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Difference between ASM Disk Group, ADVM Volume and ACFS File system

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Q1. What is the difference between an ASM Disk Group and an ADVM Volume ?
To my mind, an ASM Disk Group is effectively a logical volume for Database files ( including FRA files ).
11gR2 seems to have introduced the concepts of ADVM volumes and ACFS File Systems.
An 11gR2 ASM Disk Group can contain :
ASM Disks
ADVM volumes
ACFS file systems
Q2. ADVM volumes appear to be dynamic volumes.
However is this therefore not effectively layering a logical volume ( the ADVM volume ) beneath an ASM Disk Group ( conceptually a logical volume as well ) ?
Worse still if you have left ASM Disk Group Redundancy to the hardware RAID / SAN level ( as Oracle recommend ), you could effectively have 3 layers of logical disk ? ( ASM on top of ADVM on top of RAID/SAN ) ?
Q3. if it is 2 layers of logical disk ( i.e. ASM on top of ADVM ), what makes this better than 2 layers using a 3rd party volume manager ( eg ASM on top of 3rd party LVM ) - something Oracle encourages against ?
Q4. ACFS File systems, seem to be clustered file systems for non database files including ORACLE_HOMEs, application exe's etc ( but NOT GRID_HOME, OS root, OCR's or Voting disks )
Can you create / modify ACFS file systems using ASM.
The oracle toplogy diagram for ASM in the 11gR2 ASM Admin guide, shows ACFS as part of ASM. I am not sure from this if ACFS is part of ASM or ASM sits on top of ACFS ?
Q5. Connected to Q4. there seems to be a number of different ways, ACFS file systems can be created ? Which of the below are valid methods ?
through ASM ?
through native OS file system creation ?
through OEM ?
through acfsutil ?
my head is exploding
Any help and clarification greatly appreciated


Q1 - ADVM volume is a type of special file created in the ASM DG.  Once created, it creates a block device on the OS itself that can be used just like any other block device.  http://docs.oracle.com/cd/E16655_01/server.121/e17612/asmfilesystem.htm#OSTMG30000
Q2 - the asm disk group is a disk group, not really a logical volume.  It combines attributes of both when used for database purposes, as the database and certain other applications know how to talk "ASM" protocol.  However, you won't find any general purpose applications that can do so.  In addition, some customers prefer to deal directly with file systems and volume devices, which ADVM is made to do.  In your way of thinking, you could have 3 layers of logical disk, but each of them provides different attributes and characteristics.  This is not a bad thing though, as each has a slightly different focus - os file system\device, database specific, and storage centric.
Q3 - ADVM is specifically developed to extend the characteristics of ASM for use by general OS applications.  It understands the database performance characteristics and is tuned to work well in that situation.  Because it is developed in house, it takes advantage of the ASM design model.  Additionally, rather than having to contact multiple vendors for support, your support is limited to calling Oracle, a one-stop shop.
Q4 - You can create and modify ACFS file systems using command line tools and ASMCA.  Creating and modifying logical volumes happens through SQL(ASM), asmcmd, and ASMCA.  EM can also be used for both items.  ACFS sits on top of ADVM, which is a file in an ASM disk group.  ACFS is aware of the characteristics of ASM\ADVM volumes, and tunes it's IO to make best use of those characteristics. 
Q5 - several ways:
1) Connect to ASM with SQL, use 'alter diskgroup add volume' as Mihael points out.  This creates an ADVM volume.  Then, format the volume using 'mkfs' (*nix) or acfsformat (windows).
2) Use ASMCA - A gui to create a volume and format a file system.  Probably the easiest if your head is exploding.
3) Use 'asmcmd' to create a volume, and 'mkfs' to format the ACFS file system.
Here is information on ASMCA, with examples:
Information on command line tools, with examples:
Basic Steps to Manage Oracle ACFS Systems

Read other 4 answers


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