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In my earlier blog I was talking about the contribution of Appsync in Oracle Life Cycle Management. In this blog we will continue discussion with the important features of Appsync in Oracle Lifecycle Management.

AppSync Mount & Recovery



Mount & recovery of Oracle databases can be done in two ways from AppSync

      • Scheduled within a service plan run
      • On-demand



The options are:

    • Mount on standalone server
    • Mount on standalone server and create RMAN catalog entry
    • Mount on standalone server & recover database Mount on standalone server & prepare scripts for manual database recovery
    • Mount on Grid cluster & recover as RAC database




Screen Shot of mount on Grid Cluster and recover as RAC database



Mount of VMAX Copies



Rules used by AppSync to determine mount host Storage Group



  1. For virtual machines, AppSync performs mount by masking the copy devices to the ESX host and then hot-Adding the devices to the virtual machine as DM/virtual disk (depending on application copy)
  2. In case host is connected to VMAX via multiple masking view and host is not an ESX host in cluster(for Data store or RDM mounts), AppSync first gives reference to a masking view which is dedicated for that host i.e. initiator group connected to the masking view has only initiator(s) for that host. In this scenario AppSync uses the storage group connected to this dedicated masking view to add all the copy devices during mount.
  3. If AppSync doesn't find a dedicated storage group, it creates a list of storage group with all storage group attached to each of the masking devices which is
    connected to the host and picks up the first storage group. If the selected storage group is dedicated for GK devices(i.e. has only GK devcies0, AppSync picks up the next storage group in sorted list. In case no other storage group exist except the one with GK devices only, AppSync fails back and select only this storage group.

Restore of VMAX Copies


LUN Level restore of VP-Snap and TF Clone copies

  • AppSync support restore of application copies created using bronze plan(i.e. local copies only). LUN restore from remote copies i.e. silver plan is not supported in AppSync 2.0. Some of the important point to note while AppSync performs LUN level restore:
    1. Since AppSync supports only Snap-VP(and not VDEV snap) snapshots and while restoring from a snap-vp snapshot, VMAX consumes one TF clone session to perform restore, it is very important to make sure that if AppSync is configured to take TF clone copies of the same application, it shouldn't be configured to take more than 6 copies.
    2. In case user has configured servicePlans to take both snap-vp and tf clone copies of the same application, AppSync supports restoring from both the type of copies.



LUN Level restore of VP-Snap and TF Clone copies


  1. At the end of restore from clone copies, AppSync put the TF clone session in split
    state so that if user wants to perform restore from same copy again, it should
    be allowed as well as AppSync can perform recreate on the same copy(in case it
    is expired from AppSync as part of rotation) and can do differential copy during
    next service Plan run.
  2. At the end of restore from snap-vp copies, VMAX create one additional session in
    "RESTORED" state for the same source-target pair. AppSync terminates
    this RESTORED session at the end of restore, so that the same copy can be sued
    again for restore as well as restore from other copy is allowed. if session is
    left in RESTORED state, it wont allow restore from other copies.



Monitoring & Reporting


LUN Level restore of VP-Snap and TF Clone copies



  1. At the end of restore from clone copies, AppSync put the TF clone session in split
    state so that if user wants to perform restore from same copy again, it should
    be allowed as well as AppSync can perform recreate on the same copy(in case it
    is expired from AppSync as part of rotation) and can do differential copy during
    next servciePlan run.
  2. At the end of restore from snap-vp copies, VMAX create one additional session in
    "RESTORED" state for the same source-target pair. AppSync terminates
    this RESTORED session at the end of restore, so that the same copy can be sued
    again for restore as well as restore from other copy is allowed. if session is
    left in RESTORED state, it wont allow restore from other copies.


Monitoring & Reporting




The Repurpose Monitor shows all in-progress Repurpose and Refresh processes. The Repurpose Monitor allows you to view all currently running repurpose activities, and to monitor their progress. The Repurpose Monitor shows the item being repurposed (source) and the label of the item being created or refreshed along with the application type.


This feature is particularly helpful for long-running repurpose activities (for example, VMAX clone sync). When you select this monitor, it lists all the repurpose activities in progress. You can select any repurpose activity, and then select Monitor to launch a progress dialog to directly view the progress of the selected activity.


Alerts and associated events


An alert is generated when a service plan phase fails, when a recovery point objective (RPO) is not met, or when a mount or restore fails.Service plan failure alerts are generated immediately upon failure of a service plan phase. When an application goes out of RPO compliance, the associated alert is generated within one hour. zaz9.png

In the earlier blog we were talking about some features of the  of Appsync in Oracle Life Cycle Management. In this blog we will continue discussion with the same important topic.



AppSync supports the ad-hoc creation of Oracle database copies, followed by the creation of copies of those copies. This practice is referred to as repurposing. Repurposing serves many useful functions including test-dev, break-fix, data mining and reporting.


The repurposing has the following benefit for DBAs :-


  • Repurposing an Oracle database creates a multi-level tree of copies of the database.
  • A first generation copy creates a copy that can be used as source for other copies.(copy-of-copy).
  • Repurposing copies are identified by a generation removed from the production source data, and thus named Gen 1, Gen 2, and so on.
  • Repurpose copies are meant to be mounted for extended periods of time for various purposes.


The first generation copy of the database creates the application consistent copy if hotbackup is enabled. It Includes application discovery, mapping and database freeze/thaw. Database freeze/thaw is performed if we are creating "hot backup" copies of the Oracle database. The default is to not
create hot backup copies for 1st Gen repurpose copies.


Second generation copies are created as copies-of-copies, using the first generation copy as the source. They do not include application discovery, mapping and database freeze/ thaw. As a result, second generation copies are created much faster than first generation copies.




The create copy options on the service plan settings provides various controls which will influence how the Oracle copy is created. The Create Copy phase creates a copy based on the replication technology specified in the service plan.


This phase specifies the backup type of Oracle database copy to make using the preferred storage copy technology - Snap (VNX Snapshot , VNX File Snapsure, Timefinder VP Snap), Clone (Timefinder Clone), or bookmark (RecoverPoint CDP/CRR/CLR) .


For VNX/VMAX copies, this phase also sets the period for automatic expiration of the copies.


