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Oracle Automatic Storage Management

Oracle Automatic Storage Management

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Published by SHAHID FAROOQ

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Published by: SHAHID FAROOQ on Aug 29, 2009
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08/11/2013

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Oracle Automatic Storage Management
There's a lot of talk about ASM, but what the heck is it really? ASM is effectivelyan abstraction layer, allowing your Oracle database to work with abstract spacecalled diskgroups, instead of datafiles directly. This provides lots of benefits, butalso requires learning some new concepts, commands, utilities, andadministration tasks. So take a look at what it solves, and what it takes tomanage and weigh the pros and cons before diving in with your productionsystems.
Why Was It Created?
The best way to answer this question is to go right to the source, Bill Bridge theoriginal architect of Automatic Storage Management. In the Oracle Press title,Oracle ASM, Bill provides a forward where he discusses the problems with usingvendor specific OS filesystems to manage Oracle datafile placement:1. for arch logs & backups, OS vendors don't provide shared disk filesystem2. logical volume managers hide the location of files making it difficult to managedisk I/O and provide good stats3. existing lvm's don't work well with over 100 disks4. OS's and Oracle don't handle databases well that have 1000's of datafiles5. naming becomes difficult with large number of datafiles6. features, and filesystem limitations vary across different OSs7. users at the OS level can touch Oracle files with standard utilities, withoutOracle knowingSo, he set out to solve these problems by building Oracle's own filesystem. Hisintention was to provide these features:1. tightly integrated with Oracle, and work with clusters (then parallel server)2. new storage automatically used, managed as disk unit or disk group3. thousands of disks supported4. files won't have names, and will be hidden from the OS
Who Needs It?
A quick look at the problems and solutions above should help you determine whoASM is targeted at. For starters, it was built to handle the very large databasesnow coming online. So if that includes your shop, you're probably already lookingat it, or starting to implement ASM. If you have smaller databases, with fewerdatafiles, you may still want to consider it given a few considerations.
 
1. You'll have some new technology to get familiar with, and should start bysetting it up in your dev environment, and do some testing for a few months.2. If you want to squeeze out more performance from your existing disksubsystem, and get better statistics for forcasting disk I/O.3. If you're using RAC, ASM is something to consider.
Getting Started
ASM is managed by an instance, much like an Oracle database. However theinitialization parameters are much more limited and the startup process issimpler.a. Set your ORACLE_SID to +ASM1b. Edit init.ora
# as opposed to RDBMS for a normal Oracle instanceINSTANCE_TYPE=ASM# these names will be used in place of datafile names when you createtablespacesASM_DISKGROUPS=SEAN, AARONprocesses=100# this parameter is platform specific and is the path to the raw diskdeviceASM_DISKSTRING='/dev/cciss/c0d0p1'# on 11g you should use diagnostic_dest instead of thesebackground_dump_dest=/opt/oracle/admin/+ASM/bdump'core_dump_dest=/opt/oracle/admin/+ASM/cdump'user_dump_dest=/opt/oracle/admin/+ASM/udump'
c. start the ASM instance
$ sqlplus / as sysdbaSQL> startup
d. create diskgroups
SQL> create diskgroup SEAN disk '/dev/cciss/c0d0p1';
e. example tablespace creationAs you might guess, creating a tablespace will change slightly. The defaultmethod looks like this:
SQL> create tablespace sean_space datafile '+SEAN' size 1GB;
However, consider this great feature. If in your database init.ora file you set theparameter
db_create_file_dest=+SEAN
then you can do this:
 
SQL> create tablespace sean_space;
Then let Oracle do the rest. In both cases, you'll find that the paths of files listedin v$datafile will be relative to the abstract +SEAN diskgroup, not a real OSdatafile.f. And Way BeyondOf course simplifying filenames and tablespace creation is really only the tip of the iceberg for what ASM can do for you. It can also provide a level of redundancy as well.In database speak, external redundancy is basically when you have redundancyat the hardware level (RAID) or other method outside of what Oracle can see. Inother words if the asm_diskstring devices are themselves logical, hiding thephysical disks behind some hardware layer of redundancy, then you have externalredundancy.However, if you don't already have this redundancy, ASM can provide it. You canspecify redundancy, failure groups, and a whole host of other options to protectagainst loss of one or more disks, controllers, or even whole SAN failures. ASMalso provides evenly distributed I/O across a diskgroup. Since ASM has a betterpicture of what's happening under the hood, Oracle can automatically provide abetter balance of I/O to disk for you.
Challenges to ASM Adoption
ASM is certainly a powerful technology with a lot of potential. But with everytechnical solution, there come a whole host of other challenges. In the case of ASM, it potentially disrupts the usual balance of power between the Unix +Systems Administration groups, and the Database/DBA groups. Traditionally theformer group manages disks, hardware, and the operating system level, leavingthe DBAs to coordinate with them for new resources. This would change thatbalance somewhat, which could cause some resistance from that group.In the end, it should be the business need that pushes this adoption. Also beaware that ASM is still in the enterprise computing sense, relatively new. Thereare a number of vendors whose core business has been in the logical volumemanager/filesystem space for years. Quite often, maturity matters a lot when itcomes to software systems, and reliability.
Conclusion
ASM is powerful stuff, providing solutions for the growing very large databasesystems being deployed currently. It may also provide solutions for smallerdatabase installations, or those using clustering. As with any new technology,evaluate, test, and then test some more.

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