Database administrators face many challenges in developing and supporting applications that are often the lifeblood of their organization. One of the concerns is the integrity of data as it travels the I/O path between applications on a server and disk drives on a storage area network (SAN). When data corruption is undetected, or “silent”, there can be serious consequences if reporting and decision making is unknowingly based on inaccurate data. In some industries, regulatory compliance mandates such as Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (GLBA) are also specifying data integrity controls for the protection of customer records.
Over the years, vendors have implemented many features to ensure data integrity. Database vendors have added logical integrity checks, server memory is protected by Error Correcting Code (ECC), PCI Express buses are protected by Cyclic Redundancy Check (CRC), storage area networks are protected by CRC, and storage arrays are protected through various error detecting and correcting techniques. Even with these checks, increasing complexity of the data center environment and growth in storage have led to significant concerns about silent data corruption.
Oracle and Emulex have been early leaders in enhancing data integrity. Emulex and Oracle championed the enhanced data integrity standard, known as T10 PI (Protection Information). T10 PI enables end-to-end data integrity, a mechanism that eliminates silent data corruption which can happen in the process of applications reading and writing data to and from storage devices. End-to-end data integrity assures the validity of I/O operations through the exchange of “verification information” during data transmissions. The protection afforded with end-to-end data integrity spans the I/O operation from an application to the disk residing in a storage array, thereby ensuring the elimination of silent corruption at every level.
Oracle has contributed block I/O data integrity infrastructure code to the Linux 2.6.27 kernel. This open source code was developed by Oracle in conjunction with Emulex and exposes key data protection information to the Linux kernel. In 2011,Oracle has made this capability available in Oracle Linux with the default Unbreakable Enterprise Kernel.
The BlockGuard Data Integrity feature is available with Emulex LightPulse 8Gb Fibre Channel HBAs- models LPe12000, LPe12002 and LPe12004, Emulex LightPulse 16Gb Fibre Channel LPe16000 and LPe16002. In addition the new LPe16000B and LPe16002B 16GFC PCIe 3.0 HBAs, features T10 PI Offload, improving the performance through execution of checks in hardware.
In October 2012, EMC became the first storage array vendor to offer T10 PI support in their array. EMC VMAX is the first enterprise storage array to join together with Emulex and Oracle in implementing end-to-end T10 PI. The solution is certified by EMC E-Lab. The EMC E-Lab is an industry standard for server, networking and storage interoperability.
For the first time, subsystems can utilize crucial data integrity features that extend from applications to the Linux operating system to storage. Comprehensive data integrity capabilities are now enabled across the entire software stack. This helps reduce system downtime, provides costs savings and helps companies meet their regulatory compliance objectives.