This Is Not Glossy Marketing But You Still Won’t Believe Your Eyes. EMC XtremIO 4.0 Snapshot Refresh For Agile Test / Dev Storage Provisioning in Oracle Database Environments.

This is just a quick blog post to direct readers to a YouTube video I recently created to help explain to someone how flexible EMC XtremIO Snapshots are. The power of this array capability is probably most appreciated in the realm of provisioning storage for Test and Development environments.

Although this is a silent motion picture I think it will speak volumes–or at least 1,000 words.

Please note: This is just a video demonstration to show the base mechanisms and how they relate to Oracle Database with Automatic Storage Management. This is not a scale demonstration. XtremIO snapshots are supported to in the thousands and extremely powerful “sibling trees” are fully supported.

Not Your Father’s Snapshot Technology

No storage array on the market is as flexible as XtremIO in the area of writable snapshots. This video demonstration shows how snapshots allow the administrator of a “DEV” host–using Oracle ASM–to quickly refresh to current or past versions of ASM disk group contents from the “PROD” environment.

The principles involved in this demonstration are:

  1. XtremIO snapshots are crash consistent.
  2. XtremIO snapshots are immediately created, writeable and space efficient. There is no fixed “donor” relationship. Snapshots can be created from other snapshots and refreshes can go in any direction.
  3. XtremIO snapshot refresh does not involve the host operating system. Snapshot and volume contents can be immediately “swapped” (refreshed) at the array level without any action on the host.

Regarding number 3 on that list, I’ll point out that while the operating system does not play a role in the snapshot operations per se, applications will be sensitive to contents of storage immediately changing. It is only for this reason that there are any host actions at all.

Are Host Operations Involved? Crash Consistent Does Not Mean Application-Coherent

The act of refreshing XtremIO snapshots does not change the SCSI WWN information so hosts do not have any way of knowing the contents of a LUN have changed. In the Oracle Database use case the following must be considered:

  1. With a file system based database one must unmount the file systems before refreshing a snapshot otherwise the file system will be corrupted. This should not alarm anyone. A snapshot refresh is an instantaneous content replacement at the array level. Operationally speaking, file system based databases only require database instance shutdown and the unmounting of the file system in preparation for application-coherent snapshot refresh.
  2. With an ASM based database one must dismount the ASM disk group in preparation for snapshot refresh. To that end, ASM database snapshot restore does not involve system administration in any way.

The video is 5 minutes long and it will show you the following happenings along a timeline:

  1. “PROD” and “DEV” database hosts (one physical and one virtual) each showing the same Oracle database (identical DBID) and database creation time as per dictionary views. This establishes the “donor”<->clone relationship. DEV is a snapshot of PROD. It is begat of a snapshot of a PROD consistency group
  2. A single-row token table called  “test” in the PROD database has value “1.” The DEV database does not even have the token table (DEV is independent of PROD…it’s been changing..but its origins are rooted in PROD as per point #1)
  3. At approximately 41 seconds into the video I take a snapshot of the PROD consistency group with “value 1” in the token table. This step prepares for “time travel” later in the demonstration
  4. I then update the PROD token table to contain the value “42”
  5. At ~2:02 into the video I have already dismounted DEV ASM disk groups and started clobbering DEV with the current state of PROD via a snapshot refresh. This is “catching up to PROD”
    1. Please note: No action at all was needed on the PROD side. The refresh of DEV from PROD is a logical, crash-consistent point in time image
  6. At ~2:53 into the video you’ll see that the DEV database instance has already been booted and that it has value “42” (step #4). This means DEV has “caught up to PROD”
  7. At ~3:32 you’ll see that I use dd(1) to copy the redo LUN over the data LUN on the DEV host to introduce ASM-level corruption
  8. At 3:57 the DEV database is shown as corrupted. In actuality, the ASM disk group holding the DEV database is corrupted
  9. In order to demonstrate traveling back in time, and to recover from the dd(1) corrupting of the ASM disk group,  you’ll see at 4:31 I chose to refresh from the snapshot I took at step #3
  10. At 5:11 you’ll see that DEV has healed from the dd(1) destruction of the ASM disk group, the database instance is booted, and the value in the token table is reverted to 1 (step #3) thus DEV has traveled back in time

Please note: In the YouTube box you can click to view full screen or on youtube.com if the video quality is a problem:

More Information

For information on the fundamentals of EMC XtremIO snapshot technology please refer to the following EMC paper: The fundamentals of XtremIO snapshot technology

For independent validation of XtremIO snapshot technology in a highly-virtualized environment with Oracle Database 12c please click on the following link: Principled Technologies, Inc Whitepaper

For a proven solution whitepaper showing massive scale data sharing with XtremIO snapshots please click on the following link: EMC Whitepaper on massive scale database consolidation via XtremIO

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All content is © Kevin Closson and "Kevin Closson's Blog: Platforms, Databases, and Storage", 2006-2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Kevin Closson and Kevin Closson's Blog: Platforms, Databases, and Storage with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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