There are three types of copy phases depending on which plan is used :


  • Create local copy—For Bronze service plans, creates a local copy on the production storage system or local site. Copy type includes:
    • Snap—VNX Snapshot, VNX File Snapsure, Timefinder VP Snap
    • Clone—Timefinder Clone
    • Bookmark—RecoverPoint CD
  • Create remote copy—For Silver service plans, creates a remote copy on the remote storage system (across RemoteReplicator or SRDF) on remote site. Copy type includes:
    • Snap— VNX File Snapsure, Timefinder VP Snap
    • Clone—Timefinder Clone
    • Bookmark—RecoverPoint CRR
  • Create local and remote copy—For Gold
    service plans, creates both local and remote copies. Copy type includes:
    • Snap— VNX File Snapsure, Timefinder VP Snap
    • Clone—Timefinder Clone
    • Bookmark—RecoverPoint CLR


The settings in the GUI are as follows:







Hot backup mode in Appsync



  • AppSync splits up Oracle copies into two distinct point-in-time copies
    • The first point-in-time copy is created for all the database files (control files, redo logs & datafiles). This copy is made while the database is in hot-backup mode.
    • The second point-in-time copy is created for the archive log volumes and (optionally) for the Fast Recovery Area. This copy is made after Oracle has been taken out of hot-backup mode.
    • The fact there are two copies here is managed internally, users only have to manage a single copy from within the product.
    • Due to this behavior, it is required that at minimum, these files reside on different storage devices as shown below.zaz4.png




Hope you have enjoyed this blog. We will keep discussing important features of Appsync in the last blog as well.

Presently in the database world, the complexities and challenges are increasing at an exponential rate and Appsync software has an answer to these issues. In this blog and in the subsequent ones , I will firstly try to address the challenges and its remedies by the Appsync software and then we will try to understand the features of the Appsync software itself with respect to Oracle Life Cycle Management.



Challenges in Oracle Life Cycle Management and its remedies by Appsync

  • The growth of Oracle databases in a customer’s data center is constantly
    rising, business leaders are challenged. A 2014 IOUG survey, “The Empowered
    Database” shows in that 64% of the respondents’ state database growth is increasing
    significantly and the time to deploy new solutions is over 30 days.
    1. AppSync delivers Oracle-aware copy management software that integrates EMC replication technologies that accelerates Oracle database provisioning, protection and recovery in minutes not days.
  • Application and Business owners demand protection for their business
    mission-critical Oracle databases. A recent IOUG Mission Critical Application
    Availability survey confirms that almost 50% of LOB owners and over 33% IT
    directors demand Service Level Agreements (SLAs) for their Oracle environments
    (Production, Development, Test, Patch).
    1. EMC AppSync has built-in service plans (SLAs) which use multiple EMC replication technologies to enable your customer’s application owner and IT director to meet their business SLAs.
  • Traditional Oracle Lifecycle management of provisioning, protecting and
    recovering requires a database team, storage team, and the business owners to
    define the people, process and technology due to the complexity of Oracle and
    storage replications technologies in their data center.
    • AppSync enables self-service Oracle provisioning, protection and recovery simplifying database lifecycle management for applications owners and freeing your Oracle DBAs and storage team for other business initiatives.


EMC AppSync is a simple, SLA-driven, copy-management application that sits between Oracle
databases and the storage, using the storage system’s advanced technologies to create and restore copies of Oracle databases. EMC AppSync uses a three-tiered architecture.

AppSync uses a three-tiered architecture:




The AppSync server software resides on a physical or virtual Windows machine. It orchestrates the creation of copies and stores the data about each copy it creates.




AppSync installs lightweight plug-in software on hosts. AppSync pushes the plug-in software from the AppSync server to the host when a user adds the host as a resource. Production, Test, and Mount hosts are examples of hosts on which this plug-in can be installed. Upon completion of the install, Oracle databases are automatically discovered and displayed as available databases for copy management.


User Interface


The AppSync console is web-based and has the same look and feel as the EMC Unisphere interface.



The Life Cycle management focuses on EMC’s ability to enable agility, availability, and simplicity in the customer’s Oracle Lifecycle Management of database provisioning, protection and recovery with AppSync. It mainly covers 3 areas:-

  • Agility –  Clone, protect, recover  critical database in minutes not days
  • Availability – Enable SLAs in the entire Oracle landscape from production to patch
  • Simplicity –  “One-click” Oracle database provisioning, protection and recovery

EMC AppSync is very helpful and very effective from Oracle Life Cycle management standpoint
and we are going to discuss the following features in this blog and in the next 2 blogs. Below are the different features


  • RAC to RAC mount
  • Service Plans
  • Repurposing
  • Backup
  • Mount and recovery
  • Monitoring & Reporting

RAC to RAC mount


It helps to mount the existing RAC database with other newly created instances for monitoring, maintenance and repairs. Important points about Oracle RAC mount in AppSync are as follows:-

  • AppSync will only mount to cluster nodes which are registered to it
  • You can only perform RAC mounts if the original database is a RAC database
  • AppSync can perform RAC mount from N->N, N->N+ or N->N- cluster configurations. For example:
    • 2-node to 2-node (N->N)
    • 2-node to 4-node (N->N+)
    • 4-node to 2-node (N->N-)



Service Plans


Creation of Oracle database copies is achieved through the use of Service Plans. Service plans tiers are tied to the level of protection provided by the copy.


    • Bronze service plans will perform a local copy to the same storage system
    • Silver will perform a remote copy to a different storage system
    • Gold plans will perform  both local and remote copies, offering maximum protection should either array suffer loss of service
  • Once created, copies made through service plans can be expired, mounted & unmounted, recovered as part of the mount or restored back to production.
  • This provides a good foundation for any number of business operations that might require the use of these copies




As part of deployment & discovery, any databases available to AppSync for protection will be displayed in the Copy Management->Oracle pane


  • From this pane, any of the discovered databases can be subscribed to service plans for protection by AppSync. Once subscribed, the service plan can be run on-demand, or at the scheduled time.
  • The successful run of the service plan will produce copies of the subscribed databases which will then be available for use in other operations

Service Plan Schedule

The schedule of a service plan is set in the Plan Startup phase.zaz1.png


The Startup Type (scheduled or on demand) determines whether the plan is run manually, or configured to run on a schedule. Options for scheduling when a service plan starts are:


  • Specify a recovery point objective (RPO)
  • Set an RPO of 30 minutes or 1, 2, 3,4, 6, 8, 12, or 24 hours
  • Minutes after the hour are set in 5 minute intervals
  • Default RPO is 24 hours

I will talk about the other important features of Appsync in subsequent blogs.


