Choosing a Shared File System for Oracle E-Business Suite
By Steven Chan (Oracle Development) on Jul 08, 2009
[March 18, 2013 Update: Added ACFS information captured in the comments to the article body]
[March 10, 2010 Update: OCFS2 for Linux is now certified for EBS 12 application tier servers; see this article for details.]
It's possible to scale up your E-Business Suite environment with multiple application tier servers to improve fault tolerance and performance. It's also possible to share a single filesystem between them: all application tier files are installed on a single shared disk resource that's mounted from each application tier node. In Release 12, that would look like this:
This allows you to apply patches once to the central filesystem, rather than maintaining each application tier server node individually. We recommend this approach; it reduces maintenance overheads for those multiple servers and shortens your patching downtimes.
Beginning with Oracle E-Business Suite Release 12, we also allow you to share an applications tier file system between multiple E-Business Suite database instances, too. For more details about this advanced option, see this article.
Customers embarking upon this path inevitably ask, "Which shared filesystem do you recommend?" The short answer is that we don't recommend any specific filesystem, but there's more to it than just that.
Does Oracle Certify Storage Systems?
Not any more. Our Server Technologies division used to run an Oracle Storage Compatibility Program (OSCP) to validate specialized storage products. At one time, Oracle and its partners worked together to validate specialized storage technology including NFS file servers, remote mirroring, and snapshot products. The storage industry matured over time, and this program was ended in January, 2007.
The successor to this program is the Oracle Certification Environment (OCE) group. This group provides resources for third-party vendors to certify their own products with Oracle technology. The OCE team works with Oracle Partner Management and third party vendors for approving support statements published by third party vendors with respect to certification projects with Oracle.
It's important to note that these certifications are performed by the third-party vendors themselves and not the E-Business Suite Development division. Certification statements made by third-party vendors partnering with the Oracle Certification Environment group are not reviewed or endorsed by the E-Business Suite division.
Does the E-Business Suite Division Certify Storage Systems?
No, I'm afraid not. EBS Development doesn't have the resources to certify or compare even a subset of the leading filesystems. Since we don't have hands-on experience with different filesystems in a controlled test environment, we can't make any informed recommendations for a given product. We generally suggest that customers either perform their own product testing or consult a trusted consultancy that compares the relative merits of each product against a consistent set of criteria.
What are the EBS Requirements for a Shared Filesystem?
Shared filesystems must be transparent to the calling application, in this case, the E-Business Suite. In other words, no modifications to the E-Business Suite should be necessary to ensure compatibility with the shared filesystem.
Our Frequently Asked Questions: Sharing the Application Tier File System in Oracle Applications 11i (Note 243880.1) states:
... your shared application tier file system can reside on any type of shared disk resource. Examples of shared disk resources include an NFS mounted disk or a disk array. The shared disk resource does not have to be local to the machine, and it can also be a standalone disk array. Usual tuning considerations apply.
The same thing applies to Oracle E-Business Suite Release 12, too.
What About OCFS2 or GFS?
There are many different shared filesystems out there, too many to list here. The general statements about EBS requirements for a shared filesystem above apply to all third-party file system products.
However, we get a lot of questions about three specific products due to their close relationship and packaging with Oracle's own operating system releases:
- Oracle Clustered File System (OCFS2)
- Red Hat Global File System (GFS)
- Oracle ASM Clustered File System (ACFS)
Here's the E-Business Suite position on these three shared file systems:
Oracle Clustered File System (OCFS2)
The E-Business Suite's database tier is built on the Oracle Database. The Oracle Database is certified with OCFS2. Therefore, OCFS2 is supported for the E-Business Suite database tier, too.
The E-Business Suite's application tier is built on Oracle Application Server. Oracle Application Server is not yet certified to run on OCFS2.
If our Fusion Middleware group ever certifies Oracle9i Application Server 184.108.40.206.2 (used by Apps 11i) or Oracle Application Server 10g (used by Apps 12) to run on OCFS2, then the E-Business Suite's application tier will be certified on that file system.
