OCFS2 or ASM for Apps 11i?

[March 10, 2010 Update: OCFS2 for Linux is now certified for EBS 12 application tier servers; see this article for details.]

Hmmm.  Let's see how many cryptic acronyms we can stuff into a six-word title... There's been a flurry of Oracle Cluster File System-related queries this week; must have something to do with the impending Autumnal equinox. 

Simultaneous Write Access to a Data File

When you deploy Real Application Clusters (RAC) in your Apps environment, you deploy a cluster of database servers that access datafiles on a shared storage system, like this:

RAC ASM Shared Cache Architecture:

Conventional file systems lock a file whenever it's accessed, preventing others from modifying it at the same time.  Serializing write accesses between multiple database servers undermines the very point of having a RAC cluster, so operating system vendors and various others have come up with a range of solutions.

Oracle has two technologies that support this: 
The former -- for Linux platforms -- has gone through a few iterations and is now dubbed OCFS2.  Oracle has released OCFS2 under the GNU General Public Licence (GPL).

Oracle Cluster File System or Automatic Storage Management?

Given the choice between using OCFS2 or ASM, the Applications Technology Group strongly recommends the use of Automatic Storage Management for E-Business Suite database servers.  E-Business Suite Release 11i is formally certified with Automatic Storage Management.  For an in-depth discussion of what "E-Business Suite certification" really means, see:
Supported for use with Apps Database Servers Only

Due to our focus on Release 12 and Fusion, the Applications Technology Group does not plan to perform formal certification of the E-Business Suite Release 11i with OCFS2.  The underlying OCFS2 technology has been certified for use with Oracle databases and Real Application Clusters.  So, it should work transparently with E-Business Suite databases, too.

The Applications Technology Group will support the use of OCFS2 for the E-Business Suite 11i database tier but not the application server tier.

OCFS2 is certified with a specific set of RAC versions, so Apps customers interested in using this technology must check the OCFS2 documentation to ensure that their desired Oracle database and Linux combinations are certified together.

What Does "Support" Mean?

As is the usual case for these types of "supported but not certified" configurations, you should thoroughly test OCFS2-based E-Business Suite RAC environments prior to production rollouts.

If you report any issues with this configuration, Oracle will attempt to issue a fix or workaround for OCFS2 or the E-Business Suite.  This may not be technically feasible in all cases.  If it isn't technically feasible, the Applications Technology Group may recommend that you convert your E-Business Suite RAC implementations to use Automatic Storage Management instead.

Related
Comments:

Any particular disadvantage of using OCFS against ASM for Apps 11i ?

Posted by Sandeep on September 24, 2006 at 06:07 PM PDT #

As I tried to emphasize in the article, the major disadvantage of OCFS2 are the support implications.  The Applications Technology Group hasn't done any certification work involving the E-Business Suite + RAC on OCFS2, and we don't plan to do so.  We do not have Apps + OCFS2 environments to reproduce reported issues, and our understanding of that technology is very limited.  If there are issues with OCFS2, one of the possible recommendations may be to convert to E-Business Suite RAC environments to ASM.In my opinion, this overrides any and all technical advantages of OCFS2, since I can't think of anyone willing to switch their production instance from OCFS2 to ASM mid-stream.  Naturally, this is just my opinion -- the OCFS2 team may have a different opinion about the use of their product.Regards,Steven 

Posted by Steven Chan on September 25, 2006 at 02:03 AM PDT #

Hi Steven,
These questions might not be related to above topic but these are in my mind from quite some time & can't find an answer (Tried lots of forum & sites)

Q: In what scenarios GWYUID "applsyspub" used & when is GUEST account used ?
Q: Whats 0 & Y in FND utility like FNDCPASS, FNDLOAD ..
I suppose FNDLOAD,FNDCPASS in turn firing concurrent request & 0 is ID of person who submitted ( from FND_USER) but can't understand use of Y.

There are lots of such puzles in Apps which I want to unwrap but don't know to whom I should ask.

Atul

Posted by Atul Kumar on September 25, 2006 at 09:36 AM PDT #

Steven

First up thanks for all the hard work on the blog. This sort of information is extremely valuable.

One question that did occur to me though was whether OCFS2 was supported/recommended or a big no-no for implementing a shared Application Tier. I guess I'm thinking that running the Middle/Apps tiers as a cluster is an interesting - to me - complement to a clustered back end.

