Monday May 26, 2014

Validating Petabytes of Data with Regularity and Thoroughness

by Brian Zents

When former Intel CEO Andy Grove said “only the paranoid survive,” he wasn’t necessarily talking about tape storage administrators, but it’s a lesson they’ve learned well. After all, tape storage is the last line of defense to prevent data loss, so tape administrators are extra cautious in making sure their data is secure. Not surprisingly, we are often asked for ways to validate tape media and the files on them.

In the past, an administrator could validate the media, but doing so was often tedious or disruptive or both. The debut of the Data Integrity Validation (DIV) and Library Media Validation (LMV) features in the Oracle T10000C drive helped eliminate many of these pains. Also available with the Oracle T10000D drive, these features use hardware-assisted CRC checks that not only ensure the data is written correctly the first time, but also do so much more efficiently.

Traditionally, a CRC check takes at least 25 seconds per 4GB file with a 2:1 compression ratio, but the T10000C/D drives can reduce the check to a maximum of nine seconds because the entire check is contained within the drive. No data needs to be sent to a host application. A time savings of at least 64 percent is extremely beneficial over the course of checking an entire 8.5TB T10000D tape.

While the DIV and LMV features are better than anything else out there, what storage administrators really need is a way to check petabytes of data with regularity and thoroughness. With the launch of Oracle StorageTek Tape Analytics (STA) 2.0 in April, there is finally a solution that addresses this longstanding need. STA bundles these features into one interface to automate all media validation activities across all Oracle SL3000 and SL8500 tape libraries in an environment. And best of all, the validation process can be associated with the health checks an administrator would be doing already through STA.

In fact, STA validates the media based on any of the following policies:

  • Random Selection – Randomly selects media for validation whenever a validation drive in the standalone library or library complex is available.
  • Media Health = Action – Selects media that have had a specified number of successive exchanges resulting in an Exchange Media Health of “Action.” You can specify from one to five exchanges.
  • Media Health = Evaluate – Selects media that have had a specified number of successive exchanges resulting in an Exchange Media Health of “Evaluate.” You can specify from one to five exchanges.
  • Media Health = Monitor – Selects media that have had a specified number of successive exchanges resulting in an Exchange Media Health of “Monitor.” You can specify from one to five exchanges.
  • Extended Period of Non-Use – Selects media that have not had an exchange for a specified number of days. You can specify from 365 to 1,095 days (one to three years).
  • Newly Entered – Selects media that have recently been entered into the library.
  • Bad MIR Detected – Selects media with an exchange resulting in a “Bad MIR Detected” error. A bad media information record (MIR) indicates degraded high-speed access on the media.

To avoid disrupting host operations, an administrator designates certain drives for media validation operations. If a host requests a file from media currently being validated, the host’s request takes priority. To ensure that the administrator really knows it is the media that is bad, as opposed to the drive, STA includes drive calibration and qualification features. In addition, validation requests can be re-prioritized or cancelled as needed. To ensure that a specific tape isn’t validated too often, STA prevents a tape from being validated twice within 24 hours via one of the policies described above. A tape can be validated more often if the administrator manually initiates the validation.

When the validations are complete, STA reports the results. STA does not report simply a “good” or “bad” status. It also reports if media is even degraded so the administrator can migrate the data before there is a true failure. From that point, the administrators’ paranoia is relieved, as they have the necessary information to make a sound decision about the health of the tapes in their environment.

About the Photograph

Photograph taken by Rick Ramsey in Death Valley, California, May 2014

- Brian

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Friday May 16, 2014

Orgad Strikes Again

"And while you're at it, use the Unified Archive to deploy a cloud in a box."

Orgad is too smart. Or maybe, he does what Einstein claims to do:

"It's not that I'm so smart, it's just that I stay with problems longer."
- Albert Einstein

How to Set Up a Hadoop 2.2 Cluster on Oracle Solaris 11.2

Technical Article by Orgad Kimchi

Figuring out how to set up a Hadoop 2.2 Cluster helps keep Orgad challenged on those late nights when, after a few too many shots of Joov, he strikes up a casual game of chess with Deep Blue. As he explains,

"Setting up a Hadoop cluster on Oracle Solaris 11.2 gives you fast provisioning via zone cloning, best I/O performance from ZFS compression, and rapid provisioning with the Unified Archive."