Moments with Jeff Browning

Posted by DBAStorage Mar 31, 2015

31st March 2015 marks the day our very own Jeff Browning leaves EMC, we've decided it should be a day for socializing the best Jeff Browning quotes and comments from his colleagues, friends and followers in the world of IT. For sure, Jeff will remain active in the Storage or Virtualization areas, maybe not being at EMC will open up new frontiers? I know he has an active interest in NoSQL and what will challenge Oracle Corporation in Database Management in the coming years.


He goes by the name @OracleHeretic on Twitter, inventor of the Monster VM claws


Monster Hero Banner 200 x 275.png

Personally, it's been a great pleasure to work with Jeff. Superlatives are handed out lightly these days, but Jeff is deserving of every one of them. It helps that Jeff is confident, talkative and interesting to listen to, he also is the embodiment of supporting the team in every way from teaching the basics of how to do technical things to believing that empowering people is what he is good at. From the day he interviewed me to join EMC to now, I have come to know Jeff as a friend of everyone in the Oracle Technical Marketing team at EMC, as a team there is a sense of losing a character and thought leader - not going to dwell on that as with all change comes opportunity for those of us who remain.


You are welcome to use the comments here to leave your good wishes and memories of working with Jeff or seeing him present at the biggest Oracle and Virtualization conferences in the world over recent years.





Here's a few lines I recall from just the last year, I will update this page as more ideas come to mind;


"Jeff is an enigma, you have to meet him to really appreciate his presence"


"I will let Jeff tell that story, nobody else can really do it the justice it deserves"


"Jeff is an industry luminary, we invited him to give this presentation not just anyone from EMC, you're lucky you got his blessing!"


All the best Jeff, it's been a privilege to work with you at EMC and I look forward to dinner at VMworld sometime soon!


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#Oracle #Exadata - Time to think - part 2.

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In my earlier blog I was talking about many features of Exadata which were not looking very rosy and in the long-run it will prove not to be very helpful, cost effective or efficient. In this blog , let me talk about some more painful features from Exadata perspective which may prove little costly and less efficient.


Compression --> The Exadata HDD works only on columnar data but not over rows. The decompression of the compressed data happens in RAM which is located in the compute layer (hosts) and hence it results in enhanced IO traffic and performance degradation. he compression works only with oracle storage. But in case of XtremIO, the compression and de-duplication is inbuilt and hence does compression under all circumstances.


  • XtremIO Data Reduction Services calculate a unique fingerprint for every application data block entering the array based on its payload contents. This unique ID is used to uniformly distribute and balance data throughout every SSD in the array, providing amazing application I/O characteristics under all workloads.The inline deduplication engine identifies redundant fingerprints in real-time as data blocks pass through the architecture. Duplicate data blocks never translate into physical data writes, and are replaced with in-memory metadata pointers that allow a single physical block on SSD to be referenced multiple times. After data blocks are globally deduplicated, the remaining unique data blocks are compressed inline, delivering an optimal flash footprint. Deduplicated and compressed data blocks are bundled and protected using our unique XtremIO Data Protection technology (XDP) which is exclusively designed for flash with no legacy reliance on spinning HDD RAID technology. XDP optimizes the capacity efficiency, performance, and endurance of flash media more than RAID technology, eradicating flash “write cliffs”.
Memory Management --> Under certain circumstances, there happens a large scale memory leaks in Exadata and it cause exhaustion of SGA and the memory very fast. This results in the automatic rebooting of the Exadata boxes. But in XtremIO the storage is tuned and no such thing happens.Exadata product support --> As per Gartner, Oracle Support is very sloppy and basically theoretical in nature. The solutions provided by the support sometimes work and sometimes does not work and hence the resolution time is very high. Customer checks continue to report that Oracle's support can be spotty, and that field operations remain inefficient and somewhat difficult to deal In case of XtremIo , the support works in tandem with the product team and the resolution time is much faster. Moreover in case of Exadata if the parameters and hidden parameters are not tuned properly then customers may not achieve the 10X level of performance. There is a greater risk of conflict if line-of-business administrator roles are not synchronized with the aims of the data center administrators. Potential  customers need to validate references and use cases for Engineered Systems other than Oracle Exadata Database Machine, as shipments to date are heavily skewed toward the latter.An Exadata quarter rack or eighth rack with 3 storage servers is not cost-effective for rolling Upgrade or Patching
HIGH redundancy is needed if a rolling upgrade strategy is chosen for storage servers for future patching and upgrades. This redundancy level lets the system continue running when a server is taken offline for patching or in case a failure occurs on one of the online storage servers. In such a case, there needs to be a  third copy available for the system to keep running.If the cluster-related files like the OCR and Voting disk need to be in a HIGH redundancy disk group, then should be minimum of 5 storage servers is needed.
This is very disadvantageous in that Oracle Exadata Database Machine of quarter or eighth rack has insufficient Exadata cells for the voting disks to reside in any high redundancy disk group which can be worked around ONLY by expanding with 2 more Exadata cells. Voting disks require 5 failure groups  or 5 Exadata cells. This is one of the main reasons why an Exadata half rack was recommended minimum size by Oracle is the recommended . There is a risk of Oracle ASM and Oracle Clusterware failing when the ASM disk group (DBFS_DG --> where the voting disks reside) is dismounted due to storage failures.Impact due to loss of DBFS_DGASM will crashOnce ASM detects the loss of access to the VOTE disks, ASM will crash taking down all of the databases using the ASM environment. Depending on the type of error experienced, ASM will attempt to restart and finally it will crash.The production downtime will be longerAfter ASM has crashed, many of the Grid Infrastructure processes will remain running and need to be stopped manually. This will be a very tedious and time-consuming process and the rebooting operation will effectively increase the downtime  of the production environment as the above tedious operation and relocation of  the voting disk needs to be relocated to another Disk group by the command -->  crsctl replace votedisk +VOTEDG.
Rebooting of Grid Infrastructure is required at this stage . (Reference : Metalink Note : 1339373.1)
Solution to the rolling upgrade for quarter and eighth rackPerform the upgrade/patching in a standalone fashion by shutting the production database(Downtime Required).Purchase/Procure two additional storage servers at an additional cost as shown below (based on the current price) ;-Quarter Rack
  • Extreme Flash Version -  $718,240
  • High Capacity Version -  $623,840
Eighth Rack
  • Extreme Flash Version - $512,240
  • High Capacity Version - $451,840


As mentioned in my earlier blog, XtremIO eliminates the need for planned downtime by providing non-disruptive software and firmware upgrades to ensure 7×24 continuous operations.