Red Hat Global File System (GFS)
Specific versions of the Oracle Database are certified with GFS running on specific Red Hat and Oracle Enterprise Linux releases. Therefore, those GFS combinations are supported for the E-Business Suite database tier, too.
Sadly, I haven't been able to locate any externally-published statements about Oracle Application Server compatibility with GFS. This usually means that these two products haven't been tested together. If you want an explicit statement of support for GFS for Fusion Middleware products, your best bet would be to log a Service Request against the Oracle Application Server product in question.
Back to the database and GFS: there are some special support provisions for this database configuration. See the "Support Process for GFS 6.0 and 6.1" section of Using Redhat Global File System (GFS) as shared storage for RAC (Note 329530.1), which states:
Oracle's product support teams will not take support calls on Red Hat GFS. All issues known to be related to Red Hat GFS must be opened with Red Hat directly. When an Oracle SR is opened for an Oracle product or a Red Hat Enterprise Linux issue in a configuration that includes GFS, Oracle Support will do their best effort to determine if the issue is GFS software related. In that case, Oracle will hand-off the GFS related issue to Red Hat Support.
It's important to note that the E-Business Suite division does not test the E-Business Suite with GFS. We haven't performed any certification or compatibility tests with that filesystem and don't have any empirical data about how well this particular combination will work.
Oracle ASM Clustered File System (ACFS)
- The E-Business Suite database tier is certified on ACFS.
- The E-Business Suite application tier is not certified on ACFS.
Most Oracle Database releases are certified to run on ACFS. You can refer to the Certify database on My Oracle Support for the latest supported certifications. You can run EBS database servers for those certified combinations on ACFS.
Amongst other things, EBS 11i uses Forms 6i, Oracle9i Application Server 220.127.116.11.2, and JServ on the application tier. EBS 12.0, and 12.1 use Forms 10g, Oracle Application Server 10g, and OC4J on the application tier. on ACFS. These Fusion Middleware product versions are not certified on ACFS. There are no plans for those certifications. Since the E-Business Suite depends on those products, EBS 11i, 12.0, and 12.1 application tiers cannot run on ACFS.
What Does EBS Development Use Internally?
We're in Development, not marketing, and we're expressly not able to endorse third-party products. What we can do is give you a glimpse of what we use internally within Oracle for the E-Business Suite Development division.
At any given time we have hundreds of E-Business Suite environments running simultaneously within the EBS Development division. These are centrally managed by our terrific EBS/Fusion Operations group. This internal Oracle group has has created some really interesting infrastructure over the years. One of the most useful custom solutions allows developers to get a new EBS environment on demand. Shortly after their request, an automated process instantiates a new Apps environment and the developer is off to the races.
In practical terms, this means that nearly all of our development, testing, and certification environments for the E-Business Suite are all running on NFS mounts. We explicitly assume that our use of NFS generalizes to all shared file systems.
What Does Oracle Use Internally for its Production Global Single Instance?
Our EBS development use of NFS is paralleled by Oracle's own global single instance deployment of Apps 12. Our production EBS instance connects via Gigabit Ethernet to a shared NFS (NAS) NetApp FAS960 clustered storage system running NetApp 7.2.4.
Our four production Sun F25K database servers are equipped with 44 dual core CPUs and over 176 GB RAM, Sun Solaris 9, Sun Cluster 3.1, and Veritas VxVM/VxFS 4.0* mp02. Each of these database nodes has three GigE cards connecting them to the backend database storage, an EMC Symmetrix DMX3000 storage system.
Remember, this isn't an endorsement or a recommendation; it's merely a peek into what we use here internally at Oracle.
- Using Redhat Global File System (GFS) as shared storage for RAC (Note 329530.1)
- OCFS2: Supportability as a general purpose filesystem (Note 421640.1)
- Sharing Apps R12 File Systems Across Multiple Database Instances
- Reducing Patching Downtimes via Shared Apps File Systems
- In-Depth: Load-Balancing E-Business Suite Environments
- Case Study Redux: Oracle's Own Oracle E-Business Suite Release 12 Upgrade (OpenWorld 2008 Recap)
- Is It Safe to Use SANs for EBS R12 Instance Tops?