But setting up a Hadoop cluster and configuring its failover capabilities (yawn) is just not enough to keep Orgad interested. Nope. To stay awake he has to toss in a neat little trick at the end of his article: how to use the Unified Archive in Oracle Solaris 11.2 to create a cloud-in-a-box that you can deploy in a variety of environments.

I don't know what Orgad does between midnight and 2:00 am, but in case you want to take a guess, here are more gems from Orgad:

About the Photograph

Photograph of plant killed by Mrs. Ramsey taken by Rick Ramsey in Colorado

- Rick
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Wednesday May 07, 2014

Make Your Database Run Faster on Oracle Linux

If you can get your hands on a Sun Flash Accelerator F40 PCIe Card, and you're running Oracle Database 11g Release 2 or later on Oracle Linux, you can use the Oracle Database Smart Flash Cache to improve performance and response times. That was a mouthful, so let me say it again.

  1. Configure Sun Flash Accelerator F40 PCIe Card as a file system.
  2. Configure Oracle Automatic Storage Management, a feature of Oracle Database, to use multiple Sun Flash Accelerator F40 PCIe Cards.
  3. Configure the Database Smart Flash Cache capability of Oracle Database.

Your pals at Jay Leno's garage can keep a 27-liter 1930 Bentley humming, but they can't help you with that little procedure can they? No worries, Rick Stenho may not own a Bentley, but he can help your database run faster.

Tech Article: How to Improve Database Performance Using Database Smart Flash Cache on Oracle Linux

by Rick Stenho

Oracle Database 11g Release 2 Enterprise Edition allows you to use flash devices to increase the effective size of the Oracle Database buffer cache (Level 2 cache) without adding more main memory. This capability is referred to as Database Smart Flash Cache. This article walks you through the steps required to take advantage of it.

Caution: Any performance advantages you obtain with smart flash cache will probably be nullified by the time you waste watching Jay Leno's garage.

About the Photograph

Photograph of lamp at the Venetian and Sands Expo Center
in Las Vegas taken by Rick Ramsey during Collaborate 2014

- Rick
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Tuesday May 06, 2014

Replay of Solaris Labs From OTN Virtual Sysadmin Day

Missed OTN's last Virtual Sysadmin Day? That's OK, so did the majority of Earth's 7 billion inhabitants. A stalwart 400 did manage to pull themselves away from The Daily Grind and attend in person. To accommodate the remaining 7 billion slackers, I published videos of the Solaris hands-on labs. I'll do the same for the Oracle Linux and Virtualization sessions over the next few days.

Lab Intro - How Oracle Solaris 11 Simplifies the Life of a Sysadmin

Typical tasks and challenges in a sysadmin's work and how Oracle Solaris 11 simplifies them. Managing software packages, updating systems, managing users, monitoring system performance and diagnosing problems, assessing, assigning and redistributing system resources according to workload patterns. Which Oracle Solaris 11 features can help. Examples and best practices. Exercises that model everyday situations.

Lab 1: Managing the Software Lifecycle with Oracle Solaris 11

Tricks to help you to manage software packages installed on your systems. Most organizations have separate environments for development, test, QA and production applications. How can you make sure the right versions of software packages are installed in each of them, and avoid inconsistencies? How can you configure your production systems to avoid accidental updates? How should you integrate your software packages with SMF services? These and many other questions will be answered by using practical hands-on examples.

Lab 2: Managing Your Data with ZFS in Oracle Solaris 11

ZFS has been a round a long time, but it has so many new capabilities to explore that you might still have a lot of questions. For instance, how do I create a ZFS file system that will have a guaranteed amount of available space, instead of sharing it with other file systems in a pool? What are the best practices for backing up ZFS file systems? How can I use ZFS encryption? Can I create a raw block device on ZFS and why do I need it? These and many other questions will be answered by using practical hands-on examples.

Lab 3: Managing Virtual Environments in Oracle Solaris 11

What are the best ways to create and manage zones? How should I use Solaris virtual networking to separate traffic from different applications? How can I monitor and manage system resources assigned to zones? How should I protect my zones from malicious users? How can I migrate zones between hosts? These and many other questions will be answered with practical hands-on examples.

About the Photograph

Photo of Las Vegas skyline taken by Rick Ramsey at Collaborate 2014

- Rick
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Logan Rosenstein
and members of the OTN community


« May 2014 »
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