References :-


Oracle ASM Considerations for Exadata Upgrades

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On 21st January, 2015 Oracle announced the new Next-Generation Exadata Engineered Systems X5. This was released with lots of fanfare and they announced a lot of new features. As I was going through the new features I was wondering if they have taken some new initiatives and corrected the pain points that existed in the earlier versions. I was also trying to understand the relevance of the features that was published during the Exadata X5-2 launch.


The first comes to my mind is the performance which Oracle is very vociferous of. There are several units in this claim where I see some drawbacks in the basic features. The first is the Exadata Columnar compression. This feature is not available to the compression of the rows and it may not serve the holistic purpose for the wholesome compression. Again to decompress the compressed data, The data has to be taken to the RAM and it takes some more IO subsystem. Second is the Smart scan which does work and does not work under certain situations and with certain datatypes. Third is the storage index which may not come into action all the time.


Exadata’s Hybrid Columnar Compression (HCC) is showcased in these events because it’s ability to compress data and accelerate database queries. Best way to explore HCC is to use Oracle’s newly published Exadata X5 documentation.  In reading the What’s New in Oracle Exadata Database Machine 12c Release 1 ( we couldn’t find any statements opposing the traditional Oracle recommendation of, “This (referring to HCC) new compression capability is recommended for data that is not updated frequently.



  • Warehouse compression: This type of compression is optimized for query performance, and is intended for data warehouse applications.
  • Archive compression: This type of compression is optimized for maximum compression levels, and is intended for historic data and data that does not change.

So HCC compression is a feature designed for warehouse applications and archive compression. Online Transactional Processing (OLTP) database will not benefit from HCC. Implementing HCC has to be done by the DBA unless they are using Automatic Data Optimization ( ADO) which requires the customer to purchase Oracle Information Lifecycle Management (ILM) or Oracle Advanced Compression. ADO is included in ILM which costs $12,000 per processor or ACO which costs $11,500 per processor.There are many other issues which need serious introspection like the sudden rebooting of the Exadata server when it does not have enough space in the memory( less than 20%) . Also, it is a pain to work with oracle support that searches the internal knowledge databases and provides solution which may or may not be applicable to the relevant solution. Under these circumstances, if we compare Oracle’s exadata with EMC’s XtremIO and we clean up all the marketing hypes around Oracle Exadata , we will see that XtremIO will be best suited to the organization in terms of features ,latency, compression , replication etc. The XtremIO array features a scale-out, multi-controller architecture; a dual-stage metadata engine that, while memory intensive, minimizes the need for free space management tasks that impact performance; a data protection scheme called XDP that is more efficient than RAID 6 yet provides the same protection; and an entry-level configuration that offers the ability to deliver over 1 million IOPS despite its "always on" in-line compression and deduplication.  In this blog (Part I ) and in the next (Part II) I would like to discuss the different features and characteristics of XtremIO which will may help you to realize/understand that  XtremIO will be best suited to the organization.Let us now talk about the High Availability feature:-In XtremIO we find very good features of High Availability viz.

  • 99.999% Availability and More: XtremIO lives up to the highest standards of service and data availability in the industry. XtremIO arrays are N-way active-active and fully fault-tolerant, with no single points of hardware or software failure.
  • No Single Point of Failure: Each X-Brick is failure-proof. All active hardware components are fully redundant – true active-active controllers, power supplies, power cables, network cables, ports, CPU, memory, and SSDs.
  • Uptime & Non-Disruptive Upgrades: XtremIO eliminates the need for planned downtime by providing non-disruptive software and firmware upgrades to ensure 7×24 continuous operations.
  • Disaster Recovery: XtremIO arrays are integrated and certified with EMC business continuity solutions, such as EMC VPLEX, to replicate data and provide comprehensive failover and resiliency in the event of site failure.


But in Exadata the first disadvantage is that it is licensed separately. Also, customers’ needs to use at least 2 storage servers. Also, Exadata does not support external redundancies which cause more requirement of storage. In case of data guard technology, we see that there is a dilemma (among Oracle DBAs) between redo log shipping lag (asynchronous) and performance overhead for synchronous shipping of redo logs.


I will talk more about the comparative features in my next blog.

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Next era in converged infrastructure innovation from #VCE


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With the world’s most advanced converged infrastructure, VCE has been providing multi offering to its portfolio to deliver a broad range of converged platforms and solutions designed for speed, scale and simplicity, and accelerate customer’s journey to the hybrid cloud.




Vblock™ Systems from VCE represent the next evolution of IT—one that unleashes simplicity by delivering the extraordinary efficiency and business agility of virtualization and cloud computing.  Seamlessly integrating best-in-class compute, network, and storage technologies from industry leaders Cisco, EMC, and VMware, Vblock Systems provide dynamic pools of resources that can be intelligently provisioned and managed to address changing demands and fleeting business opportunities.



Vblock™ Specialized System for High Performance Databases extends the VCE experience to large enterprise databases such as Oracle. The unique new architecture delivers high performance and scalability and offers continuous availability for your mission-critical, database-dependent applications. You can support single or multiple databases as well as mixed workloads. And the solution delivers an excellent total cost of ownership.




Announcement of Next Era in Converged Infrastructure Innovation




On March 12 2015, VCE introduced groundbreaking advancements to its converged solutions portfolio:



VCE Vscale Architecture is a new, innovative “scale up” AND “scale out” architecture that delivers simplicity and speed at data center scale. VCE Vscale architecture leverages a next-generation converged fabric to interconnect multiple converged infrastructure systems and data center elements, providing optimized, on-demand resource sharing.



