I have a server with several instances running on it. Each instance contains a production database and a recovery catalog for another instance on the box. The theory being if database A gets corrupted, it's rcvcat is safe in database B. About a month ago I had a problem with a hardware failure which rendered all the databases inaccesable. I couldn't even recover from tape since my catalogs were basically down. Luckily when the bad hardware was replaced all the databases were fine. I consider myself lucky.

In this situation would it have been possible to pull anything off the tape without the recovery catalog? When using a rcvcat, is any recovery information stored in the control file at all which could be used to do a recovery?

Ideally I would like to have two identical servers and move some of these production databases to the other box and then have the recovery catalogs on pointing to the other servers. Financially that is not doable. Another alternative might be having a single database on a server and have it be the recovery catalog for all the production boxes. Is it possible for a recovery catalog to hold multiple databases? Or would I need to have a separate instance with a rcvcat?