Posted by Niall Litchfield on September 28, 2006 at 11:04 PM PDT #

Hi there

with OFCS2 being fully posix compliant now as a cluster file system (and shipped with SUSE as such) howcome is eBus not supporting it as a valid file system for the application tier in a cluster environemnt.

George

Posted by George on October 02, 2006 at 01:41 AM PDT #

Atul,These are the perfect kinds of questions for Oracle Support.  I know that there's a bit of overhead involved in filing Service Requests, but it's worth it.  Where the existing documentation has gaps, Support is supposed to log documentation bugs to ensure that the gaps are filled.Regards,Steven 

Posted by Steven Chan on October 09, 2006 at 06:41 AM PDT #

Niall,Thanks for the feedback on our site.  As noted in the latter part of this article, we will support the use of OCFS2 for the E-Business Suite 11i database tier but not the application server tier.  We would recommend against using OCFS2 for that application server tier.Regards,Steven 

Posted by Steven Chan on October 09, 2006 at 07:01 AM PDT #

George,Your point is noted.  Based on some internal discussions about OCFS2, we believe that the use of OCFS2 will not be fully-transparent to the E-Business Suite in shared appl_top or shared filesystem environments.  We don't have any predictions as to what will happen in these configurations.Given that we can't predict how it will work, and don't have plans to certify OCFS2 with the E-Business Suite ourselves, we necessarily need to err on the side of caution and recommend against using OCFS2 on the applications tier.  Regards,Steven 

Posted by Steven Chan on October 09, 2006 at 07:07 AM PDT #

Hi Steven

Then how did it pass the POSIX compliancy test for a cluster file system. Surely this would say/indicate it is fully compatible as such no matter what the application is.

Posted by George on October 09, 2006 at 09:19 PM PDT #

Hi, George,POSIX compliance is valuable and necessary.  From the Applications Technology Group's perspective, however, we cannot certify OCFS2 with the E-Business Suite's application tier for production use unless we've had an opportunity to perform this certification ourselves.  In the absence of our own certification, we take the most conservative approach, by default.Regards,Steven 

Posted by Steven Chan on October 16, 2006 at 04:22 AM PDT #

Hi Steven

With what it could mean to the linux and oracle community for implementation cost (and pushing the cluster/Grid idea and having a parallel concurrent processes with a shared appltop) and also not having having a 3rd vendor involved (IE veritas or poliserve) would it not make sense to get this done asap, from all i am reading it does not seem it is even planned.

George

Posted by George on October 18, 2006 at 12:16 AM PDT #

Hi, George,I appreciate the insight about the value of this certification to the Linux community.  With our intense focus on Release 12 and Fusion right now, some difficult decisions about prioritization are being made in the certification area.  I'll be sure to pass on your comments to the rest of our management team wrestling with these decisions.Regards,Steven 

Posted by Steven Chan on October 18, 2006 at 04:37 AM PDT #

Hi Steven,

Again, Linux, Since Oracle is not intending to certify OCFS2 as a cluster file system usable for a Shared ApplTop, has GFS 6.1 been certified/Approved for this use with RH4?
if so, where can i get a statement to this affect?

George

Posted by George on November 14, 2006 at 04:29 PM PST #

Hi, George,It might be instructive to highlight this article once more:The Blue Bridge of DeathTo my knowledge, our E-Business Suite certification groups do not perform any testing with Red Hat Global File System for the application tier in a shared APPL_TOP configuration.  As far as I'm aware, this is not due to any specific policy position on our beliefs about compatibility.  Rather, this is due to the need to allocate our testing resources to a limited number of configurations used by the majority of our customers.In the absence of that testing, it's hard to make any a priori pronouncements about GFS compatibility, so our default support policies would apply:Oracle would work with you to see if your reported issues with shared APPL_TOPs can be reproduced in environments without GFS.  If the issues are isolated to GFS, then we'll have to ensure that Red Hat's GFS specialists be engaged for in-depth debugging and analysis.Regards,Steven 

Posted by Steven Chan on November 15, 2006 at 06:41 AM PST #

Steven,

We're planning to implement "Shared Application Tier File System", and use OCFS2.
However, is it certified now and will it be supported by Oracle?

