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After selecting Active Directory, LDAP or NIS for user authentication, the next step is to set up the storage pools. The system we looked at contained available storage of 1.86 TB in cache memory, 68 GB of SSD storage and another 5.46 TB in SAS drives. Once volume sizes are chosen, a screen is presented to help with the selection of the desired storage profile. Supported types are double parity, mirrored, single parity-narrow stripes, striped, triple mirrored and triple parity-wide stripes. Each profile type is explained and characterized graphically in terms of its ability, performance and capacity. Also shown is the amount of usable storage that will result with each profile.
From the same screen, administrators also can view descriptions and select between mirrored and striped logs, with similar characterizations of availability, performance and capacity. Striped logs distribute log data evenly across all devices without redundancy, which improves capacity and performance. Mirroring logs can improve availability and certain write operations, but it reduces I/O operations and capacity by half.
There's also an option to register and connect the ZFS appliance to Oracle's support organization. This alerts the VAR or end-user to patch advisories and downloads, and it lets the appliance send out automated service requests for failed drives and other components so that technicians can arrive with replacement parts in hand.
Next is to create storage volumes and allocate them to projects. Projects in this context are for separating volumes, for example, between development and production, or for keeping cloud environments apart from conventional network shares. The ZFS can be used in any combination of server-attached storage over Fibre Channel or Infiniband, iSCSI (one or 10-Gbit Ethernet), or as a NAS using CIFS, NFS (with root access), FTP, SMB and other protocols.
When creating file systems, ZFS provides access to a full array of user permissions over mount point, file-name length and case sensitivity, as well as other settings such as file compression, block size and remote-site replication and snapshots.
Like other modern storage systems, Oracle's ZFS appliance builds in utilities that are helpful for keeping tabs on what's going on inside. Setting Oracle apart is the ability to track performance right down to a single file. "As a database administrator, you don't normally have visibility to which files are the most used on your file system," said Cintra's Rice. Using a GUI-based analytics tool, DBAs and other staff can look at file-level performance statistics such as IOps and disk utilization, without having access to any of the appliance's storage or other features. "There's a very granular security mechanism around who can see and administer what," Rice added.