PDB is open read-only

Then, clone the PDB on the primary without the clause STANDBYS=NONE:

Review the clone on the Standby

At this point, on the standby the alert log show that the SYSTEM datafile is missing, and the recovery process stops.

One remarkable thing, is that in the standby controlfile, ONLY THE SYSTEM DATAFILE exists:

We need to fix the datafiles one by one, but most of the steps can be done once for all the datafiles.

Copy the source PDB from the standby

What do we need to do? Well, the recovery process is stopped, so we can safely copy the datafiles of  the source PDB from the standby site because they have not moved yet. (meanwhile, we can put the primary source PDB back in read-write mode).

Copy the datafiles:

Do the magic

Now there’s the interesting part: we need to assign the datafile copies of the maaz PDB to LUDO.

Sadly, the OMF will create the copies on the bad location (it’s a copy, to they are created on the same location as the source PDB).

We cannot try to uncatalog and recatalog the copies, because they will ALWAYS be affected to the source PDB. Neither we can use RMAN because it will never associate the datafile copies to the new PDB. We need to rename the files manually.

It’s better to uncatalog the datafile copies before, so we keep the catalog clean:

Then, because we cannot rename files on a standby database with standby file management set to AUTO, we need to put it temporarily to MANUAL.

standby_file_management is not PDB modifiable, so we need to do it for the whole CDB.

then we need to set back the standby_file_management=auto or the recover will not start:

We can now restart the recovery.

The recovery process will:
– change the new datafile by modifying the header for the new PDB
– create the entry for the second datafile in the controlfile
– crash again because the datafile is missing

We already have the SYSAUX datafile, right? So we can alter the name again:

This time all the datafiles have been copied (no user datafile for this example) and the recovery process will continue!! 🙂 so we can hit ^C and start it in background.

The Data Guard configuration reflects the success of this operation.

Do we miss anything?

Of course, we do!! The datafile names of the new PDB reside in the wrong ASM path. We need to fix them!


I know there’s no practical use of this procedure, but it helps a lot in understanding how Multitenant has been implemented.

I expect some improvements in 12.2!!




Tales from the Demo Grounds part 2: cloning a PDB with ASM and Data Guard (no ADG)

In my #OOW14 presentation about MAA and Multitenant, more precisely at slide #59, “PDB Creation from other PDB without ADG*”, I list a few commands that you can use to achieve a “correct” Pluggable Database clone in case you’re not using Active Data Guard.

What’s the problem with cloning a PDB in a MAA environment without ADG? If you’ve attended my session you should know the answer…

If you read the book “Data Guard Concepts and Administration 12c Release 1 (12.1)“, paragraph 3.5 Creating a PDB in a Primary Database, you’ll see that:

If you plan to create a PDB as a clone from a different PDB, then copy the data files that belong to the source PDB over to the standby database. (This step is not necessary in an Active Data Guard environment because the data files are copied automatically when the PDB is created on the standby database.)

But because there are good possibilities (99%?) that in a MAA environment you’re using ASM, this step is not so simple: you cannot copy the datafiles exactly where you want, it’s OMF, and the recovery process expects the files to be where the controlfile says they should be.

So, if you clone the PDB, the recovery process on the standby doesn’t find the datafiles at the correct location, thus the recovery process will stop and will not start until you fix manually. That’s why Oracle has implemented the new syntax “STANDBYS=NONE” that disables the recovery on the standby for a specific PDB: it lets you disable the recovery temporarily while the recovery process continues to apply logs on the remaining PDBs. (Note, however, that this feature is not intended as a generic solution for having PDBs not replicated. The recommended solution in this case is having two distinct CDBs, one protected by DG, the other not).

With ADG, when you clone the PDB on the primary, on the standby the ADG takes care of the following steps, no matter if on ASM or FS:

  1. recover up to the point where the file# is registered in the controlfile
  2. copy the datafiles from the source DB ON THE STANDBY DATABASE (so no copy over the network)
  3. rename the datafile in the controlfile
  4. continue with the recovery

If you don’t have ADG, and you’re on ASM, Oracle documentation says nothing with enough detail to let you solve the problem. So in August I’ve worked out the “easy” solution that I’ve also included in my slides (#59 and #60):

  1. SQL> create pluggable database DEST from SRC standbys=none;
  2. RMAN> backup as copy pluggable database DEST format ‘/tmp/dest%f.dbf’;
  3. $ scp  /tmp/dest*.dbf remote:/tmp
  4. RMAN> catalog start with ‘/tmp/dest’
  5. RMAN> set newnamefor pluggable database DEST to new;
  6. RMAN> restore pluggable database DEST;
  7. RMAN> switch pluggable database DEST to copy;
  8. DGMGRL> edit database ‘STBY’ set state=’APPLY-OFF’;
  9. SQL> Alter pluggable database DEST enable recovery;
  10. DGMGRL> edit database ‘STBY’ set state=’APPLY-ON’;

Once at #OOW14, after endless conversations at the Demo Grounds, I’ve discovered that Oracle has worked out the very same solution requiring network transfer and that it has been documented in a new note.

Making Use of the STANDBYS=NONE Feature with Oracle Multitenant (Doc ID 1916648.1)

This note is very informative and I recommend to read it carefully!

What changes (better) in comparison with my first solution, is that Oracle suggests to use the new feature “restore from service”:

I’ve questioned the developers at the Demo Grounds about the necessity to use network transfer (I had the chance to speak directly with the developer who has written this piece of code!! :-)) and they said that they had worked out only this solution. So, if you have a huge PDB to clone, the network transfer from the primary to standby may impact severely your Data  Guard environment and/or your whole infrastructure, for the time of the transfer.

Of course, I have a complex, undocumented solution, I hope I will find the time to document it, so stay tuned if you’re curious! 🙂

Oracle RAC, Oracle Data Guard, and Pluggable Databases: When MAA Meets Oracle Multitenant (OOW14)

Here you can find the material related to my session at Oracle Open World 2014. I’m sorry I’m late in publishing them, but I challenge you to find spare time during Oracle Open World! It’s the busiest week of the year! (Hard Work, Hard Play)


 Demo 1 video

Demo 2 video

Demo 1 script


Demo 2 script


There’s one slide describing the procedure for cloning one PDB using the standbys clause. Oracle has released a Note while I was preparing my slides (one month ago) and I wasn’t aware of it, so you may also checkout this note on MOS:

Making Use of the STANDBYS=NONE Feature with Oracle Multitenant (Doc ID 1916648.1)

UPDATE: I’ve blogged about it in a more recent post: Tales from the Demo Grounds part 2: cloning a PDB with ASM and Data Guard (no ADG)

UPDATE 2: I’ve written another blog post about these topics: Cloning a PDB with ASM and Data Guard (no ADG) without network transfer