VCE VxBlock Systems are a new family of converged infrastructure systems designed to enable greater flexibility in system components for customers. The first VxBlock System announced today will offer Cisco® Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI) or VMware NSX™ as a customer choice for software-defined networking (SDN) functionality, along with Cisco networking and computing, EMC storage and data protection, and VMware virtualization and virtualization management. VCE VxBlock Systems will receive the same “VCE Experience” of factory-based pre-integration, pre-testing and pre-validation with seamless component-level updates, ongoing lifecycle assurance, and unified single-call support. Additional VxBlock Systems will be introduced throughout 2015.



VCE Vision™ Intelligent Operations 3.0 is a major update to the company’s converged infrastructure management software for delivering operational simplicity through a consistent, accurate, and common systems view. VCE Vision software capabilities have been expanded to provide unified intelligence across multiple VCE converged infrastructure systems – either independent or as part of a Vscale architecture – enabling efficient multi-system management and converged operations at scale.



VxBlock systems overview



VCE VxBlock™ Systems are the newest members of the VCE portfolio, offering increased choices to customers when it comes to their data center infrastructure. The first area of flexibility is the choice of network virtualization solutions of VmWare NSX or Cisco ACI.


The new VxBlock System 740, VxBlock System 540 and VxBlock System 340 are engineered to the same exacting specifications as VCE Vblock® Systems for highest levels of performance, capacity, security, high-availability, and operational efficiency. VxBlock Systems can also be combined with VCE™ Technology Extensions and VCE Vscale™ Blocks to offer greater value for additional use cases, such as data lakes, big data, and other emerging applications.



Flexibility of Software Defined Networking Solutions - VCE VxBlock Systems provide more flexibility to our customers by providing the option to choose either Cisco ACI or VMware NSX as network virtualization technologies that are preintegrated, supported, and sustained by VCE.



With network virtualization,customers can rapidly create and provision Software Defined Networking (SDN) capabilities, enhancing business agility while significantly reducing CAPEX and OPEX. Logical configuration and installation of network virtualization on VxBlock Systems in the VCE factory further ensures a streamlined integration of network virtualization with your VCE Vscale™ Fabric and your data center.



Industry-Best Customer Experience with VCE Lifecycle Assurance - Every VxBlock System is a true converged infrastructure—each is engineered, manufactured, managed, supported, and sustained as ONE product. Every VxBlock System component receives engineering lifecycle support and single-call support our customers count on, minimizing your business risk, and accelerating business innovation. More choices, greater value, with the highest levels of customer satisfaction you can depend on.



Simplified Converged Management and Operations - VCE Vision™ Intelligent Operations introduced the concept of converged operations, delivering operational simplicity through a consistent, accurate, and common system view of converged infrastructure. VCE further extends VCE Vision™ software capabilities for the VCE Vscale™ Architecture and VxBlock Systems for efficient multisystem management and converged operations at data center scale and beyond. Unified visibility helps customers further simplify operations, enhance agility, and mitigate risks for an even better experience.

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Enterprises use Information Technology (IT) to gain competitive advantages, reduce operating costs, enhance communication with customers, and increase management insight into their business. Thus enterprises are becoming increasingly dependent on their IT infrastructure and its continuous availability. Application downtime and data unavailability directly translate into lost productivity and revenue, dissatisfied customers, and damage to corporate reputation.


A basic approach to building a High Availability (HA) infrastructure is to deploy redundant and often idle hardware and software resources supplied by disparate vendors. This approach is often expensive, yet falls short of service level expectations due to loose integration of components, technological limitations, and administrative complexity.


Continuous Availability (CA) is a service level created by infrastructure and application architectures that have no single-point-of-failures (SPOFs) at the component, application, or site levels.  In a basic CA architecture, all components, application servers, and sites have complete redundancy.  As a matter of practicality, applications are deployed with redundant capabilities in at least two data centers.  A transaction can be completely processed in either of the two data centers and data coherency is maintained between them.  If anything fails (component, server, or site), processing continues and the applications that exploit CA capability continue to run regardless of the failure.


Applications can be deployed in CA mode with commercially available off-the-shelf technologies.  At the infrastructure layer, data centers need to be setup as Active/Active sites.  That is two sites with completely redundant infrastructure- network feeds, network infrastructure, security, LAN, SAN, DNS, and server farms – along with a mechanism such as VPLEX to maintain data coherency between sites.  At the application layer, redundant server farms are deployed in each of the sites.  Finally a transaction distribution system is deployed to route transactions to the sites and to recognize a site offline condition and route transactions to the other site. Transaction distribution systems are most often deployed as hardware load balances, although some software mechanisms are used in some sites.


There are four basic components in a Continuous Availability architecture:

  • Architecture: Active/Active data centers
  • Applications that are built to run in CA mode;
  • A data locking mechanism at the data layer;
  • Along with a data coherency mechanism at the storage layer.


Oracle Maximum Availability Architecture (MAA) – Oracle Database Protection Solutions


The New Oracle Database 12c technologies integrated into Oracle’s Maximum Availability Architecture (MAA), reduce or avoid unplanned downtime, enable rapid recovery from failures, and minimize planned downtimes.  The new Oracle Database 12c features include Application Continuity, Global Data Services, and Active Data Guard Far Sync, which improve application recovery, support global database services, and extend zero-data-loss protection to a global scale, respectively.




EMC Continuous Availability Architecture (CAA) – The Continuum of Protection Solutions for Oracle and other Applications


EMC can protect not only Oracle database but also any other applications within the complete protection solution continuum with VPLEX, Recover Point, Data Domain, Array RAID, Array Snap/Clone/Replications etc.. Unique to EMC is our ability to fill any gap in your business continuity schema beginning with continuous availability and high availability, through operational recovery and disaster recovery, all the way to backup recovery and archive.




CONTINUOUS AVAILABILITY - Ensure 99.9999% system uptime through a resilient clustered architecture that eliminates any single point of failure. EMC delivers Zero RPO and RTO by allowing simultaneous read/write access to the same data across two EMC storage systems or heterogeneous arrays over synchronous distance.


DATA MOBILITY - Balance workloads, migrate applications, virtual machines, and move data in and between data centers with zero disruption. EMC allows non-disruptive technology refreshes, data migrations, application upgrades, load balancing, data center relocations, disaster avoidance, and general maintenance.


