XtremIO 4.0 has advanced the ease of refreshing databases copies. In XtremIO we call this “refreshing a volume” but I prefer refreshing database copies because of my DBA background. It works like this:
It’s that simple and it can be done in seconds! In fact Kevin Closson has a paper coming out that shows this process and more. The image below was created from reading the paper: it took 13 seconds to refresh a copy of production from production with the majority of time spent of mounting the ASM diskgroups and opening the database.
I was part of a good customer discussion with the biggest ecommerce copy in India and we were talking about the need to accelerate database provisioning. There is no value for the DBA and the business in spending time creating database copies. Time spent on database provisioning is time wasted as the DBA could be working on new initiatives, learning new features, performance tuning or just about anything else of greater value. Lengthy provisioning times impact the competitive delivery of services to the business. The future is here and there isn’t the need to waste time on creating database copies.
Scenario One: Production Down
This is the worst case scenario and one most DBAs have had the unfortunate experience in resolving. I’ll call upon worst production down my experience as an example. I was consulting for a small company when in the early evening their E-Business database went down. There was no backup of the production database and no means to quickly make a backup. The customer requested I apply a patch recommended by Oracle Support. Talk about being in the hot seat with all the risk and no assurances of a backup or testing of the patch.
Had the business been using XtremIO’s Started X-Brick we could have made a copy of production in seconds without taking any initial capacity (thanks inline deduplication!). The XtremIO Starter X-Brick has 3.74 TB of usable space but thanks to all the included features (at no extra charge) like inline compression and deduplication the logical usable space easily doubles to 7 TB. For DBAs in a production down scenario the ability to create instance copies of production can mean fast analysis without risk. So you might be wondering what happened? We were lucky in that the patch fixed the issue and I spent a long time that evening explaining to the customer why database backups are important.
Some other examples of scenarios in which fast provisioning can transform how DBAs work:
Lets go through some steps to show how easy it is to refresh copies of databases:
Figure 1 : Conditions for the creation of initial Snapshots
Figure 1a : Starting Environment for creating XtremIO Snapshot
XtremIO Snapshots creation starts by the creation of volumes. If they do not exist then we will have to create them in order to use any snapshot feature. Another creation object is the initiator groups and initiators which are also required to be created to map an XtremIO volume to a host. If a volume is not mapped to a host then there can be no read or write operations. Another optional component is tags. Tagging is used for grouping purpose in order to distinguish one entity from another. After the initial preparation gets completed (as stated above) we can start the create snapshot operation by the GUI as demonstrated in Figure 1a.
Now, let us discuss how snapshot refresh operation takes place. The operation needs to be started from the XtremIO GUI interface as shown in Figure 2.
Figure 2 : Snapshot refresh GUI of XtremIO Storage
Figure 3 : Select Snapshot for refresh operation
We can see that it has created a new snapshot as shown in Figure 4(Arrowed Volume).
Figure 4 : Creation of a new snapshot for refresh operation
It takes a snapshot and performs the refresh operation. Now if we bring the volume online, we will see that we get back all the contents that were there in the original state by using the Refresh Option within the GUI. Here all other options are also possible as mentioned before.
In summary, we get the following benefits by using the XtremIO 4.0 refresh.