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August 14, 2013

ASM version 12c is out


Oracle Database version 12c has been released, which means a brand new version of ASM is out! Notable new features are Flex ASM, proactive data validation and better handling of disk management operations. Let's have an overview with more details in separate posts.

Flex ASM

No need to run ASM instances on all nodes in the cluster. In a default installation there would be three ASM instances, irrespective of the number of nodes in the cluster. An ASM instance can serve both local and remote databases. If an ASM instance fails, the database instances do not crash; instead they fail over to another ASM instance in the cluster.

Flex ASM introduces new instance type - an I/O server or ASM proxy instance. There will be a few (default is 3) I/O server instances in Oracle flex cluster environment, serving indirect clients (typically an ACFS cluster file system). An I/O server instance can run on the same node as ASM instance or on a different node in a flex cluster. In all cases, an I/O server instance needs to talk to a flex ASM instance to get metadata information on behalf of an indirect client.

The flex ASM is an optional feature in 12c.

Physical metadata replication

In addition to replicating the disk header (available since 11.1.0.7), ASM 12c also replicates the allocation table, within each disk. This makes ASM more resilient to bad disk sectors and external corruptions. The disk group attribute PHYS_META_REPLICATED is provided to track the replication status of a disk group.

$ asmcmd lsattr -G DATA -l phys_meta_replicated
Name Value
phys_meta_replicated true

The physical metadata replication status flag is in the disk header (kfdhdb.flags). This flag only ever goes from 0 to 1 (once the physical metadata has been replicated) and it never goes back to 0.

More storage

ASM 12c supports 511 disk groups, with the maximum disk size of 32 PB.

Online with power

ASM 12c has a fast mirror resync power limit to control resync parallelism and improve performance. Disk resync checkpoint functionality provides faster recovery from instance failures by enabling the resync to resume from the point at which the process was interrupted or stopped, instead of starting from the beginning. ASM 12c also provides a time estimate for the completion of a resync operation.

Use power limit for disk resync operations, similar to disk rebalance, with the range from 1 to 1024:

$ asmcmd online -G DATA -D DATA_DISK1 --power 42

Disk scrubbing - proactive data validation and repair

In ASM 12c the disk scrubbing checks for logical data corruptions and repairs them automatically in normal and high redundancy disk groups. This is done during disk group rebalance if a disk group attribute CONTENT.CHECK is set to TRUE. The check can also be performed manually by running ALTER DISKGROUP SCRUB command.

The scrubbing can be performed at the disk group, disk or a file level and can be monitored via V$ASM_OPERATION view.

Even read for disk groups

In previous ASM versions, the data was always read from the primary copy (in a normal or high redundancy disk groups) unless a preferred failgroup was set up. The data from the mirror would be read only if the primary copy of the data was unavailable. With the even read feature, each request to read can be sent to the least loaded of the possible source disks. The least loaded in this context is simply the disk with the least number of read requests.

Even read functionality is enabled by default on all Oracle Database and Oracle ASM instances of version 12.1 and higher in non-Exadata environments. The functionality is enabled in an Exadata environment when there is a failure. Even read functionality is applicable only to disk groups with normal or high redundancy.

Replace an offline disk

We now have a new ALTER DISKGROUP REPLACE DISK command, that is a mix of the rebalance and fast mirror resync functionality. Instead of a full rebalance, the new, replacement disk, is populated with data read from the surviving partner disks only. This effectively reduces the time to replace a failed disk.

Note that the disk being replaced must be in OFFLINE state. If the disk offline timer has expired, the disk is dropped, which initiates the rebalance. On a disk add, there will be another rebalance.

ASM password file in a disk group

ASM version 11.2 allowed ASM spfile to be placed in a disk group. In 12c we can also put ASM password file in an ASM disk group. Unlike ASM spfile, the access to the ASM password file is possible only after ASM startup and once the disk group containing the password is mounted.

The orapw utility now accepts ASM disk group as a password destination. The asmcmd has also been enhanced to allow ASM password management.

Failgroup repair timer

We now have a failgroup repair timer with the default value of 24 hours. Note that the disk repair timer still defaults to 3.6 hours.

Rebalance rebalanced

The rebalance work is now estimated based on the detailed work plan, that can be generated and viewed separately. We now have a new EXPLAIN WORK command and a new V$ASM_ESTIMATE view.

In ASM 12c we (finally) have a priority ordered rebalance - the critical files (typically control files and redo logs) are rebalanced before other database files.

In Exadata, the rebalance can be offloaded to storage cells.

Thin provisioning support

ASM 12c enables thin provisioning support for some operations (that are typically associated with the disk group rebalance). The feature is disabled by default, and can be enabled at the disk group creation time or later by setting disk group attribute THIN_PROVISIONED to TRUE.

Enhanced file access control (ACL)

Easier file ownership and permission changes, e.g. a file permission can be changed on an open file. ACL has also been implemented for Microsoft Windows OS.

Oracle Cluster Registry (OCR) backup in ASM disk group

Storing the OCR backup in an Oracle ASM disk group simplifies OCR management by permitting access to the OCR backup from any node in the cluster should an OCR recovery become necessary.

Use ocrconfig command to specify an OCR backup location in an Oracle ASM disk group:

# ocrconfig –backuploc +DATA