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Introduction to Solaris Volume Manager - (Solaris 9)
by Jeff Hunter, Sr. Database Administrator
Solaris Volume Manager is a software product packaged with included with the Sun Solaris 9 operating system that allows the System Administrator to manage a large number of disks and the data contained on those disks.
NOTE: Solaris 8 included a product known as "Solstice DiskSuite" and came on an extra CD (that you might only get with the server media set, I'm not sure). In Solaris 9 it has been renamed to "Solaris Volume Manager" and included in the OS, but is basically just the next rev of DiskSuite.
Here's a link to a Sun white paper that talks about it:
There are many uses for Volume Manager but most tasks center around the following:
- Large storage capacity
- Data availability
- I/O performance enhancements
The Volume Manager software uses virtual disks to manage physical disks. In Volume Manager, a virtual disk is called a volume.
NOTE: If you have ever worked with Solstice DiskSuite with Solaris 8 and lower, you should note that the virtual disks were named metadevices back then. It is for these historical reasons that some command-line utilities also refer to a volume as a metadevice.
A volume is functionally the same as a physical disk from the applications view. DiskSuite converts all I/O requests directed at a volume into I/O requests to the underlying member disks. Volume Manager volumes are built from slices (disk partitions).
Take for example a situation in where you wanted to create more storage capacity, it is simple to use Volume Manager to "fool" the system into thinking that a large collection of small slices is one large physical disk. After you have created a volume from these slices, you can immediately begin using it just as any "real" disk; create a filesystem on it, use it to store database files, etc. But using mirrors and RAID5 metadevices, Volume Manager can also increase the availability of data. Mirrors and RAID5 volumes replicate data so that it is not destroyed if the disk on which it is stored fails.
Volume Manager includes a graphical user interface (GUI) program named Solaris Management Console that can be used to build volumes. However, as you become more familiar Volume Manager, you will soon realize that Solaris Management Console cannot perform all administration Volume Manager tasks. In these cases and for system administrators that prefer to work from the command line, Volume Manager includes a command line interface set of tools.
Within the Creating / Removing Volumes - (Using Volume Manager Commands) section, I will include articles on Creating, Deleting, and Modifying all types of Volume Manager objects.
These articles will provide a comprehensive overview for creating Volume Manager volumes (stripes, concatenations, mirrors, etc) using the Volume Manager command-line tools.
For the most up-to-date source of document for Sun Solaris, navigate to docs.sun.com.
Sun Admin Guide for Solaris Volume Manager - (Solaris 9):
Transitioning to Solaris' Volume - (Solaris 9):
DiskSuite - (Solaris 8):