ACTIVE/ACTIVE - This capability provides continuous operations between two data centers with no downtime for applications using Oracle RAC software due to a site failure. The ability to use resources between two synchronously connected sites improves productivity, asset utilization, and boosts application performance


CONTINUOUS DATA PROTECTION - Get heterogeneous array replication and continuous data protection with multiple recovery points to restore applications instantly. EMC provides DVR-like recovery to any point-in-time, ideal for operational failures and disaster recovery. An excellent record of accomplishment with over one Exabyte of data protected and over 250 million run hours.


APPLICATION CONSISTENCY - EMC provides universal replication for Oracle RAC. Application-level consistency ensures seamless restarts between multiple sites, multiple arrays and multiple interdependent applications.


OPERATIONAL RECOVERY - EMC delivers an industry first for VMware Site Recovery Manager (SRM) failover. Restore VMware with the only protection solution to support failover to any point-in-time with SRM.


RESOURCE-EFFICIENT REPLICATION - Superior deduplication, compression and advanced bandwidth reduction algorithms reduce network consumption by up to 90%.


DISASTER RECOVERY - Test Disaster Recovery from any point-in-time; recover operations to any point-in-time and failover to any known good point-in-time.


BACKUP AND RECOVERY - EMC solutions integrate directly into Oracle RMAN giving the data owner and/or DBA direct control over backup and recovery using their own tool, thus enabling self-service without any loss of visibility for IT. EMC centralizes protection administration for Oracle applications


ARCHIVE - EMC offers an archive platform that delivers primary storage cost reductions and improved system performance by moving old unstructured data out of the operational environment. This archive also provides efficient indexed access for a wide range of self-service and compliance search requirements across different sets of information.


As Peter Herdman-Grant suggested in his blog of 'With EMC, Oracle's Maximum Availability Architecture is Redifined', a combination of Oracle product features, Oracle RAC and Data Guard, complemented with EMC VPLEX and RecoverPoint can be used to ensure maximum application availability and protection. Potentially the most fundamental difference between EMC and Oracle’s approach to providing MAA, is that EMC’s approach, while providing integration with Oracle, can be applied equally well to non-Oracle environments too – as shown in this customer reference video from First National Technology Solutions, you can use Data Domain, RecoverPoint and VPLEX just as effectively for Microsoft or SAP environments.


In the next few blogs of this series, I will introduce in detail on how EMC would help customers to build up Continuous Availability Architecture with VPLEX, Recover Point and Data Domain and a great number of proven solutions...

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As I mentioned in the previous blog Part I of this series, four basic components are necessary for a Continuous Availability Architecture, the first of all is to build up Active/Active data centers.


Active/Active data centers are two or more data centers, each provisioned to run production applications with all of the necessary infrastructure to run independently.  The data centers are connected by a high-speed data center interconnection and usually have a common name space, authentication mechanisms, and address space.  Transactions are typically distributed between the data centers by a global load balancing mechanism that understands which application is running where.  The key is that between the two data centers, there is no single point of failure.


The EMC VPLEX family removes physical barriers within, across, and between data centers.  VPLEX Metro provides data access and mobility between two VPLEX clusters within synchronous distances.  VPLEX Metro is a SAN-based federation solution that delivers both local and distribution storage federation.


VPLEX Metro in of itself does not create a Continuous Available environment, it proves continuous availability at the storage layer.  VPLEX Metro, however, does provide the critical foundation for Continuous Availability by presenting readable/writable virtual volumes in two geographically separated data centers.  The volumes can be read from and written to simultaneously by servers in each site.  Logically you can think of a VPLEX Metro volume as a RAID-1 mirror set; one side of the set, or “mirror-a” is in one site, and the other side of the mirror, “mirror-b” is in another site.  VPLEX’s coherency mechanism ensures that a write to “mirror-a” is synchronously written to the underlying disk in both site-a and site-b; likewise, a write to “mirror-b” is synchronously written to the underlying disk in both site-b and site-a.


EMC VPLEX Metro and Oracle Extended RAC Solution


Oracle RAC, with Oracle Database 11g/12c Enterprise Edition, enables a single database to run across a cluster of servers, providing unbeatable fault tolerance, performance, and scalability with no application changes necessary.


EMC VPLEX Metro is the primary enabling technology for this solution.  It delivers a multi-site high-availability virtual storage layer while significantly simplifying the configuration and ongoing  management of extended RAC deployment.  Its breakthrough technology, AccessAnywhere, enables the same data to exist in two separate geographical locations and accessed and updated at both locations at the same time.


EMC VPLEX extendeds the high availability of Oracle RAC greater distance, up to 5 ms RTT, by providing the shared distributed storage required by RAC across those distances with local read access times.  By mirroring between sites, VPLEX adds to the storage layer availability by allowing database instances to continue to operate in the event of an array failure or even a complete site failure.




This solution increases the availability for Oracle application by:

  • Eliminating single points of failure at all layers in the environment
  • Providing Active/Active data centers that support zero RPO and RTO
  • Automatic failure handling
  • Increased utilization of hardware and software assets
        -  Active/Active use of both data centers        -  Automatic load balancing between data centers        -  Zero downtime maintenance
  • Simplified deployment of Oracle RAC on Extended Distance Cluster
  • Reduced costs by increasing infrastructure utilization and automating failure handling
  • No Oracle clusterware at the third site


Organizations have been deploying Active/Active data centers for several years along with a semblance of Active/Active applications.  This availability solution of clustered databases over VPLEX Metro and clustered servers though enables true continuous availability up and down the stack and puts it in the hands of the average data center using commercially available off-the-shelf technologies.  What once was a promise of the future is a reality today.


Instead of the traditional DR deployment model of active/passive production and DR data centers, this solution demonstrates an innovative active/active deployment model for data centers up to 5 ms RTT latency apart. This model transforms the entire infrastructure from a disaster recovery solution to a true disaster avoidance solution, with 24/7 application availability, no single points of failure, and zero RTO and RPO.  No other solution provides the level of continuous availability and local-like performance at both locations simultaneously.


For more details of this solution, please refer to Oracle Extended RAC with EMC VPLEX Metro—Best Practices Planning

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As I mentioned in the previous blog Part I of this series, EMC Continuous Availability Architecture (CAA) can provide complete continuous data protection, get heterogeneous array replication and continuous data protection with multiple recovery points to restore applications instantly. EMC provides DVR-like recovery to any point-in-time, ideal for operational failures and disaster recovery. An excellent record of accomplishment with over one Exabyte of data protected and over 250 million run hours.


