OTN Appreciation Day: Automatic Storage Management (ASM)

Big shout out to Tim for kicking this off!

Automatic Storage Management (ASM) provides optimised volume management and filesystem capabilities for Oracle databases, whether they be single or multi instance (RAC) implementations.

Although introduced with Oracle 10g Release 1 in 2004, I first used it in a production scenario around 2008, when upgrading a hardware platform for a Data Warehouse. It seemed like a logical choice for myself and the DBAs at the time, although the storage team were less pleased at losing some control. Ultimately it proved a big success on that project and is still in stable, reliable use today.

Things I like about ASM include:

  • Simplifies storage management
  • Automatic rebalancing when capacity is added
  • Visibility within Enterprise Manager for monitoring
  • Availability of detailed metrics within the database
  • Reliable, balanced and consistent performance
  • Works with RAC
  • Rolling upgrades and patching
  • Provides a reliable cluster filesystem (ACFS)
  • Even more cool features coming in 12c such as Flex ASM


Some useful links:

ASM Administrators Guide 12cR1 (Oracle Docs)

The Mother Of All ASM Scripts (John Hallas)

Technical overview of new features for ASM in 12c (Whitepaper)

Oracle Optimized Warehouse Initiative (OWI)

I enjoyed a trip out of the office today with my manager. We went down to the Oracle Enterprise Technology Centre, in Reading, to hear about the Oracle Optimized Warehouse Initiative. It was basically a half day pitch from Oracle and Sun today, although there are other dates with different hardware vendors (IBM, HP and Dell).

It was an interesting day, although I didn’t really hear anything new, per se. I think the main things I took away from the session were:

  • The availability of a set of reference configurations providing matrices which cover various permutations of user count, storage cost focus, warehouse size and hardware vendor.
  • The possibility of using the reference configurations either minimally, to simply cross check a proposed hardware specification for a given workload, to ensure it seems appropriate, or going the whole hog and using an “out of the box” reference configuration, delivered to your office, fully configured with all software installed, in a box, ready to run in your data.
  • Oracle are pushing RAC and ASM heavily in the DW space – no surprise there.
  • HammerOra and ORION are used by Oracle and the hardware vendors to assess the reference configurations…and there is nothing stopping you using them for your own benchmarking efforts

It was interesting to hear about the Proof Of Concept facility that Sun has, in Linlithgow, Scotland. The facility allows Sun (and an Oracle customer) to take a server off the production line and, working with the customer, test their workload on that machine to see if it’s going to work or not. Neat, and since we’re going to be using some Sun kit for a DW shortly, it sounds like an opportunity.

Funniest thing of the day for me, was the last slide in the pitch given by Mike Leigh of Sun which had the title “The Power of 2” and was illustrating the benefits to customers of Oracle and Sun as a united force. I didn’t really take much notice, as I was too busy smiling, as I looked at the title and it made me think of Doug and his Parallel Execution and the ‘Magic of 2’ paper (the Magic of 2 bit actually being from this paper by Cary).

If you’re building a warehouse, or just want to get an idea of whether your hardware is appropriate for the job, it’s probably worth reading up on the OWI.