FAQ

General Questions

What are Oracle Cloud Infrastructure Block Volumes?

Oracle Block Volumes provide persistent, durable, and high-performance storage for your data. Oracle Block Volumes let you store your data on block volumes independently and beyond the lifespan of your compute instance. Oracle Block Volumes can help you manage your block volumes, control data, and achieve the storage configuration your application requires.

Oracle Block Volumes let you dynamically provision and manage block storage volumes. You can create, attach, connect, and move volumes as needed to meet your storage and application requirements. Once attached and connected to an instance, you can use a volume like a regular hard drive. Volumes can also be disconnected and attached to another instance without the loss of data.

What is a block volume?

A block volume is a type of data storage that is more expansive than file storage. Block volumes use iSCSI Ethernet protocol to deliver the features and performance similar to on-premises Storage Area Networks (SANs), and are designed for the security and durability of the data life cycle. Using Oracle Block Volumes, you can create block volumes and attach them to your compute instance.

When do I use block volumes?

We recommend using block volumes when your workload application requires highly available storage and the performance of a SAN, or your data governance needs to include integrated backups. Your application benefits from service elasticity, data persistence, and performance. Block volumes provide you with simple management options, operational flexibility, and pay-as-you-go pricing with isolation and maximum control. 

What happens to data when an instance terminates?

Data stored on local compute drives persists only as long as that compute instance, and should only be used for temporary files. When you store data on higher durability block volumes, your data persists for the lifetime of the block volume. If the compute instance terminates, you can attach the volume to another compute instance and regain access to the persistent data in that volume. By using block volumes, you can extend your data protection plan to include integrated block volume backups, providing a copy of your data at the date the backup is created.

How do I start using block volumes?

You can access Oracle Block Volumes using the consoleREST API, or SDKs. See the Oracle Cloud Infrastructure Getting Started Guide and Overview of Block Volumes for details.

What is new in the May 2017 service update?

May 2017 General Availability update expands on the following areas from the October 2016 initial service launch:

  • Customizable volume sizes: 50 GB to 2 TB, in 1-GB increments
  • Improved performance (see performance details below)
  • NVMe-based, industry-leading storage infrastructure
  • Fast restore in less than a minute, regardless of volume size
  • Fast backup (30 minutes for 2-TB volumes)

Are Oracle Cloud Infrastructure Block Volumes using NVMe SSDs in the storage infrastructure?

Yes. Industry-leading highest performance NMVe drives are used.

Capacity, Performance, and Security

What is the size block volumes can I provision with Oracle Cloud Infrastructure Block Volumes?

You can provision block volumes from 50 GB to 2 TB, in 1-GB increments, using Oracle Block Volumes.

How does my operating system access a block volume?

Your operating system accesses block volumes using iSCSI protocol, a storage networking standard for linking data storage facilities.

What are the performance limits of a single Oracle Cloud Infrastructure block volume?

IOPS and bandwidth scale linearly per GB volume size up to the service maximums. The table below describes the performance characteristics.

Metric
Scale Factor
Service Limits per Volume
IOPS 60 IOPS/GB Up to 25,000 IOPS, at 4 KB block size
Throughput 480 KB/s/GB Up to 320 MB/s, at 256 KB block size

Examples:

  • 100 GB volume: 6,000 IOPS, 48 MB/s throughput
  • 200 GB volume: 12,000 IOPS, 96 MB/s throughput
  • 700 GB volume: 25,000 IOPS, 320 MB/s throughput
  • 1 TB volume: 25,000 IOPS, 320 MB/s throughput
  • 2 TB volume: 25,000 IOPS, 320 MB/s throughput

The performance you observe for a block volume may also be limited by the network bandwidth of your compute instance.

Refer to Oracle Block Volumes Performance Analysis for more details.

What are the performance limits of a single Oracle Cloud Infrastructure block volume attached to a virtual machine?

Block volumes attached to Oracle Cloud Infrastructure Compute virtual machine instances are limited by the network bandwidth available. Refer to the Compute Service FAQ for instance limits.

How do I achieve the maximum performance for my application?

You can observe up to 200,000 or more IOPS and near-line-rate throughput for your bare metal compute instance.

Refer to Oracle Block Volumes Performance Analysis for more details.

How many Oracle Cloud Infrastructure block volumes can I attach to a compute instance?

You can attach up to 32 volumes per compute instance, resulting in up to 2 TB*32=64 TB attached capacity. We recommend you measure and adjust the number of attached volumes according to your high-performance application needs.

Can I move my block volumes to other compute instances?

Yes. To provide the highest performance, block volumes are optimized to attach to any compute instance within the same Availability Domain. You can detach a volume from one compute instance, and then attach the block volume to another compute instance without rebooting your compute servers. More details can be found in the Oracle Cloud Infrastructure documentation.

How is my data secure?