An effective CAA solution needs to be able to satisfy the service level agreements for Recovery Time Objectives (RTO), Recovery Point Objectives (RPO) and Oracle data corruption protection.  The recovery point objective (RPO) is the amount of data that is lost following a failure (going back to previous recovery point), and recovery time objective (RTO) is how long it take to get the users productive again (not just the system recovered). There is no system with zero RPO and RTO, and the cost of the recovery system increases sharply the closer to zero the goal. The business running the application has to decide the business impact of RPO and RTO service level agreements, and understand the trade-off with the business impact.


EMC RecoverPoint is a solution that can provide both business continuity and data protection for database environments. RecoverPoint is an out-of-band replication product from EMC. RecoverPoint leverages a fabric-based out-of-band appliance approach that tracks every write that occurs in the source database storage volumes and writes them in parallel to the local RecoverPoint appliance. All the writes are journaled, pooled and replicated to the remote disaster recovery site to provide Continuous Remote Replication.


EMC RecoverPoint uses time stamped history volumes and ‘Bookmark’ features to provide bookmarked recovery points. These recovery points can be immediately accessed and mounted back to production environments within a very short time. RecoverPoint uses the following bandwidth reduction technology features: Delta Differentials, Hot Spot Identification, De-Dup, and Algorithmic Compression. These bandwidth reduction technology features can help reduce the overall network utilization of the disaster recovery solution. Recovery Point also provides capability to throttle the network bandwidth utilized by the disaster recovery solution. RecoverPoint is database agnostic and can be used to replicate heterogeneous database environments. RecoverPoint can also be used to replicate mission critical data that is residing outside the database in operating system files. There are no distance limitations with EMC RecoverPoint as well.


For Oracle environment, RecovePoint can be used for:


  • Protection from infrastructure failure (storage array, switch, and so on)
  • Protection from local or regional disaster
  • Protection from data corruption

EMC VPLEX Metro, EMC RecoverPoint with Oracle RAC Solution 


This solution is the first, and only, non-Oracle true disaster avoidance solution to enable Oracle RAC over distance, provides affordable data protection with multi-site support, delivers any-point-in-time recover and optimizes RPO/RTO for each application.  It also ensure application level consistency at re-start between multiple arrays and multiple applications.  This is a single solution for both local and remote data protection.



This solution increases the availability for Oracle applications by:


  • Eliminating single points of failure at all layers in the environment
  • Providing active/active data centers that support zero RPOs and RTOs and provide next-generation disaster avoidance
  • Fully automatic failure handling
  • Simplified deployment of Oracle RAC  on Extended Distance Clusters



EMC VPLEX Metro, EMC RecoverPoint with VMware SRM Oracle RAC Solution


This solution provides enterprise-scale continuous data protection both locally and remotely.  It dramatically improves application protection and recovery time.



An Oracle RAC database runs on a cluster in a VPLEX Metro environment.  Site A and B, the primary sites, are managed in one center, and Site C is managed at the recovery site.


Management is controlled by the primary site, in this case Site A and B.  SRM uses block-based replication with SRAs installed on the SRM server.  This integration of hardware and software supports the most demanding application business continuance needs.  Once SRM is installed and the plug-in is enabled, you can set options relevant to site recovery, specifically protection groups and recovery plans.


If Site A failed, Site B continues to service the I/O.  If Site B also failed, SRM recovery policies come into effect and will start the recovery plan suing the replicated data from RecoverPoint.



EMC Service Provider Solutions


This solution builds up IT-as-a-Service for remote data protection and continuity services, helps service providers expand service offerings for data protection and business continuity.



EMC Recoverpoint helps service providers further monetize storage infrastructure  by enabling a data replication and recovery service that can support the varied local and remote continuity needs of enterprise customers


This Business Continuity-as-a-Service solution is flexible and easy to implemented and managed across any host, application, and array. Without having to invest in costly, siloed technology acquisitions, service providers can offer a multi-vendor approach to data protection, while achieving significant economic benefits for enterprise customers through a secured and protected multi-tenenat environment.

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Today’s business trends are having a significant impact on infrastructure in datacenters and influencing how firms handle backup and recovery as well as manage their data and information.  These trends, which can be seen from both a business perspective and an IT infrastructure perspective, includes:

  • IT as a service
  • Cloud computing
  • Big data
  • Converged infrastructure
  • Infrastructure consolidation
  • Social media and mobility

All these trends are driving a series of evolutionary changes in the way of backup and recovery data. Continuing rely on tape or traditional client/server backup infrastructure can expect to see longer backup windows and recovery times, higher infrastructure costs and operation overhead, as well as the potential  for data loss.  Leveraging the wrong backup and recovery approach can cause putting off application and OS upgrades, infrastructure upgrades, or virtualization plans because of concerns about meeting backup windows or providing acceptable recovery SLAs.  However, with the right backup and recovery approach, it will not only improve backup and recovery speeds, but also accelerate and improve IT initiatives which have clear business values.


EMC’s approach to redefine backup and recovery


EMC understands the importance of backup and recovery transformation to an organization’s future and has been vocal about the people and process changes that must accompany physical infrastructure changes, and has focused on continued innovations in:

  • Deduplication:  Data Domain and Avamar appliance enable dedupication, reducing network traffic and infrastructure costs as well as power, cooling, and floor space requirements.  Data Domain Boost (DD Boost) technology allows users to spread the deduplication process across the data path to enable performance improvements beyond the inherent I/O gains achieved when moving to disk-based data protection appliances.  DD Boost for Oracle RMAN allows for more efficient backup and recovery of Oracle databases by giving Oracle administrators direct control of Oracle backup and disaster recovery processes.
  • Management and orchestration:  Improving visibility and role-based control of backup and recovery tasks by application owners and virtual machine administrators helps improve business agility and enables firms to better support IT as a service, converged infrastructure, and private cloud initiatives.  This includes integration of these tasks directly from within the application or unified management interfaces
  • Integration:  Integration is key to assure application consistency.  Application integration ensures an application-consistent recovery of a specific workload and also allows backup and recovery functions to be performed directly from a given application management framework.  Data Domain, Avamar and Networker integrate with all leading applications and databases such as VMware vStorage API for Data Protection, Oracle RMAN, Microsoft VSS, and SAP BR Tools, to address these requirements

EMC Data Domain deduplication systems


Data Domain deduplication storage systems offer a cost-effective alternative to tape that allows users to enjoy the retention and recovery benefits of inline deduplication, as well as network-efficient replication over the wide area network (WAN) for disaster recovery.