thanks,
Emily

Posted by emily on July 05, 2007 at 10:37 AM PDT #

Hi, Emily,OCFS2 is still not certified with the E-Business Suite for application tier servers.  It will be supported in the same manner that other third-party products would be supported:  i.e. problems would need to be reproducible on non-OCFS2 application tiers for us to issue patches.  We would do our best to provide diagnosis and workarounds for issues specific to OCFS2, but this would be on a best-efforts basis only.For a more-detailed discussion about our support policies for these types of configurations, see:Certification & Support for Third-Party Products - http://blogs.oracle.com/schan/2006/05/18/Regards,Steven

Posted by Steven Chan on July 13, 2007 at 04:35 AM PDT #

Hi Steven,

Thanks so much for resources like this and others that you participate in and give insightful answers to. My question is around the fact that OCFS2 is not a supported option for the application server tier. Do you know of a supported way to do shared APPL_TOP on application server tier besides NFS? We were looking at options to propose to one of our customers looking for an alternative to NFS.

Thanks and Regards,
Salim

Posted by Salim on April 27, 2008 at 02:40 PM PDT #

It is 2008 and R12 is in the wiold with enhanced supported for Shared applications-tier i.e segregation into inst_top and possibility of running as read only apart from patching. In this scenario when will you look at ocfs2 as it seems a perfect fit for this, we can utilise HBA access for both our apps and database tiers so distributed ad has a much fatter pipe to DISK. I think this is a burning issue for many DBAS who want shorter patching times etc.
It has come to the point when any SR raised with OCFS2 and application tier is pointed at this blog post . Even GFS is not supported and in otr SR all we got were vague statements that there are internal metalink notes that deal with this subject.
Please can you give Oracle a sense of direction in line with the Unbreakable Linux pledge we have been hearing.

Posted by Robin Chatterjee on September 09, 2008 at 08:23 PM PDT #

Robin,

I hear you loud and clear. We need to respond to requests for the certification of OCFS2 with EBS middle-tiers.

We've got a project planned for this certification. I don't have a firm schedule for this yet, but you're welcome to monitor or subscribe to this blog for updates, which I'll post as soon as they're available.

Regards,
Steven

Posted by Steven Chan on September 10, 2008 at 01:31 AM PDT #

Hi Steven,
Thanks for the heartening reply. The SR analyst has got back to us with the following
"I've just received an e-mail from Steven Chan who confirms ocfs2 is not supported for the moment. Is it possible to be supported in
the future, please check his E-Business Suite Technology Stack blog (http://blog
s.oracle.com/stevenChan) for updates, which he's going to post as soon as soon a
s they're available"

So now I guess we are totally dependant on you. It might be possible for us to persuade our customer to go in for a Early adopter program if one is planned for this. Any chance ?
Thanks
Robin

Posted by Robin Chatterjee on September 11, 2008 at 03:26 PM PDT #

Hi, Robin,

Thanks for the offer. We'll keep it in mind if we ever decide to run an Early Adopter Program for this.

Regards,
Steven

Posted by Steven Chan on September 12, 2008 at 03:35 AM PDT #

Any change in the supported status of OCFS2 for sharing the Application Tier File System in EBS 11.5.10.2?

Posted by Joe Brewer on January 19, 2009 at 05:44 AM PST #

Hi, Joe,

No change, I'm afraid.

The challenge is that EBS 11i's application tier is built on Oracle Application Server 9i 1.0.2.2.2. Oracle Application Server 9i is not certified with OCFS2. Likewise, EBS 12 is built on Oracle Application Server 10g. We have had some challenges in persuading the Oracle Application Server group that either of these certifications are a priority.

It would be helpful if you could add your voice to the list of customer requests for this certification. You can log a formal enhancement request via Metalink against Oracle Application Server for OCFS2 certification.

Regards,
Steven

Posted by Steven Chan on January 20, 2009 at 04:34 AM PST #

Hi Steven,
There is definitely a need for this enhancement and I will be raising the request...
Are there any pitfalls or problems that have been reported with ocfs2 ? We did see a metalink issue with error 45 from sqlplus in linux but nothing else...
Thanks
Robin

Posted by Robin Chatterjee on February 08, 2009 at 07:03 PM PST #

Hi, Robin,

It's a little unclear on what we can expect in the way of compatibility. We haven't had a chance to experiment with this yet.