Your data is encrypted at rest on a block volume. Backups you create are also encrypted for increased security. Block volumes and their backups are only accessible from within your tenant/compartment boundary, and only authenticated users who have been granted permission by you to the tenant/compartment can access them.

How durable is data stored in Oracle Cloud Infrastructure Block Volumes?

Multiple copies of data are stored redundantly across multiple storage servers. However, we recommend that you make regular backups to protect against the failure of an Availability Domain.

How can I take advantage of the new block volume features for volumes created before May 15, 2017 service update?

To make use of new block volume features and capabilities for your existing volumes created before May 15, 2017, follow the process outlined below:

  1. Create a new volume, for example named "FastVolume".
  2. Attach to the same instance as your old volume, for example named "OldVolume" (that was created before May 15, 2017)
  3. Manually copy the blocks over from old volume "OldVolume" to new volume "FastVolume".

Once you have copied your old volume "OldVolume" to new volume "FastVolume," it is recommended you detach and delete your old volume "OldVolume" to save capacity and cost.

You can follow the process outlined below to identify if your volume has been created before the service update and needs to be migrated.

Use the lsscsi command on your compute instance to see the block volume information for your volumes.

Example: # lsscsi
[6:0:0:0] disk ORACLE Block Volume 1.0 /dev/sda
[7:0:0:0] storage IET Controller 0001 -
[7:0:0:1] disk ORACLE Block Volume 1.0 /dev/sdb
[8:0:0:0] storage IET Controller 0001 -
[8:0:0:1] disk ORACLE Block Volume 1.0 /dev/sdc
[9:0:0:0] storage IET Controller 0001 -
[9:0:0:1] disk ORACLE BlockVolume 1.0 /dev/sdd
[10:0:0:0] storage IET Controller 0001 -
[10:0:0:1] disk ORACLE BlockVolume 1.0 /dev/sde
 

The volumes that are listed as "BlockVolume" (i.e., there is no space character between Block and Volume) have the new capabilities announced with the May 2017 service update.

/dev/sda is the boot root volume, and not for remote block storage. For all remote block volumes (/dev/sdb, /dev/sdc, ...), it is suggested to migrate the ones that are listed as "Block Volume" (i.e, there is a space character between Block and Volume) to the new capabilities enabled by the May 2017 service update, by following the migration process outlined above.

How can I resize my volume to a larger block volume?

To migrate to a larger volume size, create a larger volume side by side and copy the data using data migration tools. We do not support in-place resizing of an existing block volume, or creating a larger volume than the original backup volume size.

Backup/Restore

Can I back up my block volumes?

Yes. Oracle Block Volumes provide an integrated backup capability to protect your data by storing a copy of the block volume in Oracle Cloud Infrastructure Object Storage.

What is a block volume backup?

A backup is a complete point-in-time snapshot copy of all data on your block volume when that backup was initiated. Immediately after a backup is completed, your backup is available to restore to a block volume. Backups are encrypted and copied to your account in Oracle Cloud Infrastructure Object Storage.

When should I create backups?

The primary use of backups is to support business continuity, disaster recovery, and long-term archiving. When determining a backup schedule, your backup plan and goals should consider the following:

  • Frequency – how often you want to back up your data
  • Recovery time – how long you can wait for a backup to be restored and accessible to your applications that use it
  • Number of stored backups – how many backups you need to keep available and the deletion schedule for those you no longer need

How long does a backup require?

Backups are done using point-in-time snapshot, therefore while the backup is being performed in the background asynchronously, your applications can continue to access your data without any interruption or performance impact. For a 2 TB volume being backed up for the first time, expect about 30 minutes for the backup to complete. Subsequent backups of the same volume depend on the amount of data that has changed since your last backup.

Does performing a backup have an impact on the performance and access on my live data?

Backup is done by a point-in-time snapshot. It continues asynchronously without impacting access to data. Access to the block volume that is being backed up continues without any interruption or additional latency or performance impact.

How long does a restore take?

You can restore a volume in less than a minute regardless of the volume size. Although the restore of a volume is fast and the volume is immediately accessible for your workloads, you may see latency spikes when you first begin to use a restored volume.

What is the performance of the restored block volume?

Requests to the newly restored block volume may have higher latency for a short period of time right after it got restored.

Can I use my backup to move data between Availability Domains?

Yes. A backup can be restored to any Availability Domain within the same region it is stored, and is the recommended method for efficiently moving data.

Can I back up my operating system disk?

Oracle Block Volumes do not manage the operating system disks. Operating system disks can be backed up by following the Compute Service FAQ.

Can I restore a backup to a different size block volume?

No. Backups can only be restored to a block volume of the same size as the backup. In general, until further update, backups from a block volume can be restored to the same size volume.

Billing

How am I billed for Oracle Cloud Infrastructure Block Volumes?

Block volumes are metered based on provisioned GB volume size. Block volume usage is billed at $0.05/month per GB.

Is there a price increase for new volumes created after the May 2017 service update?

No. The price stays the same at $0.05/month per GB.

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