Data Domain systems reduce the amount of disk storage needed to retain and protect data by 10 to 30 times.  Data on disk is available online and onsite for longer retention periods, and restores become fast and reliable.  Storing only unique data on disk also means that data can be cost-effectively replicated over existing networks to remote sites for DR.  With the industry’s fastest deduplication storage controller, Data Domain systems allow more backups to complete faster while putting less pressure on limited backup windows.


All Data Domain systems are built as the data store of last resort, which is enabled by the EMC Data Domain Invulnerability Architecture – end-to-end data verification, continuous fault detection and self-healing, and other resiliency feature transparent to the application.


Data Domain Boost extends the Data Domain Data Invulnerability Architecture by generating checksums on Oracle server before RMAN sends data to the Data Domain system.  The Data Domain system receiving the data computes new checksums on the incoming data and compares them to the computed values from the backup application, ensuring inline verification of data.


EMC Data Domain Boost – advanced integration with Oracle RMAN


EMC Data Domain Boost for Oracle RMAN is an industry first to deliver complete control of Oracle backup and disaster recovery, enabling DBAs to have confidence in self-administered recovery from the local or the DR site.  DD Boost for RMAN enables Oracle DBAs to manage their backup, operational recovery, and disaster recovery processed without dependence on a backup administrator.


In addition, DD Boost for RMAN accelerates backup performance, enables more backups with existing resources, and simplifies administration.


Data Domain Transforms EMC IT’s Oracle Backup and Recovery – 4x Cheaper, 8x Faster, and 10x Better


EMC IT has seen explosive growth over past years accelerating the need to move from its legacy, Virtual Tape Library (VTL) Back infrastructure to a new EMC Data Domain Backup infrastructure.  This migration creates challenges in terms of what are the best for a new Backup and Recovery deployment with EMC’s Oracle database for Global Data Warehouse and mission-critical Oracle applications.



EMC IT implemented this solution by a phased approach and delivered the following advantages:

  • 4x Cheaper – The Data Domain appliance are a quarter the cost of the legacy EDL/VTL
  • 8x Faster – Move from an incumbent EDL/VTL speed of 500MB/hour to Data Domain speed of 4TB/hour
  • 10x Better – In reliability, density, protection, speed, complexity, and cost


Remote site recovery of Oracle enterprise data warehouse with Data Domain


This solution showcases how a 12TB Oracle data warehouse was transported from a data center in Massachusetts, US to Cork, Ireland.  The infrastructure was re-created at the Cork site on EMC Symmetrix VMAX storage and the database was restored and recovered.  EMC Data Domain Encryption was used to secure the data during transport.


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As the title suggests, this blog post is about the recent announcement that Oracle have now provided support for EMC SAN storage in Enterprise Manager 12c Database-as-a-Service (DBaaS).


One of the many reasons I enjoyed being a full-time Oracle DBA, and now continue to love being involved in Oracle Database Solutions at EMC is that every now and then something amazing shows up and it goes almost un-noticed when you might expect people to be throwing a party. Maybe not, it's only computer technology after all. As it has been a long time coming, let's give this particular functionality the visibility it deserves!

I’m talking about Oracle’s Enterprise Manager 12c (EM12c) DBaaS solution now including EMC storage; furthermore, that makes EMC VMAX and VNX the only SAN storage solutions integrated with EM12c – since the January update to EM12c R4, DBAs can now manage EMC storage pools assigned to them by their Storage Admins. This is HUGE!

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As Oracle has provided native support for EMC storage in EMC12c R4, all of this great new functionality is fully described in the documentation; from working with your storage admin to configure EMC VMAX or VNX storage pools, assigning them to you for use with ASM and you getting to manage how that storage is used.

Here are some parts of the documentation you should get familiar with, before going to see your EMC Storage Admin;


I believe Oracle’s Pete Sharman was the first to highlight this in his Snap Clone using EMC SAN and ASM blog post. Please go read that, it’s an awesome introduction to Oracle’s Snap Clone functionality available with the EM12c Cloud Management pack. Pete then goes on to mention that a lot of Oracle “customers want native support for SAN for cloning purposes, especially, the ones who run ASM on SAN. And they are quite a lot in number.” Yes they are, as you likely know EMC is the No.1 provider of SAN storage for Oracle Database.


I have to reproduce Pete’s next paragraph in full here, as this is truly a gift to you as an Oracle DBA using EMC Storage, and he describes it superbly:


Using Snap Clone on ASM and EMC storage provides the ability to create ‘live’ thin clones of databases that are on ASM. A live clone is NOT snapshot based but rather a live copy of the database, residing on copy-on-write storage technology that can be within the same cluster or indeed another one. Both single instance and RAC are supported – supported versions are or higher of the database, 11.2 and higher of the Grid Infrastructure code. This functionality works on both EMC VMAX (with TimeFinder VP Snap) and VNX storage appliances.


Find out more about TimeFinder VP Snap with EMC VMAX in the EMC White Paper - Implementing TimeFinder VP Snap for Local Replication


If you don’t have the luxury of using Oracle EM12c DBaaS, but do have EM12c, you can still get visibility on the configuration and performance of your EMC Storage with our free plugin. They have recently been updated to include VNX, VMAX and XtremIO and there’s a good article on that introduces the update.




Now I want you to setup a meeting with your Storage Admin and let me know how you get on. Having likely invested a lot of $$$ in Oracle’s EM12c DBaaS software, why not take the next step and work with your storage team and get the absolute best from your EMC storage solution too.


Let me know what you think, as your feedback and comments most often provide direction on what I should write about next. If it would be helpful, I am planning to post in more detail on the steps you should discuss with your Storage Admin to get this great new native solution up and running.

Many thanks to Oracle for recognizing the importance of EMC Storage to our mutual customers and to Pete Sharman for a very positive write-up of the functionality.

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