Despite the issues of potential incompatibilities real or imagined, the real issue lies in support. Since the Application Server division does not support either 9iAS or OracleAS 10g on OCFS2, we are forced to advise EBS customers against deploying OCFS2 on their mid-tiers. We'd hate for you to encounter some issue in production, only to have your Sev 1 SR rejected by Application Server Support.

Regards,
Steven

Posted by Steven Chan on February 09, 2009 at 07:16 AM PST #

Any change in the supported status of OCFS2 or any other cluster file system for sharing the Application Tier File System in EBS R12 ?

Posted by Madhav on June 24, 2009 at 01:48 AM PDT #

Hello, Madhav,

No, there's been no change in this situation. Oracle Application Server is still not certified with OCFS2. Both E-Business Suite 11i and 12 are built on Oracle Application Server, so neither of those two EBS releases can run on OCFS2.

Regards,
Steven

Posted by Steven Chan on June 25, 2009 at 04:02 AM PDT #

Hi Steven,

I need some suggestion from your side. Right now in our organization we are setting up EBS R 12 on OEL 5.3.
We are planning to implement shared application tier file system on GFS(Red Hat Global file system) on SAN since it is free and comes with OEL 5.3.

Now the question is about the performance?? can we go ahead with GFS for shared application tier.

Below are the response what i got from SR 7641180.992

Q#1.Is GFS is certified and supported by OEL 5.3 and Oracle for EBS R 12 ?
A: Yes. Red Hat Linux 5 Server and Advanced Platform includes GFS, so does OEL5 and Unbreakable Linux Support Program support Unbreakable Linux customers running GFS.
GFS is certified and supported by OEL5.3. It's supported for EBS R12 with Oracle 10g.
Since Oracle 11g does not support GFS in OEL5.3. See more details please refer to note.279069.1.

Q#3.Can we use GFS for sharing oracle EBS R 12 Application tier file system?
A: Checked the certification on Metalink and got the following:

Application Tier Certifications
Operating System: Linux x86 Version Oracle Enterprise Linux 5/Oracle VM
E-Business Suite Release 12 Version 12.0
Status: Certified.

Any change in the supported status of GFS for sharing the Application Tier File System in EBS R12 with 11G Database?

Thank you in anticipation.

Posted by satish on July 03, 2009 at 08:56 PM PDT #

Hi, Satish,

The Linux Support team's statements about generic GFS for general OEL users do not apply to the E-Business Suite.

We do not test the E-Business Suite with GFS. We have not performed any certification or compatibility tests with that filesystem and don't have any empirical data about how well this particular combination will work.

As a general rule, E-Business Suite Development doesn't recommend or endorse specific filesystems. This is because we lack sufficient hands-on experience to make credible recommendations or comparisons between such products.

Regards,
Steven

Posted by Steven Chan on July 06, 2009 at 03:45 AM PDT #

Hi Steve,
I am gathering data for shared appl_top and I noticed you say that "Since the Application Server division does not support either 9iAS or OracleAS 10g on OCFS2, we are forced to advise EBS customers against deploying OCFS2 on their mid-tiers" Is there a formal statement of this anywhere in metalink. I could not find any reference to this anywhere in the certification of 10gas... The only mention of ocfs2 I could find was in ebiz specific documentation i.e note 384248.1 has one line that has been recently added. As we have now completed extensive testing with ebusiness on ocfs2 witout any problems we were wondering if this is just a support manpower issue as no one has come back with any hard technical issues why it won't work...
Thanks
Robin

Posted by Robin Chatterjee on July 19, 2009 at 07:47 PM PDT #

Robin,

I've reiterated the Fusion Middleware policy on OCFS2 in this recent article:

Choosing a Shared File System for Oracle E-Business Suite - http://blogs.oracle.com/stevenChan/2009/07/choosing_an_ebs_shared_file_system.html

I'm not aware of any published Fusion Middleware documentation that states their position on OCFS2. We have been discussing this with them for years, with little success, sadly. I cannot comment on their reasoning for their position.

If you wish to escalate this, I'd recommend logging a formal Service Request against Oracle Application Server 10g to raise this to get an Fusion Middleware specialist engaged.

Regards,
Steven

Posted by Steven Chan on July 20, 2009 at 03:03 AM PDT #

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